- Renaissance—"rebirth" of ideas.
The Renaissance was a time of renewed appreciation for learning and the arts. The term renaissance, “rebirth” of ideas, reflects an interest in the principles of classical Greek and Roman culture, and this era was a time of artistic accomplishments, scientific discoveries, and exploration of new lands.
- Patrons of music included the Church and members of the aristocracy.
Both secular and sacred music flourished during this period. Although the Church continued to be an influential patron of the arts, the Renaissance was a time when wealthy aristocrats became avid supporters of the arts, and the sign of a well-educated gentleman or woman, was one who was proficient in music.
- New instruments were developed.
Instrumental music was very popular, and new instruments such as the viol and violin were created during the Renaissance. Like other melodic instruments, violins and viols were made in coordinated sets of several sizes, often called a consort or family of instruments. For performances, instruments were often grouped into loud and soft ensembles. Loud ensembles (generally for outdoor playing) consisted of converted folk instruments such as shawms, bagpipes, trumpets, pipes, and percussion. Soft ensembles (for indoor performances) were comprised of instruments such as the viol, harp, lute, recorder and violin. Keyboard instruments such as the organ, harpsichord and clavichord were also invented during this period.
- Advances in music printing led to mass publication of printed music.
As music became affordable and widely available, printed music and numerous music instruction books began to be published for amateurs, and composers began writing music for amateur musicians.