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Mass Case

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There was a time in history when the world was going through a re-birth, known as the Renaissance (1400-1600). A lot was happening during this time period that is worth noting. The people of this era started focusing more on humanism than on God. Geographic exploration became a big part of this time. The most well known being Christopher Columbus exploring the ocean blue in 1492. The printing press, the flushable toilet, and gunpowder was invented during this time. Visual artists were prospering during this time. In the church, the Protestant reformation was happening.

Music went through a period of change. People thought that music should move people, should articulate the words more, and should reflect the meaning and feeling of the words. During this time, composers were making large strides in the music world. Composers were also changing the ways of music. They were experimenting with the tunes, harmonies, and notation. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, advancements in music was the introduction of the C major triad. Today this is more commonly known as a chord. This became standardly used for all music from then until now.

With music going through such a powerful change, composers were trying to get the works out there. They wanted people to remember their pieces and be moved by them. The best way to do this was for them to compose a Roman Catholic mass. The mass was the most listened to and known music genre at this time period. This is sacred church music of the Renaissance era. There were 2 different masses; the ordinary of the mass and the proper mass. The ordinary of the mass was what was played everyday. The proper mass was a day specific mass such as a holiday or something similar. The mass has 6 different parts. These include the kyrie, gloria, credo, sanctus, benedictus, agnus dei. Most of the time, the mass was sung in Latin but you could occasionally hear it in English. The mass is like a common day symphony. There were many parts to it like the many movements of a symphony. Like a symphony has many instruments, a mass had many voices singing. Masses are polyphonic in quality meaning they take 1 melody and weave it throughout the piece with multiple voices. The cantus fermus mass was a great example of this. This was where one person, the tenor, takes the tune and stretches it out and where the other voices on top play with the tune.

Because mass was the preferred genre of music during the Renaissance, there were many mass composers. One of the most well known of these composers was Giovanni de Palestrina. He was an Italian composer who lived from 1515-1594. He is most well known for his Pope Marcellus Mass (1555). This was a mass he composed specifically for the Pope Marcellus. This was a very structural piece of work and was diatonic is quality, being within the key. Another well known composer and probably the most representative of the High Renaissance



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