Rise of Humanism and Its Impact on Music Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1586 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Music

Rise of Humanism and Its Impact on Music

Throughout the history of music there are those ideas that have the ability to unite the classic forms of composition with modern day thinking. As these two elements have often been utilized to create a new genre that changes the way everyone thinks and feels about the sounds they are hearing. One such example of this occurred between the 1300's and the 1600's, as humanism was incorporated into various forms of contemporary music. Simply put, humanism is a philosophy in which: human values, interests and dignity are taken into account as a part of the larger moral thinking. As these ideas are openly questioning the moral authority of the church and their role in society.

The incorporation of these different views in music would help to bridge the ideas of the past, with this new form of thinking. As the relationship between the words and the sounds would become a central theme for many Renaissance composers.

This is important, because it is highlighting how music and the incorporation of various ideas would create a transformation in society and the different institutions surrounding it. To fully understand the role that humanism would have on music requires examining: various terms / backgrounds / origins of the two, how music would become a humanism art and the impact that this philosophy would have modern music. Together, these different elements will provide the greatest insights as to the how humanism would help to transform music and various societies around the world.

Terms, Backgrounds, Origins and Etc.

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During the Renaissance period there were a number of different distinct styles that were used when incorporating humanism into the music. The most notable include: equal voices and the use of eight different church modes.

Research Paper on Rise of Humanism and Its Impact on Music Assignment

Equal voices: Equal voices are when there would be the continuous use of harmonious voices throughout the music. As there were various performers that would sing the lyrics of the song in conjunction with one another. The use of different altos, tenors and basses in correlation with each other, would create a similar sound that is often heard by many modern day choirs.

Eight different church modes: Eight different church modes are when the composers would use whole and half step to reflect the major as well as minor changes in the tempo / sound.

These two elements are important, because they would form the basic foundation of Renaissance music, by incorporating new ideas with the traditional sounds of the past. When you put these two elements together, this would create a new genre that would help transform the way everyone would listen and interpret the underlying themes.

Part of the reason for this, is because many Italian thinkers were often focused on the different ideas that various Greek and Roman philosophers would discuss. In music this would mean that many composers would often go into a period of self-reflection. Where, they would examine the message that they were sending through their compositions and the underlying meaning that it is having on society. This is important, because this would form the basic foundation of incorporating humanism into Renaissance music. As everyone was demanding a change in the way society was structured and the role of the individual in it. At which point, these ideas would become common among many composers (who were influenced by these different views). As a result, these ideas would become an increasingly important part of creating a new genre, to reflect the views of modern day society.

Music as Humanism Art

During the Renaissance period, the music would serve as way of criticizing the status quo (the Catholic Church) and to emphasize the new sense of enlightenment that many in philosophers were undergoing. Where, these ideas were often reflected in the architecture and art of the times. This would have ripple effects on the music, as these different themes were often indirectly incorporated into them. When you put these different elements together, this would create a new form of art, as humanism would introduce ideas that were not previously utilized. This is important, because it is a reflection of the art throughout the time period. Where, humanism would become common in every single form of art ranging from the various statues that were being constructed to actual works. As a result, these different ideas would be incorporated into the music to reflect the changing views on life and in art.

A good example of this can be seen with works that were composed by Guillaume de Machaut. In his composition titled Hoquetus David, he would use 11 different tenors and nine bars to repeat the rhythm of the song. Commenting about the use of this technique Rodgen would observe, "The excitement of the piece is derived from the erythematic counterpoint between the highly predictable tenor and widely unpredictable triplum."

This is significant, because it shows how the use of the tenor would highlight the way humanism was incorporated into the composition. As they are underscoring modern views about society and art. While the triplum, is illustrating the confusion and frustrations that many people have with the status quo.

It's Impact on Music

The impact of this new form of thinking on music is that it would create a unique genre going forward. As composers, would use the different elements of humanism, along with the traditions of the past to create a distinctive sound. This is important, because it would have an effect upon the how future composers would create various forms music in the future. Where, they would incorporate the basic elements of humanism, to serve as a way of reaching out to the listener and influencing their views.

This would have an impact on way music was written going forward, as various elements of this genre would continually be utilized in many different forms. A good example of this impact can be seen with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Even though this is not considered to be a part of the Renaissance time period, the effects of humanism on music are quite clear. In this case, Tchaikovsky would use different chants and a traditional Russian Orthodox sound to create a unique composition that would incorporate religion with music. This is important, because it would help to instill the sense of tradition and faith that many Russians have towards the church. As the composition would end with the feeling that, "God is omnipotent."

What this illustrates, is the impact that the use of humanism would have on all forms of music going forward.


Clearly, humanism would have an effect upon the music of the Renaissance period. This is because within many different societies and individuals were embracing these ideas. Part of the reason for this, was out of frustrations that they were feeling with the status quo (most notably the Catholic Church). As a result, these ideas would be reflected in various forms of art, political and social thinking. This would have an impact upon many composers, who would use the different elements of humanism to reflect these ideas in their compositions. As it is common for number of different factors to be incorporated into various pieces including: the use of different voices with the traditional elements of the past. This would create a new genre that would help to transform the music in the future. Where, it would become a form of art that was an examination of contemporary society and the views that they most value. This is important, because it is underscoring how this change would be reflected in modern day music. As composers and song writers would often embrace various humanistic ideas, to reflect the times and places that they are living. When you put these two elements together, this is illustrating how humanism would have a dramatic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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