Music from the Renaissance and Baroque period in many ways reflect the mentality and setting of their times, each birthed upon the evolution and changes of profound ideas that became signature motifs of their place in history. From politics and economics to religion/patronage and technology like the printing press, there were many factors that all played large roles in shaping not only the music composed but it also affected the way it was composed, who composed it, and its overall societal context. This paper will discuss the factors which helped shape the stylistic differences between the two periods.
The Renaissance Period, spanning from 1400-1600, was more than just a movement in the type of music that was playing; it was a movement of ideas in almost every art form of the time. This period is noted heavily for its revival of Greek and roman ideas, hence the name renaissance meaning "revival"(Sherrane 1). This spanned to all forms of art and generally took people as a whole by the dissemination of information and the pursuit of knowledge. Through this time things like compass and printing press were invented which completely reinvented the way information was spread (Sherrane 1). Of the ideas revived in Greek texts was the idea that musicianship be an expected knowledge or attribute by the daily man (Norton 143). The texts wrote about how the music of the time had the "power to evoke emotions and instill character", so composers sought to exemplify the same result. However this rebirth of old ideals also resulted in new, unprecedented styles of music. One important result of this is the new counterpoint that became a trend at the time. This new counter point pushed for the use of dissonance including thirds, sixths, and fifths while avoiding parallel fifths and octaves. The rules for consonance and dissonance are iconic of this time period, and it sets it apart from the one before and after.