Optime pastor – Shepherd, Maker of Good Virtue
Early Polyphony for low voices from Ockeghem to Palestrina
The Renaissance is considered the Golden Era of vocal music. The evolution of polyphonic music (music with more than one independent melody sung at the same time) started in the early 15th century in the lowlands. Franco-Flemish composer and singer Johannes Ockeghem was the most influential European composer of his time, alongside contemporaries, such as Heinrich Isaac. They were succeeded by Josquin des Prez, the greatest innovator and a pioneer in the technique of melodic imitation between voices. Polyphony spread in Western Europe, and English composers John Taverner, and later Thomas Tallis, excelled in this style. As new styles emerged over the course of the 16th century, Renaissance music began pushing boundaries by including chromaticism and ornamentation. In Italy, the polyphonic style was brought to Venice by the Flemish composer Adrian Willaert, and then culminated with Giovanni Pierluigi Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso, the most published composer of the 16th century. While the 17th century brought a change away from polyphony, Claudio Monteverdi, the developer of the opera, made innovative use of polyphony, extending the rules beyond the conventions of the earlier masters.