THE 16TH CENTURY'S JAM

They were a part of the rhythm nation

About the Music

Music was part of everyday life, and people either sang or played instruments. The music during the Elizabethan era and the Renaissance expressed emotion and held meaning to it, which people would often connect to.


Events such as dinners, dances, and plays had music. Concerts were not performed, and instead the musicians worked as instrumentals that would guide the music. In music, the singer was important, but they believed not everyone had the ability to sing well. People continued to sing, and some learned how to sign to use their talent. People either created harmonies with their voices or put together sounds as musicians.

Different Rhythms

In the 16th century, music developed into different types. The different forms of music are:

  • Elizabethan Court Music

The Court Music consisted of at least 70 musicians and singers, who were employed from the Chapel Royal. The musicians were arranged in a balcony with a railing. The music ranged from traditional and simple English ballads to sophisticated, solemn music and also to dance music.

  • Elizabethan Street Music

The Street Music consisted of light and easy to carry instruments, and the music was played during weekly markets and special events. Street Music was made to replace the travelers because the government banned traveling.

  • Elizabethan Church Music

The Church Music consisted of more than one part, and the composers used two distinct styles, the Madrigal and the Ayre. Songs composed were considered 'sacred songs', which were played in church along with ballets and madrigals.

  • Elizabethan Town Music

The Town Music consisted of a town band, the Waits. The Waits accompanied the town watch, which is why they were supplied with high-pitched instruments to sound alarms.

The Terms to the Tunes

In the 16th century, music had terms that were used to describe certain arrangements.

  • A mixed or broken consort - A set of unlike instruments playing together
  • Whole noyse - A complete family of instruments from the same family, noyse, used together
  • Music books - books composed of music notes and information to guide the musicians
  • Part books - books for the vocalists to read as a guide to using their vocals and information regarding singing


Lastly, the music tavern included drinking songs that were drunkenly sang. The songs were composed by Orlando di Lasso. While the songs were catchy, they included a hidden meaning in the last part of the song.

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