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a cappella

A term applied to unaccompanied vocal music, originated in the expression "a cappella Sistina" ("in the Sistine Chapel" where instruments were forbidden to accompany the singers


a boy or adult singer who had been castrated to keep his voice from changing so that it would remain in the soprano register.

Council of Trent

The gathering of church officials during the mid-sixteenth century to consider reforms for the Roman Catholic Church.


A reactionary movement in the Roman Catholic church that sought to stem the tide of the Protestant Reformation by cleansing the church of abuses and establishing a more conservative, pious environment.


A high, soprano-like voice produces by adult male singers when they sing in head voice and not in full chest voice.


In the mid-sixteenth century, a fast, leaping dance in triple meter.


The belief that people can shape their world and have the capacity to create beautiful works of art for no other reason than aesthetic pleasure and enjoyment.


The process by which one or more musical voices, or parts, enter and duplicate exactly for a period of time the music presented by the previous voice.


A popular genre of secular vocal music that originated in Italy during the Renaissance, in which usually four or five voices sing love poems.


A device, originating in the madrigal, by which key word in a text spark a particularly expressive musical setting.


A composition for choir or larger chorus setting a religious, devotional, or solemn text often sung a cappella.


In the mid-sixteenth century, a slow, gliding dance in duple meter performed by couples holding hands.

Sistine Chapel

The pope's personal chapel in St. Peter's; home of the a cappella Sistine Chapel choir

word painting

The process of depicting the text in music, be it subtly, overtly, or even jokingly, by means of expressive musical devices.

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