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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina


Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (3 February 1525 - 2 February 1594) was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. He is known for the use of Renaissance polyphony, or the use of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody.

Palestrina followed these rules when composing:

  1. The flow of the music is dynamic, not static.
  2. The melody should avoid leaps between notes.
  3. Leaps must be small and followed by a step in the opposite direction. Dissonances may only be used in suspensions, passing tones, and weak beats.

Palestrina’s works continue to be popular repetoire for vocalists. He also had a lasting influence on the developement of European sacred music and counterpoint.


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In this excerpt of "Sicut cervus," pay attention to the independent lines of melody and the guidelines that Palestrina followed.


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