Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 August 2020
Having considered polyphony as practice in the previous chapter, the focus switches to its practitioners. To begin, the view of music as theory and practice in the Renaissance period is reviewed, tracing the transition from the medieval view of music as science to its status as an art, which comes to a head in the Renaissance period and affects the perception and social status of practitioners of polyphony. This leads to a detailed consideration of the singer-cleric, the primary model for practitioners of polyphony at the start of the period, and the gradual recognition of composition as a salaried activity in its own right, independent of singing, in the decades just before 1500. The sixteenth century brings greater diversification, not least owing to the rise of an urban middle class, catered to by the explosion onto the scene of print culture. The implications of these trends for musicians is considered in the remainder of the chapter, which examines the changing status of the composer, the role of instrumental ensembles in the performance of polyphony, and the emergent status of women as both paid performers and published composers.