Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Instrumentalists and Renaissance Culture, 1420–1600
Players of Function and Fantasy


  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107145801

£ 70.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Paperback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This innovative and multi-layered study of the music and culture of Renaissance instrumentalists spans the early institutionalization of instrumental music from c.1420 to the rise of the basso continuo and newer roles for instrumentalists around 1600. Employing a broad cultural narrative interwoven with detailed case studies, close readings of eighteen essential musical sources, and analysis of musical images, Victor Coelho and Keith Polk show that instrumental music formed a vital and dynamic element in the artistic landscape, from rote function to creative fantasy. Instrumentalists occupied a central role in courtly ceremonies and private social rituals during the Renaissance, and banquets, dances, processions, religious celebrations and weddings all required their participation, regardless of social class. Instrumental genres were highly diverse artistic creations, from polyphonic repertories revealing knowledge of notated styles, to improvisation and flexible practices. Understanding the contributions of instrumentalists is essential for any accurate assessment of Renaissance culture.

    • Offers a broad cultural study of instrumental music as woven into the social fabric of the Renaissance
    • Case studies throughout provide snapshots of the significant events and personalities of Renaissance instrumental music
    • Includes source-based and image-based studies of instrumental music to offer a wide range of contextual perspectives
    • Written to appeal to a broad range of musicologists, Renaissance historians, and early music performers
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a rich and variegated picture of how instrumentalists created, functioned, and lived. Specific case studies of individual Renaissance instrumentalists and events serve to illustrate trends in instrumental practice during the long Renaissance.' Michael Eisenberg, Notes

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107145801
    • length: 345 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 180 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.85kg
    • contains: 28 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: the culture of Renaissance instrumental music
    1. Renaissance instrumental music and its patrons
    2. A source-based history of Renaissance instrumental music
    3. The players
    4. Instrumental music for celebration and ceremony
    5. The instrumentalist's workshop: pedagogy, intabulation, and compositional process
    6. Renaissance instruments: images and realities

  • Authors

    Victor Coelho, Boston University
    Victor Coelho is Professor of Music and Director of the Center for Early Music Studies at Boston University. A Fellow of Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, his books include Music and Science in the Age of Galileo (1992), The Manuscript Sources of Seventeenth-Century Italian Lute Music (1995), Performance on Lute, Guitar, and Vihuela (Cambridge, 1998), and The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar (Cambridge, 2003). In 2000 he received the Noah Greenberg Award given by the American Musicological Society for outstanding contributions to the performance of early music, resulting in a recording (with Alan Curtis) that won a Prelude Classical Award in 2004. His recordings as lutenist and director appear on the Stradivarius, Toccata Classics and Teldec labels.

    Keith Polk, University of New Hampshire
    Keith Polk is a Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, and has also taught at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, the New England Conservatory, and Regents College, London. He is one of the foremost authorities on Renaissance instrumental music, and has produced numerous articles and several books on the subject, including German Instrumental Music of the Late Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1992). He is also a professional player of the French horn, having performed with the San Diego Symphony, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Baroque, and the Smithsonian Chamber Players. His Festschrift, Instruments, Ensembles, and Repertory, 1300–1600, edited by Timothy McGee and Stewart Carter, was published in 2013.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.