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Laude (singular: lauda, or lauda spirituale) is the most important form of vernacular sacred song in Italy in the late medieval era and Renaissance. It remained popular into the nineteenth century.

Originally, the lauda was a monophonic (single-voice) form, but a polyphonic type developed in the early fifteenth century. The early lauda was probably influenced by the music of the troubadors, since it shows similarities in rhythm, melodic style, and especially notation. Many troubadors had fled their original homelands, such as Provence, during the Albigensian Crusade in the early 13th century, and settled in northern Italy where their music was influential in the development of the Italian secular style.

A monophonic form of the lauda spread widely throughout Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries as the music of the flagellants; this form was known as the Geisslerlieder, and picked up the vernacular language in each country it affected, including Germany, Poland, England and Scandinavia.

After 1480 the singing of laude was extremely popular in Florence, since the monk Savonarola (and others) had prohibited the dissemination of any other style of sacred vernacular music. Many of Josquin's motets and masses are based on melodies he heard in laude during his sojourns in Italy around this time.

Laude had a resurgence of popularity again at the time of the Counter-Reformation, since one of the musical goals of the Council of Trent was to increase the intelligibility of text, and the simple, easily understood laude provided an ideal example.

The lauda declined in importance with the development of the oratorio.

References and further reading

  • John Stevens and William F. Prizer. "Lauda spirituale", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1980), x, 538-543.
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0393095304
  • The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, ed. Don Randel. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1986. ISBN 0674615255
  • Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1978. ISBN 0393090906

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

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