Harmony Between Catalan Modernism and Renaissance Music

Where are these similarities you might think – open your ears to the Miserere Mei Deus and gaze at these spectacular photos of the Sagrada Família.

Click “PLAY”

Modernisme, also known as Catalan Modernism, is the historiographic denomination given to an art and literature movement associated with the search of a new entitlement of Catalan culture, one of the most predominant cultures within Spain.  Nowadays it is consider a movement based on the cultural reclaim of the Catalan identity.  The Modernisme movement was centred in the city of Barcelona, though it reached far beyond – most notably in the early 1900’s, the movement inspired Arte Nova, Portugal’s own Art Nouveau and Modernism fusion.  

Modernisme was closely related to the English Arts and Crafts movement and the Gothic Revival movement.  As well as combining a rich variety of historically-derived elements, it is characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, by rich decoration and detail, by the frequent use of organic motifs, the taste for asymmetry, a refined aestheticism and dynamic shapes.

Modernisme was best known for its architectural expression, especially in the work of Antoni Gaudí – which we would talk about a bit later on in this post of enlightenment.

Renaissance music is vocal and instrumental music written and performed in Europe during the Renaissance era.  Consensus among music historians has been to start the era around 1400, with the end of the medieval era, and to close it around 1600, with the beginning of the Baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as it is understood in other disciplines. 

As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprises; and the Protestant Reformation.  From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular, the polyphonic style (music with multiple melody lines).

Modernisme is based on organic motifs, which would naturally focus on your senses.  Rich decoration and detail and a refined aestheticism is also very dominant.  Antoni Gaudí was a master of using these characteristics and creating a sort of phenomenology where occupants would experience sacred serenity.

Much like Modernisme architecture, Renaissance music is curved; bold in sound; divine.  It starts off with a simple pulse, much like a heartbeat or the waves of the ocean; carries on for about a minute.  And then suddenly high above it a voice, a single note hanging; unwavering, until it floats back like a feather – joining the underlying pulse.  The experience can only be described as audio intoxication.  



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