Music Of The Period Explained
Engraving Dancers from; John Playford, The English Dancing Master, 1651
For our period, music for the dance literally took center stage: 
And there is more to it than this, for dancing is practiced to reveal whether lovers are in good health and sound of limb, after which they are permitted to kiss their mistresses in order that they may touch and savour one another, thus to ascertain if they are shapely or emit an unpleasant odour as of bad meat. Therefore, from this standpoint, quite apart from the many other advantages to be derived from dancing, it becomes an essentially in a well ordered society. 
- Thoinot Arbeau, Orchesography (1589), trans. Mary Stewart Evans
Dances such as the ones below filled both palace and inn. Dancing masters roamed the countryside providing the instruction required for upward mobility and new dances to keep their business booming. The popularity of dance helped to polarize the views of the religious. Dancing at the crossroads became commonplace in villages everywhere, much to the displeasure of the clergy! At the court the pageantry of the Masque combined music,dance and drama. This spectacle was no more exotic though than the Morris dances which were performed throughout the land to continue ancient pagan rites. The church too produced magnificent music during this period. As with dance music and singing were required skills of the social climber:
Supper being ended and musicke bookes being brought to table, the mistresse of the house presented me with a part, earnestly requesting me to sing; but when, after many excuses, I protested unfainedly that I could not, every one began to wonder! Yes, some whispered to others, demanding how I was brought up; so that upon shame of mine ignorance, I goe now to seek out mine old friend Master Gnorimus to make myself his scholler. 
-Thomas Morley, Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practical Musicke, set downe in the Form of a Dialogue(1597).
Musical instruments were available both at tavern and at court. The viol was like a violin. The Viola-da gamba was a stringed instrument like a larger violin played held between the knees. The lute was a forerunner of the mandolin with a pear shaped body. The orbo was a large lute shaped instrument and the cittern a small lute shaped instrument. The gittern was a lute shaped as a fiddle and the guitar- one with a flat back was also played. Portable organs could turn up anywhere powered by hand operated bellows. Wind instruments also included the clarion-a trumpet, the hautboy - a shawm (an oboe like instrument shown above), the recorder and the hornpipe (a pipe with a horn added to its end). 
As can be seen in the works of Shakespeare the ballad tradition was very important. Traveling performers would play them and songs would be commissioned for all occasions. A popular form developed during this period was the madrigal a choral form where everyone could take a different part. 
Add to all this the harp and the drum and many other percussion instruments and you will find a spectacular music which gave high drama and color to the age. 
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