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Sheet Music 
Main Page
Vocal Music
Instrumental Music Page

The Choral Music Section


-> Vespers and Compline in Fauxbourdon Style

-> Salve Festa Dies – Sacred Music from the Renaissance

-> Sacred Echoes – Sacred Music From the Renaissance

-> Gregorian Chants

-> Music for Holy Week by Palestrina and Victoria

-> Other Choral Music

The DoveSong Sheet Music Library is a work in progress and we are seeking contributions to fund the project. If you would like to help click here.

The Origin of This Collection of Music

Much of the music in the choral section of's Sheet Music Library was a project that began in 1971 to create a set of books containing the music for a number of the great works of choral music from the Roman Catholic liturgy of the Renaissance and pre-Renaissance period, including Gregorian Chant, the liturgical backbone of Catholic worship. The work of transferring this music from old text into modern notation went on as a 'free time' project for 25 years. As computer programs for creating music were not available, the scores were hand-lettered. 

During the 1980s some of the earlier attempts at writing the words by hand were redone using a typewriter for placing words into the music, to make the music more easily readable and from that time on, all scores were made using typewriter. 

The sources for this work were complete editions found in major university libraries and very old volumes of chant that had been printed by the Catholic Church in Europe many years ago. The major source for these editions were Stanford University and San Francisco State College, both in Northern California. The music contained in these volumes is in older notation that is unreadable today by most musicians, unless they have been especially trained. Therefore, our editions have been transformed into modern notation, using treble and bass clefs. The closed-score format was chosen to save space and to provide a way for students of composition to better study the music using a keyboard. The original plans were to publish a set of books containing the music, but the work continued on for over 25 years, until 1998, when it became apparent that the Internet was the real home for this very important collection of great music, so it could be made available to all people in all cultures, the world over.

Renaissance Sacred Music

The historical period called the Renaissance occupied the years from about 1400 to around 1610. Renaissance art developed in Italy, primarily in Florence and Rome, and the center of Renaissance music was the Vatican, but composers lived and wrote music in many other countries.

Plainsong is a term that describes a style of singing of the church liturgy on the European continent that was developed early in the first millennium. Plainsong is monophonic, meaning that it has a melody only, and no accompanying chords or instruments. The principal types of plainsong in the western part of the European continent consist of the Gallican, Gregorian, Ambrosian, Old Roman, and Mozarabic styles. In the eastern part they are the Syrian, Armenian, and Byzantine.

During the 10th century, a new style of singing called polyphonic began to be composed and the earliest examples were called organum. Polyphonic singing involves more than one line of melody being sung at a time. It was incorporated into worship services, replacing certain sections of the original plainsong melodies. Often the new polyphonic music was based on the original plainsong melody, in some cases, the melody was retained in tact as one of the melodic lines of the polyphony. The masters of organum were Leonin and Perotin who lived in 12th century. During the 15th century, the great composer Guillaume Dufay composed beautiful polyphonic music, mostly in three-parts. After him came Ockeghem and Obrecht. Polyphonic music reached a high point in the musical art of Josquin des Prez who lived from 1450 to 1521. The apex in Renaissance music was reached in the late 1500s with the music of Tomas Luis de Victoria, Giovanni Palestrina, and Orlando Lasso. The Venitian composer Giovanni Gabrieli spanned the end of the Renaissance Period with the beginning of the Baroque. 

In the early 1600s, a new style begin to become known, it's greatest exponent was Claudio Monteverdi in Venice, Italy. This new style, which became the Baroque, supplanted the Renaissance style of music completely.

Discover more on the DoveSong website with these links:

-> Renaissance Music in the DoveSong Text Library

-> Renaissance Music in the DoveSong MP3 Library

Closed-Score Notation

In the preparation of musical scores for choirs, there are two styles of notation that can be used for the choir parts. One is called open-score notation. In this notation, each voice of the choir has a separate staff of music. Choir music today is typically composed as SATB. This means that there are four parts, two for women's voices (soprano and alto) and two for men's (tenor and bass). In open notation, there are four staffs, one for each (soprano, alto, tenor and bass). In closed notation, the women's voices are reduced to a single treble-clef staff and the men's to a single staff with a bass clef. This makes the music similar in appearance to piano music. Therefore, closed-score notation is ideal for study. 

Students of the music will soon realize that the harmonies of Renaissance sacred music are simple three-note chords with use of dissonance by preparation and resolution only. Therefore, because this music is on triadic (three note), it is very harmonious, concordant, and has a peaceful, relaxing, and uplifting effect. 


Our music is not edited. The Original music did not have editing marks such as tempo and dynamic indications and we have not added them as many modern editions have done. Nor have we altered the original Latin words and all of the music is in its original key. Since choirs were different then than they are now, parts for don’t often match up to the expectations of a choir used to SATB singing. Therefore, modern editions often change the keys to make them more applicable. That is fine, but our goal has been to stay with the original key because changing it can in some cases effect the sound and effect of the music. 

Another point to noted here is that in Renaissance sacred music, key signatures were either all natural, or one flat. There were no sharp keys or keys containing more that one flat. 


Renaissance sacred music was written using the same modes employed by Gregorian chant. To learn more about modes, take a look at DoveSong's Mode Page:

-> The Church Modes

Reason for this Collection

Our purpose is to resurrect a lost and great music by getting the music into the hands of choirs and students. Some of this music has never been put into modern notation before. This great music is sorely needed in today’s world and the DoveSong Sheet Music Project will help introduce it into many other cultures such as China, Japan, India, the middle-east, and Russia.


The language sung in this music is Latin. Singers may use this pronunciation guide as an aid:

-> Latin Pronunciation Guide

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