chapter  XI
14 Pages

THE MusIC OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTUBY

ENOUGH has been said in the course of the two preceding chapters to show that the salient feature of the music of the seventeenth century does not consist, as it is commonly supposed to do, in the supersession of a polyphonic mode of thought by a harmonic one, but rather exactly the opposite: namely, in a rebirth of counterpoint, a second wave of polyphony after the backwash of the Renaissance--tonal, secular, and instrumental this time rather than modal, sacred, and vocal-and culminating triumphantly in the art of Bach and his contemporaries, whose fugal forms are quite recognizably only the consummation and last consequence of the canonic art of the Flemish masters. The Florentine movement, to which so much attention is wrongly paid and so much significance wrongly attributed, was merely a short-lived reaction between two fundamentally similar and closely allied tendencies, the Gothic and the Baroque, and an unsuccessful attempt to anticipate thfl revolution that was only to come about a century and a half later, and to which we must now turn our attention.