As all forms of art, including music, the renaissance marked the rebirth of humanism, and a revival in cultural achievements for their own sake. Musical innovations were quickly disseminated, primarily facilitated by the advent of music printing, and thus the development of music theory and practice was likewise propelled forward. This period covers the last half of the 15th century, and 16th century, inclusive. With the Renaissance, more complicated and broader harmonic and contrapuntal structures emerge. Though the musical forms employed are still largely liturgical, the late Renaissance does see a great increase in sophistication for instrumental composition, as well as the emergence of secular madrigals, dramatic works and the first operas.
Many of these changes were pioneered with the music of Franco-Flemish composers including Johannes Ockeghem, Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez. The period culminated in the music of Giovanni Palestrina, Claudio Monteverdi, William Byrd, Roland de Lassus, and many others, as the musical styles spread throughout Europe.