Definition and background:
The stile moderno was the style used mostly for sacred music after 1600 AD. This style had specific part composed for the instruments, as well as a continuo part, rather than having the instruments simply double the vocal lines, and the parts were assigned to specific instruments for the first time. See also stile antico.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary