Polychoral style

Term used for compositions in which the ensemble (chorus with or without the orchestra) is divided into several (usually two or three) distinct groups performing singly (in alternation) as well as jointly.  Italian terms are "coro battente" and "coro spezzato" (broken choir), the latter of which also implies separate placement of the groups.  The earliest known examples of this technique are in the works of Ruffino Bartolucci, who was musical director at the Cathedral of Padua from 1510 to 1520. Willaert used it in his "salmi spezzati" (broken psalms) found in publications of 1550 and 1557.  The polychoral style was cultivated by Andrea Gabrieli and fully exploited by Giovanni Gabrieli.  It is a characteristic feature of the Venetian school.  Its development was furthered by the alternate playing on the two organs of St. Mark's, which were installed in the two apses of the cathedral.