The frottola was a northern Italian polyphonic song type of the period between about 1470 and 1530 that catered for humorous or sentimental verses popular at the time. Verses were set for three – later four – voices, usually with a soprano main melody. Occasionally the supporting voices were replaced by instruments, usually viols, or winds or even by a single lute. It was similar to the later English Ayre (See madrigal) and the Neapolitan “villanella” in that multiple verses were each sung to the same tune. It was taken over by the more sophisticated and flexible madrigal which was more suitable for the increasingly varied texts of interest to the Renaissance Italians.
“Oxford Companion to Music”
“The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music”