Northern Composers CH 9


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Western Europe around 1500. By this time, the Spanish rulers Isabella and Ferdinand had united Spain; the kings of France controlled several former quasi-independent fiefdoms within their borders, including Burgundy, Anjou, Brittany, and Provence; and Maximilian I, king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, ruled directly over Austria, Alsace, and the Low Countries.

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This miniature from a French manuscript of about 1530 shows Ockeghem (right foreground) and eight musicians of the French royal chapel singing from a large manuscript choirbook on a lectern, the custom of the time. Ockeghem is wearing glasses, still unusual in his day. (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris/Bridgeman Art Library)

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Busnoys, Je ne puis vivre, opening “I cannot live this way forever unless I have, in my grief, [some comfort] I cannot live this way forever unless I have, in my grief, [some comfort.]

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Comparison of ranges in masses by Du Fay and Ockeghem

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Ockeghem, opening of Kyrie II from Missa prolationum Original notation

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Ockeghem, opening of Kyrie II from Missa prolationum Transcription

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Jacob Obrecht in a portrait from 1496 by an anonymous Flemish painter. (Copyright © 2004 Kimball Art Museum)

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Obrecht, opening of Gloria from Missa Fortuna desperata

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Isaac, Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen, opening Innsbruck, I must leave you, I am going on my way, into a foreign land.

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Josquin des Prez, in a woodcut from Petrus Opmeer, Opus chronographicum (Antwerp, 1611). Opmeer based his portrait on an oil painting that once stood in Ste. Gudule church in Brussels but was destroyed in the 1570s. (Bettmann/Corbis)

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Excerpt from Josquin, Ave maria . . . virgo serena Lord be with you, serene virgin. Hail to her whose conception, full of solemn jubilation,

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Types of masses based on borrowed material.

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Josquin, Mille regretz I feel so much sadness and such painful distress, that it seems to me my days will soon dwindle away.

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Political Change and Consolidation France Defeated England in the Hundred Years’ War The duchy of Burgundy came under control of the king of France. By ca. 1525, France was a strong, centralized state.

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Political Change and Consolidation (cont’d) Spain The marriage of Queen Isabella of Castile and Léon and Ferdinand of Aragon united north-central and eastern Spain. Isabella and Ferdinand in 1492 Conquered the Moors, taking over southern Spain Expulsion of Jews from Spain Sponsored Columbus’s journey, beginning the era of European colonization

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Political Change and Consolidation (cont’d) Hapsburg Empire United with Spain through marriage in the sixteenth century Ruled Austria, the Low Countries, southern Italy, Spain, and Spanish America

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Political Change and Consolidation (cont’d) Italy Invaded by France in 1494 Continued to be composed of independent city-states and dominated by foreigners until the nineteenth century Wealthy Italian courts continued to hire musicians trained in the north.

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Ockeghem and Busnoys Ockeghem and Busnoys were the most renowned composers of their generation. Jean de (or Johannes) Ockeghem, ca. 1420–1497 Sang in the Antwerp cathedral choir Served Charles I, duke of Bourbon, for a short time

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Ockeghem and Busnoys (cont’d) Jean de (or Johannes) Ockeghem (cont’d) Served the kings of France from the 1450s to his retirement Entered the service in 1451 1454–1465: Held the post of chaplain 1464: Became a priest After 1465: Was master of the chapel Traveled a little, and had contact with Du Fay, Binchois, and Busnoys, but was not as cosmopolitan as Du Fay

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Ockeghem and Busnoys (cont’d) Jean de (or Johannes) Ockeghem (cont’d) Composed relatively few works Masses, motets, chansons Developed his own style, synthesizing past, present, and his own style elements Known for his unique masses Antoine Busnoys (or Busnois, ca. 1430–1492) Served the Hapsburg Empire Known for his chansons

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Ockeghem and Busnoys (cont’d) Chansons Three-voice texture in treble-dominated style Use the formes fixes, especially rondeau Characteristics from Du Fay’s generation are still evident (smooth melodies, preference for thirds and sixths, careful dissonance treatment)

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Ockeghem and Busnoys (cont’d) Chansons (cont’d) New features Longer melodies More imitation Greater equality between the voices More frequent use of duple meter. Je ne puis vivre by Busnoys Smooth, arching melody employing a wide range Constantly changing rhythms Imitation between tenor and cantus over free conterpoint in the contratenor The contratenor is more singable than in Du Fay’s style

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Masses Comparison with Du Fay Ockeghem and Busnoys were influenced by Du Fay. Du Fay quoted from Ockeghem and Busnoys’ Missa L’homme armé when he composed his mass on the same tenor. Vocal ranges Four-voice texture with a wide range Bassus voice goes lower than in Du Fay’s generation.

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Masses (cont’d) Vocal ranges (cont’d) Each voice sings a span of a twelfth or thirteenth. Passages in two- or three-voice texture contrast the dark, full texture resulting from the lower, increased ranges. Phrases are long, with few cadences and elision to smooth them. Busnoys and Ockeghem use a cantus firmus, often deployed in a highly individual manner.

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Ockeghem’s Masses Cantus-firmus masses Composed seven Missa de plus en plus Takes its cantus firmus from the tenor of Binchois’s chanson De plus en plus The Binchois tenor is altered rhythmically and with added notes.

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Ockeghem’s Masses (cont’d) Other mass types Several motto masses One plainsong mass Requiem mass is also plainsong. Missa Cuiusvis toni (Mass in any mode) Can be sung in mode 1, 3, 5, or 7 Performers use different clef combinations and musica ficta.

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Ockeghem’s Masses (cont’d) Missa prolationum Technical tour de force Notated in two voices but sung in four Uses all four prolation signs, a different one in each voice Superius and alto sing the same music but in different meters Tenor and bass sing another melody, also in different meters.

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Ockeghem’s Masses (cont’d) Missa prolationum (cont’d) Canon (Latin, “rule”) Deriving two or more voices from a single melody Voices may be delayed, inverted, or retrograde. Missa prolationum is both a mensuration canon and a double canon. Mensuration canon is when the “rule” is meter. Double canon is when there are two melodies treated using a rule.

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers Three composers born at about the same time: Jacob Obrecht (1457 or 1458–1505), Henricus Isaac (ca. 1450–1517), and Josquin des Prez (ca. 1450–1521) Born in the Low Countries Trained in the Low Countries Traveled widely

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) General traits Structure of vocal works largely determined by the text Melody and texture All lines were singable Each voice equal Four-voice texture standard; sometimes five or six voices Imitative counterpoint and homophony most common textures

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) General traits (cont’d) Melody and texture (cont’d) Pervading imitation: imitation involving all four voices Borrowed melodies are distributed through all the voices. Harmony Full triadic chords predominate and begin to replace open fifths and octaves at cadences. The bass becomes the lowest voice in the harmony.

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) General traits (cont’d) Genres Mass and motet continue to dominate sacred music. Chansons break away from the formes fixes and take on new shapes. Instrumental music becomes more common.

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Jacob Obrecht Works Thirty cantus-firmus masses Twenty-eight motets Many chansons Songs in Dutch Instrumental works

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Jacob Obrecht (cont’d) Imitation Used more often than in previous generation Point of imitation: series of imitative entrances Clarity Clear tonal center, confirmed by cadences Clearly audible structure

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Henricus Isaac Worked for Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence and Emperor Maximilian I in Austria Works Thirty-five masses Fifty motets Choralis Constantinus, cycle of settings for the Proper for most of the church year Secular songs in French, Italian, and German Untexted works (probably instrumental)

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Henricus Isaac (cont’d) Homophonic texture Isaac encountered homophonic song in the carnival tradition of Florence. His songs in German (Lied, pl. Lieder) include homophonic texture borrowed from Florentine tradition. Homophonic texture became part of the sixteenth-century style.

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Henricus Isaac (cont’d) Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen German secular song: Lied (pl. Lieder) Composed for court or elite circles but in a folk or popular style Homophonic with melody in the superius Strophic Cadences resolve to triads. Later became a chorale, O Welt, ich musss dich lassen (O world, I now must leave thee)

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The Next Generation of Franco-Flemish Composers (cont’d) Henricus Isaac (cont’d) Text setting This generation was concerned with fitting music to the words. In their compositions, phrases of text could be grasped as an uninterrupted thought. Printed and handwritten music now had to be more precise in text underlay.

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Josquin Des Prez (ca. 1450–1521) Biography Most influential composer of his time His given name was Josquin Lebloitte; “des Prez” was a nickname. Probably born in northern France Served in the chapel of the duke of Anjou in the 1470s Ca. 1484–89: singer in the duke’s chapel in Milan

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Josquin Des Prez (ca. 1450–1521) (cont’d) Biography (cont’d) 1489–95 or later: singer for the Sistine Chapel in Rome 1501–03: worked in France, possibly for King Louis XII 1503: appointed maestro di cappella to Duke Ercole I d’Este in Ferrara for a noble court and earned the highest salary in that court’s history

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Josquin Des Prez (ca. 1450–1521) (cont’d) Biography (cont’d) 1504: left Ferrara, possibly to escape the plague, and took a position as provost at the church of Notre Dame at Condé-sur-l’Escaut, where he remained until his death. Works At least eighteen masses Over fifty motets Sixty-five chansons (ten instrumental)

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Josquin Des Prez (ca. 1450–1521) (cont’d) Fame Martin Luther called him “Master of Notes” in 1538. Glareanus compared him to Homer. Cosimo Bartolo (1567) compared him to Michelangelo Composers emulated his style. His works were performed for almost a century after his death. Publishers falsely attributed works to him in order to boost sales of their books.

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Josquin’s Motets Style characteristics consistent with his generation: Texts drawn from Mass Proper or other sources Music freely composed, i.e., not based on chant Clarity in phrasing, form, and total organization Textures include imitation and monophony and are transparent throughout. Careful declamation of text

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Josquin’s Motets (cont’d) Text depiction and expression: Josquin was the first major composer to use music to depict the meaning of the text. Ave Maria . . . virgo serena One of his earliest motets (1485) and one of his most popular

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Josquin’s Motets (cont’d) Ave Maria . . . virgo serena (cont’d) The texture is constantly changing The motet opens with several overlapping points of imitation. Variety is created through changing the number of voices. Homophonic passages alternate with imitation. Text setting Each segment of the text is given a unique musical treatment that concludes with a cadence on the tonal center C. Words are declaimed naturally.

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Josquin’s Motets (cont’d) Ave Maria . . . virgo serena (cont’d) Text depiction Homophonic texture suggests fullness in setting of “solemni plena gaudio” (full of solemn jubilation). A passage of harmony suggesting fauxbourdon evokes an old-fashioned style and a sense of reverence for the text “Ave, cuius conceptio”

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Josquin’s Masses General qualities Like the motets, they are varied and abound in technical ingenuity. Most use a secular tune as a cantus firmus. Principal types of structure Cantus firmus Imitation Paraphrase

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Josquin’s Masses (cont’d) Cantus-firmus masses Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales transposes the cantus firmus two successive degrees of the hexachord for each movement. Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae uses a soggetto cavato dalle vocali (“subject drawn from the vowels” of the hexachord syllables) as the theme.

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Josquin’s Masses (cont’d) Imitation mass Sometimes also called “parody mass” Josquin’s Missa Malheur me bat borrows from all voices of the original polyphonic song. Resemblance to the original is strongest at the beginning and end of the new work. This technique works best when the source is composed for equal voices, i.e., imitative or homophonic.

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Josquin’s Masses (cont’d) Imitation mass (cont’d) Became the most common type of mass after ca. 1520 Paraphrase mass: Missa Pange lingua Based on a plainchant All four voices sing the source chant at some point. Phrases from the original generate motives for the new work. The original chant is paraphrased.

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Josquin’s Masses (cont’d) Paraphrase mass: Missa Pange lingua (cont’d) Source chants chosen for their context, e.g., to honor a patron or a saint Imitation in paired voices, a characteristic of Josquin’s style The Credo highlights important words with homophony.

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Josquin’s Chansons New style in this generation Strophic texts, with virtually no use of the formes fixes Four- or five-voice texture, all voices meant to be sung All parts equal Employ imitation and homophony

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Josquin’s Chansons (cont’d) Mille regretz Attributed to Josquin Representative of his style ca. 1520 Each new phrase of text receives its own particular treatment; e.g., Example 9.7 sets one phrase in paired imitation and the next in four-voice imitation.

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History of Western Music StudySpace Organize, learn, and connect on the History of Western Music StudySpace Review key points from the text Explore the Listening Quizzes for each chapter Test yourself with the Chapter Quizzes and Flashcards …and much more!

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A History of Western Music, 8th Edition This concludes the Lecture Slide Set for Chapter 9 by J. Peter Burkholder Donald Jay Grout Claude V. Palisca © 2009 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc Independent and Employee-Owned

Summary: Renaissance Northern Composers

Tags: renaissance

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