Musicology: Burgundian Lands

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English Music of the 15th c.

  1. General Features
    1. Close connection with folk style
    2. Tendency towards major tonality (rather than modal system)
    3. Tendency towards homophony (rather than independent lines, polytextual settings and harmonic dissonances of the French motet)
    4. Freer use of 3rds and 6ths than in the Continental style‹parallel motion with these intervals is frequent.
    5. Fuller texture.
  2. 14th Century
    1. Basic chant repertory was that of the Sarum rite (of the Cathedral Church of Salisbury)
    2. Representative work: Sumer is icumen in: English rota (round or canon) from ca.1250 displays many English traits; full chordal texture, free use of 3rds as consonances, distinct major tonality.
    3. Conductus, as early as 13th c., displays melodic line accompanied by 2 voices in parallel motion‹3rds, 6ths.
  3. Fauxbourdon
    1. English music may have provided the example for 6th-3rd successions that would fascinate Continental composers.
    2. From 1420-1450 this style of composition became prevalent on the Continent.
    3. Fauxbourdon: the term for this style.
      1. Composition in which 2 voices progress in parallel 6ths with 8ves interspersed and always cadencing at the octave at phrase endings.
      2. Unwritten third part was added in performance, moving contantly at a 4th below the treble (creating successive 1st inversion triads).
      3. Melody is in treble
      4. Resembles English discant, except that in English style melody is in middle or low voice.
      5. Fauxbourdon technique was used for settings of the simpler Office chants (hymns and antiphons) and of psalms and psalmlike texts such as the Magnificat and the Te Deum.
      6. The important practical consequence of this style was not in the production of such Office pieces, but in the emergence around the middle of the century of a new style of three-part writing.
        1. Old style (cantilena): lower voices stood apart, holding to slower rhythm and serving as background to the rhythm
        2. New 'Fauxbourdon' style: voices assume more equal importance, more unified, consonant sound, treble is sometimes ornamented, homophonic texture.
  4. Old Hall Manuscript
    1. The chief collection of English music of the early part of the 15th c.
    2. Contains 147 compositions dating from 1370-1420.
      1. More than 100 of these are settings of the Mass Ordinary
        1. Mass settings in English discant style
        2. Use of plainchant melodies in inner voices
      2. Remaining pieces are motetws, hymns and sequences
      3. About 20 pieces are isorhythmic
    3. Contenance angloise: Continental term for the English style once it was disseminated
  5. John Dunstable (1385-1453)
    1. Leading English composer from the first half of the 15th c.
    2. 70 extant works:
      1. 12 isorhythmic motets
      2. Sections of the Mass Ordinary
      3. Secular songs
      4. 3-part settings of misc. liturgical texts
  6. Votive Antiphon
  7. Carol
  8. 15th Century Motet
    1. Motet meanings (a review)
      1. 13th century motet: the French style
      2. 14th c. motet: isorhythmic style
        1. This style disappears after 1450
    2. New definition
      1. Broader meaning for a setting of a liturgical or even secular text in the new musical style.
      2. Almost any polyphonic composition on a Latin text other than the Mass Ordinary.
        1. Includes antiphons, responsories and texts from the Proper and Office.
      3. From the 16th c. onward this term also refers to sacred compositions in languages other than Latin.

Music in the Burgundian Lands

  1. The Duchy of Burgundy
    1. Feudal kingdom that flourished in the 15th c. and ended in 1477
    2. Encompassed most of modern-day Holland, Belgium, northeastern Franch and Luxembourg.
    3. Nominal capital was Dijon
    4. Was the leading patron of music in the mid-15th c.
  2. Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474)
    1. Sources
      1. Bodleian MS (Canonici misc.213) from 1460 contains 325 works from 1400- 1440.
      2. Trent Codices (7 vol.) contains more than 1600 compositions from 1400-1475.
    2. Principle Burgundian genres
      1. Masses
      2. Magnificats
      3. Motets
      4. Secular chansons with French texts
    3. Cadential formulae
      1. Use of 13th c. cadences: (ex: G-B-E ‹> F-C-F, where each not moves stepwise)
      2. Use of 14th c. 'Landini' or 'under-3rd' cadences
      3. New maj.6th ‹> 8ve cadence (p.187)
    4. Meter: triple meter predominate
  3. Burgundian chanson
    1. 15th c. term chanson was general term for any polyphonic setting of a secular poem in French.
    2. Text were almost always love poems
    3. Form was usually that of the rondeau, sometimes with the traditional 2-line refrain
  4. Gilles Binchois (1400-1460)
  5. Burgundian motets
    1. Motets and Masses were written in the manner of the chanson with freely melodic solo treble coupled with a tenor and supported by a contratenor part in the usual 3-voice texture.
    2. The treble might be newly-composed but in many cases it was an embellished chant melody. This is fundamentally different from the 13-14th c. practice.
      1. In 13-14th c. chant melody was simply structural foundation
      2. In Burgundian style the Gregorian melodies were meanto to be recognized
    3. Burgundian composers continued to write isorhythmic works: Dufay's Nuper rosarum flores written for the dedication of the Duomo in Florence (1436).
  6. Masses
    1. Numbers of polyphonic settings of the Mass increase in the late 14th-early 15th c.
    2. Previous to 1420 the various sections of the Ordinary were composed as separate pieces (Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame and a few others excepted)
    3. 15th c. established the regualar practice of the polyphonic setting of the Ordinary as a musically unified whole.
      1. Initially only a pair of sections: i.e. Gloria and Credo
      2. Practice was gradually extended to all 5 divisions of the Ordinary
      3. Impetus for this dev. was the desire to give coherence to large musical form
    4. Methods of organizing the Ordinary
      1. Earliest manner: composing all 5 div. in the same fashion
      2. Taking appropriate chant melodies from the Graduale: in this fashion the liturgical association is stronger than the musical. This type of setting is called a missa choralis or a plainsong Mass
      3. Using same thematic material in each movement (motto Mass)
      4. Using the same cantus firmus in every movement (cantus firmus Mass or tenor Mass)
        1. Earliest cyclical Masses of this kind were written by English composers
        2. Continental composers begin writing c.f. masses from 1450 onward
    5. Cantus Firmus
      1. In the medieval motet, the borrowed chant melody was usually in the tenor
      2. 15th c. style required that lowest voice be free to function as a foundation particularly at the cadences
      3. Instead, tenor was made the next-to-lowest voice and given the chant.
      4. Basic 4 part distribution: bass, tenor, alto and superius was standard by mid-15th century

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