Musicology: Renaissance

The outline that you find below has been a very helpful study guide to assist students using the book A History of Western Music. I strongly recommend this book. With its contents, art work, and media, it's just gorgeous!

Characteristics of the Renaissance

  1. The rediscovery of Greek and Roman culture
    1. Renaissance humanism
    2. Revival of ancient learning
      1. Grammer, rhetoric, poetry, history and moral philosophy
    3. Gioseffo Zarlino
      1. Music theorist who lamented the decline of music after the classical age
      2. Wrote important treatise: Le Istitutioni harmoniche (1558)
        1. Credits Adrian Willaert with ushering in new age of music
        2. Devised strict rules for dissonance handling, cadences, etc.
    4. Franchino Gaffurio
      1. Musician, scholar, theorist who incorporated Greek learning into his writing
      2. Theorica musice (1492)
      3. Practica musice (1496)
      4. De harmonia musicorum intrumentorum opus (1518)
    5. Heinrich Glarean
      1. Theorist
      2. Dodekachordon (The 12-string lyre)
      3. Added four new modes to the traditional eight
        1. Aeolian (A)
        2. Ionion (C)
    6. Johannes Tinctoris
      1. Flemish composer and theorist
      2. Liber de arte contrapuncti (1477)
      3. Deplored the works of older composers, claiming that nothing written more than 40 years before was worth listening to.
  2. Tuning Systems
    1. Expanding tonal resources, chromaticism and need for sweeter consonances prompts the search for new tuning systems (analogous to dev. in rhythmic systems)
    2. Musica ficta provided only a limited number of accidentals (F#,C#,G#,Bb,Eb)
  3. Italy and the Renaissance
    1. Renaissance takes root in Italy
    2. Rise of secular princes and patronage
      1. Medici‹>Florence
      2. Este‹>Ferrara
      3. Sforza‹>Milan
      4. Gonzaga‹>Mantua
    3. Examples of patronage
      1. Dufay's Nuper rosarum flores was composed for the dedication of the cupola of the dome of the Cathedral in Florence in 1436.
      2. Lorenzo de'Medici in the 1480s reorganized the chapel of this church and recruited the Flemish singer-composers Isaac, Agricola and Ghiselin.
      3. Milan (the Sforza family): Josquin des Prez, Johannes Martini among the chapel singers.
      4. Ferrara: Martini, Obrecht, Brumel, Willaert
      5. Mantua: Martini, Josquin, Compere
      6. Papal chapel in Rome: Josquin, Prioris, Bruhier.
  4. Music Printing
    1. Patronage and musical activity created a newfound demand for music
    2. Movable type perfected by Johann Gutenberg by 1450
    3. Liturgical books with plainchant notation are printed by 1473
    4. First collection of polyphonic music from movable type:
      1. Harmonice musices odhecaton (1501)
      2. Pubished. by Ottaviano de'Petrucci in Venice
      3. By 1523 Petrucci publ. 59 volumes of vocal and instrumental music
      4. Petrucci used triple impression: one for staff lines, one for words, one for notes
    5. Later printers
      1. John Rastell: single impression, London 1520
      2. Pierre Attaingnant, Paris beginning 1528
      3. Music printing began in German by 1534, Netherlands, 1538
      4. Important printing centers: Venice, Rome, Nuremberg, Paris, Lyon, Louvain, Antwerp.
    6. Part-books were the norm for publications: one volume for each voice or part
    7. Older two-part compositional framework: tenor-soprano (followed by adding in the third and fourth voices successively) was obsolete.
      1. Composers such as Pietro Aron taught that all parts be written simultaneously.

Composers from the North

  1. Dominance of northerners begins early 15th c., 1450-1550 is the defining period
    1. Most in service of the Holy Roman Emperor (Spain, Germany, Bohemia, Austria) King of France, pope or Italian court.
    2. Italy (Naples, Florence, Ferrara, Mantua, Milan and Venice) chief center for diffusion of French, Flemish and Netherland composers.
  2. Johannes Ockeghem (1420-1497)
    1. Personal history:
      1. Sang in the choir of the Cathedral of Antwerp (1443)
      2. Mid-1440s he was in the service of Charles I, duke of Bourbon, in France
      3. 1452 he entered the royal chapel of the king of France
    2. Compositional output
      1. 13 Masses
        1. By second half of 15th c. Mass becomes principal form of composition.
        2. Caput Mass: similar to Dufay's. 4 voices w/contrapuntal texture of independent melodic lines, expanded vocal ranges.
      2. 10 motets
      3. 20 chansons
    3. Canon
      1. In general Ockeghem did not rely heavily on imitation in his Masses
        1. Imitative passages exist, but seldom in all voices, Ockeghem Agnus from the Caput Mass has only incidental imitation at m.27-30 in upper 3 parts.
        2. By contrast Obrecht begins his three Agnus settings on the Caput subject with imitative entries.
      2. Ockeghem does however make use of canon
        1. Contemporary musici often utilized forms in which audible structure was concealed by rigidly calculated structure (canon)
        2. Retrograde (crab) canon: 2nd voice derived from original voice and sung backward.
        3. Mensuration canon: two voices moving at different speeds to a single written melody.
          1. Mensuration rations included simple augmentation 2:1 or simple diminution 1:2 or any other ratio.
        4. Double canon: two canons sung or played simultaneously.
      3. Missa prolationum
        1. Each movement is a double mensuration canon
      4. Missa cuiusvis toni
        1. Mass to be sung 'in any mode' by reading the music according to one or another of four different clef combinations. Can be sung in any of the four modes.
      5. Missa De plus en plus: utilizes a cantus firmus like Dufay's 'Se la face ay pale'. c.f. is based on the tenor part of a Binchois chanson.
      6. Missa Ecce ancilla: c.f. on a plainsong antiphon.
      7. Missa L'homme armé: rigid use of c.f. melody
      8. Missa mi-mi: derives its name from the first two notes of the bass voice, e-A both of which in solmization were sung to the syllable 'mi'.
  3. Jacob Obrecht (1452-1505)
    1. Personal history
      1. Held important positions at Cambrai, Bruges, Antwerp
      2. Was at the courts of Ferrara in 1487-88
      3. Joined the ducal chapel in 1504 and died of the plague a year later
    2. Compositional output
      1. 29 Masses
      2. 28 motets
      3. Unspecified number of chansons, Dutch songs and inst. pieces
    3. Mass style:
      1. Most use cantus fimi based on secular songs or Gregorian melodies
      2. Greater flexibility in use of borrowed themes:
        1. In some, melody is used in every mov't
        2. In others, the first phrase of the melody is used in the Kyrie, second in the Gloria and so forth.
        3. Missa carminum: introduces about 20 different secular tunes
      3. Frequent use of canonic passages
    4. Chanson
      1. Chansons of 1460-80 show a gradually increasing use of imitative counterpoint involving first only the superious and tenor voices, later all three
      2. Binchois' 'Filles a marier' has a sustained tenor and contratenor supporting two soprano voices written in free imitation and in a vivacious syllabic style
      3. Ockeghem and his contemporary Antoine Busnois (d.1492) used traditional formes fixes.
      4. Famous chanson
        1. Ma bouche rit: Ockeghem
        2. Adieu mes amours: Josquin
      5. Chanson melodies often used as cantus fimus in Mass
  4. The Odhecaton (1501 anthology of chanson)
    1. Important source of chanson from the generation of Obrecht, Isaac and Josquin
    2. Published in 1501 by Petrucci at Venice as Harmonice musices odhecaton A
      1. 96 polyphonic songs
      2. Was first in a series, Canti B and Canti C were issued in 1502 and 1504
      3. Chansons written between 1470 and 1500
      4. Half of the chansons are for three voices
      5. Composers represented: Isaac, Josquin, Alexander Agricola (1446-1506) and Loyset Compere (1455-1518)
    3. Progressive elements in the Odhecaton
      1. Inclusion of four-voice chansons which show developing fuller texture
      2. Growing imitative counterpoint
      3. Clearer harmonic structure
      4. Greater equality of voices
    4. Josquin, in contrast with Ockeghem, virtually abandons the formes fixes
      1. Many of his texts are strophic
      2. Rather than the 'layered polyphonic fabric' of Ockeghem, Josquin uses imitation
      3. Faulte d'argent: melody in strict canon at the lower 5th between contratenor and the quinta pars, other three voices weave a network of close imitation
  5. Josquin des Prez (1440-1521)
    1. Culminating figure of the Renaissance
    2. Personal history:
      1. Born in France
      2. Singer at Milan Cathedral from 1459-1472 and later member of ducal chapel of Galeazzo Maria Sforza
      3. After Duke's assassination in 1476, Josquin serves his brother, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza until his death in 1505.
      4. From 1486-1494 he serves at the papal chapel in Rome
      5. 1501-1503 he was in France
      6. In 1503 he is appointed maestro di cappella at the court of Ferrara
      7. 1504-1521 he returns to his natal region at Conde-sur-l'Escaut
    3. Compositional output
      1. 18 Masses
      2. 100 motets
      3. 70 chansons and secular vocal works
    4. Masses
      1. L'homme arme super voces musicales
        1. Transposes the 15th c. tune to successive degrees of the hexachord, beginning it on C for the Kyrie, D for the Gloria, etc.
        2. The mass also uses the device of mensuration canon (ex: Agnus Dei)
      2. Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae
        1. Soggetto cavato dalle vocali a 'subject or theme drawn from the vowels'
        2. Each vowel indicates a corresponding syllable of the hexachord:
          1. He[rc] u  les dux Fe[rr] a ri  e
            re ut re ut re fa mi re
            D C D C D F E D
          2. Subject honored Ercole I, duke of Ferrara from 1471-1505
    5. Imitation Masses
      1. Missa Malheur me bat
        1. Based on chanson by Ockeghem
        2. Instead of single voice, all voices of the chanson are subjected to free fantasy and expansion
        3. Mass takes over not merely a single voice, but several including characteristic motives, fugal statements and answers.
      2. Terminology
        1. Imitation Mass: a Mass which takes over not merely a single voice but several of some preexisting chanson, Mass or motet
        2. Parody Mass is another term for the technique
        3. Contrafactum: merely putting new words under old music
        4. Begins to replace the cantus firmus Mass as the dominant form around 1520.
    6. Musica reservata
      1. 'Suiting music to the meaning of the words, expressing each different emotion, making the things of the text so vivid that they seem to stand actually before our eyes...'
      2. Term used in the middle of the 16th c. to denote the 'new style' of those composers who introduced chromaticism, modal variety, ornaments and contrasts of rhythm and texture to a degree hitherto unknown.
      3. Absalon fili mi (O My Son Absalon), motet by Josquin
        1. Demonstrates 'musica reservata'
        2. Towards the end on the words 'but go down weeping to the grave', voices descend melodically and harmonically moving through a circle of four 5ths from Bb to Gb (in 16th c. one rarely went beyond Eb)
  6. Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517)
    1. Personal history
      1. Flemish by birth
      2. Served Medici under Lorenzo the Magnifient at Florence from 1484-1492
      3. 1497 becomes court composer of Emperor Maximilian I at Vienn and Innsbruck
      4. Spent remaining years from 1501-1517 in Florence
    2. Isaac's output is more internation in character than that of any other composer of his generation. He incorporated influences from Italy, France, Germany, Flanders.
    3. Compositional output
      1. 30 Masses
      2. Choralis Constantinus: 3 vol. cycle of motets based on the liturgical texts and melodies of the Proper of the Mass (including many sequences) for a large portion of the church year
  7. Other contemporaries
    1. Pierre de la Rue (1460-1518): wrote numerous Masses and motets
    2. Jean Mouton (1459-1522)
      1. Described by Glarean as one of the 'emulators' of Josquin
      2. Teacher of Adrian Willaert (1490-1562)
    3. Jacob Arcadelt (1505-1568)
      1. May have studied with Josquin
      2. Wrote imitation Masses
      3. Missa Noe Noe: based on Mouton's motet 'Noe, noe'

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