How to Pass the Vocal Renaissance Music Score ID in the Common Comprehensive Exam.

The Renaissance (circa 1350 - 1600) contains some of the widest variety of styles and

compositional thought other than the extreme music pluralism found in the 20th century.

Keeping one’s wits about them during the comprehensive exam is a multitude easier than
keeping the same even keel while studying for such a wide variety of styles. The goal of this

paper (guide) is to help present historically accurate information in such a way to help the

student organize their thoughts in order to make logical and insightful choices regarding the

Renaissance repertoire they must identify on sight. Some generalizations have been made to

filter out the less-common facts and information. This paper is not meant to cover all the

possibilities but to help explain the most general or common traits and answers.

First one must look at the written guidelines presented to the student during the exam

(note: these guidelines are for the 1999-2000 school year - some items MAY have been

changed). The following is verbatim from the comprehensive score ID guidelines:

Score Analysis (2 hours)

Attached are eight excerpts representing various historical periods, media, and genres. For each

excerpt, analyze the example in terms of its style characteristics and compositional techniques.
Your discussion should include (but not limited to) aspects of:




based on your analysis. Naming the composer without providing an analysis of the example will not be sufficient for a passing grade. The primary thing one should understand about this test is that the correct composer and titles of the work are the icing on the cake . here is a general breakdown: . NOTHING is obvious. Finally.Tonal Language Dissonance Treatment Cadence Points Cleffing Instrumentation Rhythm Meter Then. You have an entire page to fill for each example so don’t short change yourself.” That being said. A good example would be “The Cultural Life in Pompei before and after 79AD.not the stuff that will pass or fail you. suggest a historical period and the names of several possible composers. The evaluator wants to understand what you see. Write down everything you can see or can extract from the score. narrow your choice of composers to one and state why you believe that composer to be more likely than any of the other composers you suggested. History is a flexible and fluid object with only a few “defining dates” and topics where history changed in absolute. can extract from the visual page or outright know. The first step into the parsing of the various elements in the Renaissance begins with a generic time line and division into smaller periods. Despite your possible notion that only the hidden or “clever” finds on the page are worthy.

it simply will not help you pass the comprehensive exam.1970 from student and faculty word of mouth) you need to a single date. no reason to write “Josquin” as the composer of a work if your teacher (now grading a piece of paper which could keep you paying tuition for another semester) is overly partial to the name “Mr.Early Renaissance 1300 Middle Renaissance 1400 Late Renaissance 1500 To make it easy for the studying student. The spelling of composer names (and title) is also a toss up. you will have to give an approximate date for the work.” This brings up a good suggestion: • Show your study notes to the teacher grading your question.” The tie goes to the runner so no need to make matters worse if you are already praying for the sympathy vote to get you to first base. ending dates and other superfluous numbers have been left off . Some texts have different birth dates for composers as well as divergent dates for period or sub- period beginnings and endings. some text books start the Renaissance in 1400. Mozart didn’t write anything in 1756. Loose lips sink ships . Save that information for later.” Late Renaissance is also referred to in some texts as “High Renaissance. Keep .and can help you pass the exam. but for the work. dePrez. For example. You want to get as much credit for everything you put on the paper as possible. This is a fundamental point which must be learned. As the score ID guidelines needs that brain space for Beethoven opus numbers and the true meaning of “Combinatorial” and “Strict Inversional Symmetrical Rotation. For each composer studied for on the entire range of music history (roughly 900 . Not for the composer. Showing some of your notes to teachers (they don’t want to see ALL of them) also may bring about a narrowing of study materials by what they say during the one on one session.

Busnois. Dunstable. 1906 is not a date that anyone cares about and is much more difficult to separate from other numbers more meaningful to you. Busnois 1500 Josquin. Combining the sub-period titles with the composers makes our list as follows: Early Renaissance: Machaut. “Machaut Dunked (on) Dufay. For Renaissance in particular the composer dates you will need to memorize are as follows: 1350 Machaut 1425 Dunstable 1450 Dufay 1475 Ockeghem.” Make them as . Lassus (de Lasso) 1600 Montiverdi. Dufay Middle Renaissance: Ockeghem. Obreckt 1550 Gombert 1575 Palestrina. 1900 puts you close enough and will help you group composers working at the same time together.Pepper”.your dates round. For example. Montiverdi. Gabrieli Make humorous sayings from the acronyms generated by the list. Janequin. Janequin. the acronym for the listed composers of the early Renaissance is MDD. Lassus. Josquin. Gabrieli You are more than welcome to memorize a greater number of composers or more specific dates (Josquin was born and died approximately 20 years later than Obreckt) but the above listing will get you through the test well enough if you have written down good comments about the music. Use the actual names if possible in the saying: “Machaut Drinks Dr. Obreckt. Gobert Late (High) Renaissance: Palestrina.

memorizable as possible. Now that you have an idea of who goes where in the historical timeline. sexual connotations. you are probably looking at Gabrieli. Note: Josquin DID write 5 voice masses so look at other information. What do the “extra” voices do? If the score is marked as a double choir 4 or 6 voices (high to low) and a separate set of 4 or 6 voices. We’ll put them in order from the most obvious to the more specific. The “aux” and “is” endings are clues. not even close. 2. Gabrieli wrote lots of antiphonal music with equal forces playing with and against each other . Language You don’t have to be able to speak or understand the language on the page. it must be sacred. 4 voices would include Dufay on and 5 voices would probably indicate Palestrina or later. Be sure to look at the PAIRING of these voices. 1. Sacred vs. whatever you need to spout out the correct information come the comprehensive score ID date.this is true for his instrumental writing as well. If you have never see French before (this is not a good sign of your repertoire sorry to say being in music at the DMA level) then go to the library and just look through them. but you will need to know what Latin or French looks like. Secular (words to find) One of the popular myths which float around comprehensive study groups regarding score ID is that if the text is Latin. Use humor. That being . If the piece has 3 voices you are looking at Early Renaissance. One voice is most likely chant. if fact. Number of Voices Always a good starting point. Nope. 3. let’s take a look at the visual clues you should look for in Renaissance music. thus you can switch over to a different (earlier) time period. Palestrina wrote up to 8 voices.

Don’t get tripped up by the word “Dominae. Rhythm and Imitation How do the voices move? Are they all separate? Do they have some points of imitation? Are there sections of homophonic writing mixed with imitation? Is there a tenor line which has a few VERY long notes or whose rhythmic values repeat at a specific interval (of time . 5. it will have other traits (texture and rhythmic) to keep you in the game. If you haven’t seen a mass or read the Latin to the mass in a while.” this is a non specific reference as opposed to “Dominum” which is in the liturgy. Santus. there are sacred and secular motets but only sacred masses. Also look at two voices (or three) moving together and see if they include a third or an entire major triad (these triads when . 7. Dunstable is known for having a faster moving superious in his 3 voice works. Are all the voices underlayed with text? 4. Gloria. If you find one. A quick reminder. now look for key words which tell you it is a mass. 6. the chance you’ll get a mass in German is nonexistent. how do the voices interact? Are they all equal or does the top line (the superius) move at a much higher rate than the other two or three voices.said. Jesu Christe. The big two to not miss on the score ID exam is Isorhythm and Imitation.not pitch)? Could there be a strict adherence to the rhythmic modes? You’ll need to determine the basic rhythmic structure in the piece. Mass or Motet If the answer for the language question is Latin.etc. The obvious words to look for are Credo. time to do so. Scoring Regarding the voices. Cadences and Counterpoint Find the cadences and look for the inclusion of a third.

it isn’t Machaut. As a rule Machaut did not use a third in cadences or in sequence. Machaut 3-4 voices Motets in French Open fifths in cadences Isorhythm .No real imitation Dunstable 3-4 voices Lots of Motets . Sometimes works have an internal duple section surrounded by triple meter. Now that we have discussed the seven features identifiable on sight. These comments will incorporate the seven features just discussed as well as what types of music the composer is known for writing and school or region of composition if known.6/3). See Example 1 .moving would probably be in first inversion .all superious ‘top voice’ dominated. Still uses isorhythm in chant-based tenor See Example 2 Lots of Chanson (most in rondeau form) .many of which have no plainchant. Many works in 3 voices (chanson) are treble dominated. Dufay 3-4 voices See Example 1 Mass and Mass sections. If you see a bunch of thirds. lets make some general comments about the composers listed above. Known for “sweet English sound” using thirds in motion and in cadences.

Open fifths in cadences and fauxbourdon Some imitation See Example 3 Ockeghem 4 . Some homophonic passages.9 Imitation entrances.6.5 voices in Masses and Motets See Example 10 3 voices in chanson (mostly Rondeau form) “Real” bass voice progressing in 4ths (5ths) at times (beginning tonal dominant tonic progression). Staggered entrances Palestrina Usually 5 voices or more (NOTE: Example 12 does NOT follow this) Lots of polyphonic imitation with little homophony. See Example 6. Some imitation See Example 10 Josquin 4 -5 voices in Motets and masses.10 Bass line is slower than other voices. (Double counterpoint)! See Example 5.See Example 5.7. See Example 4.6.8.sometimes imitative other times busy vs.8. See Example 12 .9 All voices equal when all voices occur See Example 7 Pairs of imitation.9 Obreckt 4-5-6 voices Pairs of voices .8. See Example 4.8. thus not many internal cadences.7. See Example 6. non-busy.9 Pure homophony when declaring important texts.

See Example 15 Breaks textures to fit meaning of words See Example 15 Gabrieli Voices usually doubled (8 voices total split Sop. See Example 14. Pairs of imitation between choirs and within. Ten. See Example 12 Lassus (Lasso) 5 voices or more See Example 11 A combination of Josquin and Palestrina styles.“Arch: shapes in the soprano line. Alto.Alto2. See Example 11 Pairs of imitation. Ten2. See Example 12 Most all leaps countered by step in the opposite direction. See Example 11 Breaks textures (Palestrina doesn’t) Janequin 4 -5 voices or more See Example 14 HUGE amounts of word painting.15 Nonsense syllables (always in French) See Example 14.Bass2) See Example 17 Highly imitative between the two choruses. Bass and Sop2. Outlines triads in the bass voice.. See Example 12 Beginning of word painting. Dissonances (other than suspensions) on unstressed beats..this is early Italian vocal writing. See Example 17 .15 (Janequin continued) Sometimes imitative with pairs or trios. Pairs of imitation. Highly imitative.

Quartets See Example 16 Looks like “modern” tonal music at times. Don’t worry about the right COMPOSER.. the question is asked .like refined Palestrina See Example 16 Lots of homophony Solos. Just be sure you get the details and the clues on the page: 1) 4 Voices 2) In French! 3) Primarily homophonic with some imitation 4) Dissonances treated very carefully on weak beats. Good luck! . and have others quiz you.“Who wrote example 13?” The answer is. you probably would have gotten full credit (minus the composer points). Trios.. Quiz yourself. quiz others. Your date would have been 1575. you would have gotten the right date and if you wrote about what you saw.Rhythmic “motives” very defined. Monteverdi 5-8 voices See Example 16 Probably a Madrigal Highly imitative. See Example 16 Beautiful arch shaped vocal lines . See Example 16 So.Claudin de Sermisy. it shouldn’t matter. Pairs. Who? While we haven’t talked about Sermisy at all in this paper. Your answer may have been Palestrina or maybe even Lasso. 5) All voices have text-underlay This is a late Renaissance chanson.

Allan. 1998 Garretson. 1993 Poultney. Norton & Company.W. Bibliography: Atlas. David. 1978 .W. 1998 __________. 1983 Robinson. Norton & Company. Ray. Choral Music: History Style and Performance Practice Prentice Hall. Renaissance Music W. Choral Music (Anthology) W. Renaissance Music (Anthology) Norton & Company. Studying Music History Prentice Hall. Robert.