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Prelude

An international style emerged in the fifteenth century.


Characteristics of fourteenth-century French and Italian music
were mixed with the new sounds of English composers.
By 1500, composers from northern France and the Low
Countries had assimilated the new style.
Secular genres were cultivated and influenced sacred music.
English influence
During the Hundred Years War, the English had a strong
presence in France.
English music made a significant impression, particularly with
its lively consonances.
The contenance angloise (English quality) was highly
praised.
Burgundian leadership
The dukes of Burgundy ruled parts of France and the Low
Countries.
Northern music became the chief conduit for the new style.
Nearly all of the leading composers from the late fifteenth
century came from these regions.
Philip the Good and Charles the Bold maintained chapels with
salaried composers and performers.
English Music and Its Influence
Sumer is icumen in (NAWM 24), ca. 1250
Most famous medieval canon or round
Called a rota: a perpetual canon at the unison

John Dunstable (ca. 13901453)


Leading English composer of his time
For a period, he served in France with the Duke of Bedford.
Dunstables sixty or so known compositions include brilliant isorhythmic motets
Only a few of his songs have survived.
The three-voice sacred pieces are among his most important works.
Quam pulchra es (NAWM 34) typifies the redefined early Renaissance motet
Influential music theorist Tinctoris wrote that nothing written before the 1430s was
worth hearing and advocated Dunstables new approach to counterpoint in which
all the voices were required to be consonant with every other voice, which
eliminated the untoward dissonances of previous music in favor of a much sweeter
sound populated by abundant thirds and sixths.

Principal types of polyphonic works from the mid-fifteenth century


Secular chansons with French texts
Motets
Magnificats and hymn settings for Offices
Mass Ordinary
Most works have three voices, similar to the fourteenth-century
chanson.
Each line has a distinct role.
The cantus spans a wide range, while the tenor and
contratenor have restricted ranges.
Gilles Binchois, (ca. 14001460)
Spent time in the service of an English earl who was part of the forces
occupying France
Worked for Philip the Good at the Burgundian court,
14271453
Composed more than fifty chansons (polyphonic settings of French secular
De plus en plus (see NAWM 35)
poems)

Guillaume Du Fay (also Dufay, ca. 13971474) The most famous composer of his time
Traveled widely, serving as a chapel musician in Italy and southwestern France.
His travels allowed him to absorb many regional stylistic traits.
Resvellies vous (Awake and be merry, NAWM 36)
Composed in Italy to celebrate a wedding
French characteristics
Italian characteristics
Se la face ay pale (NAWM 38a)
Ballade, composed ten years after Resvellies vous
Three-voice
sacred works
English elements
added to the French and Italian traits
Du Fay set numerous motets and Office pieces for three voices.
The texture resembles that of a chanson, with the main melody supported by the tenor and
contratenor.
Example: Christe, redemptor omnium (NAWM 37)
Isorhythmic motets
For solemn public occasions, composers continued to use the then-archaic isorhythmic motet.
Nuper rosarum flores, 1436, was composed for the dedication of the dome of the Cathedral of
Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
Two isorhythmic tenor voices, both based on the same chant, evoke the two vaults used to
support the dome.
Du Fay was in the service of Pope Eugene IV, who officiated at the dedication.

Before 1420, except for Machauts, polyphonic settings of the Ordinary texts were composed as
separate pieces.
During the fifteenth century, composers began to set the Ordinary as a coherent whole.
Complete mass settings were often commissioned for specific occasions or significant
individuals.
Musical unity led to cyclic Masses: cantus firmus, motto,
Cantus firmus (or tenor) Mass
The principal type of mass by the mid-fifteenth century
The four-voice texture became standardized.
Cantus firmus treatment
Du Fays Missa Se la face ay pale, Gloria (NAWM 38b)
The cantus firmus appears three times; it is easily recognized in only the third appearance because the first two are
in longer durations.