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7. Renaissance: Introduction, Sacred Music, Mass

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Peter Chun

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of 7. Renaissance: Introduction, Sacred Music, Mass

The Renaissance:


What is it?
a rebirth—literally
...of what?
A new dominant cultural aesthetic
OK... What does that MEAN?
of the culture from ancient Greece & ancient Rome—an attempt to recapture it
Era of
Scientific inquiry/discovery
Artistic awakening
Tales of wealth of Africa, China, Indies generate national, private interest in exploration
Johannes Gutenberg (1394-1468) “invents” printing press in 1455
Moveable metal type set in frame
Coated with special ink
Mechanical press transfers image to paper
"Invention" of the printing press
Excavations in Rome uncover artifacts of past
Experience joys of this life:
Focus on details and realism, in contrast to the symbolism of Middle Ages
Luxury in general
Laocoon and His Sons (c. 25 B.C.)
Influences from ancient Greece/Rome
New interest in arts and literature of Greece and Rome:

—All spurred on with aid of printing to disseminate: Ideals of clarity, balance
Philosophical/intellectual movement:
Religious to Secular outlook
Focus on full development of human potential and issues, rather than the hereafter
Literature, art, philosophy, science more important than theology and morality
Role of Music in Society
More secular music making
Rise of the middle class: amateur musicians wanting to make music
Music publishing reduces cost of music: amateurs can make music
Instruments more affordable
Composers become more recognized:
More focus on the musician as artist, not just as musical cleric or entertainers
More opportunities for composers, musicians
—a capella is the norm

Gradual increase in “standard” number of voices, making harmony and counterpoint more complex:
Middle Ages - 3
mid-15th century - 4
mid-16th century - 5 or more
Gradual abandoning of using pre-existent melodies and forms
Renaissance Motet
Josquin Desprez (c. 1440-1521)
“He is the master of the notes. They have to do as he bids them; other composers have to do as the notes will.”
—Martin Luther
—Spent much of career working in Italy
Duke of Milan
Duke of Ferrara
Papal choir (Rome)

—His style was very influential in Renaissance
—Humanistic contents in his music
Continuous Imitation

Balance between horizontal and vertical elements makes music work
"Ave Maria...virgo serena"
Continued voyages lead to improvements in navigation technology:
Compass (improved)
Maps (improved)
Rush to discover maritime routes to India, Turkey
—Creates sense of possibility, new wealth
Prince Henry, "the Navigator"
Leonardo da Vinci
Filippo Brunelleschi
Michaelangelo’s David (1514)
Creates fascination with ancient culture which was then idealized
More institutions to support them:
Church choirs, schools, publishing houses civic bands, etc.
Still can’t make a living without a patron
(Counterpoint: “punctus contra punctum”= “point against point”=“note against note”= musical line against another)

—Predominant texture is imitative
Musical ideas exchanged between vocal lines
Close-knit musical fabric
More desire to make music appropriate to text

Word painting: making the music “sound” like the meaning of the words (ex. “death”=harsh dissonances; “heavens” or “stars”=ascending line)
New focus on harmony:
Concern for how voices combine harmonically: away from “open” sounding 5ths, octaves, 4ths to more pleasing, richer 3rds, 6ths
As well as horizontally
Born in city of Cambrai in Burgundy (an independent duchy)
—Major musical center in Renaissance
Studied music at cathedral of Cambrai
At beginning of a text phrase, initial musical idea ("point of imitation") presented in one voice
Then imitated by all other voices in turn
Counterpoint is the focus of Josquin’s music
Also gives great consideration to how voices align vertically
At beginning of next text phrase, new point of imitation introduced
—Well-known chant in first few bars of top voice
Points of imitation
Paired imitation: two voices imitated after duration of several beats, by another PAIR of voices
Homophonic texture highlights important words, sections
Textual changes differentiate sections of piece, most effective in the last
Final couplet: simple texture, example of humanistic spirit
The Mass in the Renaissance
First appear c. 1300
Polyphonic "settings" of the Mass
Tradition for setting parts of the Mass Ordinary polyphonically
Kyrie: prayer - “Lord have mercy”
Gloria: long, joyful hymn - “Glory to God in the Highest”
Credo: Statement of Christian beliefs
Sanctus: another hymn, ending w/ “Hosanna” (cry for salvation/praise of Jesus as the Messiah)
Agnus Dei: prayer - “Lamb of God”
Originated in England (Leonel Power & John Dunstable), c. 1440
Unified by:
Same tempo
Similar musical material
All start with same motive
Sometimes same cantus firmus
In Renaissance, & since then, composers think of mass ordinary as ONE long piece with 5 sections
Cantus Firmus Mass
Cyclic Mass
Guillaume Du Fay (c. 1397-1474) became famous for it, although Power and Dunstables were the first to use it.

L’homme armé Mass (The Armed Man Mass) is the most famous example of it.
Religious Developments
Lutheran Reformation
Other Protestant Movements
Catholic Counter-Reformation
All influenced development of sacred musical styles
Reformation results in secession of most of Northern Europe from Catholic church
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
In 1517—nails list of 95 items he wants to debate on door of local parish church
1522—Luther excommunicated
New system of worship and doctrine
Worship service, music in vernacular rather than Latin
Chorale: A new type of spiritual songs
Melodies adopted from plainsong, earlier German sacred song, even from secular art and popular song
1530's to the end of the century
Effort to recapture the loyalty of its people, combat “heresy,” work with the poor
In 1542, Pope Paul III appoints Council of Trent to address problems with church
Meets periodically from 1545-1565
Church music reform discussed in 1562
Council's Comments
Bad attitudes (irreverent, vain, overly florid), carelessness (corruption of chants) of singers
Use of instruments in church: too liberal in their use, esp. haut (outdoor) instruments
Esp. overly florid organ playing
Multi-voiced, imitative polyphony:
Complexity obscured text
Contrary to purpose of sacred music
Profane music should be banished from services (music based on and related to secular)
Composers should make certain that sacred texts were clearly audible at all times
Composer cited as example of “appropriate” polyphony - Giovanni Luigi da Palestrina
Educated as choirboy in Rome
1551 Summoned by Pope Julius III to join papal choir
Serves in one of two papal choirs (Capella Sistina, Capella Giulia) for rest of life
104 masses, c. 450 motets, and more
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525- 1594)
Immense technical control and stylistic consistency:
Long, stepwise, arched melodies
Transparent counterpoint:
Homophony alternating with counterpoint
Text presented homophonically, then restated in more elaborate contrapuntal setting

Allows a wide variety of colors within a single piece
“Our wisest mortals have decided that music should give zest to divine worship. If people take great pains to compose beautiful music for profane [secular] songs, they should devote at least as much thought to sacred song, nay, even more than to mere worldly matters.”

- Palestrina
Clear text declamation:
Well controlled dissonance placement
Words accented correctly
Syllables distinct and audible
Strictly proper uses of vocal register
—Not a Parody Mass
—Six voices - now standard:
All six only rarely sing at once
Generally, shifting combinations of four voices in play at any one time

—Not based on pre-existing model

—Largely syllabic setting: Melismas on accented syllables, ends of words and phrases
Gloria, from Pope Marcellus Mass
—At least two voices have cadence at end of every phrase; no text overlap

—Careful treatment of dissonance

—Imitation kept to minimum, handled very carefully

—M. 53 – stated homophonically, then quasi-imitative treatment
The Renaissance:
Introduction, Sacred Music, Mass

Not JUST the name of a HISTORICAL period
Often considered "perfect" sacred music:
His contemporaries often called him "The Prince of Music.”
Revered by future composers as well: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, many more
Council of Trent
Printing allows for wider dissemination of ideas
Reduces cost of books
Stimulates economy
Creates more literate populace
Now becomes a sacred form
Single Latin text
Single text in all parts
Only sometimes based on pre-existing Gregorian chants
Cantus firmus (fixed melody): sometimes used as a basis for elaborate ornamentation in other voices
"Marian" motets (Virgin Mary)
Secular motets, isorhythmic motets (repeating rhythmic pattern) used less
Early polyphonic Mass usually based on a fragment of Gregorian chant which became the “fixed melody,” known as Cantus Firmus
Composers then weaved other voices around it with counterpoint.
When used in all movements became a way to unify the whole work
Change of texture defines structure of text
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