Development that the Polyphonic Motet

This web page lesson evaluate the advancement of the polyphonic motet; please read the web pages carefully and also listen to the music samples much more than once. Western civilization"s greatest contribution to music is polyphony and, later, harmony. Why walk it take it so long for composers come envision music sung in multiple voice parts?

Monophonic Plainchant

To monks and also other priest in the center Ages, music connected singing biblical or bible-based text set to a plainchant melody. Rhythm conformed come the message as a result of the singers" articulations that words and also syllables, quite than being a separate aspect in the music. The acoustic room in i beg your pardon monophonic plainchants to be sung likely added to composers" wanted to limit the number of voice components in the chants. As monks chanted monophonic melodies in church, their voices reverberated in the huge, vaulted spaces within the cathedral, producing a quasi-harmony that added richness and also depth come an otherwise spare, monophonic melody line. Through reverberations of 1- to 2-second delays, the notes of chants having two or much more separate melody lines might mix together and easily obscure the articulations that the native or produce unwanted dissonances. This acoustic phenomena linked with the singers" intense focus on unadorned native satisfied their desire monophony because that over 600 years.

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Around 900 CE church composers such together Leonin and Perotin the the Notre Dame School began to add voice components to companion time-honored chants. You recognize this plainchant-layering as organum. In organum 2 or 3 melodies space sung above a drone or slow-moving melody is called the tenor native the Latin tenere, an interpretation "to hold."In the organum example, you have the right to hear the reduced (tenor) voice sustained under the upper voice components that follow the same rhythms, remaining in synch together they move up and also down together. This is no monophonic music, no one is polyphonic music; it"s somewhere in between, a kind of acoustic no-man"s land.



The extr voice parts functioned as decorative melodies moving in parallel intervals of octaves, perfect fifths, and fourth through the cantus firmus. The an outcome was a hollow, open sound. The accompanying voice parts additionally ended top top the exact same notes at cadences (temporary and also final resting areas in the chant).

Polyphonic Vocal Music

After the composers that organum, Guillaume de Machaut to be the an initial person to break the "texture" obstacle from monophony to polyphony. Polyphonic music combines 2 or more melody currently of same interest, each competing for the listener"s attention yet all working with each other as a whole. When melodies were liberated from their tenor (drone) or cantus firmi, rhythm arised as an important element in a composition. No longer the result of message articulations guided by the cantus firmus, rhythm was enforced onto the words of a text in bespeak to store the melodic lines moving independently.

Mass that Notre Dame (1360)

Machaut"s Notre Dame Mass, written for 4 separate voice parts -- soprano, alto, tenor, and also bass -- to be an breakthrough beyond the medieval monophonic plainchants and the organum the the High center ages. In Angus Dei, four separate voices sing simultaneously. The transition to smooth, consonant polyphony didn"t take place immediately. Machaut"s attempts in ~ polyphony sound contempt discordant, also forced in part places. Overall, friend may find the indigenous in Machaut"s music tough to listen coherently and also unambiguously (right?) because he had not settled ways to manage four voices singing various melodies and words at the exact same time. As you hear to Agnus Dei, you will view melody lines emphasize to indicate places wherein one voice standouts among the other voices. Voices that relocate up and also down quickly or follow strong rhythms stand out an ext than execute voices that relocate in a slow, continual flow. You may also notice that all four voices sometimes converge at cadences of long vowels, which giving stable, consonant resting platform for every voices to be together.

HISTORICAL NOTE: Machaut"s Agnus Dei indigenous the Notre Dame mass is a great example of a occupational that exhibits qualities of a motet. Because scholars have classified the motet together a "polyphonic choral work set to a spiritual Latin text various other than the plain of the Mass" (Kamien 82), Machaut"s Agnus Dei is technically not a motet. However, Machaut"s polyphonic work set a precedent for motets that were later on developed and refined by Machaut self (see next page) and also Renaissance composers after ~ him.

Polyphony and also the Matrix

He"s start to believe.


Imagine the town hall The Matrix ~ above four different televisions simultaneously, wherein one version of the movie has some scenes cut, making it much shorter in places, and also other versions have actually scenes added, making your versions longer. As you watch Neo, Morpheus, and also Mr. Blacksmith on four various TV screens, each display screen competes for your attention. Sometimes all four screens show the very same scenes almost simultaneously (where the notes heat up at cadence), however one screen continues showing the movie the end of sync v the others. At least with four screens showing various scenes of a movie, there room no moment in the story where nothing is happening. As quickly as all four video clip panels appear on your computer monitor, promptly click the beat buttons (in clockwise order) the all four panels. Is this what listening come Machaut"s polyphonic music is like?

The matrix in Polyphony





Machaut: Secular Motet Innovator

One the the very first types of vocal music to manipulate independent voice parts in polyphony was the motet, which is a term acquired from mot (French for "word"), referring to the words included to the voice parts. A motet is a "polyphonic choral work set to a Latin spiritual text" (Kamien 82) no usually used in the Mass. The motet was well-known in the center ages. Late medieval motets actually contained two different texts – generally a Latin sacred text and also a French secular text – at the exact same time, make the motet a "poly-textual" composition. Machaut was the key innovator behind this format of motet. Was there no avoiding this guy?

Two tune Texts better Than One

In his secular motet Quant en Moy (1350), Machaut sets come music TWO different secular love poems in French sung simultaneously, one in the soprano voice and also the various other in the tenor voice. An instrumental plainchant accompaniment is played gradually with the two simultaneously sung French songs. To make the messages of the two love poems work together, the melody and also rhythms that both voice components are secluded from each other, each complying with its own complicated rhythmic formula. The rhythms in the top (soprano) voice repeat after ~ every 80 notes, if the rhythms that the 2nd voice part repeat every 40 notes. (You can not hear this yet it is there, subliminally.) these rhythmic formulas pressure the words and articulations that the syllables come fit the rhythms, quite than make the rhythms flow naturally v the melody. The an outcome is a herky-jerky format of singing the sounds unnatural, as some of the words space compressed and stretched in order come fit the rhythmic formula. Machaut"s motets are complicated. Needless to say this kind of the poly-textual motet was a short-lived phenomenon, conveniently superseded by the smooth, deceptively simple motets that the Renaissance period. (NOTE: The voice saying "first hocket, 2nd hocket, etc." indicates places where the words of both texts space are rhythmically in sync v each other.) as you listen to the voices try to follow the text A in the left pillar -- also if girlfriend don"t speak French. Listen to Machaut"s motet a couple of times prior to you decide whether you choose it or not; that may grow on you.

MOTET: Quant en moy (When Love first Came)

TEXT A Soprano Voice (sung by countertenor)

Quant em moy vint premierement

Amours, si tres doucettement

Me vost mon cuer enamourer

Que d"un regart me fist present,

Et tres amoureus sentement

Me donna aveuc dous penser,

TEXT B Tenor voice

Amour et biauté parfaite





Mercy sans refuser.

Mais onques en tout mon vivant

Hardement ne me vost donner;

Et si me fait en desirant

Penser si amoureusement

Que, par pressure de desirer,

Ma joie convient en tourment

Muer, se je n"ay hardement.

Las! et je n"en puis recouvrer,

Me font parfaitement

Et vrais desirs, qui m"afaite



De vous,

Cuers dous,

Ne me vuet nul prester,

Qui en ses ras si durement

Me tient que n"en puis eschaper;

Ne je ne vueil, qu"en atendant

Sa grace je vueil humblement

Toutes ces dolours endurer.

Et s"Amours loyal se consent

Que ma douce dame au corps gent

Me vueille son ami clamer,

Amer sans finement.

Et quant j"aim si finement,

Je sçai

De vray


Vous pri,

Que j"arai, sans finer,

Joie qu"Amour à fin amant

Doit to water ses maus guerredonner.

Mais elle atent trop longuement

Et j"aimme si folettement

Que je n"ose merci rouver,

Car j"aim miex vivre en esperant

D"avoir merci procheinnement

Que refus me veingne tuer.

Et pour ce di en souspirant:

Grant folie est de tant amer

Que de boy dous confront on amer.

Car elle me soit faite,

Sans vostre honnour amenrir,

Car j"aim miex einsi languir

Et morir, s"il vous agrée,

Que par moy fust empirée

Vostre honnour, que tant desir,

Ne de fait ne de pensée.

Amara valde.

Josquin Desprez: understand of spiritual Motets

The spiritual motet got to its full breakthrough and refinment v Josquin Desprez (1440-1521), that was among the biggest composers of the Renaissance period. Simply as Leonardo da Vinci is advert by to together "Leonardo" by artists and historians, Josquin Desprez is called just "Josquin." He was born in north France and split his musical career in between France and Italy. Josquin created over 100 motets, 17 Masses and also numerous secular songs. His motets and Masses are defined by smooth, conjunct melodies and fluid gentle rhythms the conform come the articulations that words and syllables rather than the other way around, as heard in Machaut"s Quant en Moy. Josquin identified that if the melodies were going to sound good together, the upright alignment of notes had to loss into consonant intervals such together thirds or fifths.

Ave Maria Motet

In his motet "Ave Maria," Josquin combines a method of polyphony where melody present imitate each various other in a staggered formation, through homorhythms, wherein the melody currently line move together in the very same rhythm, developing a rich harmony. The motet is sung a cappella – that is without crucial accompaniment in 4 voice parts: soprano, alto, tenor, and bass (otherwise called SATB). Motets in prayer of the Virgin mary were popular throughout Europe, v Josquin"s motet Ave Maria being among the greatest examples of a Renaissance motet. Here are some attributes to think about as friend listen and watch the screen.

The opened melody that Josquin"s motet is based upon a line of classic Gregorian chant, who composer is anonymous.

Melody native Ave Maria Chant

Starting with the soprano voice, every voice enters consequently on a different note by imitating the vault voice. This an approach is dubbed imitation, which follow to Kamien is the presentation the a melodic idea through one voice or instrument that is immediately followed by its restatement by one more voice or instrument, together in a ring (51).The imitation the the upper and lower voice parts creates a dialogue. But due to the fact that of the overlapping polyphony the is hard to hear the words independently or coherently. Only once a word stands the end by itself without any type of other voice overlapping it can you listen a word or phrase clearly.The meter changes from duple meter come triple meter and ago duple meter. The triple meter section is symbolic of the holy Trinity, which is God together Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and which signifies purity. Since the three beats that the triple meter steps are fit right into the same amount of time as 2 beats the the remainder of the motet, notes in the triple ar speed up to store a continuous pulse in the motet.

Kamien has a full analysis of this motet top top pages 83-84. Although we will never recognize what go on in Josquin"s mind, the is clear that the horizontal communication of melodic lines to be his major focus; any kind of vertical plan of notes to be a beautiful outcome from his capability to develop consonant sounds and also to make the words of the text clear and easy come understand. If mine last allude is unclear, it will come to be clear as soon as we research the music the J.S. Bach.

William Byrd: "Just epic Stuff"

Since singing is so good a thing, i wish all males would learne come sing.

William Byrd (1540-1623)

Following cutting board Tallis, the next good English composer that the late Renaissance duration was william Byrd. He to be born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1540, and also was educated in music under cutting board Tallis, to sing in the Chapel royal in London. Byrd was raised as a Catholic throughout the power of mar Tudor ("Bloody Mary"), i m sorry lasted indigenous 1553 come 1558. When he was eighteen year old, the Catholic Queen mary died and her younger protestant sister, Queen Elizabeth, flourished her. Under Elizabeth, Catholicism fell out the favor and Catholics were persecuted through English Puritans and also Protestant extremists. In part cases, laws were passed the prevented Catholics indigenous openly worshipping in church and barred them native careers in English government. In spite of England"s bias versus Catholics, Byrd still continued to be a Catholic his totality life, and rather than leave England, he pursed his musical career till he was known by Queen Elizabeth (herself a musician), who wanted him a position as a Gentleman that the Chapel imperial in 1572. With Elizabeth"s support, Byrd operated as a singer, composer and organist for much more than two decades. Just after his appointment, he and also Tallis derived a joint printing patent from Queen Elizabeth (Scholes 1983). Byrd composed organ music and also many keyboard pieces for the English virginal, but his best works are is Masses and also motets written for Queen Elizabeth and also the Church that England. His devout Catholicism comes v in numerous of his Masses and also choral compositions, including the one presented in the video, called Tristitia et anxietas, i m sorry is Latin because that "Sadness and also anxiety." In the video, Charles Hazlewood interviews Peter Phillips, the manager of the Tallis scholar vocal ensemble who sing Tristitia et anxietas in the Tewkesbury Abbey. The job-related Tristitia et anxietas is a spiritual motet, and in part respects, it is emblematic that his life-long conflict as a Catholic composer functioning in the shadows and antagonisms of a protestant community.

Polyphonic Motet: Tristitia et anxietas

Latin text

Tristitia et anxietas occupaverunt interiora mea. Moestum factum est cor meum in dolore, et contenebrati sunt oculi mei. Vae mihi, quia peccavi. Sed tu, Domine, qui non derelinquis sperantes in te, consolare et adjuva me propter nomen sanctum tuum, et miserere mei.

English translation

Sadness and anxiety have actually overtaken my inmost being. My heart is made sorrowful in mourning, my eyes are come to be dim. Sorrow is me, for I have sinned. Yet thou, O Lord, that dost no forsake those whose expect is in thee, comfort and assist me for thy divine name"s sake, and also have mercy top top me.

Source: Scholes, P. A. (1983). William Byrd. The Oxford Companion come Music. New York: Oxford college Press: 142-143.

Listening Exercise

See if you can differentiate in between monophonic plainchant, organum, and also polyphonic motets. This and similar listening concerns will likely show up on the Unit exam.

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Renaissance Thinker Recognition

Let"s see exactly how well do you at recognizing the images of renowned composers and patrons of spiritual music native the Renaissance era.