Saturday, November 10, 2007

1455 – 1490 Ockeghem

1454         Gutenburg invented printing
1467-77     Charles the Bold Duke of Burgundy, at his death influence of the Duchy declined
1469-92     Lorenzo de Medici, Florence
1490         Fra Urbino built second organ at St. Marks, Venice

Vocal Music

Flemish School

Northerners from Belgium, Netherlands and northern France, the Flemish school included [1455] Ockeghem, Busnois, [1490] Obrecht, Isaac, Josquin, de la Rue, Compere, Mouton, [1525] Willaert, Gombert, Richafort, Buus, Arcadelt, Clemens non Papa, Verdelot, de Rore, [1560] Lasso, de Wert and Macque. Their unifying musical characteristic was the equal voiced polyphony of the Renaissance.


Ockeghem Mass 
|Latin----- Cantus
|Latin----- Contratenor Altus
|Latin----- lyric cantus firmus—Tenor
|Latin----- low, lyric—Contratenor Bassus

Mass composition was especially esteemed. The most important composer of polyphonic masses was Johannes Ockeghem (1430-95) who wrote eleven cycles. His style was characterized by

(a) greater equality of voices with less pairing of high and low voices as in Dufay,
(b) lower range with a much lower bass,
(c) continuous non-imitative counterpoint achieved by overlapping phrases,
(d) modal harmony, and
(e) cadences with fourth or fifth movement in the bass for the earliest consistent use of authentic and plagal cadences.

Techniques of mass composition were:

  1. Sacred c.f.: Dufay's Missa Ecce ancilla Domini and Missa Ave regina coelorun, Ockeghem's Missa Ecce ancilla Domini,
  2. Secular c.f.: Missae L'Homme Arme by Ockeghem, Dufay, Johannes Regis, Firmin Caron, Guillaume Gaugues, Antoine Busnois (d. 1492),
  3. Freely invented: Ockeghem's Missa Cuiuvis toni, to be sung in any mode, and Missa Prolationum, a double mensuration canon in which only two voices were notated, and
  4. Parody: Ockeghem's Missa Fors suilement.

Ockeghem also composed the first extant polyphonic Requiem Mass.


The energy seems to have gone into masses.


Much like the Burgundian chanson, it made more use of duple meter and showed greater equality of voices. The most important composer was Busnois; also, Gilles Joye (d. 1484), Hayne van Ghizeghem (fl. 1457-72) and Ockeghem.

Canti carnascialesci

Canti carnascialesci were Florentine carnival songs from the time of Lorenzo de Medici, forbidden under Savonarola.


Carol was an English song in two to four parts with refrain (burden).

Polyphonic Lied

Three-part songs with the melody and German text in the tenor were found in the Lochamer (c. 1450), Schedelsches (1461-67) and Glogauer (c. 1480) Liederbücher.


German popular hymns ending in "Kyrie eleison" became garbled to "Kyrioleis."

Instrumental Music


The German school continued with Conrad Paumann (1410-73), whose organ composition manual, Fundamentum organisandi (1452) contained tablature transcriptions of dances, Lieder and preludes (Praeambeln) together with instructions on counterpoint ornamentation. Another German collection was Buxheimer Orgelbuck (c. 1460-70) which also included songs and preludes.

Theory and Notation

White Mensural Notation

Around mid-century the notes were left hollow, resulting in what is called White Mensural Notation.



Theorist Johannes Tinctoris (1436-1511) wrote Diffinitorium musicae (1474), the first music dictionary.

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