Saturday, November 10, 2007

1490 – 1525 Obrecht and Josquin

1492         Death of Lorenzo; Columbus in America
1494-98     Savanarola in Florence
1501         Odhecaton
1517         Luther's 95 Theses
1520         Violin emerged
1522         Luther excommunicated


Vocal Music



The last creative phase of the cyclic mass used all of the characteristic techniques:

  1. Sacred cantus firmus: Josquin des Pres' (c.1450-1521) Missa Pange lingua used the c.f. imitatively throughout the voices,
  2. Secular c.f.: Jacob Obrecht (1452-1505) Missa Fortuna desperata,
  3. Invented c.f.: Josquin's Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae used a device called soggetto cavato in which vowels correspond to solmisation syllables,
  4. Freely invented mass: Obrecht's Missa sine nomine.
  5. Parody, begun in the previous generation, this technique borrowed material from two or more voices of a previous contrapuntal composition: Obrecht's Missa Si dedero and his Missa Rosa playsant which finally borrowed the entire chanson and
  6. Plainsong mass, where each section of the Ordinary drew its material from a corresponding chant setting: Josquin's Missa de Beata Virgine and Heinrich Isaac's (c.1450-1517) Missa Solemne and his Missa Pascale.


This generation was by far the most diverse in technical methods. Obrecht concentrated on the cyclic mass and preferred the cantus firmus technique. Josquin contributed the use of imitation in all voices. Obrecht and Josquin were the first to use deliberate modulation. Other composers were Pierre de la Rue (d.1518), Alexander Agricola (c.1446-1506), Antoine de Févin (1474-1512), Antoine Brumel (fl.1483-1520) and Loyset Compère (c.1455-1518).





a-Latin---------------------- b--------------- etc.
……….a-Latin--------- b-----------------------
…………………a-Latin------------------------ b--------
…………………………a-Latin----------- b-------------------


The motet was again important through the effort of Josquin who composed 70-80 motets. He was the first to use pervading imitation, where each of the four voices takes up a theme in turn before going on to the next motive, though the majority of his works used imitation less thoroughly. A cycle of motets for the church year called Choralis Constantinus was written by Isaac. Other composers were Jean Mouton (c.1470-1522) and Agricola. Motets were written in England in a more conservative style by Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521) and William Cornyshe (c. 1468-1523).


Netherlands chanson


Chansons, the secular counterpart of Josquin's motet style, were composed by Isaac, Agricola, Josquin, de la Rue, and Compère. The Odhecaton, the first printed music collection published in Venice by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1501 contained ninety-six of these chansons.




The new Lutheran church, from 1522, published books of chorales in German on borrowed melodies with new texts (contrafacta): Achtliederbuck (1524) and Enchiridion oder eyn Handbüchlein (1524). Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn (1524) by Johann Walter (1495-1570) was a set of contrapuntal pieces based on chorale melodies.




Lieder in four voices with tenor melody were composed by Paul Hofhaimer (1495-1537), Heinrich Finck (1445-1527), Adam von Fulda (c.1445-1505) and Isaac.




Italian homophonic accompanied songs in three or four voices in a lighter, cruder style were also published by Petrucci (1504-14). Composers were Marco Cara (d.c.1530) and Bartolomeo Tromboncino (d.c.1535). In various strophic forms these pieces were among the first to add a major third to the final cadence.




Laude were inspirational frottole in Latin or Italian by Giacomo Fogliano (1468-1548).




Villancicos were Spanish homophonic songs by Juan del Encina (1468-1529).


Instrumental Music


Until c. 1600 there was little difference between vocal music and music for instrumental ensemble. Both used the same notation, and the use of viols, recorders, double reeds or brass is often implied if there was

(a) no text,
(b) long notes,
(c) wide range or
(d) angular melody.
Usually works consisted of dances, ricercars from the motet and conzonas from the chanson.


Music for solo instruments (lute or keyboard) was often written in tablature and quickly developed a distinctive idiom which included free voicing, variable tempo and a tradition of improvisation

(a) by ornamenting a melodic line (as in transcriptions),

(b) by adding one or more contrapuntal voices to a given cantus firmus (as in the verset, basse-danse, English In nominee or Spanish diferencias) or

(c) by unstructured extemporizing (as in the German prelude, Italian toccata and lute ricercar).




The German school continued with Hofhaimer and his students Hans Buchner (1483-1538), Kotter and Kleber, and included preludes and transcriptions of Lieder and liturgical music. The greatest German organist was Arnolt Schlick (c. 1450-1527).


Lute ricercar


Free compositions in two sections using scalar figuration were printed by Petrucci (1507-11), by Francesco Spinaccino and J.A. Dalza. German lute composers were Arnolt Schlick and Hans Judenkünig.


Ensemble Canzona (Carmen)


Compositions for instrumental ensemble which alternated contrapuntal and homophonic sections in anticipation of the canzona were by Obrecht and Isaac.



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