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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

CHAPTER 13 Middle and Low

The Fifteenth-Century Motet and Chanson; Early Instrumental Music; Music Printing

Chapter:
CHAPTER 13 Middle and Low
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Richard Taruskin

Over the course of the fifteenth century, the cyclic Mass Ordinary, a new genre, displaced the motet from its position at the high end of the musical style spectrum. That is one of the reasons why the motet, of all preexisting literate genres, underwent the most radical transformation during that time. From an isorhythmic, tenor-dominated, polytextual construction, it became a Latin “cantilena,” a sacred song that primarily served devotional rather than ceremonial purposes. Connection with plainchant was retained but modified. Paraphrase—the technique pioneered in fauxbourdon settings, whereby an old chant was melodically refurbished and turned into a new “cantus”—began to dominate the motet just as the cantus-firmus technique was being appropriated by the Mass. Textual and expressive factors began to weigh more heavily than before both in the structure and in the detail-work of the newly renovated motet. The aim was lowered, so to speak, from the altogether transcendent to somewhere nearer the human plane. The result was the perfect embodiment of Tinctoris’s stylus mediocris, the “middle style.”

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 13 Middle and Low." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-013.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 13 Middle and Low. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 21 Oct. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-013.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 13 Middle and Low." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 21 Oct. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-013.xml
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