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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

SPATIALIZED FORM

Chapter:
CHAPTER 15 A Perfected Art
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Julio Segni has been identified as someone who held the position of “first organist” under Willaert and Buus as one who, somewhat later, served under him as “second organist.” The terms were not solely indications of rank. Since the late fifteenth century, St. Mark’s Cathedral actually had two organ lofts, each with its designated player. It was inevitable that antiphonal music-making would be cultivated there, with the cathedral cappella split into two groups, one standing in a hexagonal enclosure called the pergolo (when it wasn’t occupied by the Doge and his retinue), the other across the nave in the Gospel pulpit.

Spatialized Form

fig. 15-6 St. Mark’s Cathedral, interior view showing the pergolo (hexagonal enclosure) and the Gospel pulpit, where two choirs sang antiphonal psalms.

It was also inevitable that such performances took place primarily at Vespers, because that is where the singing of full psalms was prevalent. Psalms were antiphonal by biblical tradition, after all, and were even characteristically structured (in “hemistichs”) according to that implied performance style. Willaert was not the first maestro di cappella to set Vespers psalms for “split choirs” (cori spezzati); he had an important predecessor, for one, in Francesco Santacroce, the choirmaster at the nearby city of Treviso. But, typically, it was Willaert who “classicalized” the practice and gave it an orderly procedure. In his settings, the two four-part choirs alternate verse by verse, then come together in eight parts for the concluding doxology, turning a formulaic termination into an impressive musical climax. Published by Gardane in 1550 and reprinted in 1557, Willaert’s Vespers Psalms were exemplary not only from the sonorous and formal point of view but also from the standpoint of declamation, increasingly an “issue” for sixteenth-century church musicians, as we shall see. Here, too, “il eccelentissimo Adriano” established a standard of perfection.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 15 A Perfected Art." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015010.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 15 A Perfected Art. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 19 Apr. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015010.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 15 A Perfected Art." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 19 Apr. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-015010.xml