Music of the pre-Baroque period

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Belle
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Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:50 pm

The inspiration for this topic was comments on the Tchaikovsky discussion about Palestrina and others. Such a magnificent era in music which I would actually identify broadly as the Renaissance period which went from 1400 up to 1600, but the 'pre-Baroque' would be music from the mid-late 16th century, IMO, and going beyond 1600 - though stylistically and harmonically still belonging to the previous century. Ergo, the difficulty of such arbitrary chronologies!

I have this recording of dance music by Praetorius - played by Philip Picket (who is in jail for rape right now) - and it's a wonderfully vigorous performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx8KGI8HX3I

If I'm not mistaken, Shakespeare actually makes some reference to Michael Praetorius.

jbuck919
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:40 pm

You'd better post that reference from Shakespeare, as I am completely unaware of it. The original music from The Tempest survives, though I cannot now find it on YouTube. (I can actually sing Full Fadom Five from memory.)

There is no more distinguishing chronological mark than 1600. Yes, there is a bit of overlap, but it is of no great significance. Monteverdi's mass In illo tempore (a weird title because it refers to nothing but the way the gospel was invariably introduced in the old Latin mass) is already a piece in the "new style" and quite distinct from any of the great masses by the best Renaissance composers.

Before Belle's time, we had a number of posters who were fans of what might be called early music. She and I seem to be the only ones left.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by John F » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:54 am

What I meant by the term "prebaroque" in another thread is all music previous to the Baroque, not just the Renaissance. Otherwise, no comment, as this isn't my kind of music.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:51 am

This beautiful mass by Guillaume Dufay is using as its cantus firmus the popular secular song "L'Homme Arme", (The Armed Man") which was used in over 20 different settings for sacred works in the Renaissance period by various composers. For this reason Dufay's work is called a "cantus firmus mass". Dufay died in 1474, just 18 years before Columbus discovered America. You can hear the sophisticated polyphony, yet it also sounds quite transparent; this is music of great beauty and compositional significance and the notes which accompany the performance here are very good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibSeyIbNGYA

When I studied Musicology decades ago the areas which interested me most were the Renaissance and Baroque, followed closely by the Medieval period. There was a huge amount of information to digest in not all that much time. A knowledge of Latin would have been useful!

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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by diegobueno » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:32 am

Belle,
There's a lot to be said about all those centuries worth of great music, though I don't think you'll find enough interest in it here to have a meaningful discussion.

I'm just going to post a favorite example, and a particularly beautiful one.


Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:55 pm

That's OK because I understand that this music can be rather remote and often esoteric. Josquin was the greatest composer of the age and the academics where I studied believed he was amongst the very greatest of all composers for his melodic gifts and compositional ingenuity. In recent decades some of the works attributed to Josquin have been removed from his oeuvre following further scholarship. He composed sacred music but also complex secular works. And his work is a reminder - as if one were ever needed - of the importance of the Christian church in shaping our tradition of European art music. Not only that, the subject of pre-Baroque music itself it immensely interesting for further investigation.

In our increasingly repressive and shrill age there's a certain liberation is to be found in listening to the transcendent, ethereal music of composers like Josquin.

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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:54 pm

Here we go again. I've had many differences with Mark over the years, but it is simply incorrect that there cannot be an extended discussion on pre-tonal music. L'homme armé was a famous subject, and Josquin himself, probably the greatest of Renaissance composers, wrote a mass based on the theme. His homage to Dufay is well known, but as with all musical periods, dating even back to Gregorian Chant, Renaissance music had a period of maturity, and it was not quite realized yet with Dufay.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:10 pm

You'd still hear Gregorian chant briefly on occasion in Vienna at Augustinerkirche.

I have a recording of this work by Josquin, though not this performance, and it's a fairly well known work of the period for those who don't know it! What strikes the listener is the spaciousness but, paradoxically, the lack of cadences and what I call 'stops/pauses/breathing spaces'. Yet the music sounds sequential. This lack of cadence points is what Wagner went on to develop with his new harmonies much later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlB1HR4BgUg

If anybody wants to read an overview of the Renaissance period I can recommend an excellent book, though it is 41 years old now and some of the scholarship will be outdated. Nevertheless there are excellent discussions and analyses of major styles and composers:
"Music in the Renaissance", Howard M. Brown, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1976
(It starts with Dunstable and the Countenance Angloise, 1420-1490.)

This afternoon I've had this work playing throughout my home via Bluetooth. It's a more ancient piece than the earlier one I posted by Dufay because of its isorhythmic structure and somewhat academic approach. The notes below the link suggest that the use of isorhythm makes the piece less pleasing to the ear and more difficult to approach, which I couldn't disagree with more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pdKhgjxQpM
Last edited by Belle on Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

jbuck919
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:48 pm

Belle wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:10 pm
You'd still hear Gregorian chant briefly on occasion in Vienna at Augustinerkirche.

I have a recording of this work by Josquin, though not this performance, and it's a fairly well knoenwn work of the period for those who don't know it! What strikes the listener is the spaciousness but, paradoxically, the lack of cadences and what I call 'stops/pauses/breathing spaces'. Yet the music sounds sequential. This lack of cadence points is what Wagner went on to develop with his new harmonies much later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlB1HR4BgUg

What I wonder is the extent to which Bach may have known about this music.
Oh that. Sorry, but it's elementary to me.

You may have no idea of the depth of my experience with Gregorian Chant, which has nothing to do with Pope Gregory the Great but is a phenomenon largely of the Carolingian Renaissance. Once in Germany, I was in a parking lot outside a church on Sunday morning. I am not making this up. There was a men's chorus rehearsing a Gregorian introit in an upper room, and they were doing a terrible job. It was everything I could do to stop myself from entering and intruding to fix things up.

As for Bach, all of this would have been either unknown or irrelevant to him, the cantus firmus in the Credo of the Mass in B minor (which he actually got wrong) notwithstanding. Bach's heritage began with Martin Luther, who did know Gregorian, but transformed it in many ways.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:52 pm

I was sitting at the computer writing (editing) and listening as your comment came in - hence the overlap. I do very well understand your experience with Gregorian chant and you've written about this before. And, if I'm not mistaken, you're also Catholic.

I absolutely ADORE this repertoire and it's largely responsible for my moving back towards the Church rather than away from it as I grow older - and not for the reasons which might appear obvious!!!

And the modal cadential system largely escaped me despite my efforts to grapple with it!

This is very appealing and accessible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd3ZSx5ZGUs

Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:25 am

The Brown book I referred to a couple of posts ago says this:

"During the 15th and 16th centuries the dominion of the church modes over melody and harmony was threatened and finally overcome by a number of forces, chief among them the growth and development of the new concepts of functional tonality with its orientation around the cadential formula V-1 (Dominant to Tonic). Dufay's music, permeated with the new sounds of full triads, already recognizes this central principle....Composers during the later 16th century worked with a well-developed tonal system, although different in important ways from the tonality of the 17th century"(p.4).

For me, the classical period became a less adventurous one overall, in terms of the cadence in the sense that each work was always looking/heading for that point and, consequently, became somewhat predictable!! In fact, in quite a lot of classical music we get something like, V-1... V-1.... .V-1, V-1, V-1 (often growing faster) and the use of the triad as well. As composers matured you got less of that but, for me, one of the MANY defining features of a superior composer was the degree to which he could avoid that cliche and find another way to sum up his thoughts!! :mrgreen:

jbuck919
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:34 am

Whatever you are calling the Brown book is wrong, as is much in the more classic works on this subject, such as those by Appel If anything was ever cut out of the whole cloth, it is tonality. As for the modes, they were superimposed after the composition of the chant. A true Gregorian piece cannot be identified in that way at all. We are not far from the first Sunday of Advent, and here is a full performance of the introit for that occasion. It is deeply poetic. Rain down, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds produce the just one.


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

diegobueno
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by diegobueno » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:53 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:54 pm
Here we go again. I've had many differences with Mark over the years, but it is simply incorrect that there cannot be an extended discussion on pre-tonal music.
I didn't say there couldn't be, just that there wouldn't be. I'd be happy for you to prove me wrong and talk about the music rather than pretending there's some sort of "difference" between us. Sheesh.

Really, I'm astounded that you could take offense at my post, or regard it as pertaining to you.

Belle
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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:50 pm

Brown and Apel (editor, Harvard Dictionary of Music) were both standard references when I studied at University. And our Musicology lecturer transcribed pre-Renaissance texts into modern notation as part of his research. Whatever came first - theory or practice - Renaissance music was modal.

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Re: Music of the pre-Baroque period

Post by Belle » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:12 am

http://www.saladelcembalo.org/archivio.php

This site has just been drawn to my attention and may interest some people here, though it is not 'pre-Baroque'.

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