Aural Images of Lost Tradition

Aural Images of Lost Tradition

ROBERT TOFT
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 207
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv03h
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  • Book Info
    Aural Images of Lost Tradition
    Book Description:

    The oral traditions surrounding the application of sharps and flats to 16th century vocal music are documented in relation to theoretical literature, vocal sources, and intabulations of vocal music.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7111-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-8)

    One of the major problems confronting the performer of Renaissance vocal music has been to establish a precise understanding of the traditions of pitch-content associated with specific compositions. Performers and scholars working toward this end – the recovery of the actual pitches implied by mensural notation – have long been plagued by the ambiguities of pitch notation in the sources of vocal music from this period. The signsb mollisandb durum(flat and sharp) were largely left unspecified in vocal sources; consequently, certain important details of composers’ intentions never were notated. Singers were expected to be familiar with...

  5. ONE Theoretical Framework
    (pp. 9-40)

    The theoretical guide-lines governing the sixteenth-century musician’s approach to the application of the signsb mollisandb durumsurvive in a number of treatises dating from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries. Unfortunately, no one author treats the subject exhaustively or codifies the precepts, and if the parameters of the practices are to be established, isolated statements must be gleaned from treatises written throughout this period. These treatises deal with a variety of subjects and styles of music, and although most of them do not date from Josquin’s lifetime (the main composer treated in this book), many...

  6. TWO Pitch-Content in Josquin’s Motets
    (pp. 41-94)

    The pitch-content of Josquin’s motets was interpreted in various manners during the sixteenth century. Evidence that divergent approaches were taken by Renaissance musicians was provided by the Flemish singer Ghiselin Danckerts (ca 1510–after 1565), who, in the now-famous dispute between two singers in the Roman church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, demonstrated that more than one solution to passages containing ambiguous pitch-content was feasible.¹ Since, as this dispute aptly reveals, even the singers in one chapel could not agree on which course to follow, the contrasting interpretations encountered in the intabulations of Josquin’s motets should be no surprise. The...

  7. THREE The German Custom
    (pp. 95-102)

    During the early and middle sixteenth century, a distinctive practice may have existed in Germany for the performance of German music. The first written reference to this practice was made in 1555 by the brothers Paul and Bartholomeus Hessen. The preface to their publicationViel feiner lieblicher stücklein Spanischer, Welscher, Englischer, Französischer composition und tenz(Breslau) contains a statement which implies that the use of unnotated semitones was acceptable in the music of other countries but was contrary to custom in German music:

    die vielfaltigen bezeichneten kreutzlen / bedeuten die Semitonien / so wider den gebrauch deutscher Musica befunden /...

  8. FOUR Traditions of Pitch-Content
    (pp. 103-130)

    In recent years, the need to increase our understanding of geographically localized traditions of performance has been widely recognized by performers and scholars. Comparative study of all the sources, both vocal and instrumental, for a given motet frequently reveals that no one authoritative version of its pitch-content existed. What did exist, especially when the motet was a popular one, was a range of versions for each work. Various performers interpreted the sources at their disposal from differing perspectives, and this produced the divergent oral traditions associated with particular motets. The difficulty for us today in recovering these traditions is to...

  9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 131-134)

    The basic problem for sixteenth-century musicians dealing with the application of unnotated sharps and flats to the vocal music of the century was ambiguous notation, and it remains a problem for us today. The issue was discussed by theorists, such as Pietro Aaron, and the great temporal distance that separates us from them only compounds the difficulty we face in recovering the principles that governed sixteenth-century practices. We are, of course, outside the culture, yet somehow we must reconstruct the practices, using our reconstruction as the factual basis for solving musical problems articulated in the treatises. As we have seen,...

  10. APPENDIX
    (pp. 135-150)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 151-166)
  12. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 167-170)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 171-186)
  14. LIST OF EXAMPLES
    (pp. 187-192)
  15. INDEX OF NAMES AND TITLES
    (pp. 193-196)
  16. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 197-199)