Additional Listening Examples for Music 213 Court and Ceremonial Music of the 16th Century.
a few of these will be on your listening test but you should listen to as many
as you can. Please click on the links below where the translations are
provided. The most famous are the
Fanfare "Vive le Roi"
additional works belong to a period that came 75 years before the high 16th
century of the Elizabethans and the 'Golden Age' of Palestrina, Lassus and
Victoria. (in the first decade of the 1500's).
All the composers in this web page were active in French court circles
and most were directly attached, for various periods of time, to the great court
of the French king, Louis XII and his music-loving queen, Anne de Bretagne, who
died in 1514. One of her funeral motets is included. It was a time of composers
much honored in their day, though still largely unknown in ours (except for
Josquin des Prês).
music begins a new era!
The music of the Middle Ages is
predominantly sacred, but in the 15th through the early 17th centuries, there is
a great flourishing of songs dedicated to secular topics, predominately love.
With the invention of music printing, the spread of literacy and improved travel
musical and poetic ideas traveled rapidly around Europe, creating a distinctive
set of ideas which elaborated themes inherited from the troubadours and their
descendents. The notion of courtly love was now hardly taken seriously, but its
imagery was still powerful.
Never before, had music flourished so gracefully, never had the art
achieved such an astonishing complexity yet at the same time such a poignancy of
expression. They had an interweaving of melodic lines, where four, five, six and
more strands could be composed harmoniously together, sometimes blended and
linked by the subtlest of imitation from line to line, by adroitly fashioned
canons and canons-within-canons, based upon Gregorian chant or upon folk songs
of the era.
was music that could express passions of the utmost delicacy, the profoundest
joy and the deepest lamentation. There were singers of extraordinary art, who
could move princes and kings with their music. Anne de Bretagne, the Queen, in
1510 hearing a "chantre" sing in the cathedral of Chartres, was so
moved that she took him on the spot into her services; she compensated the
cathedral for its loss by the gift of a new bell. (The singer's name was Jean Le
Fevre.) The voice still was supreme, for it was the natural instrument, given by
God, and its' singing traditions went back century upon century. Composers
were usually singers as a matter of course. There were many instruments too;
whole families of plucked strings, of viols, flutes, recorders, and many a shawm,
zinc, serpent and other instruments strange to us today. There were brasses for
outdoor music, to match the gentler indoor strings and the recorder. Everywhere
they were played and singers sang (including kings and queens themselves) to the
music composed those who knew the art. (See
webliography or text for pictures of these instruments)
was the special care of the kings and princes of the Renaissance. For music,
too, along with so much else, had left the medieval stronghold of the church's
protection and now moved with freedom and power both in the church and at court
as a living part of every Renaissance ceremony, every event of the day.
Seldom has an art been so vital to those who cherished it. To our unaccustomed
ears today, the music of 1500 may seem to strange or seem to contain a wistful
sadness. This is because the minor mode seems constantly present, and for some
of us "minor mode" spells sadness. (Besides the minor mode this music
also used the older modes, in particular the Dorian and Phrygian.) The
implication of sadness, is a modern invention. Even Bach and Handel in the
mid-1700's wrote “happy” music in minor keys so the sadness is
a product of the early 19th century which is only just yesterday!
We can adapt to these earlier sounds and soon begin to hear the joy in
the music as well as the true sadness that is often there.
1500, and for many years after, music was composed abstractly, as pure melody,
to be performed in many optional ways by voices or instruments or both in
combination according to the occasion. Good taste ruled the selection, but the
choice was wide. Words were usually provided but a motet of the time existed in
the same way a well-known popular tune does today.
music existed as melodies separate from the words.
In later centuries music was composed to the rhythm of the text but in
this period words were added to existing melodies!
need to single out one composer who was a giant among many who were popular : Josquin
des Près, the greatest composer of the Flemish school.
He, like so many Northern musicians, served his years in Rome near the
end of the 15th century as a member of the Papal Chapel. Later on-the date is
unknown-he entered the service of the King of France, Louis XII, and thus became
part of the great French circle of musicians.
Josquin des Près:
Fanfare "Vive le Roi"
quoi je vivrai/ Je n'ai plus d'argent/ Vivrai'je da eent/ Si l'argent du roi/ Ne
vient plus souvent? ("How shall I live - I have no more money; Shall I
live on air, if the king's money does not come more often?")
are some more composers that are introduced in your text.
The translations of the songs are included:
Amarilli Mia Bella
Che fai Ia Ramacia
Thislight-hearted Un franc archer is in first for instruments, then voices. The text, in colloquial French, sets its observations about the archer (bowman) to a canon on a popular melody, the beginning of which descends four notes-it can be heard clearly in canon, most easily in the opening brass version. Every time has its own widely circulated jokes, its humorous tunes to cryptic words that make entire sense to the initiated. It seems that about 1500 there was a popular satirical tune, much heard in various farcical presentations and even adapted, maliciously, to use as a Noel (Christmas popular tune), having to do with the Order of Saint Baboon, a mythical monkey business. This dates from 1501; one can easily hear the popular style of the melody, treated to a simple canon. This is nominally a chanson-humor and even political satire could occasionally gain the upper hand at the expense of courtly love. (See Josquin's Adieu mes am ours, above as an additional example of 15th century humor) Two more songs by Loyset COMPERE La Alfonsina: Must you not take when you give, when you hand over your body completely to serve, hold and love, and call out for your mistress, hoping she will give herself up. I believe that two trimly united hearts must belong to each other and set clearly that, without aversion, those who refuse to follow this law go astray. You might as well drown as choose a partner full of gall, for in love one must give so much. Che fa Ia Ramacina, What has happened to Ia Ramacina? What is she doing, why doesn't she come? Long live love and Ia Ramacina: what is she doing, why doesn't she come?
BINCHOIS: Triste Plaisir et Doileure
pleasures. sorrowful joys, bitter sweetness. nagging comfort, weeping smiles and
forgetful memories: these are my companions. however alone I may be. They are
hidden away inside my heart, far from my eyes, so that I do not set them; sad
pleasures, sorrowful joys, bitter sweetness, nagging comfort. This is my
treasure, this is my wealth, and for this. Danger is envious of me: he would
certainly be if he saw me doing better still, for he hates me because I obtain
the rewards of love.
Deul Angoisseux, Rage Desmesuree
grief, rage beyond measure, grievous despair full of torment, desire without
end, unhappy life full of tears, anguish and torment, sorrowful heart which
lives in obscurity. painful body unable to bear more: all of these are my
unceasing lot, and I can neither die nor recover.
LES DOLEURS DONT ME SEPTS
pains I have in full measure fill my mind so that I cannot free myself of them
and I grieve both night and day. Unceasingly I count them over, always thinking
I can conquer them; these pains I have in full measure fill my mind. I am
overwhelmed by them, and, if Death himself were to summon me and fell me with
his club, I could not put them to sleep.
Donnes L'Assault a la Forteresse
Mort, J'appelle de la Rigueuer
Morte Che Fai?
Heinrich ISAAC: La Morra I will pursue my aim with unshakable determination. Strike me, Cupid. with thy dart, even if I should die of it. If I lose her, at least my noble desire will show great courage. I will pursue my aim with unshakable determination.
Air for two sacqueboutes, chalemie and a
"Anon." (anonymous) is a composer of
considerable importance in the age. Here are two light little songs, no less
interesting than the works where we know the name of the composer, and an
anonymous chanson: Si j'ay perdtt mon ami, played by recorders.
Epitaphe de L’amant
Dit Le Bourguignon
ANON. Of all English Renaissance tunes, this is the most familiar, partly because of its modern use for the Christmas carol What Child Is This? However, it was a wildly popular tune in its own day, and was arranged in endless different ways. Here we hear it sung much as it must have sounded in the 16th century. Although the text speaks in the voice of a man spurned by his lady love, it is here sung by a woman, which would not have bothered a Renaissance audience one bit. They had little concern for the gender of the singer of a song so long as the voice was a pleasant one. The message was conveyed by the words and melody, and not by the person of the singer.
Alas my love, ye do me
to cast me off discurteously:
And I have loved you so long,
Delighting in your companie.
Greensleeves was all my
Greensleeves was my delight:
Greensleees was my heart of gold,
And who but my Ladie Greensleeves.
I have been readie at your
to grant what ever you would crave
I have both waged life and land,
your love and good will for to have.
Greensleeves was all my joy, etc.
Thou couldst desire no
But still thou hadst it readily,
Thy musicke still to play and sing,
And yet thou wuldst not love me.
Greensleeves was all my joy, etc.
Greensleeves now farewell
God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true
Come once again and love me.
Greensleeves was all my joy, etc.
to the Early Music Listening List
Other composers of the era for further study:
came from Arras and died at the court of Belois, the fabulous seat on the Loire
river in central France in the midst of the chateau country, built by a
succession of kings, notably Louis XII and Francis I who came after him. This
younger man was a follower of Josquin des Près. His motet celebrates some
kingly event, the nature of which is not known.
Jean Mouton is one of the better known composers of the period. It is one of a number of motets expressing the real anguish of the musical world at the loss of a great patroness and music lover, the Queen of France, Anne de Bretagne. The date was 1514 -she was only 37- and it is not known for which of several great funeral ceremonies. Antoine Bruznel: He is a Flemish composer of the same period who was not at the court of the king of France though he was stationed at various times at Chartres, at Notre-Dame in Paris as well as at Geneva and even in Italy. He was famous for establishing a new trend, combining the more lyric elements of the chanson (which was sung in French) with the Latin-text motet-the "motet-chanson", a style that was soon called Parisian. TWO LANGUAGES AT ONCE! Josquin composed a sacred Mass based on the piece. Even in instrumental form it is half-way between the motet and the lighter chanson.
He was famous for first setting a passion, his setting of the Passion According to Saint Matthew and dates from
about 1517, or more than two hundred years before the well known work by J. S.
Bach. Longueval, was maitre de
chapelle to Louis XII in 1517 and continued in the service of Francis I.
This is not like a Baroque Passion but a motet Passion, adapting the
prevailing mode of composition of the time with an Evangelist (narrator) and the
Turba, (the turbulent crowd). There was still no opera, no "spoken"
recitative for solo voice; indeed, the solo role was not conceivable in terms of
music, except entirely by itself as in a chanson with instrumental
accompaniment. Music was not theatre - not yet. Not for a full century... It has
an unusually long text, in Latin and was before the time of Protestant music in
Francesco Petrarca: devoted dozens of sonnets to his love for Laura, who died in the black death of the 14th century without ever having returned his passion. These became some of the most influential and imitated love lyrics ever written, translated and set to music all over Europe. He did not invent the "Petrarchan sonnet" form, but he made it famous. He imagines that her brief presence in the world was a miraculous angelic apparition. She becomes almost godlike in her powers, with the music of her speech transforming nature.
Christine de Pisan: (or Pizan) was a 14th-century French writer who was wed at 15 and widowed at 25, and dedicated her output of love-lyrics to the memory of her late husband to whom she was utterly devoted. Despite the wish for death expressed in the envoi to this poem, she lived on to compose many other works, often defending women's rights and praising their accomplishments. Not only is this an unusual work in expressing wifely devotion, but it is also highly original in the way it piles sorrow on sorrow in a torrent of anguished verse. Although Christine is counted as a "Medieval" poet her poem was set by Gilles Binchois, a "Renaissance" composer, reminding us that no sharp boundary separated these periods and that he could respond directly and immediately to her emotion with powerfully moving music.