Josquin Desprez

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February 9, 2011
SMUS 110-201
Paper #1
Josquin Desprez
In the history of Western music Josquin Desprez became one of the most influential composers. Not much was known about this great composer’s time on earth. A lot of what people know about his life is expressed through his music. Josquin’s estimated date of birth is said to be 1440. Recent research shows that his birth date could have been later sometime in the 1450’s. Before he died in 1521 Desprez made a huge impact on the music during the Renaissance. Years after Josquin Desprez’s death, his music was distributed all throughout Europe and Germany. A quote from Todd M. McComb, who wrote a discography about Desprez, helps one to understand why his music became so popular and it says,
“The clear textures and text declamation which Josquin employed set the stage not only for the next developments of technical harmony, but for the clarity and conciseness demanded by the Counter-Reformation of Palestrina et al. as well. Josquin's output displays a rare combination of innovation and accomplished technical mastery, and has retained for him a position as the most prominent composer of the early sixteenth century, perhaps the high point of Western music as a whole.”
This simply meant his music was recited clearly and concisely. He was doing things that no other composer had done to music. He also improved the techniques other composer had been using for years. This statement by McCobb sums up the reasons Desprez was honored so much for his music. His style allowed him to compose over a hundred motets and many other works while he was alive.
Polyphonic imitation was a common technique in motets. Polyphonic imitation is where one musical line shares or imitates the same musical theme as the proceeding line. One song by Desprez, titled Ave Maria- Virgo Serena, uses polyphonic imitation all throughout the piece. This piece describes his work the best. One said, “With his strict canonic opening and subsequent

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