Motet Development

Topics: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina / Pages: 7 (1662 words) / Published: Apr 6th, 2006
The motet was one of the most important forms of polyphonic music from 1250 to 1750. The Italian mottetto was originally a profane polyphonic species of music, the air, or melody, being in the Tenor clef, taking the then acknowledged place of the canto fermo or plainchant, theme. It originated in the 13th century resulting from the practice of Pérotin and his contemporaries in Paris. The term "motet" can be translated as "the word of movement". Sometimes two upper voices had different words. In the beginning, Latin texts involving topics of the Virgin Mary were used. Later, French secular pieces became common due to the fact that the motet terminated its connection with church and liturgy. Between the years 1390 and 1435, Dunstable Power produced polyphonic motets that are still worthy of attention. Dunstables "Quam Pulchra Es" is a three-part motet. It concludes with an Alleluia being far in advance of any similar work during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. It exemplified a genuinely artistic style. Equally beautiful are the motets of Lionel Power, the manuscripts of which are at Vienna, Bologna, and Modena. One of his happiest efforts is a four-part motet in which the treatment is peculiarly melodious and of an Irish flavor. During the late 13th century, motets with tenors sharing similar rhythms with the upper voices became possible. Several motet types blossomed in France, but reduction in diversity occurred because of the acclaimed works of Philippe de Vitry, who died Bishop of Meaux. He wrote a work entitled "Ars Compositionis de Motetis", the date of which was probably 1320. This volume (now in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale) contains our oldest specimens of sacred motets, and these continued to set trends for over two centuries. Machaut's motets also showcased a preference for French texts. Guillaume de Machaut used isorhythm in the tenor and occasionally the upper parts as well. His signature became increasingly common in the late

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