15th Century Motet and Josquin des Prez
- 15th Century development of the motet
- The biggest difference between the 13th century and 15th century motet is that monotextuality was preferred over polytextuality. Clear communication was a priority in the Renaissance era; a single Latin text line was preferred
- A favourite texture of des Prez was imitation in which a melody line would be reinstated by another voice while the other voices continued to pursue their individual lines
- Chordal declamation
- Chordal declamation was a practise Josquin adopted frequently in his motet “Ave Maria … virgo serena”. All voices were singing in a chordal texture which supports the contours of the text, emphasizing the text
- A capella
- “In church style”, a capella was a texture in which voices performed with no musical accompaniment
- Franco Flemish School
- Also known as the Burgundian School, the composers of the Franco-Flemish school were born and raised in the countries of France, Belgium and Holland and usually found employment in Italy. Characteristics of these composers included well defined melodic lines and more firmly established rhythms. Harmonies are identified as being simplified, foreshadowing harmonies built from triads
Josquin des Prez (c. 1440-1521)
Josquin was a devoutly religious man who wrote over a hundred motets, Masses, and also some secular vocal music. Josquin focused his attention on mastering the contrapuntal texture and as a result, beautifully constructed vocal music was produced. He experimented also with varying the texture and the amounts of voices singing at once. His music is known to follow beautiful and lyrical melody lines with a great depth of emotion revealed.
“Ave Maria … virgo serena”
This serenely beautiful motet was written in the 1470s and required four voices. It is a chant of praise to the Virgin Mary in Latin as a rhymed poem following the formal structure of a couplet followed by five quatrains and concluding with the final couplet. A reverent and holy character is present throughout the piece. The meter shifts from duple to triple and returns back to duple for the conclusion. The opening line “Ave Maria, gratia plena” is sung in imitation texture. “Ave cjus conceptio” is sung in imitation with pairing of voices, the top two voices are answered by the bottom two. “Ave vera virginitas” is in homophonic texture with clear text declamation. The final couplet’s line “O Mater Dei, memento mei” is presented in homophonic texture again with firm text declamation.