This engaging study introduces Renaissance polyphony to a modern audience. It helps readers of all ages and levels of experience make sense of what they are hearing. How does Renaissance music work? How is a piece typical of its style and type; or, if it is exceptional, what makes it so? The makers of polyphony were keenly aware of the specialized nature of their craft. How is this reflected in the music they wrote, and how were they regarded by their patrons and audiences? Through a combination of detailed, nuanced appreciation of musical style and a lucid overview of current debates, this book offers a glimpse of meanings behind and beyond the notes, be they playful or profound. It will enhance the listening experience of students, performers and music lovers alike.
1. Introducing Renaissance Polyphony; 2. Making Polyphony: Sources and Practice; 3. Makers of Polyphony; 4. Pitch: An Overview; 5. Voice-names, Ranges, and Functions; 6. Mensural Notation, Duration, and Meter; 7. Genre, Texts, Form; 8. 'Cantus magnus': Music for the Mass; 9. 'Cantus mediocris': The Motet; 10. 'Cantus parvus': Secular Music; 11. Scoring, Texture, Scale; 12. Understanding Musical Borrowing; 13. Canons, Puzzles, Games; 14. Performance Practice: A Brief Introduction.
Fabrice Fitch is a composer and musicologist specializing in Renaissance polyphony and its performance. His monograph Johannes Ockeghem: Masses and Models remains the only full-length monograph in English on the composer, and he has published widely on Obrecht, Agricola, other composers of that generation, and the Eton Choirbook. His compositions have been performed by leading soloists and chamber ensembles and broadcast internationally. He has been a reviewer with Gramophone for over 25 years.
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