Dedicated to classics and hits.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hit Songs: Guillaume Dufay: Missa L'Homme, Kyrie

Guillaume Dufay: Missa l'Homme, Kyrie

    During the Renaissance, individual musicians emerged in much the same way as did other Artists of the time: out of craft guilds and via patronage by wealthy merchants/royalty.  Thus, Florence played the same outsize role in the patronage of Renaissance Music as it did in other Artistic disciplines like painting, sculpture and architecture.

  Unlike the religion based songs of the Middle Ages, many of the Renaissance era Songs have Artists firmly attached and it during the Renaissance that the "modern" concept of Artistic identity became to flourish.  It's important to recognize that Music was behind more popular Arts like Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.  During the Renaissance, Music was a poor cousin.   Blanning's so-called "rise of music" is an 18th century affair.

Missa L'Homme, Kyrie, by Guillaume Dufay

 Issues of Artistic identity aside, you can hear the difference between the 6th century, anonymously authored Vexila Regis and the Renaissance era Missa L'Homme, Kyrie, by Guillaume Dufay.  Guillaume Dufay was "the most famous composer in Europe in the mid 15th century, for whatever that was worth.

 Of course you can also hear the similarities (they are both chants without instrumentation.)  It would only be a couple hundred years later that Mozart and Beethoven would emerge to change that for good.

 You  can see by a quick glance that Dufay did not have a large popular Audience, but was popular with other musicians and patrons. This was probably because his song writing was more stylistically complex, or as Wikipedia says, "one of the first to use the harmonies, phrasing and expressive melodies characteristic of the early Renaissance.His compositions within the larger genres (masses, motets and chansons) are mostly similar to each other; his renown is largely due to what was perceived as his perfect control of the forms in which he worked, as well as his gift for memorable and singable melody. (WIKIPEDIA)

  I think there is value in familiarity with songs forms going back to the Renaissance because it gives a different musical twist with song forms that are deeply, deeply embedded in Audiences because of the strong influence of religion.

 Dufay looms large in the academic discipline of Medieval and Renaissance Music.  A typical title in the field demonstrates a small industry of Dufay:

    Alma redemtoris materAve regina (motet), Exultet celum laudibusGloria ad modum tubaeMissa   Ave reginaMissa Caput,
     excerpt from, stylistic analysis of, tenor of;
Missa Ecce ancilla, Missa L'homme arme, Missa Se la face, Missa sine nomine;
 Office for St. James,
Resveilles vous. (1)


(1) Manfred F. Bukofzer, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music, W.W. Norton & Co., published 1950.

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