Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Rodin, Jesse. "'When in Rome . . .': What Josquin Learned in the Sistine Chapel." Journal of the American Musicological Society 61 (Summer 2008): 307-72.

New biographical information on Josquin des Prez has forced us to reconsider his compositional output and to revise our perceptions of him in comparison to his contemporaries. Recent archival discoveries now place Josquin's birth date around 1450 and date his arrival in Italy twenty-five years later than previously believed. From these revisions, it is clear that Josquin was contemporary with his generation and that he reached his first compositional maturity around 1490, during which time he was employed as a singer in the Sistine Chapel. It is further possible to draw comparisons between Josquin and other musicians at the Chapel such as Marbrianus de Orto, who produced a large body of work while employed there. Although Josquin did not directly quote from de Orto's works, he learned and borrowed a range of compositional techniques from cantus firmus treatment to contrapuntal and melodic writing. Examples of Josquin's procedural borrowings from de Orto include: (1) using a variety of mensuration signs and presenting the cantus firmus in the "wrong" mode in his Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales, a technique employed by de Orto in his Missa L'homme armé; (2) incorporating an ostinato cantus firmus, which appears on multiple pitch levels in the tenor motet Illibata; (3) composing strict canons in a clear reference to de Orto's Missa Ad fugam; (4) employing "conspicuous repetition," in Missa Fortuna desperata and in Missa La sol fa re mi, a method also used by de Orto in his L'homme armé and Ad fugam masses; and (5) absorbing compositional procedures from de Orto in a setting of Si j'ay perdu mon amy. These examples show Josquin's competitive drive and his absorption of compositional techniques around him as a way of establishing a distinctive voice.

Works: Josquin: Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales (322-30, 341), Illibata (331-37, 341-42), Ave maris stella (340-41), Missa Fortuna desperata (342), Missa La sol fa re mi (348-50), Si j'ay perdu mon amy (353-58).

Sources: Marbrianus de Orto: Missa L'homme armé (322-30, 344-47, 352), Ave Marie mater gratie (332-37), Da pacem Domine (337), Missa Ad fugam (338-41, 347-48), Si j'ay perdu mon amy (353-58).

Index Classifications: 1400s

Contributed by: Mary Ellen Ryan

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