Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Scott, Ann B. "The Beginnings of Fauxbourdon: A New Interpretation." Journal of the American Musicological Society 24 (Fall 1971): 345-63.

Scholars have long debated over the true evolution of the practice of fauxbourdon. They argue over whether it was a reproduction of an English method of cantus supra librum, or if it was conceived independently on the continent. The technique first appeared in the Communion of Dufay's Missa Sancti Jacobi, and the term "faburden" was in use in England by 1430. It evolved from a tradition of improvised polyphony in England that involved three voices singing in a primarily parallel style. The borrowed cantus firmus appeared in the middle voice, a technique that sets English practice apart from the continental one, where the cantus firmus appears in the treble. Musicians on the continent used and modified faburden, with similar aural results. Two written examples in the Old Hall manuscript are exceptions that prove the rule that faburden was an improvisatory technique. O lux beata Trinitas uses the plainchant in the middle voice transposed up a fifth and in a rhythmically flexible manner, with the outer voices lightly ornamented. In the Gloria trope Spiritus procedens, the chant is paraphrased untransposed in the middle voice. Thus, pieces using fauxbourdon exhibit the characteristics of faburden, proving the English origin of the practice.

Works: Dufay: Missa Sancti Jacobi (345); Binchois: Te Deum (351); Anonymous: O lux beata Trinitas (352); Gloria trope: Spiritus procedens (352); Credo: Conditor alme siderum (352); Anonymous: Te Deum (352).

Index Classifications: 1300s, 1400s

Contributed by: Rebecca Dowsley

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