Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Burn, David. “‘Nam Erit Haec Quoque Laus Eorum’: Imitation, Competition, and the L’homme Armé Tradition.” Revue de Musicologie 87, no. 2 (2001): 249-87.

The tradition surrounding the L’homme armé tune is an example of musical imitatio. There is little consensus in musicological literature over a precise description of the relationship between musical borrowing and imitatio, a literary concept with roots in rhetoric. Opinions on the matter are so varied that some, Honey Meconi and Rob Wegman in particular, find little value in the term. Nevertheless Meconi’s and Wegman’s conclusions are drawn from an overly constricted conception of what was a widely varied, complex, and hotly debated concept in the Renaissance. There were, in fact, three general types of imitatio that Renaissance literary theorists discussed: non-transformative, transformative, and dissimulative. The last of these three included an element of competition between a work at its model, through which a writer attempted to surpass his or her predecessors to achieve fame and glory. A discussion of competition of this type, though never by the name imitatio, is present in writings about music, particularly dealing with the L’homme armé tradition. Many composers use the tune as a cantus firmus in mass movements, and with it each seems to demonstrate their technical skill through mensural manipulations, extravagant transpositions, or the canonic treatment of the tune. Josquin’s two masses, the first of this tradition to be published by Petrucci in 1502, seem to consciously compete with settings of this tune by earlier composers, and composers that came later seem to consciously compete with Josquin’s settings. The goal of this competitive relationship between these composers coincides with the goal associated with eristic imitatio in the Renaissance and thus may be comprehended as musical imitatio.

Works: Josquin: Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales (269-77), Missa L’homme armé sexti toni (269, 277-81); La Rue: Missa L’homme armé (281-82); Obrecht: Missa L’homme armé (268-69); Forestier: Missa L’homme armé (282-83); Morales: Missa L’homme armé (284-85); Palestrina: Missa L’homme armé (284-86).

Sources: Anonymous: L’homme armé (262-63); Josquin: Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales (281-83, 285-86 ), Missa L’homme armé sexti toni (284-85); Regis: Missa L’homme armé (263-70); Busnoys: Il sera pour vous conbatu/L’homme armé (263), Missa L’homme armé (263-69); Ockeghem: Missa L’homme armé (263-69); Du Fay: Missa L’homme armé (263-69); De Orto: Missa L’homme armé (285-86).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1500s

Contributed by: Daniel Rogers

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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