Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Brown, Howard Mayer. "Emulation, Competition, and Homage: Imitation and Theories of Imitation in the Renaissance." Journal of the American Musicological Society 35 (Spring 1982): 1-48.

Due to the recovery of a few sixteenth-century compositional drafts, attention has recently been turned to the process of composition in the Renaissance. It appears, from these manuscripts, that students of composition were still being taught to compose one line at a time and learned their craft by imitating older masters, modeling new pieces directly on old ones. Emulation was not only pedagogical but may have also been used as a means of competition or of paying homage to other composers. Composers of chansons in the fifteenth century imitated one another in various ways. All of these kinds of emulation in composition seem to relate directly to the late medieval and Renaissance concept of imitation, known to Tinctoris and applied to music possibly as early as the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries. Presumably it was taught as well. Some theories concerning imitation in music, particularly those of Lewis Lockwood, are relevant to the topic. Before the advent of syntactic imitation, there were two principal methods of composition, which continued through the sixteenth century. The first consisted of the addition of new lines around a cantus firmus, the medieval contribution to polyphony. The second relied on the newer techniques of imitatio beginning in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.

Works: Anonymous: En contemplant la beaulté de m'amye (2-6, 8, 15); Isaac: Helas que pourra devenir mon cueur (15-21, 25); Anonymous: On est bien malade par amer trop (21-25); Busnois or Caron: Cent mille escus quant je voldroie (25-29); Anonymous: La Martinella (32-34); Isaac: La Martinella (35-37).

Sources: Anonymous: Vivent vivent en payx tous loyaux pastoreaux (6-8); Caron: Helas que pourra devenir mon cueur (15-19), O vie fortunée (25-29); Busnois: On a grant mal par trop amer/On est bien malade (21-23); Martini: La Martinella (29-35).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1500s

Contributed by: Wendy Jeanne McHenry

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