Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Cumming, Julie E. "The Goddess Fortuna Revisited." Current Musicology, no. 30 (1980): 7-23.

Fortuna desperata, one of the most popular chansons of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, survives in more than thirty sources and in thirty-one distinct settings. Although it has been attributed to Busnois, its strophic form and Italian text separate it from most of Busnois's other chansons, making this attribution doubtful. Of the twenty-four surviving cantus firmus settings of the chanson, two rather unusual practices occur with some frequency. The tenor is transposed from its original Lydian mode to Phrygian in five pieces, and the borrowed material from the chanson is combined with another pre-existent melody and/or text in thirteen pieces. Both of these practices may be explained by the application of symbolism related to the goddess Fortuna. Although Lydian is the mode most frequently associated with Fortuna, the transposition of the mode may reflect the image of Fortuna turning her wheel. In the pieces in which the Fortuna cantus firmus is combined with pre-existing material, there are strong correlations between the myth of Fortuna and the added (or implied) texts, and these added texts give further meaning to the new work. These new meanings, as well as the overall popularity of Fortuna desperata, provide examples of trends in late fifteenth-century humanist thought.

Works: Josquin: Fortuna d'un gran tempo (8); Martini: Fortuna desperata (9); Greiter: Passibus ambiguis (9, 13, 14, 17); Senfl: Fortuna ad voices musicales (9, 13, 17-18); Anonymous: Consideres mes incessantes (13, 15); Breitengraser: Fortuna desperata (13); Senfl: Nasci, pati, mori (15), Ich steund an einem morgen (15), Es taget vor dem Walde (15); Isaac: Bruder Conrat (15); Jachet: Ave mater (16); Senfl: Virgo prudentissima (16), Herr durch dein Blut (17); Isaac: Sancte Petre ora pro nobis (17); Anonymous: Zilbadone (17).

Sources: Busnois(?):Fortuna desperata (7-8).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1500s

Contributed by: Sherri Winks

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