Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Elders, Willem. “Struktur, Zeichen und Symbol in der altniederlandischen Totenklage.” In Zeichen und Struktur in der Musik der Renaissance: Ein Symposium aus Anlass der Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Münster (Westfalen) 1987: Bericht, edited by Klaus Hortschansky, 27-46. Musikwissenschaftliche Arbeiten, 28. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1989.Musikwissenschaftliche Arbeiten, 28. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1989.

The musical funeral lament is a genre that is prone to the use of musical symbolism. Musical signs can take one of three forms. They can be icons, musical objects that have a close relationship with their meaning (such as word painting); indices, musical objects that are more removed from their meaning; or symbols, musical objects that must be decoded to comprehend. The most common type of musical index in funeral dirges is a quotation from another musical source. Most of these works draw on the Mass for the Dead through the use of various chants, like Requiem aeternam or Dies irae. Often composers transposed these chant segments into the Phrygian mode so as to reflect the character of the work. In so doing, composers reveal that these works are not only laments for the deceased but also prayers on their behalf. In addition, some composers borrow from non-chant sources in a gesture of homage. Josquin’s Absolve, quaesumus Domine, for example, borrows from Obrecht’s Missa Fortuna desperata and was perhaps composed to honor Obrecht at his death.

Works: Josquin: Absolve, quaesumus Domine (39), Nymphes des bois (39); Gombert: Musae Jovis (39); Obrecht: Mille quingentis (40); Isaac: Quis dabit capiti meo aquam (40-41).

Sources: Obrecht: Missa Fortuna desperata (39, 43); Ockeghem: Missa Cuiusvis toni (39); Josquin: Domine, exaudi orationem meam (39); Anonymous: Requiem aeternam (40); Anonymous: Dies irae (40); Anonymous: Salva nos, Domine (40).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1500s

Contributed by: Daniel Rogers

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