Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Elias, Cathy Ann. "Mid-Sixteenth-Century Chanson Masses: A Kaleidoscopic Process." In Early Musical Borrowing, ed. Honey Meconi, 149-78. New York: Routledge, 2004.

An evolutionary view of the development of the imitation mass should be revised in favor of an approach that accounts for particular techniques a composer used and how his incorporation of new and borrowed material contributed to his own style. In the mid-sixteenth-century chanson masses of Nicolas Gombert, Clemens non Papa, Thomas Crecquillon, and Pierre de Manchicourt, compositional techniques such as cantus firmus, ostinato, and paraphrase methods were not novel in themselves but were interwoven in ways that transformed older conventions. Instead of controlling the entire structure through one particular approach, composers used cantus firmus and paraphrase technique as short-term procedures within the imitation mass. The following techniques are representative of compositional borrowing within chanson masses of the period: cantus firmus, ostinato and derived techniques, motivic rescaffolding, partial scaffolding, block structuring, block restructuring, block manipulation, block interpolation, and varied block reiteration. Of these techniques, cantus firmus, block interpolation, partial scaffolding, and varied block reiteration provide new insights into the compositional procedure. With cantus firmus technique, composers such as Gombert and Manchicourt integrated the borrowed material into the contrapuntal fabric and accommodated material written in any fashion from any style of model. Crecquillon utilized several structural methods for variety: (1) block interpolation, inserting sections of chanson material throughout the mass; (2) partial scaffolding, in which he fragmented a segment of the chanson, rearranged its parts, and wrote points of imitation around various components; and (3) varied block reiteration, rearranging blocks of chanson material without adding additional counterpoint. These examples illustrate the need for analysis based on compositional process, one that accounts for the difference in composer styles. A comparison of Palestrina's and Gombert's masses based on Je suis desheritée shows the stylistic preferences of both composers: Palestrina declaimed the text clearly and constructed a counter-theme equal in weight to the main borrowed theme; Gombert adhered more literally to the chanson and retained its original rhythms. This example suggests that the next stage in research on borrowing procedures may be to focus on the role of the text and how it determined stylistic decisions. Codifying diverse compositional techniques will help us understand how the same borrowed passages can be transformed and how a particular setting of a chanson is emblematic of a composer's style.

Works: Gombert: Missa Je suis desheritée (154-57, 171-76), Missa Sur tous regrets (154), Missa Fors seulement (153-54, 157-59); Crecquillon: Missa Doulce memoire (161-65), Missa Mort m'a privé (165-67), Missa D'amours me plains (165-70); Palestrina: Missa Je suis desheritée (171-76).

Sources: Pipelare: Fors seulement (154, 157-59); Cadéac: Je suis desheritée (154-57, 171-72); Févin: Fors seulement (154, 157); Richafort: Sur tous regrets (154); Sandrin: Doulce memoire (161-65); Crecquillon: Mort m'a privé (165-66); Pathie: D'amours me plains (165-70); Gombert: Missa Je suis desheritée (175-76).

Index Classifications: 1500s

Contributed by: Mary Ellen Ryan

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