Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Fromson, Michele. "Melodic Citation in the Sixteenth-Century Motet." In Early Musical Borrowing, ed. Honey Meconi, 179-206. New York: Routledge, 2004.

The practice of quoting a chant melody in passing within a larger work, known as chant citation, occurred within motets of the sixteenth century. Although it was not written in the vocal part, the text of the borrowed chant melody had a semantic relationship with the words being sung at that moment in the motet. Chant citation normally conveyed meaning to the professional singers and composers who had extensive training and knew the repertory well enough to identify the theme and remember its original text. In mid-sixteenth-century motets, chant citations typically exhibited the following characteristics: the citation was prominently displayed at the beginning of a composition or a new section; about nine consecutive notes of the chant were presented; the citation spanned one statement of a syntactically complete unit of the polyphonic text; if the borrowed melody was liturgical, it would have been sung regularly during the church year or was associated with important feasts; the borrowed melody circulated widely or in areas where the composer worked. A major criticism of reading melodic units as chant citations is the possibility that a reference may actually be coincidental to the contrapuntal procedure. If this is the case, then citations should be found throughout the literature as a ubiquitous part of the texture. In sampling and closely analyzing nineteen motet settings on the text Congratulamini mihi omnes, it is clear that only two by Willaert and one by Festa utilize a chant melody. Having now established that chant citations exist, it is possible to explicate possible meanings and relationships by comparing different citations of the well-known Marian antiphon Salve Regina that conveyed different meanings through different associations. In several settings the antiphon is used to invoke other "Salve" texts: in Willaert's Germinavit radix, the antiphon is connected with "Salvatorem" (the Savior) rather than "Salve" (Hail), and in still other settings, the Marian antiphon invokes the Virgin Mary as comforter and protectress. This example and others demonstrate that chant citations acquire meaning in relation to the words of the motet and allow composers an opportunity for textual expression.

Works: Verdelot: In te Domine speravi (180-84); Willaert: Verbum iniquum et dolosum (180-84), Confitebor tibi Domine (185), Congratulamini mihi . . . quia quem quarebam (191), Germinavit radix (199); Festa: Congratulamini mihi omnes (188-91); Morales: Andreas Christi famulus (199); Guerrero: Ave Virgo sanctissima (199); Palestrina: Missa Salve Regina (199); Gombert: Sancta Maria succure miseris (199-200); Layolle: Domine, exaudi orationem meam (200).

Sources: Hymn: Te Deum laudamus (180); Responsory: Judas Mercator pessimus (180); Tromboncino: Ostinato vo' seguire (185); Antiphon: Descendi, in hortum nucum (188), Ecce quam bonum (191-92), Salve Regina mater misericordia (194-201)

Index Classifications: 1500s

Contributed by: Mary Ellen Ryan

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