Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hodgson, Jenny. "The Illusion of Allusion." In Early Musical Borrowing, ed. Honey Meconi, 65-89. New York: Routledge, 2004

Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century borrowing is apparent not only in a composer-to-composer context but also in the extemporized practice of singing. Contrapuntal procedures that developed out of discanting or coordination of consonances were not borrowed from individuals but belonged instead to the community. Though the relationships between the singers' improvised performances and the actual notated form are ambiguous, scribal alterations to chansons indicate that notated works were not "fixed" once they were committed to paper. Didactic exercises containing embellishments for chant tenors further suggest a strong relationship between the use of improvisatory gestures and their notated versions. Christopher Reynolds and other scholars have also identified these patterns or fundamental contrapuntal procedures as melodic and contrapuntal allusions—a process by which composers quoted or paraphrased short melodic fragments from each other with the intent of establishing a musico-textual allusion between the work and its model. Like the scribal variants and embellishment formulas, the allusions are found in the superius lines of chansons and masses and are typically no more than two perfections in length. It is clear, however, that these patterns are not allusions in many cases but resulted from shared compositional processes. The concordances between the anonymous Naples set of six L'homme armé masses and Caron's masses provide such examples: the highly stylized and commonplace contrapuntal and melodic gestures are the result of shared discant frameworks, which owe more to a particular institution's improvisational practices rather than to any individual author. The compositional frameworks within these masses thus illustrate that communal borrowings within extemporized polyphony continued even after the beginning of the "composer" era.

Works: Anonymous: Missa L'homme armé in Naples I (80-81), II (74-75, 83-84), VI (73-74); Caron: Missa L'homme armé (73-76, 80), Missa Jesus autem transiens (76, 80), Missa Clemens et benigna (77-78, 80), Pour regard doeul (78-79), Missa Accueilly m'a la belle (78-79).

Index Classifications: 1400s, 1500s

Contributed by: Mary Ellen Ryan

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