Guillaume Dufay

  • Most significant composer of the 15th Century
  • Pioneer of the Cantus Firmus Mass
  • Missa L’homme arme

Cantus Firmus Mass

  • Melody taken from pre-existing tune in each movement of the mass
  • Tune can be sacred or secular
  • longer note values
  • Bassus, Tenor, Altus, Superius becomes the norm
    • Borrowed tune usually in the tenor
  • Example: Dufay’s Missa L’Homme arme

John Dunstable


  • English
  • Pioneer of 3rds and 6ths
  • Contenance Anglois – the sweet style of the English
  • Secretary to the aristocrats
  • Renaissance man
  • Looks back on isorhythms, cadences
  • Quam Pulchra est
  • Died in 1453 (end of 100 years war, fall of Consantinople)


Quam Pulchra es

  • John Dunstable
  • Features fauxbourdon (false bass) with Cm in 1st inversion
    • || 6ths in bass and soprano, middle voice imporvised, usually a 4th below
  • Seen as a transition to Dufay

lit. “little fruit” a light, imitative part song, secular, most of the time the voices are moving together, forerunner to the madrigal. Example is the secular part song, El Grillo by Josquin
Ratios used by both Dufay and Brunelleschi
6:4:3:2 * Dufay used them in his 4 part motet for the dome’s dedication. Rhythms used the same ratios. Music=floating architecture; Architecture=frozen music
Contenance Anglois
Term coined by poet describing the “guise” of the “sublime English,” such as Dunstable and Dufay, especially their way with the 3rds and 6ths
Basse Danse
Most popular dance of the 15th and part of the 16th century, especially with the Burgundians. Tenor line is a drone with florid movement above it on the Shaum, drum improvised below tenor
Missa Choralis
uses the chant that’s appropriate for a given movement, 5 movements in a mass, if using a cantus firmus it would be the appropriate one, kyrie for kyrie etc. ,Missa Norte Dame of Machaut
Free Mass
example is M. Prolationum by Ockeghem, original, no borrowed material or tune
Parody Mass
Use of the entire vertical complex, not just the voices, using any original source all parts are lifted, generally the opening five to six measures will be the same as the source but then moves into original work, not plagiarism more like paying homage
o M. Fors Seulemeut by Ockeghem, uses an opening by someone else
What are 6 characteristics of the Renaissance?
• Means rebirth
• Is the rebirth of man’s potential (humanism)
• Stewardship vs. Egocentricm
• Shift from speculative and symbolic to realistic/realism (example: Brunelleschi’s doors to the dome – Abraham)
• Humanization of the Divine (Christ Child, Sweetheart Mary)
• Rediscovering of the human values of the world
Johannes Tinctoris
Most important theorist of the 15th century
o The Harmony of the Spheres is nonsense
o Music before his time was irrelevant
• Modern day example: Dead Poet’s Society – critiquing traditional past while bringing forth new ideas
o Important treatise on counterpoint (wrote about a dozen total) where he mentions the above points
o Wrote the 1st music dictionary (1495)
Who pioneered the 3rds and 6ths?
Dunstable. Ex: Quam Pulchra Es
Who looks back by using isorhythms and cadences?
The year 1453 (3)
Dunstable’s death, the end of the 100years war, fall of Constantinople
How did theorists explain 3rds and 6ths?
overtone series and partials…eventually the minor 6th was explained too
It Madrigal: 4 N. Italian Courts
Mantua (Gongza), Ferrara (Este), Milan (Sforzza), Florence (Medici)
Primary source of life in the Italian Madrigal court
The Book of the Courtier, Castiglione
9 Things about the Madrigal
1) Emerges from the frottola 2) Created and performed in courts 3) Vocal a capella (according to the chapel/church 4) Italian orgin 5) Secular 6) High literary quality 7) through composed 8) word painting
A term used to describe the illustrative devices used particularly in madrigals. This includes text painting, for example: changing the texture, tone, range, or volume to musically depict what the text is describing.
2 elements of the Early Madrigal and example
4-part & homophonic (from frottola) ex il dolce e bianco cigno by Arcadelt
2 elements of the middle madrigal and example
5-part, imitation, Cipriano de Rore
concerto delle donne
1st professional women performers
L. Lassazchi
wrote book of madrigals for sopranos
Carlo Gesualdo
Great madrigal composer, Stravinsky a fan and finished some of his works, juxtaposition of consonant chords.
Most famous madrigal
Likely Moro Lasso, Gesualdo
Isabella Esta
Mantua court
Consort Song
An expansion of the madrigal and ayre, a high voice accompanied by 4 instruments, some 4 part, most 5 part.
Songs that can be sung to a ditty and also danced
A:|| B:||. fa ;a refrain in between, strophic, ex: Now is ht emonth of maying (Morley)
Institutione Harmoniche
Zarlino, THE big 16th century theorist
soggetto cavato
“carved out subject” Zarlino coined this term for the process of creating a tune out of something – Missa Hercules dux Ferrarie is a mass named for the duke he worked for; took the owels out of his name and composed a tune – example of a free mass
Palestrina Style
codifies essence of a cappella renaissance * Polyphonic equivalent of chant * serene, graceful, balanced lines * careful treatment of dissonance – stepwise, short passing notes, exception is suspension, making it sweet, restful, horizontal * Born in Rome * music fell in line with Council of Trent ideals
1st Music Dictionary
Johannes Tinctoris
What is Guillame Dufay most known for?
Development of the mass – Cantus Firmus (pre-existing tune in each movement) and Missa choralis (Kyrie=Kyrie)
Pioneer of the cantus firmus mas
emphasis on technique that is not necessarily noticed, see Dufay’s Angus Dei that puts in L’homme Arme backwards
Full Anthem
In almost every respect, functions like a motet. Only difference is it is in English – a capella
Missa Prolationem
Kyrie is a cycle of canons. 1st voice on c, next on d, and imitates exactly all the parts fall a the same time but precede a different speeds, lines pull apart because they are in a diferent meter, Ockeghem
Musica Reservata
We are not 100% sure what it means, but perhaps secret music or practices for a select audience, perhaps connected to concerto delle donne and Lassazchi
Musica Transalina
published in 1588, translated It book of madrigal
Lute Songs
Spin-off of the English madrigal *1st book of songs of Ayres by Dowland flow my tears
Renaissance motet
Sacred * Latin * uses points of imitation, ex Ave Maria by Josquin
printed before 1500