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CHAPTER 17. Music at the Court of Burgundy. Western Europe in the fifteenth century. The face of Europe, at least with respect to what constituted a country, looked considerably different from modern Europe. BURGUNDIAN LANDS.

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CHAPTER 17


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chapter 17
CHAPTER 17

Music at the Court of Burgundy

western europe in the fifteenth century
Western Europe in the fifteenth century

The face of Europe, at least with respect to what constituted a country, looked considerably different from modern Europe.

burgundian lands
BURGUNDIAN LANDS

The dukes of Burgundy of the house of Valois were four powerful princes, cousins to the kings of France, who reigned in succession from 1364 until 1477. By 1477 they had carved out a small kingdom in all but name, one that included not only the duchy of Burgundy in eastern France but also almost all of the Low Countries. (modern Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands). The most important composers associated with their court were Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois.

The Burgundian lands in 1477

binchois s chansons
BINCHOIS’S CHANSONS
  • Although Gilles Binchois (c1400-1460) wrote sacred Masses and motets, excelled in the genre of the polyphonic French chanson, which at this time were still written in one of the three formes fixes (ballade, rondeau, or virelai). Each of Binchois’s nearly sixty chansons is a small gem of lyricism. His ballade Dueil angoisseus (Anguished mourning), sets a melancholy poem by Christine de Pisan (c1364-c1430), an important female poet attached to the court of Burgundy.
the beginning of binchois s ballade dueil angoisseus
The beginning of Binchois’s ballade Dueil angoisseus

The musical interest in Binchois’s chansons is primarily

in the lyrical, carefully-crafted upper voice.

burgundian cadence
BURGUNDIAN CADENCE
  • Dufay, Binchois, and their colleagues cultivated a type of cadence in three-voice writing that allowed them to have a low bass line yet also fill in the fifth degree of a final chord at a cadence. This procedure is called the Burgundian cadence (octave-leap cadence), in which the contratenor (bassus) line leaps an octave at the end of important sections of the song.
guillaume dufay s lamentation
GUILLAUME DUFAY’S LAMENTATION
  • On 29 May 1453 the Christian world suffered a grievous loss when the Ottoman Turks defeated the Byzantine Christians and captured their capital, Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey). To commemorate the loss, Guillaume Dufay composed four lamentations, only one of which survives today. Such a lamentation was sung a lavish banquet, called by contemporaries the Feast of the Pheasant, hosted by Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, intended to rally support for a crusade against the so-called infidels. Dufay’s Lamentatio sanctae Matris Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae (Lament for the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople).
slide9
A section of Dufay’s Lamentatio, a motet-chanson, which is something of a hybrid of the two genres. The tenor voice sings a portion of a Gregorian chant in Latin, much as in a Latin motet, while the cantus sings a French text, as in the chanson.
the armed man tune
THE ARMED MAN TUNE
  • Guillaume Dufay and many other composers of the Renaissance constructed polyphony Masses upon a spritely melody called L’Homme armé tune. The text, although in French possess religious symbolism, for a calls to every good Christian, be he/she a crusader going off to war or the good Christian soldier fighting against the snares of the devil in the everyday battle of life.
a translation of the text of the armed man tune
A translation of the text of the Armed Man tune

The armed man, the armed man, should be feared. A

Everywhere the cry has gone out,

Everyone should arm himself B

With a breastplate of iron.

The armed man, the armed man, should be feared. A

slide13
Sometime during the late 1450s, Guillaume Dufay composed a four-voice polyphonic Mass using the Armed Man tune as the structural basis. He took the tune and placed it in the tenor, where the melody sounded forth in each and every movement. In so doing Dufay creaed a cantus firmus Mass—a cyclic Mass in which the five moments of the Ordinary are unified by means of a single cantus firmus (a Latin adjective meaning “firm” or “well-established”).
the beginning of the kyrie of dufay s missa l homme arm c1460 with the armed man tune in the tenor
The beginning of the Kyrie of Dufay’s Missa L”Homme armé (c1460) with the Armed Man tune in the tenor