Humanism and Music Imagination freed from authority • • • • Decline in role of church — end of reliance on auctoritas Pre-Christian civilization for models Humanism Empiricism replaces authority — realism replaces symbolism – new view of world — Columbus 1492, Copernicus pub. 1543 – da Vinci (1452–1519) — empirical observation leads to increased realism – balance supersedes elaboration Interest in literature • Elevation of trivium — new concept of studia humanitatis (humanities) • Printing from movable type — Gutenberg, 1450s, increased literacy and thought Political conflict • The Hundred Years’ War — England vs. France • Fought on French soil – mercenary soldiers lived off land when not actually fighting – Joan of Arc RESULT — decline of knights and chivalry Late fourteenth-century music on the continent • Ars subtilior — mannerism • Very complex mensuration changes • Harmony can stretch the limits of the church modes 100 Years’ War and music • “Contenance angloise” — Martin le Franc in Le Champion des dames (1442) • More empirical, less theoretical/symbolic – equality of parts – less dissonance, careful treatment — “panconsonant” – acceptance of imperfect consonances (as norm, except at cadences) from as early as twelfth century • Techniques – rota (rondellus if parts begin together) — voice exchange – “English discant” – C.f. in middle or lowest voice – Improvisation of parts in 6/3 and 8/5 relation to c.f. John Dunstaple (ca. 1390–1453) • Probably mathematician and astronomer, probably in France with Regent John Duke of Bedford • Works (at least fifty) – Mass Ordinary movements – two secular pieces – motets — two styles • old c.f. style – cantus firmus – isorhythm – harmony full of imperfect consonances • new, freely composed style – English harmony – sometimes triadic melody – short sections based on text phrases – some cadences approached as in English discant style The Burgundian composers • Burgundy — now northeastern France and Low Countries ca. 1400–1477 • Dukes related to French royal family, influenced but were not directly involved in 100 Years’ War • Fabulous court, center for music and other arts Gilles Binchois (ca. 1400–1460) • Career – soldier – churchman – musician • Composed mostly chansons — very little sacred music Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1400–1474) • Career – singer and churchman – member of Burgundian court – well educated, traveled — Italy • Music — mostly familiar genres but with new traits in style – harmony — imperfect consonances – four-part texture — bass below tenor for support of harmony Major Burgundian genres • Fauxbourdon hymns — based on English discant idea – c.f. on top – middle part improvised at parallel fourth below cantus – bottom voice in sixths and octaves below cantus • Motets — two types – old style — c.f. texture, isorhythm, mensuration, proportion – new style — freely composed nonimitative polyphony • Masses — unity of multimovement work – cantus firmus Mass – same c.f. (sacred or secular) for all movements • Secular music — chansons in formes fixes, but with new harmony – ballade – rondeau Questions for discussion • Why might we regard the cultural division in music history around the beginning of the fifteenth century as one of the most decisive ones in music history? • How did the travels of individual musicians affect the history of music in the fifteenth century? • How did the aesthetic meaning and musical function of a cantus firmus change in the fifteenth century as compared to the preceding centuries?