- Catherine Bradley,
- Peter M. Lefferts,
- Patrick Macey,
- Christoph Wolff,
- Graham Dixon,
- James R. Anthony,
- Malcolm Boyd,
- Jerome Roche
- and Leeman L. Perkins
One of the most important forms of polyphonic music from about 1220 to 1750. No single set of characteristics serves to define it generally, except in particular historical or regional contexts. It originated as a liturgical trope but soon developed into the pre-eminent form of secular art music during the late Middle Ages. The medieval motet was a polyphonic composition in which the fundamental voice (tenor) was usually arranged in a pattern of reiterated rhythmic configurations, while the upper voice or voices (up to three), nearly always with different Latin or French texts, generally moved at a faster rate. In the first half of the 15th century the motet’s liturgical ties were restored, and it continued to evolve by adapting a number of forms and styles borrowed in part from the chanson, tenor mass, and, later, the madrigal. In the 16th century the motet achieved its classical synthesis in the context of the Franco-Flemish style of Josquin and his successors. Important vernacular subspecies developed later, particularly in England (see Anthem, §I) and Germany, but the motet has since been defined as a sacred polyphonic composition with Latin text, which may or may not have colla voce or independent instrumental accompaniment.
I. Middle Ages
1. Thirteenth-century origins.
The new genre of the motet is first recorded in manuscript sources dating from the early 13th century, but it is possible that the genre emerged decades before its surviving written records, perhaps even in the late 12th century. Motets are characterized by a lowest voice, or tenor, that quotes a section – typically a melismatic section – of a plainchant melody. Above this melismatic plainchant tenor melody, which is usually arranged in a regular rhythmic pattern, one, two, or three upper voices present syllabic text in Latin or in French. 13th-century motet collections lack any indications of authorship and this corpus is almost entirely anonymous.
Motets inherit the use of plainchant tenors from the Parisian tradition of orgranum and clausula composition recorded in the so-called Magnus liber, but the presence of syllabic upper-voice text is a differentiating feature. Like motets, older and contemporary polyphonic Latin songs (conducti) also declaim a syllabic text, but conducti have just a single text that is presented simultaneously in all voices since, unlike motets, conducti are not based on plainchant tenor melismas that retain their associated syllables of text. The distinct identity of the motet notwithstanding, early examples of the new genre display multiple and complex connections with pre-existing musical types, in particular clausulae and conducti. Yet despite the genre’s close and early links with these Latin-texted genres, the word ‘motet’ itself has a vernacular French etymology – ‘little words’ – discussed below.
The musical materials of just over 100 motets, the majority of which are Latin texted, survive also in the form of discant clausulae. Crucially, like all clausulae and unlike any related motets, these clausulae lack any syllabic upper-voice text. Such clausulae may be preserved as discant sections within larger organum settings of their complete plainchant melodies. More often they are recorded in separate collections of independent or so-called substitute clausulae, which often provide multiple alternative polyphonic re-workings of the same plainchant tenor melisma. Since Wilhelm Meyer discovered the existence of shared musical material between motets and clausulae in 1898, it has been accepted that motets were initially created by the addition of syllabic texts – first in Latin, and shortly afterwards in the French vernacular – to the pre-existing music of the upper voices of melismatic clausulae. This hypothesis remains convincing in many cases, supported by the fact, not only that the genres of organum and clausula pre-date the advent of the motet, but also that the practice of prosula (of creating syllabic texts for pre-existing melodies) was well established since the 9th century.
Close connections between motets and clausulae are most strongly evident in the earliest surviving manuscript source to preserve fascicles (or sections) devoted to the motet genre. The manuscript I-Fl Plut. 29.1 – produced in the 1240s in Paris, probably for the Cathedral of Notre Dame – records two fascicles of exclusively Latin texted motets in two and three voices. 56 of these 69 Latin motets share their musical material with clausulae, and the majority of them seem to be prosulae of earlier clausulae. About 20 early Latin motet texts created for pre-existing clausulae were later re-worked with new texts (contrafacta) in French.
However, I-Fl Plut. 29.1 also contains at least ten motets that have a different genesis. These pieces seem originally to have been vernacular motets that were not derived from any clausula model but were newly composed from scratch, and subsequently provided with Latin contrafactum texts in I-Fl Plut. 29.1. Most of these vernacular motets (and about 30 more that did not receive Latin contrafacta in I-Fl Plut. 29.1) were also transformed into clausulae in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 by removing the texts from their upper voices altogether. The transcription of motets as clausulae involves a notational translation. As the upper voices of motets have syllabic texts, their notation in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 is a rhythmically undifferentiated cum littera notation: notes are simply presented above the syllables of text to which they correspond. Clausulae, on the other hand, have no syllabic texts and so a rhythmically prescriptive sine littera modal notation is possible. Pitches are grouped together within ligatures, which convey rhythmic information through the established patterns of the rhythmic modes. Clausulae derived from motets in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 often show visual signs of their transformation from cum littera motet notation: their sine littera ligature patterns can be unconventional (sometimes to the point of incomprehensibility) and they may feature gaps, erasures, and misalignments (see, for example, the clausula on the tenor F[LOS FILIUS EIUS] in I-Fl Plut. 29.1, fol. 166r).
Clausulae derived from motets are in a minority in I-Fl Plut. 29.1. Around 40 independent clausulae, out of a total of 476 in I-Fl Plut. 29.1, are probably vernacular motet transcriptions. These clausulae are presented alongside and often mixed in with other seemingly genuine examples of the genre. In this respect, I-Fl Plut. 29.1 is distinct from the later Saint Victor manuscript (F-Pn 15139), all of whose collection of 40 clausulae are motet transcriptions, with the incipits of their corresponding French motet texts provided as marginal cues. Yet as in Saint Victor, clausulae derived from motets in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 seem predominantly to stem from vernacular, rather than Latin-texted works. The presence of such clausulae transcriptions confirms the existence and circulation of newly-composed vernacular motets at the time that I-Fl Plut. 29.1 was copied, even though only motets with Latin texts were explicitly included within this manuscript.
Reasons as to why motets might have been transcribed as clausulae remain uncertain. Possibly this was a space-saving measure, since the presentation of clausulae, lacking any syllabic text, can be more compressed than that of motets. Only three extant manuscripts contain extensive collections of clausulae: the so-called Magnus liber sources I-Fl Plut. 29.1 and D-W Helmst.628 (Heinemann no.677 [W1], discussed further below) and the 40 transcribed motets in F-Pn 15139. On the whole, motet transcriptions in sine littera notation predominantly appear as independent clausulae (rather than as passages of discant transmitted within organa) and, as yet, none have been conclusively identified in D-W Helmst.628. In I-Fl Plut. 29.1, such clausulae could be a means of accommodating the music of vernacular motets within a liturgically-ordered and exclusively Latin manuscript, while crucially excluding their accompanying French texts. In F-Pn 15139, Fred Büttner proposed that the transcription of worldly vernacular motets was part of a conservative late 13th-century attempt to rehabilitate the sacred clausula genre.
It has been suggested that the transcription of motets as sine littera clausulae was for the sake of preserving them in a rhythmic prescriptive notation, which was not possible for motet compositions cum littera in the mid-13th century. Yet a more rhythmically prescriptive motet notation (outlined below) was almost certainly in use by the time that F-Pn 15139 was copied. And in I-Fl Plut. 29.1, the modal notation of motets transcribed as clausulae is often difficult to decipher, partly because motets typically include many decorative details that are unsuited to expression within the ligature patterns of sine littera. Furthermore, although the upper voices of motets in sources before the 1270s (including D-W Helmst.628, D-Mbs Mus.m.4775, E-Mn 20486, and D-W Helmst.1099, Heinemann no.1206 [W2]) simply show the correspondence between pitch and syllable, rhythmic details can nonetheless be inferred with a high degree of certainty. Since motet tenors are melismatic, and thus can be ligated sine littera as they are in clausulae, this offers a concrete rhythmic foundation against which to realize upper voices. The harmonic relationship between motet tenors and their upper voices, as well as the stress patterns and rates of declamation suggested by motet texts, typically suggest a single convincing rhythmic interpretation.
Clausulae and motets undeniably share many compositional priorities, especially in their tendency to experiment with musical repetitions on multiple levels, including techniques of voice-exchange and hocket. In both genres, multiple statements of a tenor chant quotation are common, and these tenor repetitions are generally re-cast on each appearance: the tenor’s melodic repetition might fall at a different point in its repeating rhythmic pattern, or at a different point in relation to the phrase structure of the upper voice(s), also occasioning a different harmonic response. In addition, both clausulae and motets may pit the re-statement of short upper-voice motives against their underlying chant quotation. These characteristics are strongly evident in the motet Salve mater fons ortorum/[CAPTIVI]TA[TEM] (Example 1). This motet is copied in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 and (lacking its music) in D-W Helmst.1099, and it is derived from a pre-existing clausula recorded also in I-Fl Plut. 29.1. Here the melodic repetition of the tenor plainchant melisma (marked II in Example 1) is treated in a new rhythmic pattern. In the upper voice, the insistence on a string of repeated pitches (usually three notes in succession) established at the outset of the piece predominates throughout, and short upper-voice phrases are subject to immediate repetition in different tenor contexts (an instance is marked by boxes in Example 1). The motet text has several accentuations that would seem to deviate from conventional stress patterns (‘tibi cum mentís dulcís prosá’, in the final phrase, for instance), a relatively common feature of early Latin motets. Such musical repetitions, and an interest in varying structural and harmonic relationships between tenor and upper voices, encourage a flexibility in phrase lengths and in the number of notes per phrase that, in motets, results in irregular lines of text.
The presumed origins of motets as prosulae texts added to clausulae have often been cited as the cause of their poetic irregularity. 13th-century motets, both Latin and vernacular, are characterized by highly unconventional poetic forms, lacking consistent rhyme schemes and using lines of varying numbers of syllables. This pervasive and idiosyncratic poetic irregularity distinguishes motet texts from those of Latin conducti and vernacular chansons, genres whose poetry was not determined by pre-existing music. It should be noted, however, that a similarly irregular kind of Latin poetry is frequently evident in earlier Aquitanian versus, which were newly composed works. Furthermore, motet composers were capable of creating very regular prosula texts (selecting clausulae with a consistent number of pitches per phrase, and/or subtly manipulating clausulae to enhance their regularity, as in the case of Deus omnium/REGNAT and Homo quam sit pura/[IMMO]LATUS), but were more often drawn to clausula models with phrases of noticeably variable lengths. To cite prosula techniques as the sole genesis of the motet’s poetic characteristics might, therefore, overstate the role played in the origins of the genre by the addition of new texts to older existing clausulae models.
Motets that were genuinely created through the addition of texts to clausulae are predominantly Latin works and – though prevalent in early 13th-century sources – constitute a modest proportion of the 13th-century corpus as a whole: 65 motets, at a generous estimate, out of around 460 individual compositions (if re-textings or musical re-workings are not counted as separate pieces). By contrast, any tradition of creating vernacular motets from clausulae models seems to have been minimal. Even in an early to mid-13th-century context, I-Fl Plut. 29.1 is relatively exceptional in presenting a collection of exclusively Latin-texted motets, as well as in its high concentration of motets with related clauslae, and its ordering of motets according to the liturgical sequence of their tenor plainchant melodies. In D-W Helmst.1099 – a source thought to be only slightly later than, or even roughly contemporary with, I-Fl Plut. 29.1 – the majority of the 215 motets are vernacular works, most of which do not have clausula concordances. D-W Helmst.1099 separates its motets by language, presenting first Latin, then vernacular works, each ordered alphabetically, by the first letter of the text of the motetus (the texted voice immediately above the tenor). The fragments D-Mbs Mus.m.4775 and D-Bds 14 – both remains of the same mid-13th-century manuscript – also confirm the predominance of non-clausula-derived vernacular motets. Exceptionally, these French-texted motets adopt a liturgical convention of ordering, and are arranged alongside the manuscript’s few Latin motets according to the place of their tenor chants in the Church calendar.
Connections between motets and conducti are most pronounced in the repertoire of Latin, clausula-derived motets, as best represented by I-Fl Plut. 29.1. In total, I-Fl Plut. 29.1 records 29 of the extant repertoire of just 34 ‘conductus motets’ or ‘monotextual motets’. These motets are so called because they feature two (or very occasionally three) texted upper voices above their plainchant tenors, which present the same syllabic text in the same declamatory rhythm, as in a polyphonic conductus. In addition to the comprehensive collection in I-Fl Plut. 29.1, conductus motets are heavily concentrated in early and mid-13th-century manuscripts (D-W Helmst.628, I-Fl Plut. 29.1, D-W Helmst.1099, E-Ma 20486, F-CSM 3.J.250), and they are absent from later 13th-century collections such as F-Mof H196.
In several of these early or mid-13th-century sources, conductus motets are presented alongside genuine conducti, sometimes without their associated plainchant tenors. D-W Helmst.628 – thought to pre-date I-Fl Plut. 29.1 and to have been copied in St Andrews in the 1230s – does not contain a collection of motets. It does, however, record six compositions that are elsewhere transmitted as motets with plainchant tenors (and were created through the addition of texts to clausulae models), but which appear in D-W Helmst.628 without their associated plainchant tenors among conducti. This manuscript presentation is facilitated by the fact that, visually, three- or four-voice conductus motets resemble conducti and are often most conveniently copied within sections of the manuscript formatted, respectively, for two- or three-voice conducti. The two or three upper voices that share the single motet text are presented in score, with this text underlaid at the bottom of the system. In D-W Helmst.628, the lack of associated plainchant tenors for these conductus motets makes them visually indistinguishable from true conducti. When plainchant tenors are transmitted (as in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 or D-W Helmst.1099) these melismatic tenors are copied separately, fitted in at the end of the syllabically texted upper voices, which retain their conductus-like appearance in score format.
Most conductus motets were created from a pre-existing two-voice clausula, to which was added, not only a syllabic text, but also an additional, third musical voice, or triplum. Two conductus motets (Latex silice/[IMMO]LATUS and Serena virginum/MANERE) are in four voices, with tripla and quadrupla added to their two-voice clausulae models. The first motet fascicle of I-Fl Plut. 29.1 contains 26 three-voice conductus motets, and is the largest extant collection of this motet type. 17 of the 26 motets in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 have related two-voice clausulae, six have no surviving clausula sources, and only three have related three-voice clausulae. The preference for two- rather than three-voice clausulae models for three-voice conductus motets can be accounted for as follows. First, the vast majority of extant clausulae are in two voices in any case. Second, three-voice clausulae favour independence between duplum and triplum voices, and these overlapping phrase structures inhibit or prevent the simultaneous presentation of a single motet text in both upper voices. Even though the upper voices of all three of the three-voice clausulae that became three-voice conductus motets in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 had an unusually codependent phrase structure, musical adaptations were still required in order to ensure that the duplum and triplum voices of these clausula could share the same motet text throughout. The paucity of suitable clausula models and the adaptations required explain why creators of conductus motets usually fashioned new triplum voices for two-voice clausulae, rather than re-working musical material that was already in three parts.
In addition to the presentation of a single text in multiple voices, several conductus motets share further stylistic features characteristic of conducti but not of motets. Latex silice/[IMMO]LATUS, for instance, concludes with a melismatic cauda on its final syllable and it is multi-strophic, while Serena viriginum/MANERE features the closing exhortation Benedicamus Domino (‘Let us bless the Lord’). It seems highly appropriate, therefore, that these four-voice ‘motets’ appear without their associated tenors as three-voice conducti in D-W Helmst.628. On the other hand, both of these conductus motets are apparently derived from clausulae models, and they have the irregular poetic texts characteristic of motets. This is true of the majority of Latin conductus motets presented without their tenors as if they were conducti. Furthermore, the majority of three-voice conductus motets are also disseminated elsewhere in the form of straightforward two-voice motets (with a plainchant tenor and a motetus), thereby removing the most obviously conductus-like aspect of their identity. Neither is it only ‘conductus motets’ that are transmitted (conductus-like) without their tenors: the mid- to late 13th-century manuscript E-Ma 20486 of Spanish provenance, records 32 exclusively Latin motets interspersed with conducti. Only two of these motets have their associated plainchant tenors in E-Ma 20486, and while most pieces do belong to the subgenre of the conductus motet, E-Ma 20486 also presents three lone motetus voices derived from works that apparently circulated exclusively as two-voice motets.
Evidently, therefore, the generic identity and presentation of early Latin motets could be very fluid. Most Latin motets that appear among conducti – or without their tenors masquerading as conducti – have some hybrid features with this genre, most notably a shared upper-voice text. Yet many such motets were created in a substantially different way (through the addition of prosula texts to clausulae) than the newly-composed conductus, and additionally retain the motet-like characteristic of irregular poetic lines. Unsurprisingly, given connections with the exclusively Latin-texted conductus genre, conductus motets were also an almost exclusively Latinate phenomenon. Yet five extant vernacular motets have a shared upper-voice text. These French-texted pieces are all apparently contrafacta of originally Latin works, and appear uniquely in D-W Helmst.1099, grouped together at the end of series of Latin conductus motets.
Textually, the upper voices of Latin conductus and two-voice motets usually invoke their plainchant tenors in multiple ways. Irrespective of their semantic content, motet texts often adopt the tenor’s predominant vowel sounds as rhymes at the end of poetic lines, creating textual assonance with the underlying chant melisma (for example, the motet Alpha, bovi et leoni/DOMINO). While early motet sources contain several complaining or satirical Latin texts, bemoaning human degradation or the hypocrisy of clerics, most are broadly sacred in theme, usually offering a gloss or trope of their tenor subjects. This may take the form of explicit quotation of the tenor word, usually at the opening of a motet (Immolata paschali victima/[IMMO]LATUS, for example), or at its close (Homo quam sit pura/[IMMO]LATUS, for instance, concludes ‘dum sum immolatus’). Many motets also refer to the broader liturgical contexts and complete texts of the plainchant melodies from which their tenors are drawn, and sometimes even to the original Biblical texts and contexts that are paraphrased in these plainchant texts. By contrast, some 15 Latin motets recorded across I-Fl Plut. 29.1 and D-W Helmst.1099 (including Salve mater fons ortorum on the Ascension tenor [CAPTIVI]TA[TEM] given as Example 1) have texts devoted to the praise of the Virgin Mary, even though their plainchant tenors are drawn from non-Marian feasts. This is testament to the widespread interest in Marian themes for Latin motet texts, whose imagery is often closely related to that of the pastoral love songs in the vernacular that are the usual vein of French contrafacta for early Latin motets.
A majority of early Latin motets would seem to be poetically appropriate for use in the liturgy as polyphonic tropes of their plainchant tenors. In general, the most widely used early Latin motet tenors were the elaborate plainchant melismas (drawn from plainchant Graduals and Alleluias for the Mass and from Office Responsories) also well represented in clausula collections and associated with important liturgical occasions: [IMMO]LATUS (from the Easter Alleluia V. Pascha nostrum, M 14), for example, and REGNAT (from the Assumption Alleluia V. Hodie Marie, M 34). It is possible that sacred Latin motets might have been performed in the context of host organa, inserted – as were substitute clausulae – to replace the appropriate section of the plainchant tenor. Within the Easter organum Alleluia V. Pascha nostrum (M 14) recorded in the fragmentary organum source DK-Kk 1810 4o, the discant clausula section on ‘Nostrum’ is accompanied by the text cue ‘Gaudeat devocio’, the incipit of a motet that shares the music of this discant clausula. Although the incipit might be merely a reminder or acknowledgment of the motet concordance rather than a performance direction per se, the circumstances of the later 13th-century English Worcester fragments GB-WO Add.68 are less equivocal. Here the three-voice conductus motet Ex semine Habrahe/EX SEMINE is copied in full, replacing its corresponding discant clausula within the context of a three-voice organum setting of Alleluia V. Nativitas (M 38). This suggests that, at least in England, sacred Latin motets (especially those whose texts were pertinent to the Church feasts in question) could be sung within organa.
The concentration of early manuscript witness to contain Latin motets that cross-fertilize with the genres of clausuale and conductus has encouraged scholars since Friedrich Ludwig to view Latin conductus motets as the earliest experiments in a new motet genre that had yet to develop its own fully independent identity and whose origins were inextricably linked to the liturgy and to the church. It may be significant that D-W Helmst.628 and E-Ma 20486 – the two sources in which the presentation of motets as conducti overwhelmingly predominates – are both non-Parisian manuscripts, which perhaps reflect the tastes and demands of musical communities where conducti were already known but motets were not yet an established feature. As such, the more pronounced conductus-like appearance of motets in these sources would constitute a deliberate adaptation and a chronologically later phenomenon. This underlines the difficulty of equating the chronology of manuscript sources with that of their contents, especially in anthologizing Magnus liber manuscripts such as I-Fl Plut. 29.1, D-W Helmst.628, and D-W Helmst.1099, or the later F-Mof H196 (whose eight fascicles are not all contemporary in any case). Such books preserve multiple chronological layers of a musical repertoire, in which some compositions were probably more than half a century old at the time of copying, and may have been re-worked or updated to various degrees. It cannot therefore be presumed that a chronologically ‘early’ source necessarily preserves its musical materials in their earliest forms. Furthermore, it must be considered that the compilers of manuscripts may have chosen not to include certain available materials (such as French-texted motets in the case of I-Fl Plut. 29.1) or deliberately adapted certain works (removing tenors from conductus motets in D-W Helmst.628) for reasons of taste and/or practicality.
Despite the predominance of Latin motets in the earliest extant manuscript sources, the use of texts in the French vernacular predominates in the 13th-century motet corpus as a whole, in keeping with the vernacular etymology of the designation ‘motet’. In the 13th century, this word had a variety of applications: often used in its Latinized form (motetus) by medieval theorists to refer to the voice-part directly above the tenor (carrying a motet text), it also appeared in vernacular romances in association with short musico-textual “mottos” also known as refrains.
The use of refrains is central to vernacular motets recorded in sources from the mid-13th century on. In addition to the over 100 French motets in D-W Helmst.1099, two mid-century chansonniers – F-Pn fr.844 and, in particular, F-Pn fr.12615 – also preserve a substantial repertoire of two-voice vernacular motets (nearly 100 pieces in F-Pn fr.12615), which are heavily dependent on refrains. Many of these refrains appear to be quotations of established musical and textual phrases that circulated across and with repertoires of motets, chansons, and literary romances. Such quotations typically appear at the close or, less often, at the opening of a vernacular motet. Musically, the refrain melodies and/or their accompanying tenor chants may betray signs of musical accommodation necessary to allow the two quoted melodies to sound simultaneously in polyphonic combination. By and large, vernacular motets draw on the same stock of plainchant tenors as Latin-texted pieces, plainchant melodies whose use in polyphony was established in the organa and clausulae of the Magnus liber. Yet certain tenors (such as OMNES and VERITATEM) enjoyed a noticeably heightened popularity among vernacular motets, possibly because their relative brevity, narrow range, and flat melodic profiles made them well suited to support and combine with the quotation of refrain melodies. This notwithstanding, most vernacular motets contain phrases that are classified as refrains that seem to be purely textual or purely musical quotations, or more often, for which no external concordances survive to confirm their status as quotations. It seems that refrains could also be newly created in motets, fashioned in such a way as to evoke the characteristics of refrain quotations though the use of stereotypical vocabulary or poetic formulations, or of the refrain’s typical paired phrase structure.
Another widespread technique is that in which a refrain is split in two, providing the opening and closing phrases of a motet. Such pieces are called motets entés (literally grafted motets), evoking the insertion of new material between the two halves of the framing refrain. The designation is attested in medieval contexts, most notably as a rubric to describe 17 monophonic pieces in the late 13th-century chansonnier F-Pn fr.845. These monophonic motets entés (only one of which has a surviving concordance in the polyphonic motet repertoire) feature the split refrain procedure found also in many polyphonic compositions, as well as in the 14th-century text-only chansonnier, GB-Ob Douce 308.
A considerably smaller group of 19 pieces are commonly described under the sub-genre ‘motet cento’, a term coined by Friedrich Ludwig to describe compositions made up of a series of refrains, pieced together in a patchwork motet. Although not all of the refrains in a motet cento are necessarily true quotations, such pieces show the extent to which vernacular motets might draw on and play with refrains, as well as practices of quotation and allusion more broadly.
The importance of refrains in vernacular motet composition is evidence of the close connections between motets and monophonic vernacular song. Fewer than 25 melodies are attested in written sources both as polyphonic motets and as monophonic chansons. Yet the presence of polyphonic motet collections within chansonniers and especially of the designation motets entés to describe monophonic works in F-Pn fr.845 confirms that the categories of motet and song were porous. As also in the case of Latin motets (especially conductus motets), where voice parts could be added or removed at will, it seems likely that vernacular motets could be sung without their tenors as monophonic melodies, or that a tenor could be newly fitted to a pre-existing song, just as additional triplum or quadruplum voices could be added on to a two-voice motet. A fundamental stylistic cross-over with monophonic song is attested also by the corpus of 16 almost exclusively vernacular motets that strictly employ in their upper voices the pedes cum cauda or AAB form characteristic of trouvère chansons, and by the many more motets that loosely reproduce the shape of this form. In addition, there are around 13 so-called rondeau motets (all French-texted pieces) that adopt rondeau forms in their upper voice(s), frequently adjusting their tenor chant quotations in order to accommodate this strict repetitive scheme.
Two-voice vernacular motets predominate in the earliest surviving sources to record French motets (D-Mbs Mus.ms.4775, F-Pn fr.844, F-Pn fr.12615, D-W Helmst.1099), and F-Mof H196 – the largest extant collection of 13th-century motets – presents, as its sixth fascicle, 75 two-voice French motets. Yet in F-Mof H196 as a whole, as in all other major 13th-century motet sources from the 1270s on (such as the ‘La Clayette’ manuscript, F-Pn n.a.fr.13521, or D-BAs Lit.115), three-voice vernacular motets substantially outweigh pieces in Latin or for two voices only. Three-voice motets are commonly described as ‘double motets’, underlining the fact that their two upper voices (motetus and triplum) each present different syllabic texts above a melismatic tenor chant. By analogy, ‘triple motets’ feature three independent upper-voice texts (in motetus, triplum, and quadruplum). Such four-voice works are significantly less common: the group of 17 in F-Mof H196 fascicle 2 represents the largest single surviving collection (closely followed by the 13 triple motets interspersed in the group of 55 motets in La Clayette), while D-BAs Lit.115 and I-Tu Vari 42 contain exclusively double motets. Since many four-voice triple motets exist also in three-voice forms, it is possible that their quadrupla were subsequent additions and that the triple motet was a relatively limited phenomenon.
Motets that combine multiple different upper-voice texts constitute just over half of the entire 13th-century motet corpus, and polytextuality is typically regarded as one of the motet’s most innovative and enduring generic features. Although many vernacular double motets were re-worked with Latin contrafactum texts, the practice of newly creating Latin double motets was more modest (although examples can be found in D-BAs Lit.115 and fascicle 8 of F-Mof H196) . There was also a relatively modest tradition of bilingual polytextual motets. Latin texts were almost invariably presented in the motetus voice, combined with French tripla and occasionally quadrupla (the principal collections are the 13 bilingual motets – 8 double and 5 triple – in La Clayette, and the 11 bilingual double motets in fascicle 3 of F-Mof H196).
Textually, vernacular motets often deal in the same topics as the monophonic songs of the trouvères, as might be expected given a shared currency of refrains. In general, refrains – which have traditionally been associated with dance songs – feature in trouvère works of a register less elevated than that of the grand chant. In consequence, given their indebtedness to refrains, French motet texts are typically less obviously ambitious poetically than grands chants and the pastourelle topos – describing an encounter between a knight and a maiden shepherdess – is remarkably prevalent. These pastourelle and other vernacular motet texts may be explicitly devotional or invite an allegorical reading, most often a Marian one. As in Latin motets, upper voices often adopt the vowel sounds of their tenors, and make explicit reference to their tenor words or themes. Once again, the most obvious tenor allusions, or even puns, tend to occur at the beginning or end of works: A la clarte illumina/ET ILLUMINARE, for instance, or Maniere esgarder/MANERE. Satirical or complaining vernacular texts are in a distinct minority (Ne sai que je die/IOHANNE is a rare example), while late 13th- and early 14th-century sources reveal an interest in texts referring to particular places (especially Paris, as in On parole/A Paris/FRESE NOUVELE) or communities of musicians (whose texts usually begin with the word ‘Entre’, such as Entre Adan et Hanikel/Chief bien seantz/APTATUR).
The audibility of different texts in polytextual motets has been the subject of considerable scholarly debate. Yet whether audible in performance or not, upper-voice texts in a majority of polytextual motets have clear semantic and thematic connections – to each other and/or to their tenor chant – and may be in explicit dialogue with one another (in Par un matinet/He sire/He berger/EIUS, for example). In addition to this kind of dialogue between voices, several motets draw attention to and play with distinctions between textual polyphony and textual unison, as is the case in the very unusual macaronic triple motet Viderunt, par pou/Viderunt, por peu/Viderunt, por peu/VIDERUNT OMNES (Example 2). This four-voice motet is uniquely recorded in fascicle 2 of F-Mof H196, and is probably an augmentation of an earlier two-voice motet (preserved in D-W Helmst.1099 and D-Mbs Mus.ms.4775). Viderunt, par pou/Viderunt, por peu/Viderunt, por peu/VIDERUNT OMNES begins with a unison invocation of the first word of its tenor’s host plainchant melody, the Christmas Gradual Viderunt omnes, which simultaneously puns on and enacts the following tenor word ‘omnes’ (all). This Latin opening is followed by just two short lines of vernacular text that are strongly refrain-like in character, and which vary subtly but significantly in each of the upper voices to offer different perspectives on the departure of a beloved: the motetus’s heart almost breaks as he leaves a beautiful lady, while the triplum’s heart almost breaks when he is abandoned by one, and the motetus almost leaves his lady but then decides he never will.
The notation and interpretation of double and triple motets is clarified by the use – in sources from F-Mof H196 on – of a mensural, rhythmically differentiated cum littera notation. In the so-called ‘old corpus’ (fascicles 2-6) of F-Mof H196 and in La Clayette, long notes are indicated by the consistent addition of stems, which distinguishes them from shorter unstemmed breves, or lozenge-shaped semibreves. The position of notes within ligatures used in a cum littera context now has rhythmic connotations (whereas previously, a ligature in cum littera simply signaled a melisma: that two or more notes should be sung to one syllable, with no information as to their rhythmic realization), and the duration of rests – indicated by strokes – often correlates to the length of the stroke. Broadly speaking, this is a simpler and earlier form of Franconian notation (key examples are F-Mof H196 fascicles 1, 7, and 8, and I-Tu Vari 42), in which the use of ligatures was newly codified and more extensive, and where breves could be divided into as many as three semibreves. In addition, F-Mof H196 fascicles 7 and 8 and I-Tu Vari 42 also contain examples of motets attributed to Petrus de Cruce, and which exploit notational innovations commonly linked to Petrus that permit the use of up to seven equal semibreves within the space of a single breve. Petronian semibreves were typically allotted individual syllables of text, resulting in a strikingly quick declamatory style of poetic presentation.
With the sole exception of conductus motets, the individual voices of a motet are invariably copied successively. Late 13th-century sources of polyphony typically present motets in two-column format, with chant tenors running across the bottom of the page. In consequence, it is often impossible to view a piece in its entirety on a single folio or opening. 13th-century motet collections do not seem to have been planned with this intention: D-BAs Lit.115 and I-Tu Vari 42 are the first books clearly to prioritize the simultaneous legibility of all parts of a motet (although it should be noted that the earlier F-Mof H196 synchronizes page-turns for motetus and triplum voices). As such, emphasis has been placed on the fact that most 13th-century sources could not have been sung from. It is true that the lavish nature and extremely high quality of books such as I-Fl Plut. 29.1 and F-Mof H196 makes them likely to have been objects of preservation and prestige rather than practicality in any case, and their diminutive dimensions would surely pose difficulties for use in performance. Nevertheless, the concept of a straightforward performance manuscript is problematic in a medieval context, where it seems likely that singers would not need to depend on written copies of polyphony in performance. The occasional errors and awkward page-turns in 13th-century motet manuscripts would not have posed serious obstacles to their use for private reading and memorizing, or as aides memoires.
Compositional interest in fast-moving semibreves, facilitated by new Franconian and Petronian notations in the late 13th century, heightened the rhythmic stratification of the individual voices of motets and decreased their (already loosening) dependence on the modal patterns so characteristic of earlier motets and clauslae. Plainchant tenors had always moved at a generally slower rate than the upper voices of motets and clausulae, and one of the very earliest extant double motets (on the tenor ET GAUDEBIT and recorded in I-Fl Plut. 29.1 with the Latin texts Ypocrite pseudopontifices/Velut stele firmamente) already shows clear rhythmic differentiation between its tenor (in the successive longs of mode 5), motetus (in the longs and breves of mode 1), and triplum (in the breves and semibreves mode 6). The musical individuation of voices – between tenor and upper voices, and in turn between motetus and triplum – became significantly more marked in motets of the later 13th century, complementing the already independent textual character of the voices in a polytextual motet. In sharp contrast to earlier practices, 26 motets dated to the turn of the 13th century into the 14th have vernacular-texted tenors, replacing traditional plainchant melodies with quotations of chansons, rondeaux, refrains, or even – in the case of On parole/A Paris/FRESE NOUVELE – a Parisian street cry. Both the rhythmic stratification of voices and the preference for polytextuality were trends that persisted in later 14th-century Ars nova motets, but the use of non-plainchant tenors proved a relatively isolated phenomenon.
As emphasized above, manuscripts containing 13th-century motets do not record the names of their creators. In this respect, motet sources resemble the liturgically-ordered manuscripts of the polyphonic Magnus liber and sources of Latin conductus songs (both polyphonic and monophonic). Motet books, however, stand in contrast with the more author-centred ethos of vernacular troubadour and trouvère chansonniers. Significantly, several motet voices in French that appear also as monophonic chansons are attributed to particular trouvères in their song-book contexts. This could indicate that the composers of motet texts and/or their accompanying music were well known within the circles in which these pieces circulated, despite the convention that their names were not written down in motet books. Today, however, motet authorship can be certain in very few cases, usually thanks to external evidence from medieval chroniclers or theorists: the texts of six early Latin motets are securely attributed to the poet Philip the Chancellor (also the author of conductus and prosula texts), for example, while theoretical treatises ascribe two vernacular motets to Petrus de Cruce. The late 13th-century collection of works by the trouvère poet-composer Adam de la Halle (in F-Pn fr.25566, dated in the 1280s) is exceptional in gathering together Adam’s poetic and musical compositions – both monophonic and polyphonic – and including a group of five French-texted motets (four double motets and one two-voice piece). The curation of the output of a single named composer is otherwise unknown in a 13th-century context, but it seems to foreshadow the similar ‘complete works’ aesthetic of the later vernacular poet-composer Guillaume de Machaut, and the generally greater emphasis on motet authorship evident in the 14th century.
- W. Meyer: ‘Der Ursprung des Motett’s: Vorläufige Bemerkungen’, Nachrichten von der königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen: Philologisch-historische Klasse, 1898 (Göttingen, 1898), ii, 113–45; repr. in Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur mittellateinischen Rhythmik (Berlin, 1905), ii, 303–41.
- F. Ludwig: Repertorium organorum recentioris et motetorum vetustissimi stili, i/1 (Halle, 1910); vols.i/2, ii ed. F. Gennrich, SMM, vii–viii (1961–2); vols.i/1, ii repr. in Musicological Studies, vii, xvii (Brooklyn, NY, 1964–72)
- H. Besseler: ‘Studien zur Musik des Mittelalters’, AMw, vol.7 (1925), 167–252; vol.8 (1926), 137–258
- F. Gennrich: ‘Trouvèrelieder und Motettenrepertoire’, ZMw, vol.9 (1926–7), 8–39, 65–85
- Y. Rokseth, ed.: Polyphonies du XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1935–9)
- H. Nathan: ‘The Function of Text in French 13th-Century Motets’, MQ, vol.28 (1942), 445–62
- H. Tischler: ‘The Evolution of the Harmonic Style in the Notre-Dame Motet’, AcM, vol.28 (1956), 87–95
- F. Gennrich: Bibliographie der ältesten französischen und lateinischen Motetten, SMM, vol.2 (1957)
- E.H. Sanders: ‘Peripheral Polyphony of the 13th Century’, JAMS, vol.17 (1964), 261–87
- F. Mathiassen: The Style of the Early Motet (Copenhagen, 1966); see also reviews by E.H. Sanders, Notes, vol.24 (1967–8), 33–6, and H. Tischler, JAMS, vol.20 (1967), 489–92
- H. Husmann: ‘Ein Faszikel Notre-Dame-Kompositionen’, AMw, vol.24 (1967), 1–23
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Notre Dame Bilingual Motets: a Study in the History of Music c1215–1245’, MMA, vol.3 (1968), 50–144
- G. Anderson: The Latin Compositions in Fascicules VII and VIII of the Notre Dame Manuscript, Wolfenbüttel, Helmstadt 1099 (1206) (Brooklyn, NY, 1968–76)
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Clausulae or Transcribed Motets in the Florence Manuscript?’, AcM, vol.42 (1970), 109–28
- K. Hofmann: ‘Zur Entstehungs- und Frühgeschichte des Terminus Motette’, AcM, vol.42 (1970), 138–50
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Notre Dame Latin Double Motets ca.1215–1250’, MD, vol.25 (1971), 35–92
- K. Hofmann: Untersuchungen zur Kompositionstechnik der Motette im 13. Jahrhundert (Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1972)
- E.H. Sanders: ‘The Medieval Motet’, Gattungen der Musik in Einzeldarstellungen: Gedenkschrift Leo Schrade, ed. W. Arlt and others (Berne, 1973), 497–573
- H. Tischler: Introduction to The Montpellier Codex, RRMMA, ii–viii (1978–85)
- E.H. Sanders: Introduction to English Music of the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries, PMFC, xiv (1979)
- N.E. Smith: ‘From Clausula to Motet: Material for Further Studies in the Origin and Early History of the Motet’, MD, vol.34 (1980), 29–65
- H. Tischler: Introduction to The Earliest Motets (to circa 1270) (New Haven, CT, 1982)
- H. Tischler: The Style and Evolution of the Earliest Motets (Henryville, PA, 1985)
- P.M. Lefferts: The Motet in England in the Fourteenth Century (Ann Arbor, 1986)
- D. Pesce: ‘The Significance of Text in Thirteenth-Century Latin Motets’, AcM, vol.58 (1986), 91–117
- W. Frobenius: ‘Zum genetischen Verhältnis zwischen Notre-Dame-Klauseln und ihren Motetten’, AMw, vol.44 (1987), 1–39
- C. Page: The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France, 1100–1300 (London, 1989)
- N.E. Smith: ‘The Earliest Motets: Music and Words’, JRMA, vol.114 (1989), 141–63
- J. Pumpe: Die Motetten der Madrider Notre-Dame-Handschrift, Münchner Veröffentlichungen zur Musikgeschichte, xlviii (Tutzing, 1991)
- A. Butterfield: ‘The Language of Medieval Music: Two Thirteenth-Century Motets’, PMM, vol.2 (1993) 1–16
- C. Page: Discarding Images: Reflections on Music and Culture in Medieval France (Oxford, 1993)
- M. Everist: French Motets in the Thirteenth Century: Music, Poetry and Genre (Cambridge, 1994)
- R.A. Baltzer: ‘The Polyphonic Progeny of an Et Gaudebit: Assessing Family Relations in a Thirteenth-Century Motet’, in Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. D. Pesce (New York & Oxford, 1997), 17–28
- S. Huot: Allegorical Play in the Old French Motet: the Sacred and the Profane in Thirteenth-Century Polyphony (Stanford, CA, 1997)
- D. Pesce: ‘Beyond Glossing: The Old Made New in Mout me fu grief /Robin m’aime/PORTARE’, Hearing the Motet: Essays on the Motet of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. D. Pesce (New York & Oxford, 1997), 28–51
- M.E. Wolinski: ‘Tenors Lost and Found: the Reconstruction of Motets in Two Medieval Chansonniers’, Critica Musica: Essays in Honor of Paul Brainard, ed. J. Knowles (Amsterdam, 1997), 461–82
- N. Bell: Introduction to El Códice musical de las Huelgas Reales de Burgos, Colección scriptorium, vii, 2 vols. (Madrid, 1997–2003).
- G.R. Hoekstra: ‘The French Motet as Trope: Multiple Levels of Meaning in Quant florist la violete/El mois de mai/Et gaudebit’, Speculum, vol.73 (1998), 32–57
- M.L. Göllner: ‘Rhythm and Pattern: the Two-voice Motets of Codex Montpellier’, Viator, vol.30 (1999), 145–63
- C. Page: ‘Around the Performance of a Thirteenth-Century Motet’, EM, vol.28 (2000), 343–57
- S.A. Kidwell: ‘The Selection of Clausula Sources for Thirteenth-Century Motets: Some Practical Considerations and Aesthetic Implications’, CM, vol.64 (2001), 73–103
- A. Butterfield: Poetry and Music in Medieval France: from Jean Renart to Guillaume de Machaut (Cambridge, 2002)
- F. Büttner: ‘Weltliche Einflüsse in der Notre-Dame-Musik? Überlegungen zu einer Klausel im Codex F’, AnM, vol.57 (2002), 19–37
- M. Beiche: ‘Motet/motetus/mottetto/Motette’, HMT, vol.36 (2003/4), 1–23 [ed. H.H. Eggebrecht]
- R.A. Baltzer: ‘Why Marian Motets on Non-Marian Tenors? An Answer’, Music in Medieval Europe: Studies in Honour of Bryan Gillingham, ed. T. Bailey and A. Santosuosso (Aldershot, 2007), 112–29
- S. Clark: ‘“S’en dirai chançonete”: Hearing Text and Music in a Medieval Motet’, PMM, vol.16 (2007), 31–59
- M. Everist: ‘Motets, French Tenors and the Polyphonic Chanson ca. 1300’, JM, vol.24 (2007), 365–406
- E.H. Roesner: ‘Subtilitas and Delectatio: Ne m’a pas oublié’, Cultural Performances in Medieval France: Essays in Honor of Nancy Freeman Regalado, ed. E.J. Burns, E. Doss-Quinby, and R. Krueger (Cambridge, 2007), 112–32
- S. Rankin: ‘Thirteenth-Century Notations of Music and Arts of Performance’, Vom Preis des Fortschritts: Gewinn und Verlust in der Musikgeschichte, Studien zur Wertungsforschung, xlix, ed. A. Dorschel and A. Haug (Vienna, London, & New York, 2008), 110–41
- W. Arlt: ‘“Deduisant m’aloie ier mein”: Motettische Inszenierung im Paris des 13. Jahrhunderts’, Inszenierung durch Musik: Der Komponist also Regiseur, ed. D. Redepenning and J. Stgeinheuer (Kassel, 2011), 17–68
- F. Büttner: Das Kaluselrepertoire der Handschrift Saint-Victor (Paris, BN, lat. 15139): Eine Studie zur mehrstimmigen Komposition im 13. Jahrhundert (Lecce, 2011)
- T.B. Payne: Introduction to Philip the Chancellor: Motets and Prosulas, RRMMA, xli (2011)
- J.A. Peraino: Giving Voice to Love: Song and Self-Expression from the Troubadours to Guillaume de Machaut (Oxford, 2011)
- D.J. Rothenberg: The Flower of Paradise: Marian Devotion and Secular Song in Medieval and Renaissance Music (Oxford, 2011)
- E. Dillon: The Sense of Sound: Musical Meaning in France 1260–1330, The New Cultural History of Music Series (New York, 2012)
- P.M. Lefferts: ‘Sources of Thirteenth-Century English Polyphony: Catalogue with Descriptions’, University of Nebraska Lincoln Faculty Publications: School of Music, Paper 45 (2012), http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/musicfacpub/45/
- K.G. Pfändtner: ‘Zum Entstehungsraum der Bamberger Motettenhandschrift Msc. Lit. 115 – kodikologische und kunsthistorische Argumente’, AM, vol.84 (2012), 161–6
- C.A. Bradley: ‘Contrafacta and Transcribed Motets: Vernacular Influences on Latin Motets and Clausulae in the Florence Manuscript’, EMH, vol.32 (2013), 1–70
- Y. Plumley: The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut (Oxford, 2013)
- G. Saint-Cricq: ‘A New Link between the Motet and Trouvère Chanson: the Motet-pedes cum cauda’, EMH, vol.32 (2013), 179–223
- J. Saltzstein: The Refrain and the Rise of the Vernacular in Medieval French Music and Poetry (Cambridge, 2013)
- S. Curran: ‘Writing, Performance, and Devotion in the Thirteenth-Century Motet: the “La Clayette” Manuscript’, Manuscripts and Medieval Song: Inscription, Performance, Context, ed. H. Deeming and E.E. Leach (Cambridge, 2015), 193–220
- G. Saint-Cricq: Introduction to Motets from the Chansonnier de Noailles, RRMMA, xlii (2017)
- C.A. Bradley: Polyphony in Medieval Paris: the Art of Composing with Plainchant (Cambridge 2018)
- J. Hartt, ed.: A Critical Companion to Medieval Motets (Woodbridge, 2018)
2. England, 13th and early 14th centuries.
The geographic region witnessing the most rapid evolution of polyphonic musica mensurata in 13th-century Europe encompassed not only northern France but also England. During this epoch, the English differentiation from French practice in regard to rhythm, melody, harmony, counterpoint, texture, notation and genre can begin to be clearly documented. There is no surviving integral liber motetorum from England to compare with the monumental French sources of the era (preserving most of a corpus that numbers about 500 continental works), but a large number of manuscript fragments allow a corpus of English material to be assembled. Music is extant for over 100 motets, most of which are significantly incomplete (the principal edition is PMFC, xiv). Surviving foliations and paginations (and, in GB-Lbl Harl.978, an index or table of contents to a now lost book that itemizes 81 motets by textual incipit and musical style) indicate that some English sources were books originally comparable in size to the largest extant continental codices.
Out of the creative ferment of early 13th-century experimentation with the textual troping of melismatic polyphony in clausula, organum and conductus, English composers pursued a different mix of possibilities from those of their French counterparts. Central to the insular motet tradition were the Latin motet, the monotextual Latin conductus motet and the Latin double motet, about half built over a plainchant tenor and half built over a pes (see Pes), as described below. All were sacred; there was no intrusion by secular, vernacular lyrics as on the Continent. Concerning organum, the English did not actively cultivate written composition in sustained-note style and were not attracted to the texting of its melismatic voices. They favoured instead the polyphonic enrichment of whole chants in a note-against-note (discant) style; these works were usually notated in score. Such chant settings were then subject to textual troping of the upper voice(s), creating the amply represented genre of troped chant settings; these works, with their more individualized added voices, were notated in parts like motets. Troped chant settings are in practice often virtually indistinguishable from the Latin motet and circulated among them.
Another development can be tied to the conductus, a genre for which there is also a distinctive English tradition. Here one finds vigorous cultivation of the constructivist techniques of Rondellus and Voice-exchange, originally in melismatic conductus caudas but also with simultaneous texting of all voices (conductus-fashion), or – most strikingly – with a single text sung by the leading melodic voice, a role tossed back and forth among the parts. Texted rondellus and voice-exchange sections became a hallmark of the large-scale troped chant settings of alleluias written in parts. Further, texted compositions based on rondellus and voice-exchange exist independently, and in this fashion some later examples are written in parts like a motet rather than in score like a conductus. Blurring the generic boundaries between conductus and motet are works such as the rondellus Fulget celestis curie (PMFC, xiv, no.42), written in parts, which has the simultaneous declamation of two different texts, and the works Patris superni/Pia pacis and Orbis pium/O bipertum (PMFC, xiv, nos.38 and 39), written in parts, which combine melismatic caudas and sections functioning like conductus motets (two voices declaiming the same text, usually in homorhythm, over an independently texted, apparently freely composed tenor) with passages of voice-exchange and rondellus, respectively. Generic boundaries are fully crossed in the insular conversion of a motet into a conductus written in score; the process can be demonstrated in two motets with continental concordances, Mellis stilla and Ave gloriosa (PMFC, xiv, nos.App.22 and 23a), and in an example with a fully insular history, Virgo decora (PMFC, xvii, no.15a/b).
Latin motets in England do not themselves constitute a homogeneous genre in respect to compositional procedure; only about half the extant 13th-century examples are based on a cantus firmus, while the rest are based on a pes, a voice of tenor function – either freely composed or drawing on melodies from the popular sphere – that often employs ostinatos. (Sometimes such a pes was a well-known tune, such as a snatch of a popular song, a refrain or a dance phrase; see ex.3.) Shared features of both types include a propensity for four-voice writing (more often adding a second supporting voice sharing tenor function than a texted quadruplum), isomelic repetition and variation in the upper voices upon repetition of tenor material, and a regularity of phrase length coupled to rhythmically patterned declamation that makes possible the creation of regularly versified texts (in some instances, supporting the composition of motets as settings of pre-existing Latin poems). A significant number of both types are bipartite, and several exploit the principle of sectional acceleration. For instance, the fragmentary pes motet with duplum O regina glorie (GB-Ob 20, no.36), an astonishingly sophisticated specimen probably dating from the late 13th century, consists of two sections, whose respective phrase ingredients relate as 4:3. The tenor’s irregular rhythms in the second section (color II) prove that the proportionality of the composition is governed by the upper voices. One striking fragment of a cantus firmus motet of similar age, Spirans odor/Kyrie (GB-Lwa 33327, no.1), is tripartite with sectional lengths in the ratio 17:9:6.
The English tenor motet repertory has some continental concordances and, in turn, it also circulated to at least a limited degree abroad, while being further tied to the tradition of the continental Latin double motet of the second half of the century by sacred subject matter, and shared texts and tenors. That continental motet techniques did not rise to a more dominant position in England seems due in some measure to the English partiality to tonally unified compositions. In France the matter of tonal unity was relatively unimportant, as is attested by the practice of writing clausulas and motets; many of the chant melismas on which they are based are not tonal units. Even many of the freely composed continental pieces of the 13th and 14th centuries lack an unequivocal tonal centre. Moreover, the English motet explores homogeneity of textural and rhythmic activity, paralleled by an equivalence of texts conjoined in length, versification and subject matter, while the continental motet characteristically forges unity out of antinomic components. And although there are a few examples of French double motets imported into England, their texts rewritten in Anglo-Norman, English composers and audiences seem to have been generally indifferent or hostile to secular subjects and the use of the vernacular.
Pes motets are of two basic kinds. In some the pes consists of a chain of melodic elements repeated in pairs (usually three to six), whose double-versicle structure supports voice-exchange; these are the freely composed voice-exchange motets mentioned above whose genesis is ultimately traceable to the conductus. The exchange structure allows for a variety of textings: in two upper parts a single text may be sung alternately, two texts may unfold alternately, or two texts may be sung simultaneously. In the other kind of pes motet, the pes consists of only one melodic element, stated more than twice and thus producing a melodic ostinato or ground (there are instances of nine, 11 or even 13 statements), over which from one to three upper voices unfold without systematic voice-exchange. The pes itself may consist of one or two lower voices. In one extraordinary instance, Campanis cum cymbalis/Honoremus dominam (PMFC, xiv, no.59), a two-voice pes repetitively imitates the tolling of bells. Many ostinato pes motets exhibit sophisticated phrase structures of admirable elegance, for example Te domine laudat/Te dominum clamat (PMFC, xiv, no.47; for facsimile see Worcester polyphony), whose pes consists of five statements, the last incomplete: triplum [2(8L) + 2(10 + 8L) + 8L] + [10L + 2(8 + 10L) + 14L] + 10L + 8L, duplum [(2 + 8L) + 2(10 + 8L) + 14L] + [2(8L) + 2(10 + 8L) + 8L] + 8L + 10L, pes 4[(6L)] + 3(6L). Each upper voice therefore consists of 16 phrases (one double phrase (14L) and 14 single phrases, where the ten-beat phrases are actually eight-beat phrases extended by short melismas), which accommodate the 16 lines (eight couplets) of their respective poems. Generic boundaries between pes motet and Rota are blurred by the well-known Summer Canon (see Sumer is icumen in), in which a round canon at the unison unfolds, motet-like, over a two-voice pes.
From the first few decades after 1300 a later corpus of English motets can be identified that is roughly contemporaneous with continental motets of the very late Ars Antiqua and early Ars Nova. (Again there are about 100 pieces extant, mainly Latin double motets and mostly fragmentary; the principal edition is PMFC, xv.) This repertory is defined by the contents of some major sources (see Sources, MS, §VI); by turning from 13th-century English mensural notations to Franconian, Petronian and new insular notational practices; by a general increase in length; by the expansion of the typical contrapuntal two-voice framework beyond one octave (with corresponding increases in overall range and the frequency of four-voice writing, and changes in the grammar of harmony); by the increasing use of secular songs in French and English as cantus firmi for tenor motets; and by new formal possibilities. These motets extend the developments of their insular antecedents into a much richer variety of formal archetypes than is found on the Continent. The profusion of approaches to design can be ordered into two not entirely exclusive categories: isomelic motets and periodic motets.
In isomelic motets, musical repetitions in the tenor engender musical repetition in the upper voices; the category includes such types as motets with strict and varied voice-exchange, motets with strophic repetition and variation, and motets with polyphonic refrains. Isomelic motets are markedly sectional, with clearly articulated boundaries and prominent strophic features. Such motets exploit the principle of sectional variation in so consistent a manner as to suggest the designation ‘variation motets’. They are successors to the ostinato and double-versicle pes motets, but while some pieces continue to be freely composed, a major innovation is the adaptation of cantus firmi (both plainchant and secular melodies) to support their designs. In some cases the cantus firmus is readily adaptable, while in others it is rather abstractly divided and alternated with free counterpoint in order to fulfil a structural goal; in the latter case voice-exchange gives the impression of a traditional device that has become extrinsic. A further result of the association of voice-exchange in the upper voices with a cantus firmus is that the quality of regular harmonic alternation, especially of a varied harmonic ostinato (pes harmony), so characteristic of the 13th-century compositions, is absent from many of these later works. Most isomelic motets set regularly versified (frequently strophic) Latin poetry, either a single text or two that are equivalent in length and versification.
Illustrative of one well-defined isomelic type are the surviving materials for the five-section voice-exchange motet with coda and related works: six are extant (three cantus firmus and three free), to which may be added two works that are closely related but in four and six sections; one motet exhibiting varied rather than strict voice-exchange whose five sections are enclosed by a prelude and coda, and articulated by hocket interludes; and one refrain motet in which a varied ostinato pes supports five melodic periods, each closed by a repeated strain. The largest five-section exchange motet, Rota versatilis, is a fragment complete in length (it has no coda) but lacking full counterpoint (see Bent, 1981). In this extraordinarily expansive and complex motet, the sections are carefully constructed as a particular embodiment of the fundamental numerical proportions 12:8:4:9:6. Notational and general palaeographic evidence indicates that the work cannot have been composed any later than the second decade of the 14th century; a 15th-century index lists a now lost treatise on its composition, Modus componendi rotam versatilem.
Periodic motets are all cantus firmus motets. In them there is a through-composed, indivisible structure between voices of interlocking phrases whose periods (i.e. lengths) are rationally controlled. These motets may be designated as mixed when overlapping phrases differ in their recurring length and isoperiodic when the periods of voices are the same; motets of mixed periodicity are generally older and shorter than those which are isoperiodic. As a rule, recurrent patterns of declamation, coupled to regular phrase lengths, support regularly versified poetry – two Latin texts parallel in length, versification and subject. Two principal types of isoperiodic motet emerge, one with declamation on long and brevis, the other with declamation on brevis and semibrevis. A paradigmatic example of the former is Petrum cephas/Petrus Pastor/Petre amas me (PMFC, xv, no.18), in which three of the four voices are arranged as follows: triplum 12(9L), duplum 7L + 10(9L) + 11L, tenor 10L + 10(9L) + 8L. (The quartus cantus is free.) Those with faster declamation are mainly of a type that can be described as ‘duet motet with medius cantus’. These are all three-voice works in which the chant is a middle voice by range around which the two outer parts form a duet; whenever the tenor rests, the duetting voices engage in an isorhythmically patterned rapid parlando, often in parallel 6ths. One such motet is Zelo tui langueo/Reor nescia (PMFC, xv, no.14; see also Page, 1997). Its tenor has phrases of three longs and one long rest, while the surrounding two voices are made up of eight-long phrases offset from each other by four longs, arranged so as to produce a regular catenary arrangement of rests. Each phrase consists of two parts with the consequent linked to its antecedent by filler material after a rhythmic caesura (ex.4). The diagram in ex.4 clearly shows that isorhythm began as a clarification of the cadential points of phrase structures.
3. France, Ars Nova.
The reduction of the several motet types flourishing in France at the turn of the 13th century to one definitive type capable of accommodating endless variety is the new ‘maniere des motets’ (Les règles de la seconde rhétorique) invented by Philippe de Vitry. Immediate precedents are to be found not so much in the French double motet of Petrus de Cruce as in the Latin double motet, especially those more progressive of the newer motets in the 1316 edition of the Roman de Fauvel by Chaillou de Pesstain that have been attributed to a still anonymous ‘Master of the Royal Motets’ (Leech-Wilkinson, 1994). These tend to have fairly equal upper voices, broadly patterned tenors and regularly versified texts, but in the details of construction they are not rigorously schematic. Vitry’s most profound innovation is the creation of motets strictly realizing a numerical scheme, an elaborate isoperiodic design in which the modular number coordinating the phrase structure is itself often regularly subdivided. Rooted in the pitches of the cantus firmus, the musical fabric of motetus and triplum is pre-eminently concerned with the harmonious unfolding of numerical gestalts. The melodic design of the upper voices clearly shows that each phrase is a separate component which requires no linking to its predecessors by such means as motivic relationships, sequences or contrast.
The essential features of the Ars Nova motet are already present in Vitry’s Garrit gallus/In nova fert/Neuma (1314). Here two independent upper voices very nearly equal in range and rhythmic activity move above a much slower, rigidly patterned tenor. The periodic module governing structure is 25 (counted in binary breves), subdivided in the tenor as (12 + 13B) and in both upper voices as (17 + 8B), with a total length for the motet of 6(25B) = 150B; given its single module, this design can be called unipartite. Coordinated with the six statements of the tenor’s notational and rhythmic pattern (talea) are two statements of a melodic cantus firmus (color). Within the same decade, in a motet like Tuba sacre Fidei/In arboris/Virgo sum, Vitry was exploring bipartite structures consisting of two conjoined periodic schemes, the second diminished with respect to the first; here a total length of 120B = 5(24B) = 10(12B) is articulated as an introitus of 12B followed by (72 + 36B) = 3(24B) + 3(12B), with one color statement for the undiminished taleae and one for the halved values. In neither of these motets are upper voice rhythms strictly repeated over each tenor talea, although in Tuba sacre isorhythmic hocketing marks the end of each talea (see Isorhythm).
The primacy of the poetic impulse (but not of the poetic composition) is a feature the motet shares with the accompanied song. Since the composition is not the product of free melodic invention, however, a motet sounds stiffer and more formal than a chanson, not only because of its massive fundament now consisting often of tenor and contratenor (a voice of similar range and facture), but because the melodic design of the upper voices is more restricted; even rhythmically it is more conservative. The triplum poems are always longer than those of the motetus and therefore, in contrast to most motetus poems, are strophic in structure. Since the rhythmic character of both voices, which have lost all modal constraints, is often nearly the same, the declamation, whose concern with prosody is anything but vital, is rapid in the triplum, but slower, and, in contrast to the 13th-century tradition, fairly melismatic in the motetus, though short melismas occur in most tripla. Although a number of motets composed in the first half of the 14th century still reveal the composer’s rather cavalier attitude towards fitting the poetry to the music, others show great care in the structural coordination of music and poetry. The most intricate motets continue to incorporate a sophisticated counterpoint of textual sound and sense, in some cases extending the dialogue between triplum and motetus into a dialogue between different motets.
Latin predominates as the language of the Ars Nova motet, whose subject matter may not only be sacred but also ceremonial, laudatory, political or polemical; the fewer French-texted works continue to play with the themes of courtly love. Selection of a tenor is no longer the first consideration of the composer; rather, this choice is governed by the need for its text to correspond like a motto to the poetic conceit of the upper voices. This procedure was first reported by Egidius de Murino (CoussemakerS, iii, 124a). The practice, which originated in the later 13th century, might be called reverse textual troping, since the relevance of the texts is motivated not liturgically but poetically. The presence of a cantus firmus, which has always caused the motet tenor to be regarded as the ‘dignior pars’ (Anonymus 7), in no case automatically implies a liturgical function. The original trope-like nature of the motet was a fleeting phenomenon, whose inevitability was eliminated when clausula and motet were recognized as entities divorced from the chant that furnished the tenor notes. Undoubtedly a remark by Guillaume Durand (d 1334) that properly ‘the impious and irregular music of motets and similar compositions should not be performed in church’ indicates not his desire for the elimination of the motet as a species but for its relegation to its appropriate sphere. Certainly motets with suitable texts must have been performed in church, but the primary raison d'être of the motet was surely more than ever to function as the most sublime product of ars musica, which addressed itself to the ‘learned and those who prize artistic subtlety’ (Grocheio). Though originating as clerical chamber music, it was produced in the 14th century by and for ‘accomplished musicians and lay connoisseurs’ (Jacobus of Liège). Its prestige, at least since the mid-13th century, is attested by the many 13th-century musical manuscripts devoted more or less exclusively to it; 14th-century musical sources, most of which mix the genres, as a rule place the motets at the beginning.
The apprehension of 14th-century continental motets may at first seem a forbidding task, since they are of much broader dimensions than those of the Ars Antiqua. But far from being arcane intellectual constructs that resist aural perception, 14th-century Ars Nova motets are strophic variations, and the listener’s sense of recurrence, though differently activated, is hardly less keen than in such early 17th-century strophic variations as the prologue or Orpheus’s Act 3 aria in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. Perception of the proportioned relationships within a motet is not essentially more problematic than perception of the proportioned relationships of the structural members in Gothic architecture. Isorhythmic passages are recurring rhythmic ornaments that emphasize structure. Polytextuality may impede the immediate grasp of both lyrics simultaneously, but, as in a Mozartian opera ensemble, the strands may be followed separately, and texts were available in the score or independently copied apart from the notes for more leisurely reading and study.
Although Gace de La Buigne wrote (Roman des deduis, c1370): ‘Phelippe de Vitry ot nom, Qui mieulx fist motets que nulz hom’, the surviving number of motets that can be unquestionably attributed to Vitry is small. Nonetheless, a densely interconnected network of relationships and cross-references between motets in matters of compositional detail (e.g. modular numbers, total length, rhythmic patterning of the talea, choice of color, number of notes in color, number of statements of color, text subject matter and vocabulary, verse schemes, rhymes, numbers of lines, syllable counts, etc.) demonstrates his personal influence to have been profound and, moreover, that the Ars Nova motet was likely to have been cultivated at first by a relatively small circle of composers who knew each other’s work and wrote for the same patrons. Machaut himself was evidently a pupil of Vitry, or at least a student of the older composer’s motets, although only a minority of his compositions in this genre intersect with the Vitrian school. Indeed, although his is the largest number of surviving Ars Nova motets by a single composer, only a handful circulated outside the monumental codices devoted to his works whose copying he oversaw. The major features distinguishing Machaut’s motets from Vitry’s are his preference for French texts (except in his late motets); his use of secular tenors in three compositions; the strophic isorhythmic structure (see Isorhythm) in all the others and the relatively larger number of his motets in which color and talea overlap (ex.5; both devices were still rarely employed by Vitry); and his preference for structures based on fewer but longer tenor taleae.
Looking back from a vantage point late in the 14th century, the anonymous author of the Tractatus figurarum (ed. P. Schreuer, Lincoln, NE, 1989, pp.66–9) speaks of a first stage in the composition of the Ars Nova motet that was followed by a second stage, an ‘ars magis subtiliter ordinata’, in which the masters of the early motet themselves went on to explore a more refined approach, which he associates with the motet Apta caro/Flos virginum/Alma redemptoris (PMFC, v, no.4). In this second stage, to which can be assigned some later Vitry and Machaut motets as well as numerous others, and whose inception may be roughly dated to the 1330s and 40s, we particularly find longer taleae and smaller rhythmic values in the tenor, coupled with an increase in isorhythmic recurrences in duplum and triplum (Leech-Wilkinson, 1982–83; Kügle, 1997). Panisorhythm (fully isorhythmic upper parts), a schematic procedure not practised by Vitry and still rare in Machaut’s motets and those contained in the Ivrea manuscript (I-IVc 115), increased in importance around the middle of the century. The development towards panisorhythm goes hand in hand with a tendency to forgo the traditional structure of the upper voices that divides the talea into proportioned component phrases. Increasingly, motets appear in which one or both of the upper voices are not subdivided at all (e.g. Machaut’s Christe qui lux es/Veni Creator/Tribulatio proxima est and several Ivrea motets). Such motets are panisorhythmic or nearly so.
The formal changes experienced by the motet in the second half of the century, yet a third stage in the evolution of this singular type, resulted from the monumentalism that began to affect it. In the panisorhythmic motets of the late 14th century periodicity of phrase was no longer a formal component; the level of articulation passed from the component phrases of the taleae to the monolithic taleae themselves. Usually both the structure of the poetry and its declamation are closely moulded to the strophic design of the music. Isorhythm in the upper voices no longer functions as carefully spaced, ornamental emphasis of the articulation of phrase structure but becomes of central importance, and with the elimination of the structural subdivisions of the taleae the elements of form become vast.
Numerical significance was restored to the motet on a larger plane than before through the extended use of diminution, a device that had been optional (in the bipartite motet) since Vitry’s day. Both proportional diminution and other changes of mensuration were applied to motet tenors (and contratenors) of the late 14th century for the sake of numerically proportioned sectional design. One of the earliest specimens of the ‘mensuration motet’ is the quadripartite Ida capillorum/Portio nature/Ante tronum (PMFC, v, no.5), whose concordance in the Ivrea manuscript makes it the most progressive motet in that source; it may have been composed in the late 1360s. Its eight taleae are divided into four pairs, each of which apportions a different mensuration to the two lower voices. Necessarily, the isorhythmic shaping of the upper voices applies only to the two halves of each pair, so the piece actually constitutes a double strophic variation form; the upper voices form strophic subdivisions of the strophic sections established by the lower voices. The lengths of these four sections yield the proportion 6:4:3:2. Each section is based on one color of the tenor (and contratenor); the overlapping of color and talea structure that occurs in about a quarter of Machaut’s motets is given up for the sake of clearer definition of the expanding form. In most compositions of this type the structure of the poetry, with its growing tendency towards arcane references and recondite imagery, is carefully integrated with the musical design.
Many large-scale mensuration motets of increasing complexity can be found in the English and French sources of the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Its ultimate degree was achieved by French composers of the early 15th century (e.g. Billart, Brassart, Grenon). For instance, the rhythm of the four tenor sections of Grenon’s Ave virtus/Prophetarum fulti suffragio/Infelix is governed successively by modus maior, modus minor, tempus and prolatio (see Notation, §III, 3). The arrangement of the subordinate ‘prolations’ yields for the length of the four colores the proportion 8:6:2:1. But since each of the last two sections contains two colores (and two taleae), the four sections together represent the Pythagorean proportions 4:3:2:1.
Since in all such motets the main emphasis is no longer on strophic isorhythm but on a variety of sectional mensuration, a logical conclusion of this development is the appearance of mensuration motets without isorhythm. Three compositions by Du Fay are outstanding representatives of this final structural type of the medieval motet, which is related to the Burgundian cantus firmus mass. The sections of his ‘isorhythmic’ motets Rite maiorem, Ecclesie militantis and Balsamus et munda cera (CMM, i, nos.11, 12 and 13) present the following proportions respectively: 6:4:2:3, 12:4:2:3, 6:3:4:2:6:3; isorhythmic repetition no longer subdivides the sections.
As in the early 20th-century symphony, the huge proportions to which the isorhythmic motet by English, Burgundian and Franco-Flemish composers of the early 15th century had grown indicated its imminent demise; in the later 14th century, music manuscripts were generally giving increasing prominence to polyphonic chansons. Both in size and in sound the motet tended to become unwieldy. Its enormous structural members were based on large areas of unvarying sonority established by the long durational values of the tenor (and contratenor). The motets of the Chantilly repertory particularly are bedecked with richly ornamental upper parts of manneristic rhythmic intricacy.
Moreover, the French motet assimilated two features that had been essentially foreign to it since its birth – isomelism and imitation. The latter had been known to motet composers of the Ars Antiqua, who often correlated identical text phrases occurring successively in the two upper voices by associating them with the same pitches (e.g. F-MOf H196, nos.95, 308). But this is not so much a matter of imitation as of musico-textual identity, reflecting the same melos principle that made a triplum into a distinct entity, once it had been separated from the duplum by its own text. True imitation was so uncommon as to be negligible. In the 14th century, too, imitation in the upper voices is of no significance. Generally it occurs only in the introitus with which Vitry and other composers prefaced some of their motets; in such introductions the tenor rests or is freely composed. The main reason for the absence of imitation from the body of the motet is surely less the contrapuntal difficulties presented by the cantus prius factus than the fact that devices of melodic integration are essentially foreign to structures based, ever since the appearance of the clausula, on the disposition of temporal units (rhythm and phrases).
These circumstances also explain the relative rarity of isomelism in the motets of Vitry’s and Machaut’s time. Since there were certainly more contrapuntal opportunities for strophic isomelic correspondences than 14th-century motet composers cared to exploit, isomelism, like imitation, must be recognized as essentially extrinsic to the medieval motet.
The increasing importance of both devices around 1400 is symptomatic of a profound shift from the shaping of a composition by means of numerical coordination of heterogeneous, hierarchically ordered durational components, in which melodic considerations are of no structural importance, to the creation of a musically and textually homogeneous contrapuntal fabric from one congenial set of melodic cells. The many significant changes in style and technique occurring in motets composed at this time have been demonstrated as pre-eminently due to Italian influences, absorbed and transformed by such northern composers resident in Italy as Du Fay.
4. The later English motet.
The second century of the cultivation of the motet in England spans the epoch from the influx of Ars Nova into England in the 1320s and 30s to the generation of Dunstaple, Forest and Benet. Not from any lack of interest, but rather owing to the vagaries of manuscript preservation, fewer than half as many English motets survive from this second 100 years as from the first, some of the later pieces only in continental sources. About 70 are extant, half from before and half from after about 1400; many are highly fragmentary. Ars Nova notation only gradually supplanted indigenous varieties, and some English notational idiosyncrasies are still apparent in sources with concordances to the Old Hall Manuscript (GB-Lbl Add.57950). French notation was adopted for some insular motet types, such as the voice-exchange motet in five sections with coda Cuius de manibus (PMFC, xvi, no.103) and the motet exhibiting strophic repetition with variation Deus creator/Rex genitor/Doucement (PMFC, xv, no.23), but apparently not for types such as the duet motet or refrain motet. Other motets and mass movements preserve unique examples of the fertile hybridization of English and continental designs (see Lefferts, B1986).
The Ars Nova motet itself, which eventually comes to predominate, is represented in insular sources by imported examples, some with contrafacted Latin sacred texts, and by local products – not only sacred motets but also settings of the Credo and Gloria – following the same progression in design. That English composers became active participants in the culture of an ‘Anglo-French’ Ars Nova motet is attested by their cultivation of the ‘musician motet’, and by the subtle and advanced designs of such motets as Sub Arturo plebs/Fons citharizancium/In omnem terram (PMFC, v, no.31) by Johannes Alanus, written no later than 1373, and O amicus/Precursoris by one Johannes, perhaps the same composer, which is its neighbour in an insular source (Bent and Howlett, 1990). The tripartite Sub Arturo provides another striking example of the mensuration motet; its motetus states that the tenor ‘is repeated twice, each time reduced by the hemiola proportion’ (i.e. 9:6:4). An English propensity for syllabic declamation on semibrevis and minima is one of a number of stylistic fingerprints that may help to identify further candidates for English authorship among motets of the later 14th century with continental – or continental and English – concordances. Degentis vita/Cum vix/Vera pudicitia (PMFC, v, no.23) is one such candidate. In the first half of the 15th century, particularly in a body of a dozen motets by Dunstaple, the motet stabilizes into a classic tripartite structure of three colores, each of two or three taleae, reducing in the proportions 3:2:1 or 6:4:3, and with regular isorhythm in the upper voices. Although its role may now be more occasional, even ceremonial, the English motet retains its sacred character through texts on Mary and the saints.
Before the mid-14th century, motet production in medieval Italy had been negligible; the extant pieces number fewer than half a dozen and demonstrate no consistency of approach. In the later 14th and early 15th centuries, however, a single distinctive motet type is cultivated (principally in the Veneto, judging by subjects and manuscript sources) that follows a strongly normative pattern (see Bent, 1984). The repertory, of some two dozen works, is about the same size as that of the caccia, and its compositional techniques are rooted in those of caccia and madrigal. Texts are in Latin and the subject matter is ceremonial; often the name of the dedicatee (or the composer) is embedded in the text, sometimes overtly and other times in an acrostic. The Venetian-Paduan orbit of the genre is indicated by motets honouring a succession of Venetian doges over the greater part of a century, mainly on the occasion of their election, and by motets celebrating the city of Padua, St Anthony of Padua, and three successive early 15th-century bishops of Padua. The composer best represented in this corpus is Ciconia, with eight securely attributed works; other contributors include earlier figures such as Marchetto da Padova, Jacopo da Bologna, Franciscus (possibly Landini) and perhaps Gratiosus de Padua, along with contemporaries of Ciconia including Matteo da Perugia, and later figures, including both Italians and northerners adopting the style (e.g. Antonius de Civitate Austrie, Antonius Romanus, Christopherus de Monte, Hymbert de Salinis, Hugo de Lantins), who contributed to an evolving tradition that culminated in the epochal motets of Du Fay.
The Italian motet is characteristically for three voices, although there may be an inessential contratenor, often apparently a later addition. Two upper voices equal in range and rhythmic-melodic activity sing either the same text or two different texts that are themselves equal in length, versification and subject matter. These duetting voices are further assimilated to each other by melodic cross-references including melismatic and texted hockets, echo imitation and sequence, and rapid passages of homodeclamation. The tenor is a freely composed accompaniment with bass-like support quality rather than being drawn from Gregorian cantus firmi; its typical motion is in breves and semibreves, with occasional more active interludes. There is marked tonal stability, and tonal unification is common, especially on F and D tonalities; the prevailing form of the final cadence is a move from 10/6 to 12/8 sonorities as the tenor descends by step. The melodic style has a flexibility relating these works to the other sphere of polyphony (song) that was not structurally governed by the tenor. Clear sectional articulation is produced by various means, such as the contrast of single- and double-texted passages, structurally placed melismas (especially before the final cadence), simultaneous long-held notes in the upper voices, and strongly marked internal caesuras where the cadential arrest of motion is preceded by climactic acceleration. A significant proportion of these motets are bipartite, with mechanical duplication of the rhythms of the first half in the second half without melodic repetition in the tenor or French-style rhythmic diminution.
All these progressive features can be found in a number of Du Fay’s 14 isorhythmic and mensuration motets. In these works, composed 100 years after Vitry and some 200 years after Perotinus, Du Fay achieved a last magnificent synthesis of the traditions of numerically constructed cantus firmus polyphony with the new forces that hastened its decline. Like the motets by Dunstaple and his English contemporaries, composed as elaborations of the liturgy and legitimized by pertinent cantus firmi, most motets by continental composers of the early 15th century are sacred pièces de circonstance, hallowed by relevant liturgical fundaments that the Middle Ages knew as divinely inspired, sacrosanct and eternally valid.
1. Du Fay and his contemporaries.
The first half of the 15th century was a period of transition and transformation in the history of the motet due partly to the wide travels of composers and exchange of music brought about by the frequent convening of church councils, at Pisa (1409), Konstanz (1414–18), Basle (1431–49) and Ferrara-Florence (1438–9). The Council of Konstanz in particular drew bishops and their musicians from as far away as England, and helped to introduce English music to the Continent. By the 1420s isorhythmic and mensural structures – cultivated during the 14th century to the virtual exclusion of all others – had reached a degree of complexity that was to be less and less in harmony with developing stylistic tendencies. However, because isorhythm had come to be linked with compositions written to celebrate festal and ceremonial occasions, the strength of that tradition maintained its use in the motet until the mid-15th century. This is demonstrated by late examples such as Du Fay’s Nuper rosarum, intended for the dedication in 1436 of Florence Cathedral, crowned by Brunelleschi’s newly completed dome, or Brassart’s O rex Fridrice/In tuo adventu, written in 1440 for the accession of his imperial patron King Frederick III. Only after the principles of isorhythmic composition began to be freely adapted for cyclic settings of the mass Ordinary shortly before the middle of the century was their rigorous application to the motet relinquished completely.
In contrast to the strict mensural procedures performed on the cantus firmus in isorhythmic motets from France, a rather freer style of motet – referred to as equal discantus – arose in Italy in the 14th century and was taken up by Ciconia when he moved from Liège to Padua in the first decade of the 15th century. Here the upper two voices bear equal melodic weight, often entering in close imitation or singing in dialogue with short motifs. The tenor departs from French procedures in two ways: it moves in faster rhythms and it is usually newly composed rather than based on chant. Given the absence of a borrowed cantus firmus, this type of motet is not only shaped by frequent internal cadences but also framed by an opening duet, often canonic, for the upper voices and a full closing section characterized by faster rhythms in conjunction with melodic and rhythmic imitation or sequence. Further, this type of motet is often divided into two halves, with the rhythms for all the voices in the first half (talea 1) repeated exactly in the second (talea 2). Ciconia’s Ut te per omnes follows such a plan, and the young Du Fay adopted the style in 1420 for Vasilissa ergo gaude, a wedding motet for his Italian patrons, the Malatesta of Rimini. Du Fay, however, used a pre-existing chant for his tenor, but without subjecting it to the proportional treatment of the isorhythmic motet. Other Franco-Flemish composers who worked in northern Italy adopted the equal-discantus style, including Arnold de Lantins (Tota pulchra es), Brassart (Summus secretarius) and Johannes de Lymburgia (Surge, propera amica mea).
With the abandonment of strict isorhythm, a shift in the primary function of the motet occurred. In the first half of the 15th century composers had already begun to return to the liturgical and devotional contexts in which the genre had originated, thus diminishing the relative significance of its role as a festal piece or a vehicle for social comment. The impetus for this development may have come from England; to judge from isorhythmic English works like Dunstaple’s Veni Sancte Spiritus, in the standard four-voice scoring, the original liturgical associations of the motet seem never to have been forgotten there. However, favoured texts were no longer linked topically to a cantus firmus drawn from a responsorial chant such as the gradual of the Mass, but were rather related primarily to the cult of the Virgin. They were both liturgical and devotional, in prose and in verse, and none was more frequently set than the Marian antiphons, especially Salve regina, Alma Redemptoris mater and Ave regina celorum. In England these were generally composed with the traditional plainchant as an inner or – more rarely – an upper or migrating voice, usually in a discant style consonant almost throughout and not far removed from the improvised counterpoint of faburden that was to have such an impact on developments on the Continent. The motets of Leonel Power and his immediate English contemporaries include a substantial number of this type. Power’s three-voice Ave regina celorum features the Sarum version of the chant in the middle voice (marked by asterisks in ex.6), with consonant parts added above and below. The Old Hall Manuscript presents the motet in score format, with the voices laid out one above the other, and text is supplied only under the lowest voice; the homophonic style, however, clearly indicates that all three parts should sing the text together.
English composers such as Power and Dunstaple also produced a substantial number of settings of Marian antiphons in ‘chanson format’; here the cantus and tenor form a self-sufficient duet of consonant intervals with no vertical 4ths, supplemented by a contratenor that fills in the mostly triadic harmony. Most English compositions of this type make no use of chant, rather all three voices are newly composed as in a secular chanson. In motets that do employ a liturgical text, the plainchant to which it was sung was frequently retained in the polyphony. It was most often placed at the top of the contrapuntal structure as the text-bearing line, with its contour reshaped and ornamented in accordance with the melodic ideal of the chanson, but still recognizable to the informed listener, as in Power’s Salve regina (i). Here Power combined two Marian antiphons by placing the ornamented chant for Alma Redemptoris in the top voice, while supplying the text for Salve regina.
Texture and mensuration play an important role in shaping works in chanson format. The free unfolding of melodic prose in the trio of voices often gives way to duets that articulate the musical flow, and larger sections are highlighted by shifts from triple to duple mensuration. Later in the century, variety of texture and sections in contrasting mensurations became essential structuring devices in motets by Josquin and his contemporaries.
Composers on the Continent experimented with a variety of established structural principles and contrapuntal techniques. The diversity of the solutions tried in the first half of the 15th century is well illustrated by a substantial repertory of motets included in the major sources of the period. English and Franco-Flemish composers are best represented, but almost all the English and French sources have been lost, and the manuscripts are primarily from northern Italy and the Tyrol (I-Bc Q15; Bu 2216; AO A1 D19; GB-Ob Can.misc.213; the earlier layers of the Trent manuscripts). Simple homophonic compositions, of which Binchois’s Beata nobis gaudia is fairly typical, clearly show the influence of improvised discant and the consonant sonorities associated with it. Even when no liturgical melody is present, nor direct evidence of borrowed contrapuntal techniques such as fauxbourdon, compositions of this kind may still have been modelled on the English pieces with which they are frequently found in the sources. They are very similar in conception to Dunstaple’s Quam pulcra es and a number of Power’s early works with no known cantus firmus.
The treble-dominated style of soloistic secular song was also adopted for Latin words. Binchois’s motet for the Holy Cross Domitor Hectoris is a relatively early work of a non-liturgical nature written essentially in that manner. This solution was in keeping with contemporary French style, and it led to the establishment of the devotional song motet for three voices as a distinct type. Indeed several of Binchois’s French chansons were fitted with sacred Latin texts (Dueil angoisseus became Rerum conditor, for example), and these contrafacta can be found alongside his authentic motets in the sources. Such works were typically based on non-liturgical texts although some drew on the liturgy as well. Most are addressed to the Virgin, and among these are many texts from the Old Testament Song of Solomon, including Dunstaple’s widely distributed Quam pulcra es, Johannes de Lymburgia’s Descendi in ortum meum, and Arnold de Lantins' Tota pulchra es; a few texts honour popular saints instead. As befits their modest sonorities, the scope of these song motets was usually restricted, conceivably because of the quasi-private use for which they were intended. Inevitably, the treble-dominated style came to be tempered considerably in the 16th century by an equal-voice conception and the increasing prevalence of systematic imitation, but a three-voice texture and a modest, songlike setting continued for several generations to be used for well-loved Marian and hagiographic texts. Evidence of a lasting affection for motets of this type is provided by 16th-century collections devoted wholly to works for three voices such as Trium vocum cantiones centum (Nuremberg, 1541), Motetta trium vocum ab pluribus authoribus composita (Venice, 1543), Elettione de motetti a tre voci libro primo (Venice, 1549) and Libro secondo de li motetti a tre voci (Venice, 1549).
To the various stylistic possibilities available to composers in the 1420s and 30s – simple homophony in English discant style, chanson format, equal discantus and full isorhythm – one other possibility was forged by Du Fay in his motet, Flos florum. The cantus part, above a slower-moving tenor and contratenor, frequently breaks into melismatic flourishes in semiminime (semiquavers in the edition in CMM, i/1) in a florid style apparently derived from an Italian tradition of highly ornamented cantus parts in discant mass settings. Other Franco-Flemish composers active in northern Italy emulated the florid style of Flos florum; examples are Feragut’s Francorum nobilitati and Brassart’s O flos fragrans.
Du Fay adopted for three-part song motets a treble-dominated texture derived from the chanson, even before he had abandoned isorhythmic structures. Sometimes he introduced passages of chordal homophony suggestive of improvised discant. He turned consistently to the style of solo song, with little modification, for his settings of the antiphons for the Magnificat and for two presumably early versions of the processional antiphons for Compline: Ave regina celorum and Alma Redemptoris mater. In each the chant provides the melodic substance of the cantus part, as in Ave regina celorum (ii) (ex.7), where it is transposed up a 5th from its normal position on c′. A few of Du Fay’s polyphonic antiphons recall English discant style, as in his Ave regina celorum (i), which is homophonic, syllabic and fully texted but shows no trace of a borrowed plainchant.
The variety of styles for the early 15th-century motet is fully displayed in a manuscript copied in Ferrara in the late 1440s (I-MOe α.x.1.11). Here Du Fay’s isorhythmic motets are found alongside works in florid style, as well as equal-discantus and song motets. English composers are very well represented, including Power and Dunstaple; indeed, the bulk of the latter’s isorhythmic motets – eight of the 11 – survive only in this north Italian source.
By mid-century the motet faced a crisis as the diverse manners of composition began to grow moribund, but the second half of the century witnessed the clarification and consequent reduction of stylistic possibilities. Experimentation began to give way little by little to a redefinition of the motet as a genre. New compositional traditions were thus established, many of which were adhered to until the rise of monody at the end of the 16th century brought about a stylistic transformation of the motet. With the liturgical repertory of Du Fay and, to a lesser degree, his immediate contemporaries, one can already see the beginnings of characteristic procedures for hymn and Magnificat settings that were to be observed for more than a century. In both, successive verses of the text alternate between plainchant and polyphony, and the chant melody also usually figures prominently in the part-writing. As a rule the borrowed line is carried by the cantus, where it contributes to a modest impression of treble-domination in the customary texture of three parts (see Hymn, §III, 1, and Magnificat, §2).
A decisive impetus for the development of the motet in this period came indirectly from the traditional cantus-firmus structures of the 14th century, through their transformation in the polyphonic mass cycles of the 1440s and 50s. There the mathematical severity of isorhythmic and mensural patterns was either substantially tempered, if only by their extension over a large cyclic form, or virtually dissolved. At the same time the medieval hierarchy of voices had begun to break down, despite the adherence to the tenor cantus firmus as a structural armature for the composition, in deference to an increasingly lyric conception of part-writing and a concomitant trend towards melodic and rhythmic equalization of the parts. In addition, the sonorous possibilities were enriched by an ever more regular use of the contratenor bassus – not infrequently an optional part in the 14th-century motet even when present. The four voices of such a polyphonic texture were also spread more evenly over the ranges now considered standard for the human voice.
Thus the tenor cantus firmus was newly transformed and reintegrated into motet composition, and in the process a compositional tradition was forged that was to prove particularly tenacious. This development is exemplified by Du Fay’s Ave regina celorum (iii), written just a decade before his death in 1474. It was perhaps not the first work of its kind, but it reveals clearly its relationship both to the cantus firmus masses of Du Fay’s maturity and to the earlier isorhythmic motet structures from which they were derived. The extended introductory duos (where the plainchant functions as a melodic element), the use of the antiphon melody as a tenor cantus firmus set off at its entry by prolonged note values, the addition of a low contratenor, the division of the piece into two sections under contrasting mensurations, and the bitextuality created by the troping of Du Fay’s personal supplications (‘Miserere tui labentis Du Fay’: ‘Have mercy on thy dying Du Fay’) in every part except the tenor – all these features reflect compositional procedures characteristic of the 14th-century isorhythmic motet (ex.8). At the same time the work owes to the cyclic masses of the immediately preceding decades the vocal character of its part-writing and the supple handling of its borrowed chant so that now all the voices in turn paraphrase the borrowed melody; the tenor becomes increasingly indistinguishable from the surrounding voices, both rhythmically and melodically, as it proceeds from its initial entry to the concluding cadence of each section. That Du Fay drew consciously for this motet on the compositional procedures that he had developed in his cantus firmus masses is suggested by the extensive three-voice passage common to it and to the second Agnus Dei of the cyclic mass based on the same liturgical chant.
2. Later 15th century.
With the next generation of composers, the motet built on a tenor cantus firmus became once again an important stylistic type. Of the eight motets that can be attributed to Johannes Regis, Du Fay’s ‘clerc’ (and possibly his pupil), all but one are of this kind. Regis increased the potential sonority of his works by weaving four additional voices around the tenor, but he usually engaged all five parts simultaneously only at the culmination of a section. More often he intensively exploited the possibilities for contrasts in range, timbre and density by alternating duos, trios and the full ensemble. The texts he set were almost exclusively festal or occasional in intent, and he selected his cantus firmus in each case from a liturgical chant, providing both a suggestive symbolic association with the words declaimed by the other voices and – since the borrowed melodies retained their traditional texts – an appropriate commentary on them. The resulting bitextuality revived the ‘reverse textual troping’ of the early 14th century.
It is probably because of this symbolic and associative significance that cantus firmi, borrowed or contrived, continued to be used for festal and ceremonial motets throughout the 16th century. In time the device itself acquired the venerability of tradition, contributing thereby to the desired effect. Moreover, later composers tended to give it even greater prominence by reverting to the extended note values of an earlier period. They also greatly increased its weight on occasion, by presenting it in strict imitation in two or more voices and by sustaining it with the full sonorities of five, six or even more parts.
Despite the apparent homogeneity of Regis’s known motets, his immediate contemporaries continued to experiment with the compositional solutions that had been evolved for the genre. Other composers of the generation after Du Fay, such as Ockeghem and Busnoys, produced a mere handful of motets. Like Du Fay, Ockeghem turned to cantus firmus techniques in setting the Marian antiphons. However, with the exception of the two large works of doubtful authenticity for five voices, Celeste beneficium and Gaude Maria, virgo, both cast in essentially the same structural mould as Du Fay’s Ave regina (iii), his treatment of borrowed material is characteristically unconventional. In Alma Redemptoris mater the liturgical melody is paraphrased in the altus, and its function is clearly more melodic than structural; a triplum-like voice is laid over the altus in an unusually high register. In Salve regina (i) the chant is consigned solely to the bassus.
At the same time Ockeghem continued to experiment with further solutions for compositions of this sort, providing settings of both liturgical and devotional texts without reference to a chant melody. The angelic salutation of the Annunciation, Ave Maria, gratia plena, though used as an antiphon in several contexts, he treated melismatically in a freely composed contrapuntal style for four voices of equal rhythmic activity and melodic interest. For the prayer to the Virgin Intemerata Dei mater, which has no place in the liturgy, he produced an imposing work for five voices. Dividing it into three sections with different mensurations, he contrasted full sonorities with duos and trios in different registers, and juxtaposed the independent, contrapuntal part-writing and melismatic text-setting of the initial and final sections with the syllabic, declamatory style of the intervening passages. Like Du Fay in his Ave regina celorum (iii), Ockeghem may have designed Intemerata Dei mater, with its text of humble supplication to the Virgin, as a personal work for his own use.
Busnoys also relied on the cantus firmus principle for compositions based on liturgical chants, but, like Ockeghem, he used it somewhat freely. In a setting of the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes, he set the first versicle as a pair of non-imitative duets, each of which quotes the chant in the manner of Du Fay’s Ave regina celorum (iii). Thereafter he confined the embellished chant to the altus. For the Marian antiphon Regina coeli (i) he gave the traditional melody to the bassus, with some migration to the other voices, while for Regina coeli (ii) he doubled it canonically at the 4th between the two lower voices. Two other motets, Anthoni usque limina and In hydraulis, have a distinctly personal stamp: Busnoys apparently wrote the texts himself, the first in honour of his patron saint and the second in homage to Ockeghem, and he constructed the cantus firmi according to rigidly schematic designs. The only analogous composition by Ockeghem is the enigmatic Ut heremita solus, for which the tenor has to be extrapolated from an elaborate combination of notational and verbal canons; the resulting puzzle presumably sorely taxed the imagination even of those familiar with such devices, since Petrucci deemed it necessary to publish a resolution together with the instructions. The Ockeghem work is exceptional in this respect, for while complex canonic manipulation of the tenor cantus firmus was fairly common in masses of the period, it was not often used in the motet (if indeed this is a motet and not a purely instrumental work).
With another unusual work, the motet-chanson Mort tu as navré written for the death of Binchois in 1460, Ockeghem may have been responsible for establishing a new compositional genre. The use of a vernacular text in ballade form for the top voice has usually caused such works to be considered with chansons, but serious compositions can also be regarded as a subspecies of the motet, since they derive from it their most salient traits: the simultaneous setting of two different texts and the adoption of a pre-existing melody as the tenor cantus firmus. Du Fay’s Je ne puis plus/Unde veniet was evidently earlier than Ockeghem’s motet-chanson, since it was included in GB-Ob Can.misc.213, but its intention seems humorous and its tradition more distinctly secular than the epitaphs by Ockeghem and composers of the following generation. Although they display a superficial structural resemblance to bitextual chansons where both the borrowed tenor and its text stem from a popular repertory of French song, epitaphs on the passing of a personage of note, such as those included in the collection prepared for Margaret of Austria (B-Br 228; ed. M. Picker, The Chanson Albums of Marguerite of Austria, Berkeley, 1965), are more serious in intent and, as a result, in style. The thoroughly motet-like facture of Nymphes des bois, Josquin’s déploration on the death of Ockeghem, is a case in point. When it is compared with the popular character of the combinatorial chansons added to the final layer of the Dijon chansonnier, for example, the distinctions are clearly illustrated.
The structural and stylistic affinities between the motet and the tenor mass, due to their common origins and to cross-currents of influence in the second half of the 15th century, gave rise to the mass-motet cycle. In the 1450s Franco-Burgundian composers began to pair a mass with a motet by basing both on the same cantus firmus, which was drawn from the tenor of a secular song. Guillaume Rouge’s three-voice Missa ‘Soyez aprantiz’ employs the tenor of Walter Frye’s ballade So ys emprentid, as does the four-voice motet Stella celi extirpavit (I-TRmp 88, no.204). Six such mass-motet cycles have been identified, most of them anonymous. Characteristic features of motets from these cycles are an introductory duo for the upper voices, and division into two parts, often with double-cursus layout of the tenor, so that the cantus firmus is stated in triple time and then repeated in duple time in the second half of the work. Double cursus figures prominently in the Missa Caput, a highly influential work from the 1440s by an anonymous English composer, and motets from the second half of the century apparently borrowed the procedure from the mass. An anonymous Salve regina (ed. in DTÖ, liii, p.52) illustrates the technique: the tenor of Du Fay’s rondeau Le serviteur provides the cantus firmus, which is laid out in double cursus. From the 1470s and 80s come other prominent motets with a cantus firmus taken from a French chanson and presented in double cursus, including Compère’s Omnium bonorum plena, composed about 1472. The text, a singers' prayer to the Virgin that names performers from Cambrai Cathedral, pays special homage to Du Fay; the cantus firmus is based on Hayne van Ghizeghem’s rondeau De tous biens plaine. The anonymous Humilium decus (I-Rvat C.S.15, fol.187v), a tour de force that bears striking resemblance to the style of Obrecht, is scored for six voices and features two cantus firmi: tenor 1 is from the chant Sancta Maria succurre miseris, while contratenor 1 features the tenor of Caron’s rondeau Cent mille escus; only the latter is in double cursus.
An important source for the motet in the late 15th century is I-Rvat C.S.15, a manuscript choirbook copied in the 1490s that begins with liturgical music for Vespers – a cycle of hymns and 14 Magnificat settings – and concludes with 41 motets. The composers are Pullois, Busnoys, Regis, Compère, Weerbeke, Martini, Josquin and Issac, and the choirbook includes multiple settings of the standard Marian antiphons (including five different motets on Salve regina, four on Regina celi and four on Ave regina celorum), as well as motets in honour of the Holy Cross and particular saints. Weerbeke’s Dulcis amica Dei (ed. Noble, 1997), probably composed in 1486 for the dedication of the church of S Maria della Pace in Rome, is a five-voice tenor motet with a cantus firmus on Da pacem laid out in double cursus. Also included is Josquin’s five-voice tenor motet Illibata Dei virgo nutrix, with a newly composed text that not only addresses the Virgin but also forms an acrostic on his own name. The presence of several five-voice tenor motets in sources from the Cappella Sistina perhaps indicates special cultivation of this form as a Roman style, although equal attention may have been devoted to it in other Italian centres; the unfortunate loss of sources makes it impossible to do more than speculate on the subject.
In contrast to the rather old-fashioned style of the five-voice tenor motet, with its cantus firmus and melismatic lines, the motetti missales are scored for four voices, with no cantus firmus and a predominantly syllabic style. Their beginnings appear to be attributable to northern composers working at the Sforza court in Milan. Both Compère and Weerbeke wrote, probably in the 1470s, motet cycles to be performed during the celebration of the Mass, and were shortly followed by Josquin in his Vultum tuum cycle, and by Gaffurius and other, unidentified composers. The individual pieces were intended to be sung in place of certain mass chants – introit, Gloria, Credo, offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and ‘Deo gratias’ – and at the Elevation. The texts were taken from the liturgy itself (antiphons, hymns and responsories) and from devotional sources (prosae, rhymed prayers, rhymed offices, etc.) and were sometimes composite, consisting of a series of appropriate related statements drawn from a variety of sources. The third choirbook of Milan Cathedral (I-Md Librone 3, dim 2267) contains Compère’s Missa galeazescha, whose title refers to Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza (d 1476). The texts are centonizations stitched together from various Marian sequences; some of the motets paraphrase the appropriate sequence melody for brief stretches, but such melodic quotation is rare in other cycles of motetti missales.
There are several traits by which the motetti missales reveal their relationship to the cyclic mass: a common final, identical or at least similar clefs, a recurring sequence of alternating mensurations, and parallel formal structures or shared musical material. In addition, the texts of a given cycle (except the Elevation motet, which always refers to the Eucharist) all share a common theme, usually concerned with either the cult of the Virgin or feasts of the Lord. As a result they impart to the cycle a Proper character in the same sense that a tenor cantus firmus can provide a Proper reference for a setting of the mass Ordinary.
It is possible to see in these compositions, particularly those of Weerbeke, the gradual crystallization of the musical style that was to characterize the motet throughout the 16th century, beginning with the mature works of Josquin. Weerbeke’s setting of Ave regina (in loco Sanctus) for the cycle Ave mundi domina makes systematic use of paired imitation; two-voice textures in a variety of combinations alternate with the full complement of four, and the contrapuntal character of the initial section is juxtaposed with the chordal declamation of O salutaris hostia, which was sung during the Elevation of the bread and wine, the most solemn point in the Mass. Similar Elevation motets by Compère, Josquin and others typically have chordal textures in long notes, often with a fermata over each chord (ex.9).
The word-generated figures that begin the imitative phrases, the clear cadential articulation that ends them and the syllabic, homorhythmic style of the closing section are generally regarded as reflecting Italian tastes and influence. However, the style of the concluding segment, with each note carrying a corona as here, appears in the works of northern composers as early as Johannes de Lymburgia and the young Du Fay. A type of homophonic declamation deriving from the natural rhythm of the Latin is also found, for example in the secunda pars of the late five-voice Intemerata Dei mater by Ockeghem, who apparently never visited Italy. Since the supposed Italian models have yet to be identified, definitive conclusions are difficult to draw.
Textual centonizations were used not only for the motetti missales but, more importantly, as a basis for motet composition generally for several decades before and after 1500. While the standard Marian antiphons such as the Salve regina and Ave regina celorum were traditionally performed by a small choir in a side chapel at the end of the evening Office (Compline), other motets, some of them based on centonized texts, functioned in various contexts, often as paraliturgical additions to the Mass. According to the diaries of the Cappella Sistina, motets were confined to three points during the celebration of Mass: the offertory, the Elevation and the end of Mass. The surviving diaries provide only late evidence, since they date from the 16th century, but they probably refer to a tradition that extends back to the previous century. Motets could also be heard in secular settings, as in the account of a performance in 1520 of Josquin’s Salve regina (possibly the setting for five voices) in the chambers of Pope Leo X, while he was at dinner.
3. Josquin Des Prez.
The key figure in the development of the motet in the late 15th and early 16th centuries was undoubtedly Josquin. All the compositional solutions that had become traditional for the genre found a place in his works. There is a reference to the melodic use of liturgical chant in his simultaneous setting of the two Marian antiphons Alma Redemptoris mater and Ave regina caelorum. Moreover, from his literal quotation of the opening of Ockeghem’s elaboration of the first of those chants one can assume a conscious allusion to the usage of the previous generation. The use of a tenor cantus firmus, selected for its symbolic significance, is exemplified in his five-voice setting of the sequence Stabat mater, where the tenor of Binchois’s chanson Comme femme desconfortée is laid out in long note values, and provides a direct commentary on the Latin text.
Canonic doubling of the tenor was also used by Josquin to give greater prominence and weight to the borrowed chant, as in his splendid setting of the Marian sequence Benedicta es, caelorum regina which features the free use of canon. The canonic structure expands the customary fabric of four voices to six. Another Marian sequence, Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria, features strict canon on the chant melody in two inner voices, preceded by entries in the other three voices, all of them paraphrasing the chant melody in pre-imitation (i.e. imitative entries that are heard before the commencement of the two canonic voices). In this way Josquin expands the chant beyond the hidden inner voices and makes it completely audible, thus developing a trend begun by Du Fay in his Ave regina caelorum (iii) (see ex.8 above). Josquin even contrived his own cantus firmi, as in the five-voice Illibata Dei virgo, where the tenor consists solely of the hexachord syllables la, mi, la, whose vowels conceivably refer to the Virgin, Ma-ri-a.
As syntactic imitation became increasingly important, Josquin applied the technique to the handling of pre-existing as well as original melodic material. The voices were then assimilated to each other both melodically and rhythmically, and the cantus firmus permeated the entire contrapuntal fabric, as in his four-voice setting of the antiphon Virgo prudentissima and the sequence Mittit ad Virginem. This development was virtually inevitable for Josquin, who consistently retained with any liturgical text the melody traditionally associated with it. Thus in his four-voice Ave Maria … virgo serena, an early work copied into the choirbook D-Mbs Mus.ms.3154 by 1484, he derived the melodic material for the opening salutation of the angel Gabriel from the related chant, providing a fourfold statement of it as a series of regular points of imitation. The rest of the text is composed of five regular strophes of four lines each, which he set as successive units, articulated not only cadentially but also by means of contrasts in texture. The result is a compendium of the contrapuntal techniques in use in motet composition by the turn of the century: successive points of imitation, homophonic declamation, free contrapuntal writing, contrasting textures and timbres resulting from the alternation of duos and trios in different registers with the full choir, and rhythmic variety achieved by a proportional shift from the prevailing binary metre to a ternary one (ex.10).
This arsenal of compositional procedures undoubtedly facilitated the innovations with which Josquin is generally credited. However important his contributions to the codification of style for traditional categories of the genre – the polyphonic settings of antiphons, sequences and devotional Marian texts – they were significantly complemented, if not completely matched, by those of his immediate contemporaries such as Alexander Agricola, Compère, Isaac and Obrecht. Unlike Du Fay’s isorhythmic motets, which often name a patron or particular occasion, Josquin’s motets make no such references and are thus difficult to date precisely. Yet associations with individual patrons are suggested by a few unique texts with no liturgical associations, such as O bone et dulcissime Jesu, a prayer found in a small number of books of hours, and Misericordias Domini, a compilation of psalm verses. Josquin probably composed both works at the request of noble patrons who were nearing the end of their lives, the first for René of Anjou (d 1480), at whose Provençal court Josquin worked in 1477–8, and the second for King Louis XI of France (d 1483). Josquin’s most important motets historically are perhaps those based on texts for which no conventions existed, the lyrical and subjective poetry of the Old Testament and in particular that of the psalms, such as Memor esto verbi tui (Psalm cxviii.49–64) and Qui habitat (Psalm xc). He appears to have been one of the first to draw on the psalms for several works. In these the venerable techniques of cantus firmus and canon gave way to an increasing reliance on syntactic imitation as a basic compositional procedure. At the same time the melodic figures with which successive phrases begin are more closely tied to the natural rhythms and inflections of the Latin words. Homophonic declamation continued to function as an articulating device and as an element of stylistic variety, but its rhetorical possibilities, which had always been important, received even greater stress; the dramatic change in texture produced by its introduction served at once to draw the listener’s attention to a new phrase of text and to make it clearly audible.
Presumably in response to a burgeoning interest among humanist men of letters in the relationship between a musical text-setting and its affective impact upon the listener, Josquin also began to explore more fully in motets of this type a dimension only occasionally entered by earlier masters such as Busnoys and Ockeghem: the illustration and symbolization of verbal conceits by musical gestures. Examples of his attempts in this regard are numerous, but none is more striking than his setting of Psalm 50/51, Miserere mei, Deus. The opening pairs of imitative duos immediately capture the abject mood, as the singers intone the words on a monotone relieved only by the rise and fall of a semitone (ex.11a). After each phrase of the psalm, a fifth voice joins the others on the words ‘miserere mei, Deus’, producing a refrain-like structure that rhetorically emphasizes the plea for mercy. The third part of the work features descending scale passages in overlapping entries that vividly evoke the supplicant as he bows low before the Lord (ex.11b). Josquin composed this setting about 1503, at the request of another patron nearing the end of his life, Duke Ercole I d'Este of Ferrara. The composer may have been inspired by Fra Girolamo Savonarola’s famous meditation on Psalm 50/51, written in 1498 just before his execution for heresy; Ercole d'Este had maintained a close correspondence with the friar, who advocated religious and social reforms in Florence. In subsequent decades the opening words of Savonarola’s meditation, Infelix ego, were set to music by other composers active in Ferrara, including Willaert, Rore and Vicentino, each of whom employed the opening musical subject from Josquin’s Miserere mei, Deus as a reiterating cantus firmus. Savonarola’s words offered solace to those suffering the upheavals of the Reformation, and they were also set by transalpine composers, including Clemens non Papa (at the end of Tristitia obsedit me), Lassus and Byrd.
4. Josquin’s contemporaries and successors.
By the time of Josquin’s death in 1521, the motet as a genre appears to have been largely defined, and the musical language associated with it until at least the end of the 16th century was fully formed in all its essentials. The tendency, clearly discernible in Josquin’s mature works, towards an ever fuller submission of compositional procedures to the meaning and requirements of the text was to have highly significant ramifications, not only for the motet but also for secular music. However, it is evident from the delineation of regional and personal styles that seems to have begun at about the same time, that Josquin’s attention to musical rhetoric was not shared to an equal degree by all his immediate and younger contemporaries.
Antoine de Févin and Jean Mouton, with whom Josquin is reported to have been associated at the French court, made only occasional attempts at musical symbolism. Mouton in particular was evidently more concerned with the finely chiselled and balanced melodic lines that Glarean so admired and with clear, coherent formal structures. This can be seen in his settings of plainchant sequences such as the placidly beautiful Ave Maria … virgo serena for five voices, which he treated much more consistently than Josquin as a sort of variation chain based on paired repetitions of the pre-existing melody. He also followed the repetition schemes characteristic of the liturgical chant in his settings of invitatory antiphons and great responsories, categories of chant to which Josquin gave scant attention.
Mouton’s choice of such texts was motivated partly at least by the formal possibilities inherent in them. This is strongly suggested by other compositions such as the ceremonial motet Non nobis, Domine, written to celebrate a French royal birth in 1510, on which similar repetition patterns have been imposed. The acclamation ‘Ergo clamemus … vivat rex!’ functions as a refrain; it is heard twice in each of the two partes, first at about the midpoint, in the binary rhythms characteristic of the composition, and again at the end, with a shift to ternary metre. Not only are the corresponding passages the same in the two partes but the binary and ternary passages are also closely related to each other through the use of common musical material. Thus they serve both to articulate formally the individual pars and to create a clear overall design.
This stylistic trend was in no way inimical to the style of Josquin’s mature works. Indeed the basic compositional procedures were the same: syntactic imitation and homophonic declamation in alternation with reduced or changing numbers of voices as an added element of variety. But the emphasis was much more on rational ordering of the musical structure than on rhetorical gesture derived from verbal meaning. Of the composers of the next generation a considerable number – most of whom had connections of some sort with the French royal chapel – elected to follow Mouton in that respect and to cultivate what was becoming a traditional French style. Since some (such as Verdelot, Jacquet de Berchem, Lhéritier and Willaert) crossed the Alps to the south seeking lucrative positions, they also contributed to the dissemination of the style in Italy. In France, where it had originated, it was carried to its greatest degree of refinement – one bordering on facility – by Sermisy, Certon and, to a lesser degree, other composers associated with the musical institutions of the court and the capital.
That French music – Mouton’s motets in particular – was highly prized in early 16th-century Italy is attested by its predominance in manuscripts associated with Ferrara (I-Bc Q19), Florence (I-Fn II.I.232) and the papal court in Rome (the Medici Codex, I-Fl acq. e doni 666). Additionally, the early printed volumes of Petrucci in Venice included large numbers of motets, first by Josquin, Weerbeke, Compère and Obrecht in Motetti A (1502), Motetti … B (1503), Motetti C (1504), Motetti IV (1505) and Motetti a cinque (1508), and later by composers from the French royal court, especially Mouton and Févin (as well as Josquin, who had retired to Condé-sur-l'Escaut in 1504), in Motetti de la corona, book 1 (1514) and books 2–4 (all 1519). More than a decade later, Attaingnant published 13 volumes of motets from the repertory of the French court (Treize livres de motets parus chez Pierre Attaingnant en 1534 et 1535, ed. A. Smijers and A.T. Merritt, Paris, 1934–63). The large number of motets and the paucity of mass ordinaries produced by Mouton and Sermisy can perhaps be explained by the preference of François I for attending a daily low Mass where motets were performed, recalling the tradition of motetti missales in Milan. François was no doubt familiar with the Milanese practice, since the duchy was under French control almost continuously from 1499 to 1525.
In the regions of Franco-Flemish culture the distinctive stylistic proclivities of a number of Josquin’s younger contemporaries also spawned a somewhat different tradition. Gombert, for example, followed French models in some important respects. Although reportedly a ‘disciple’ of Josquin, he generally restricted his use of liturgical melodies to the two contexts in which they had become traditional for Mouton and his emulators, the setting of Marian antiphons and tenor cantus firmus compositions. In the latter case the borrowed chant was usually given to a fifth or sixth voice and used with its original text for its symbolic or associative significance. Gombert also adopted for a number of his motets the repetition pattern and, like Mouton, the bipartite division of the responsory.
But at the same time Gombert showed the influence of the earlier Netherlandish tradition, as represented in the works of Agricola, La Rue and Obrecht, in his preference for full contrapuntal textures. His reliance on homophony was generally rather slight. Although he turned from freer contrapuntal part-writing to a systematic use of syntactic imitation, he maintained thick sonorities by avoiding the paired imitative duets characteristic of both Josquin and, to some degree, his French colleagues, and by adopting regular, closely spaced entries for individual voices. His use of five or even six voices (instead of the normal four) in nearly two-thirds of his motets contributes to the same effect. Along with denser textures came greater dissonance, especially at cadences, where cross-relations often occurred. For example, in Media vita (CMM, vi/9, p.52) the multiple imitative entries on ‘qui pro peccatis nostris’ (ex.12) lead to a cadential formation at bar 46 where f, in the second voice from the bottom, sounds harshly dissonant against the suspended g′ and subsequent f♯′ leading note in the altus.
A humanistic concern for verbal meaning and intelligibility had tempered the abstract, even arbitrary relationship between word and note often found in the writing of Gombert’s immediate predecessors, but it is reflected in his compositions mainly in a more regular declamation of the text and a curtailment of cadential melismas. The Netherlandish style, as he helped to define and exemplify it, was confirmed and established by Crecquillon, his somewhat younger successor at the imperial court, and by Clemens non Papa, Crecquillon’s immediate contemporary. Individual distinctions can be made, but the essential characteristics of style are common to all three.
From the early 15th century Italy became a veritable province of Franco-Flemish musical culture. A steady stream of singers and composers came south across the Alps to staff the chapels established at the leading courts and churches of such important centres as Milan, Venice, Florence, Ferrara, Naples and Rome. Virtually every important figure of the late 15th and early 16th centuries was at some time in his career on Italian soil; Agricola, Isaac, Compère, Weerbeke, Obrecht, Josquin and Mouton were only a few of them. The influence of the northerners was felt not only in their contributions to the motet repertory that came to be disseminated there but also in their teaching activities.
After the accession of Leo X to the papal throne in 1513, the decisive influence appears, however, to have been French. This may have been due largely to the decidedly francophile tastes of both Leo X and his successor but one, Clement VII (also a Medici), and to the considerable prestige of the papal chapel in which those predilections were mirrored. The motet publications of Antico and Petrucci give special status to the works of Févin and Mouton and show that composers in the orbit of the French royal chapel were in the ascendancy. The flow of compositions, and of musicians, was undoubtedly encouraged by the meeting between Leo X and François I at Bologna in 1515. The French presence in the duchy of Milan, following the victory at Marignano in that year, must also have contributed to the trend. Events such as these reinforced the French orientation of the important musical establishment maintained by the dukes of Este in Ferrara and facilitated the circulation of music by masters of the French royal chapel that had begun through that channel about the turn of the century. As a result, not only the papal chapel but also a good deal of Italian musical life was dominated by the French style well into the second half of the 16th century. Even the few native composers known to have been active during this period emulated their northern neighbours. The most noteworthy is Costanzo Festa, who set the lament on the death of Queen Anne of Brittany, Quis dabit oculis, a text previously treated by Mouton, whose setting he clearly followed. Nevertheless, it was undoubtedly the Italians who first developed, from the antiphonal elements in the polyphonic style of northern composers, the practice of writing motets for divided choirs (Cori spezzati/polychoral) that came to be a hallmark of ceremonial music at the Basilica di S Marco, Venice. Francesco Santa Croce, whose origins and career have both been traced to the Venetian states, set the compline psalms for divided choir, and these were included in a manuscript now in Verona (I-VEaf 218) that was probably copied in the late 1530s. The liturgical practice of singing alternate verses of the psalms from opposite sides of the choir presumably gave rise to polyphonic settings intended for similar performance. But the paired bicinia that figure so prominently in the motets of the Josquin generation, and the contrasting combinations of two and more voices that came into play even earlier, both lent themselves admirably to a spatial division between groups of singers that were treated antiphonally. When the vesper psalms composed in this manner by Willaert and Berchem were published in 1550 (I salmi appertinenti ali vesperi per tutte le feste dell'anno … parte spezzadi accomodati da cantare a uno et a duoi chori) the polychoral style was provided with a prestigious example that was widely circulated and presumably regularly heard at S Marco, which was ideally suited to an effective deployment of divided choirs. The stage was thus set not only for the dissemination of this style into every leading musical centre of western Europe but also for the extraordinary development of festal music in Venice by Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli.
5. Peripheral traditions.
The cultivation of the motet seems to have come to Spain relatively late. Not until Aragon and Castile were united in 1474 under Ferdinand and Isabella is there evidence of an important musical establishment where motets would have been composed and sung regularly. In fact the beginnings of a significant Spanish tradition may date from the visits to Spain in 1502 and again in 1506 of Philip the Fair and Joanna of Castile. They were attended on both occasions by the distinguished chapel maintained by them in the best tradition of the ducal house of Burgundy. Among the composers then in Spain were Pierre de La Rue and Alexander Agricola as well as lesser men such as Orto, Braconnier and Divitis.
The leading composers at the Spanish court under Ferdinand and Isabella, Juan de Anchieta and Francisco de Peñalosa, wrote motets in a style not far removed from that of the Netherlanders they presumably emulated. Liturgical melodies were used both as tenor cantus firmi and as the melodic substance of the superius, as was traditional for Marian antiphons. The polyphonic complexity of the northern style seems not to have been entirely compatible with Spanish temperament, however, and Anchieta in particular was inclined to adapt to his motets the syllabic homophony of his secular pieces.
The Spanish presence in the Low Countries under the Habsburgs made possible a continuing Netherlandish influence on Spanish composers through most of the 16th century. But equally important for Spanish composers of that period was their association with Franco-Flemish musicians at the papal court. Peñalosa was there in 1517, and Morales, a seminal figure for the Spanish tradition, spent a decade there from 1535. The musical style that was to have the most decided effect on Morales is revealed in his choice of motets as mass models; for example, there are two by Mouton and one each by Gombert, Richafort and Verdelot. His own motets show the systematic use of syntactic imitation characteristic of his generation, the adoption of a cantus firmus with its original text for symbolic reasons – both are exemplified in his celebrated five-voice Emendemus in melius – and an affinity for the balanced symmetry of the respond form. A move towards fuller sonorities and a more homophonic texture – even when the compositional procedure is essentially contrapuntal in nature – is discernible; these traits became increasingly marked on the Continent after the middle of the century.
At the same time, the motet tradition continued to be cultivated vigorously in Spain even by those composers who never left their native country. This is amply demonstrated by Guerrero and a number of composers of secondary importance who continued to build on the same stylistic foundation.
(ii) Germanic territories.
Just as Franco-Flemish musicians took the newly defined style of the Latin motet to Spain, so also did they take it to the regions of Germanic culture. One of the key figures was undoubtedly Isaac, who was associated with the imperial chapel of Maximilian I from 1496 for the rest of his life. His influence is most directly evident in the works of his pupil Senfl, who served with him in Maximilian’s chapel and then in the 1540s moved to the ducal court of Bavaria in Munich. No less important for the development of the motet in Germanic territories was Josquin himself. Although he may never have been east of the Rhine, his works were much admired there (especially by Luther) and widely disseminated by publishers such as Forster, Hans Ott, and Berg & Neuber.
The development of the Latin motet was inhibited in some areas by the Reformation, which emphasized congregational participation and the use of the vernacular. But, as in France, the compositional procedures developed for setting Latin texts were also adopted to the vernacular. Just as Goudimel had set the French Psalter both in the familiar style for singers of limited skill and in a more polyphonic vein for the better-trained, Johann Walter (i) provided polyphony for the chorales in both styles, treating the traditional melodies as they were generally treated in the Tenorlied.
In the second half of the 16th century, however, polyphonic settings of Latin texts – many by Catholic composers – gradually regained ascendancy over music sung in the vernacular during Lutheran services. This was undoubtedly due in part to the activity of the Protestant printer Georg Rhau, who published a series of collections (1538–45) devoted to polyphonic settings of the Roman liturgy for both the Mass and Vespers. Particularly significant are the psalm motets (following Josquin’s models) and settings of the Gospel readings, both because of their large number and the frequency with which they could have been used in the liturgy. Indeed, Berg & Neuber printed (1554–5) a five-volume repertory of Gospel motets for the main feasts of the entire liturgical year, and there is evidence that these were sung not only in conjunction with but also in lieu of the prescribed readings for the Mass well into the 17th century.
The history of the motet in England after the generation of Power and Dunstaple shows a gap that can be only partly filled by the repertory of the Eton Choirbook. These works demonstrate that in the second half of the 15th century English composers had lost none of their fondness for plainchant settings of the Marian antiphons, particularly the Salve regina, or for devotional texts in honour of the Virgin. However, the settings they provided have a monumental character only occasionally adumbrated in the mass compositions of the Old Hall Manuscript. They are mainly for five or six voices and are divided into half a dozen or more separate sections. The juxtaposition of choirs with varying numbers of voices and different ranges, together with a melismatic, freely contrapuntal style, suggests that motets such as those written by Regis, Busnoys and Ockeghem were taken as models. It may have been the latter’s motet for 36 voices, Deo Gratias, that prompted compositions such as Robert Carvor’s 19-voice O bone Jesu and Tallis’s Spem in alium for 40 voices.
There is little if any syntactic imitation in the works of the earlier generation of composers, which included Banaster, Cornysh and Fayrfax. After the accession of Henry VIII in 1509, however, contacts with musicians on the Continent began to increase markedly; it was presumably from continental models that Taverner, for example, adopted a tenor cantus firmus treatment in even semibreves and breves for his settings of Dum transisset. Perhaps more significant for the developing English tradition was the gradual assimilation of a more syllabic approach to text setting and the concomitant organization of contrapuntal writing into points of imitation. An early example is (?Richard) Sampson’s Quam pulcra es (GB-Lbl Roy.11.e.xi), which dates from about 1516. The discant style that was such a distinctive trait of English music in the first half of the 15th century continued, nonetheless, to be used effectively, as can be seen from Taverner’s Christe Jesu.
Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1534 and his subsequent dissolution of the monasteries, with their musical institutions, imposed a restraint on the development of the Latin motet much more stringent than that caused by the Reformation in Germany. It may also help to account for the unusual emphasis on polyphonic psalm settings by somewhat later figures such as Tye and Robert White; presumably these were intended to replace plainchant, which was no longer in use. But as in other Protestant areas compositional skills associated with the motet were transferred to the setting of texts in the vernacular. Thus the anthem was born of the earlier genre.
6. Later 16th century.
The 16th-century motet saw a final synthesis in the works of Palestrina and Lassus, each of whom represented a separate stylistic tradition. The more conservative was certainly Palestrina, which may be explained in part by the atmosphere engendered by the Counter-Reformation. However, it is also clear that his stylistic antecedents lie primarily with the French composers of the generation after Mouton. This is indicated first of all by his selection of motets as models for mass composition; these include four by Jacquet of Mantua, two each by Lhéritier and De Silva, and one each by Richafort, Moulu and Carpentras. Nowhere will one find in Palestrina’s music, however, the dissonant cadential formations common in motets by such composers as Lhéritrier (exemplified also in Gombert’s Media vita; see ex.12). In his Missa ‘Nigra sum’, based on Lhéritier’s motet, Palestrina carefully purged the counterpoint of such clashes as are found in Lhéritier’s bar 14. Palestrina’s choice of texts and their treatment also reveal French influence; in his settings of sequences and traditional Marian antiphons he retained the chant as an important melodic element in the polyphony, something he rarely did with other liturgical genres.
Palestrina showed his concern for formal order and clarity by mirroring the paired repetitions of the sequence in a variation chain, and by adhering to the liturgical design of the responsories that constitute roughly half of his motet repertory. Most of his motets are for five or six voices, but even in those works he was inclined to handle the parts in contrasting pairs, as he did systematically in his four-voice compositions. Everywhere the alternation between imitative polyphony and an occasional passage in homophony provides the basic substance of his part-writing. Only in a general preference for fuller textures and sonorities and in a handful of psalm compositions for divided eight-part choir can one detect the general direction of contemporary stylistic change.
Palestrina’s compositional style also provided the matrix for the artistic culmination of the Spanish tradition as embodied in the motets of Victoria. Like Morales, Victoria spent a significant length of time in Rome, which was all the more critical for him in that it began when he was only 17 and lasted more than 20 years. Although his total repertory is much smaller than Palestrina’s, he set many of the same texts and handled them in much the same way. But his motets are distinguished by a more generally homophonic texture and by a livelier interest in harmonic colour, which he pursued by means of signed accidentals usually suggested by the meaning of the words.
An overriding concern for a vivid musical depiction of the text is primarily responsible for the essential stylistic differences between Palestrina and Lassus. In contrast to Palestrina’s carefully balanced lines and smooth rhythms, those of Lassus respond to certain textual conceits with wide leaps and relatively sharp rhythmic contrasts. Whereas Palestrina made only occasional, discreet use of pictorial devices (as in his setting of Psalm cxix, Ad Dominum cum tribularer, with its affective harmonies and dramatic shifts of texture), Lassus drew on a wide repertory of rhetorical gestures borrowed from the contemporary madrigal. His reliance on the musical vocabulary of Italian secular music is undoubtedly a result of his service as a young man at the court of Ferdinando Gonzaga, as opposed to the ecclesiastical context within which Palestrina spent his entire life. In addition, Lassus cultivated a declamatory chordal style in which the harmonic rhythm is surprisingly static for the period, and the vertical sonorities are thus strongly perceived. Even imitative passages are so treated that the impression of homophony is only moderately disturbed.
From the ducal court of Bavaria in Munich, where Lassus served from 1556 until his death, his motet style was disseminated through areas of Germanic culture by a number of talented pupils and associates, including Reiner, Lechner, Eccard, Aichinger and – indirectly through Giovanni Gabrieli – H.L. Hassler. Essentially the same manner of motet composition flourished also at the imperial court of Vienna, when Vaet served as Kapellmeister from 1554 to 1567, followed by Monte from 1568 to 1603. Jacob Handl also represents this tradition: even though he is not known to have had any direct connection with Lassus, his skilful and expressive use of rhetorical gestures points to Lassus’s influence.
It may have been Monte who took to England the dramatic chordal style characteristic of Lassus. During his visit in 1554–5 he became acquainted with Thomas Byrd, whose son, William, achieved the final synthesis of the Latin motet in the British Isles. The majority of Byrd’s motets were published in three volumes, in 1575, 1589 and 1591; in the latter two books he frequently addressed the plight of his fellow Catholics in Protestant England through pointed references in the non-liturgical biblical texts. There are some typically conservative traits in Byrd’s output of motets, such as the eight-voice crab canon in his Diliges Dominum of 1575. But he revealed his interest in Monte’s style in his eight-voice Quomodo cantabimus of 1584, an answer to the latter’s setting (also for eight voices) of the initial verses of the same psalm, Super flumina Babylonis. Perhaps in response partly to Monte’s example and partly to the growing interest in the Italian madrigal in England from the 1580s, Byrd also made considerable use of pictorial devices in some of his motets; his Vigilate of 1589 is a well-known example.
Early in the 16th century it had been Italian composers who first developed the polychoral style. Similarly, at the end of the century it was once again an Italian, Giovanni Gabrieli, who perceived in the performance traditions of cori spezzati the seeds of a new manner. From the relatively rapid interchange of short homophonic phrases between choirs of voices, or voices and instruments, was born the concertato principle. It can be heard in, for instance, Gabrieli’s In ecclesiis (see §III, 2, (i) below), a work that clearly presages the transformation of the motet in the 17th century.
After 1600 the motet lost its traditional position as a central musical genre. With the assimilation and integration of seconda pratica elements, it abandoned some of its classical characteristics; but at the same time it became during the 17th century an important point of departure for a range of new forms of sacred vocal composition, such as the cantata, and in this development its earlier, leading role was at least partly restored.
The motet’s development into a peripheral genre is demonstrated in a growing terminological imprecision, whereby in the 17th and 18th centuries the term ‘motet’ came to denote any kind of vocal music with liturgical affiliations. Indeed, the functional definition of the motet as a piece belonging to the liturgy remained the decisive factor, regardless of its musical nature. Texts were mainly biblical, drawn from psalms, lessons, antiphons, canticles and so on, but they also included free poetry with liturgical de tempore designations (e.g. Marian sequences for the Catholic Church, or chorales for the Protestant). Catholic motets were invariably in Latin, but, after the Reformation, Protestant motets were predominantly in the vernacular.
Independently of its historical development as a genre, the term ‘motet’ was itself introduced in the mid-17th century as a stylistic concept, and, as in the systematizations of Marco Scacchi, Athanasius Kircher and others, the ‘stylus motecticus’ became a subdivision of the ‘stylus ecclesiasticus’. It was thus categorized as a style of composition, derived from the traditional polyphonic language of the 16th-century ars perfecta. ‘Stylus motecticus’ represents a retrospective musical language, especially that of Palestrina and his tradition, and was applied to other genres, such as the mass. The term ‘motet’ thus signified both a genre and a style. Motet and motet style, though originally congruent, were not necessarily in any way identical after 1600.
In the 17th and 18th centuries motets were often summarily described as ‘concerted’, and the term ‘motetto concertato’ appears with some frequency after the middle of the 17th century. Praetorius (Syntagma musicum, iii, 1618, p.6) stated that the names ‘concerti, motetti, concentus etc.’ were analogous and interchangeable. The concerto principle appeared in various ways as a universal element of the seconda pratica in motet composition, even in the retrospective stile antico motet; yet the term ‘concerted motet’ obscured distinctions between the different types of post-1600 motet. The common structural element was the technique of stringing together passages of contrasting themes and motifs to match the individual lines of text. This fragmented, varied construction was expressly referred to in Walther’s definition (1732) of motet style.
The history of motet composition after 1600 divides into two independent lines of development, which were manifested nationally, regionally and denominationally in several different ways: the choral motet proper continued the 16th-century tradition in various directions; and the vocal concerto, which arose from the motet of the cori spezzati type, assimilated the principles of monody and gradually integrated instrumental elements.
The essential structure of the older motet style was retained in the true choral motet, especially in the Palestrinian motet predominant in the Catholic south (Italy, Austria and south Germany) and used to the exclusion of other styles in the Iberian peninsula, where Counter-Reformation orthodoxy prevailed. This stile antico was particularly preserved and promoted in the mass, as laid down by papal decree (Urban VIII, 1623) and as practised in the Cappella Sistina, which provided a decisive lead until the 19th century. The tradition of following Palestrina’s style necessarily resulted in apathy and conformity in the mass as well as the motet, which came to be characterized by studious craftsmanship, with schematic sequences of motif and monotonous harmony. On the other hand there was a trend towards contrapuntal techniques, such as canons and inversions, a trend reflected in the theoretical treatises of the time (Fux, Martini, Paolucci). In the late 17th century there was a tendency towards a functionally harmonic conception of counterpoint, with an increasingly periodic style of vocal melody and even da capo form (Caldara, Lotti). The a cappella ideal appeared by the 17th century in so modified a form that instrumental doubling – often with cornetts and trombones, to create an archaic effect – with continuo accompaniment in basso seguente style was normal.
Implicit in the sacred vocal concerto, on the other hand, is a complex range of combinations of voices and instruments which, in conjunction with episodic structure, resulted by the late 17th century in the splitting-up of the motet into isolated units. The concerted motet thus began to comprise a number of separate movements, incorporating elements such as aria and recitative formerly considered foreign to the form. This was the origin of the Italian orchestral motet (e.g. Scarlatti, Durante, Leo and Pergolesi) and of the grand motet in France (e.g. Charpentier, Lully, Lalande, Campra and Rameau). The development of the English verse anthem and of the cantata in its various forms also derives from this new motet style.
(i) To 1650.
The era of the Baroque concertato motet begins with the publication in 1602 of Viadana’s Cento concerti ecclesiastici, for one to four voices with, for the first time, organ continuo. Although this has long been considered the epoch-making publication, it came two years after Gabriele Fattorini’s I sacri concerti a due voci (Venice, 1600). Both volumes were reprinted in Italy and Germany. The idea that prompted these prints was not so much any hankering after change or supposed imitation of classical culture as the increasingly inadequate performance of unaccompanied church music by too few voices heard by Viadana in Rome. Even solo motets were conceived in the most conservative style rather than along the lines of early operatic experiments. Viadana’s collection proved the feasibility of a small-scale medium, using a handful of modest voices, and broke the dominance of the stile antico in sacred music. At the same time the use of the organ in a continuo role opened up new possibilities with conventional four- to six-part scorings. Contrasts of texture and sonority could be exploited, and counterpoint became more harmonically based, since it was heard against a background of simple chord progressions. Both Venetian and Roman printers produced a flood of publications of small-scale, practical church music which formed the staple fare for most religious institutions. The composers were often quite talented, though few towering names emerge. Most small-scale music consisted of motets to be sung at Mass or at the Offices on principal feasts and saints' days. In the context of the new style the word ‘concerto’ was frequently used as a synonym for motet. The motets in Monteverdi’s Vespers collection of 1610 do not fit so easily into this picture: they are virtuoso pieces of unusual complexity conceived for court singers familiar with L'Orfeo.
In the hands of composers like Alessandro Grandi (i) and Ignazio Donati in the north and G.F. Anerio, Agazzari and Cifra in Rome, the concertato motet quickly reached a high artistic level in the early decades of the century. Many composers including Grandi found an outlet for their melodic gifts in this new genre, where polyphonic lines often assumed a new tuneful freshness. Motet texts were often drawn from the psalms, and two other categories came to prominence: Song of Solomon texts for female saints and spiritual recreation, and Jesus-directed verse, rich in sentiment, linked with the rise in eucharistic devotion. Donati, to name but one, excelled in works for four or more voices with organ, where he could play off different combinations of singers and build up telling climaxes by exploiting the presence of continuo. The text would typically be divided into sections, each with a characteristic motif that could be developed contrapuntally, but a refrain form with solos and duets offset by a repeated tutti is also found, as well as motets in the form of a dialogue in which one or more voices would represent different scriptural characters (see Dialogue, §5).
The refrain form was specially appropriate to the massive, elaborate Venetian motets that Giovanni Gabrieli wrote during his last years, often involving polychoral techniques. In these the word ‘Alleluia’ was frequently set to a dance-like triple-time passage, which through its recurrence could bind a large work together. Gabrieli also pioneered the ‘mixed concertato’ style in the large motet, assigning particular sections to solo voices, instruments and a full choir and orchestra called ‘cappella’: In ecclesiis is a deservedly famous work employing all these innovatory techniques. Subsequently, this grandiose approach was used most frequently for vesper psalms, although in Rome at least music for many choirs was found to fit new architectural trends and flourished accordingly.
Venice in the 1620s created a vogue for small motets for one or two voices with obbligato violins and continuo, the sacred parallel of the early secular cantata. Grandi proved a pioneer here: he introduced delightful, idiomatically written sinfonias for the violins which acted as refrains, and tried out variation and strophic-bass techniques borrowed from secular music. Sometimes the violins not only provided a refrain but joined in dialogue with the voice. This medium and the simpler monodic solo motet (without violins) were the types that most clearly pointed the way for the Baroque motet. The monodic type, too, became established only in the 1620s: a fine anthology is the Venetian Ghirlanda sacra (1625), which contains four of Monteverdi’s few contributions to the genre. Compared with the sacred duet, therefore, the solo motet had taken root slowly: in most cases it remained distant from the developments of the Florentine monodists. Nevertheless, the type did call for more virtuosity in the way of vocal ornamentation, an indispensable part of the art of monody.
In Rome some composers (Crivelli, Soriano) perpetuated the ideal of Palestrinian polyphony in the stile antico mainly for the major churches, but most took their cue from Viadana and became increasingly free in the ornamentation of their melodic lines. Occasionally, solo motets, for example those by Kapsberger, could all too easily be dogged by mere ornamental note-spinning at the expense of real melody, although the first Roman publication (Ottavio Durante’s Arie devote, 1608) is clear evidence that the south was not left behind. After a rather lean 1630s Roman church music achieved a new lease of life in the decade that followed, as can be seen from the anthologies of motets published towards 1650. Refrain forms with instrumental sinfonias, a flowing style of melodic writing and a wider range of keys are all found here; and in Carissimi, Rome had a really talented composer who could infuse spiritual fervour into motets as well as into oratorios. With Foggia, Graziani and Virgilio Mazzocchi in Rome, and Rovetta and Rigatti in the north, the new medium had reached maturity and was able to abandon its dependence on stile antico models.
(ii) After 1650.
From 1650 the pattern changes, and the once vast publishing activity in this field declined throughout Italy. Other avenues were open to promising composers too: opera became an attractive source of income to composers who held church posts, and motets tended to be concentrated in places with opera houses and by composers (Cavalli, Legrenzi, P.A. Ziani) who were as well known for their operas as for their sacred music. The mellifluous vocal writing in some of Legrenzi’s motets is obviously derived from opera, although in others he used dialogue effects which are not necessarily operatic but hark back to the dialogue motets of the early part of the century. Instrumental music was becoming an increasingly important part of the church service, with the development of the violin family, and sonatas and concertos were displacing occasional motets at Mass. Motets themselves often involved a pair of violins as well as voices. The concertato motet for four to six voices and organ had waned by 1650, leaving chamber-like combinations of solo, duet and trio, with or without violins, as the preferred textures for the Italian motet – a clear parallel with the taste for stage music. With a smaller demand for occasional motets to be sung at Mass, the texts set commonly were the four Marian antiphons for Vespers and Compline.
Important composers of motets in the mid-Baroque period include the prolific Cazzati, best known for his instrumental music written for S Petronio, Bologna: he was one of the few north Italians to write motets in both the archaic stile antico and the up-to-date manner. A later Bolognese was G.P. Colonna, some of whose motets include violins (to be expected, in view of the excellence of the Bologna church orchestra). Other notable composers in north Italian cities were Bassani at Ferrara and Petrobelli at Padua, both of whom included instrumental parts in their motets, and Brevi at Milan, who published solo motets of the monodic type. It is interesting that all this published music was modest in its requirements; the large-scale motets were not disseminated through publication, but this is not to say that they were not composed. Intended for special celebrations in individual places, such as that of a church’s patron saint, their usefulness was limited and they survive only in manuscript.
The co-existence of old and new ways continued to be a marked feature in Rome: liturgical publications were still distinguished by Latin title-pages. The stile antico continued at the principal basilicas, while at the same time, between 1650 and 1680, Foggia and Graziani published many volumes of solo and few-voice motets. The tension between the two styles resulted in a modification of the pure Palestrina idiom by such composers as Benevoli giving a more foursquare phrase structure and introducing major–minor tonality. Some of this type of writing later in the century has been considered almost as pastiche. In some of the motets of Lotti, a prominent Venetian opera and oratorio composer, the updating of the old style is complete: even if the linear treatment of dissonance conformed to 16th-century conventions, chords such as the diminished 7th were introduced.
In the hands of such Neapolitan opera composers as Alessandro Scarlatti, Francesco Durante and Leo, the orchestral motet – in effect a more lavishly scored version of the solo motet with violins – came nearest to the current operatic forms of the day. For example, Scarlatti’s Audi filia, a festive motet for St Cecilia’s Day, has oboes as well as strings in the orchestra and consists largely of elaborate solo sections with a chorus entering only at the end; as in the operatic aria, vocal and instrumental material was closely integrated within a taut ritornello structure. Other motets by Scarlatti make use of distinct recitative and da capo aria schemes, again imported from opera. It was in this flamboyant tradition that Handel participated while in Rome, culminating in his Carmelite music of 1707.
(i) The generation of Schütz.
The Catholic regions of Germany showed a clear dependence on Italy in nearly every aspect of sacred music, and the most original development after 1600 in the choral motet was in Lutheran Germany. In contrast to the Calvinist regions of Switzerland and the Netherlands, where psalm settings were the only polyphonic genre (exemplified by Sweelinck’s psalm motets), and even England, where the anthem had in effect replaced the motet, by the second half of the 16th century the Lutheran areas had a broadly based motet tradition capable of further development. Three main types had evolved: the motet in free, lightly imitative style (‘Liedmotette’) with occasional cantus firmus elements (used by Eccard, Hassler and Lechner); the chorale motet in a markedly contrapuntal cantus firmus style (see Chorale settings, §I, 2); and the text-motet (‘Spruchmotette’), presenting settings of key verses mainly from the Gospels, the Psalter or the Song of Solomon. This last type in particular soon gained increasingly in importance since there was a great liturgical demand for music illustrating pithy biblical texts (or ‘Kernsprüche’, which became a popular title for such collections). This soon led to the publication of sets of Gospel texts covering the church year (for example by Melchior Vulpius, Andreas Raselius, Christoph Demantius and Melchior Franck), and this was echoed in the 18th century by the seasonal cantatas which also chiefly derived their texts from the Gospels. The expressive style of Lassus and his followers (such as Jacob Handl) exerted a greater influence in northern and central Germany than the textually less committed manner of the Palestrina school. This repertory was handed down in printed collections (especially Bodenschatz’s Florilegium Portense, 1618) and performed well into the 18th century, and the musical-rhetorical principles of the Latin motet (as codified in the numerous treatises on musica poetica) was transferred directly to the German text-motet. An important stylistic advance was the inclusion of madrigal elements in early 17th-century music, as shown particularly in motets called ‘sacred madrigals’, for example J.H. Schein’s Fontana d'Israel/Israelis Brünlein (1623) and Schütz’s Cantiones sacrae (1625), but also apparent as early as 1606 in Lechner’s Deutsche Sprüche von Leben und Tod (MS). One remarkably informative collection, including the most varied kinds of motet-style treatment of a text, is Angst der Hellen und Friede der Seelen, published by Burkhard Grossmann in 1623 and consisting of commissioned settings of Psalm cxvi by the most esteemed motet composers of the time: Franck, Nicolaus Erich, Michael Praetorius, Schütz, Schein and Demantius among others. This remarkable volume demonstrates the flexible application of various techniques, ranging from chordal homophony and falsobordone to regular points of imitation and more refined contrapuntal intricacies; at the same time it represents a selection of the most characteristic approaches, from the plain concerto manner of Praetorius to the highly individual musical language of the young Schütz. The climax of powerful and vivid musical illustration of text combined with elaborate counterpoint came in Schütz’s later works, especially his Geistliche Chor-Music (1648), Zwölff geistliche Gesänge (1657) and Deutsches Magnificat (1671). The Geistliche Chor-Music represents the programmatic counterpart to his Symphoniae sacrae (see below) in that it is based exclusively on the ‘stylus … without Bassum Continuum’ (to quote Schütz’s foreword) and incorporates as ‘necessary Requisita … Dispositiones modorum; Fugae simplices, mixtae, inversae; Contrapunctum duplex; Differentia Styli in arte Musica diversi; Modulatio vocum; Connexio subjectorum, etc.’. In the Geistliche Chor-Music Schütz forged a motet style that renounces the overemphasis on madrigalisms (which still prevailed in the Cantiones sacrae) and aims at a perfect balance between contrapuntal organization and the musical interpretation of the text. His appreciation and treatment of German in terms of a natural prosody is both exemplary and unprecedented. The Deutsches Magnificat, one of his very last works, forms the logical conclusion of his late motet style in that it abandons the emphatic accentuation of single words or phrases by rhetorical or other expressive devices in favour of a more detached, harmonically orientated style.
Although the true choral motet figures prominently in Schütz’s output, it is outnumbered and dominated by the vocal concerto, which had developed about 1600 as a new branch of the motet in Italy. Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sacrae symphoniae (1597) and Viadana’s Cento concerti ecclesiastici (1602) served as starting-points and models for German composers of the vocal concerto. The sacred vocal concerto (geistliches Konzert, Psalmkonzert etc.) is based on the same repertory of liturgical texts as the traditional motet and follows the same formal (i.e. sectional) organization. The Venetian type of polychoral motet, in which contrasting choirs functioned as heterogeneous elements, with instruments taking a supplementary or complementary role, reached a climax in Germany at the beginning of the 17th century in Praetorius’s Musae Sioniae (1605–7), Schütz’s Psalmen Davids (1619) and Samuel Scheidt’s many motets for two or more choirs. Because of the great expenditure involved, performance of these monumental works was necessarily restricted to centres with large musical establishments and to special occasions. During the Thirty Years War (1618–48) the use of several choirs became exceptional and then disappeared entirely; it enjoyed only a modest revival in the motets for double choir written in central Germany around 1700 (members of the Bach family composed several such works).
This situation demanded the swift development and dissemination of the concertato solo motet, which was far less demanding and more practical to perform. Originally these geistliche Konzerte were written for solo voices and continuo (e.g. Schein’s Opella nova, 1618–26, or Schütz’s Kleine geistliche Concerte, 1636–9), representing in effect a reduced form of the polychoral motet. Obbligato instruments were soon added, and a fully independent instrumental ensemble resulted. This development is most clearly seen in the three parts of Schütz’s Symphoniae sacrae (1629, 1647, 1650), in which various kinds of concerto for both large and small forces were published, and Scheidt’s Concertus sacri (1622). Implicit in the sacred concerto is a complex range of possible combinations of vocal and instrumental parts in conjunction with the sectional structure of the motet. In the second half of the 17th century this resulted in its being split up into separate units, which in turn led to its developing into independent sections or movements using elements foreign to the motet such as aria, chorale and finally recitative. The cantata derives from this development of the concerted motet. In line with this tradition, J.S. Bach referred both to his early cantata on a purely biblical text, Gott ist mein König bwv71 (1708), and to his late parody of Pergolesi’s Stabat mater as ‘motetto’.
(ii) The generation of Bach.
No particular Schütz tradition was established in central Germany in the late 17th century. Hammerschmidt, Christoph Bernhard and J.R. Ahle appear in a limited way as followers of Schütz in their motets but could not command his breadth or depth. Within the repertory of concerted liturgical de tempore music the small- and large-scale types of geistliches Konzert gradually merged into, and were finally absorbed by, the emerging cantata (see Cantata, §II, 5). But composition of the choral motet proper continued within the framework of the flourishing Kantorei tradition, especially in Thuringia and Saxony, where a cantabile and galant motet style emerges in the late 17th century in the music of J.C. and J.M. Bach and Pachelbel, influenced by Peranda and other Italian musicians working in central Germany. As the cantata came to the fore the motet was increasingly confined to weddings, funerals and similar special services. Stylistically there was a clear movement towards homophonic textures, above all in the chordally based works for double chorus from the circle round the Bach family. There was a marked preference for a combination of biblical quotation and chorale, also a characteristic of J.S. Bach’s work. In the motets of the older Bachs, Georg Böhm, P.H. Erlebach, Sebastian Knüpfer, Johann Schelle and their contemporaries, modern structural elements such as ritornello form and fugal technique appeared. The fact that the ideal of a single musical structure with contrasting, thematically unified sections or parts conflicted with the traditional motet form (whose irregular, sectionalized structure depended entirely on the phrases of the text) clearly hastened the gradual decline of the motet genre.
J.S. Bach’s motets represent the culminating point of the genre in the 18th century, though they amount to an insignificant proportion of his total output (seven works: five for double chorus, one each for four- and five-part chorus). They fall entirely within the tradition of the central German motet; this is especially clear in Ich lasse dich nicht, which deliberately adopts the middle-German cantabile style. Fürchte dich nicht, where there is a chordal opening section with alternating choirs and a fugue with cantus firmus (a simultaneous combination of two different texts and compositional elements), is modelled on a work by Johann Christoph Bach. Peculiarities of Bach’s motet composition include an ingenious stratification of the text for reciprocal interpretations (for instance in Der Geist hilft, where the first chorus sings ‘denn wir wissen nicht, was wir beten sollen’ and the second ‘der Geist hilft’); contrast of texture; large-scale formal organization (as in Jesu, meine Freude, in 11 symmetrical corresponding parts); the ‘instrumentalizing’ of vocal parts by virtuoso declamation in figurative instrumental style; and the application of contemporary Italian instrumental concerto form (fast–slow–fast, e.g. in Singet dem Herrn, which is divided into three such sections). Above all, his works are marked by their close affinity between musical expression and textual meaning. In the motets, unlike the choral cantatas (which are more unified in motif and on a larger scale), textual relevance of the musical material corresponds more openly to the smaller scale of the sectional principle. Nevertheless, the musical underlining of single words or groups of words is clearly integrated in a coherent and unified thematic–motivic context. The interpretation of the meaning and expressive qualities of larger text units rather than single words relates to the ideals of the doctrine of the Affections; it is here that the chief conceptual difference between the motet of Schütz’s generation and that of Bach’s principally lies.
Most of Bach’s motets belong to his first decade in Leipzig, and that accounts for the singular stylistic position occupied by O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht bwv118, called ‘motet’ in Bach’s autograph scores, in which the presence of obbligato instruments, not typical of the chorale motet proper, forms a bridge to the chorale concerto and chorale cantata – another example of the interrelation of genres. This is further demonstrated in the fact that motet-like principles predominate in the chorale cantatas (and in others, for example no.106).
Like Bach’s, Telemann’s small number of motets (some of them of the strict stile antico type) are peripheral works: when the rise of 18th-century rationalism led to the decline of liturgical musical traditions, Protestant motet writing died away. But from Bach’s successors (Harrer, Doles, Homilius, Kirnberger and J.A. Hiller) some notable compositions appeared, distinguished by their contrapuntal purity and cantabile quality. These stylistic trends were no doubt concessions to prevailing taste, but at the same time they show the influence of a new retrospective orientation (Harrer studied Palestrina; Kirnberger edited works by Hassler): this represents one of the earliest instances of the musical historicism that characterized the 19th- and 20th-century motet.
(i) The early 17th century.
A conservative style rooted in Franco-Flemish polyphony dominated the French motet in the early 17th century. French composers were reluctant to introduce elements from the stile concertato and slow to adopt the continuo in religious music. For Mersenne, the ‘impressive harmony and rich counterpoint’ of Du Caurroy’s motets was such that ‘all the composers of France take him for their master’. The motets of Du Caurroy’s Preces ecclesiasticae (1609) and those of Jean de Bournonville, André Péchon and Charles d'Ambleville exemplified this late Renaissance style, which was not seriously challenged in the first quarter of the century.
By the 1630s the most original motet composer was Guillaume Bouzignac, whose music was not widely disseminated. He wrote over 100 motets. He absorbed Italian and Catalan influences and created a dialogue motet of great dramatic intensity by, for example, juxtaposing solo voice and tutti and by using speech rhythms and textual repetition.
Jean Veillot, Thomas Gobert and Nicolas Formé were concerned in the evolution of the double-chorus concertato motet. Veillot was one of the first to compose independent symphonies and to use instruments to double the chorus (Alleluia, o filii et filiae and Sacris solemniis, for example); all three used the grand and petit choeurs that became the hallmark of the later Versailles motet. As early as 1646, Gobert noted that the ‘grand choeur, in five parts, is always sung by many voices. The petit choeur is composed only of solo voices’ (letter of 17 October to Constantijn Huygens). Few double-chorus motets by Formé and Veillot and none by Gobert survive, largely because little original sacred music of the early 17th century was published; for the same reason, the double-chorus motets of Valérien Gonet, Solon and Antoine de Penne, the motets of Cambert and Eustache Picot and the late motets of Moulinié are lost or exist only in fragmentary form.
In the preface to his Meslanges de sujets chrestiens of 1658, Etienne Moulinié commented on ‘certain passages … which are rather bold and which may pass for licence in the opinion of those who prefer the austerity of the old style to the agréments of the new’. He was presumably referring to those passages for solo voices (récits) and chorus that borrow the short phrases, the dance rhythms and even certain roulades from contemporary airs de cour. Also new in France in the late 1640s was the use of the continuo in religious music, as in Moulinié’s Meslanges and in Constantijn Huygens’s Pathodia sacra et profana (1647). In 1652 Ballard brought out Henry Du Mont’s Cantica sacra, with continuo parts printed separately for the first time in France.
(ii) The mid-17th century.
Du Mont, a Walloon who arrived in France in 1638, assumed a position in French religious music ‘somewhat comparable to that of Haydn in the symphony and the string quartet’ (Garros, p.1598). He introduced to France the petit motet of one, two or three voices and continuo in collections issued between 1652 and 1671. Here motets with italianate chains of suspensions, light polyphony, ‘affective’ melodic and harmonic intervals, echo effects, dialogue techniques and word-painting co-exist with motets exhibiting such French characteristics as more syllabic rendering of the text, use of melodies of restricted range and shorter phrases, basic diatonicism and rhythmic organization corresponding to popular French dances.
Du Mont’s grands motets open the history of the Versailles motet. The repertory of the royal chapel included 31 of his grands motets by 1666. 20 were printed posthumously in 1686 ‘by express order of His Majesty’, like the 24 grands motets of Pierre Robert (1684) and the 12 of Lully (1684). These formed an impressive repertory for the king’s chapel at the time of his move to Versailles. Louis XIV preferred Low Mass. Perrin wrote: ‘there are ordinarily three [motets], one grand, one petit for the Elevation and a Domine salvum fac regem’ (a motet setting of Psalm xix.10 that served as a salutation to the king and closed both Low and High Mass) (Cantica pro capella regis, 1665/R).
Structurally the Versailles grand motet of this period is an extension of earlier models by Formé and Veillot. It is typically a psalm setting in which the versicles are musically arranged as a series of episodes, incomplete in themselves, for solo voice, ensemble and chorus. The five-part chorus is divided into a grand and a petit choeur, and the five-part orchestra provides independent symphonies, marks important structural divisions, generally doubles the chorus and contributes solo obbligato parts for some of the récits. The grands motets of the Versailles composers differ only in details. All are very long (Lully’s Te Deum, for example, has over 1200 bars), all have weighty homophonic choruses with unceasing speech rhythms, often of hypnotic power, and all use melodic formulae and scoring practices found in contemporary stage music and airs de cour (for instance, the bass ‘doubled continuo’ air). In effect, the grand motet from this period to the Revolution is a secularized ‘concert spirituel’ without liturgical function.
(iii) The late 17th century.
The two composers who best represent the motet in quality and quantity at the turn of the century are Charpentier and Lalande. Charpentier composed grands motets for the dauphin’s chapel (after 1679), for the Jesuit church of St Louis (1684–98) and for the Ste Chapelle (1698–1704); he wrote petits motets for his patroness, Mlle de Guise (after 1673 to 1687), and for various convents. He obviously regarded his oratorios as motets, since he used that title for many of them. Lalande wrote mostly grands motets, to be heard by the few attending the king’s Mass at the royal chapel and, from 1725, by the crowds at the Concert Spirituel (where one of his motets was usually featured in each programme).
Although profiting from his exposure to music by Carissimi, Francesco Beretta and other Roman composers when he was in Italy, Charpentier’s only departure from the French motet tradition seems to be his predilection for four-part rather than five-part textures. His harmonic language is richer than that of his predecessors. He used augmented chords and dissonances, such as the mediant 9-7-♯5 chord, with telling effect. In general, his harmonic vocabulary is conservative; his melodic style derives from the French air de cour and from the organic use of such ornaments as ports de voix and coulés; French dance is an important source for his rhythmic organization; and his textures, though more contrapuntally orientated than Lully’s, remain basically homophonic. His petits motets are the most important examples of the genre before François Couperin. Many are élévations or Marian antiphons; 30 are leçons de ténèbres. He preferred either haute-contre, tenor and bass or three women’s voices for his numerous petits motets in trio texture.
Lalande’s grands motets (about 70 in all) represent the highpoint of the Versailles motet. In many of his later motets (or second or third versions of earlier ones) he expanded the solo and ensemble episodes into autonomous sections, which were often preceded by ritournelles; in this respect the grand motet came to resemble the German church cantata at the time of Bach. Dubbed a ‘Latin Lully’ by his pupil Collin de Blamont, Lalande ‘humanized’ the grand motet without compromising its kingly role: that is, he was particularly sensitive to the meaning of the Latin psalm texts and interpreted the words through expressive harmonies and appropriate melodic figures. He converted the stiff, formal solo récits of (for example) Lully and Robert into graceful, even galant, airs, often providing them with a delicate counterpoint through obbligato instruments, for instance using the typical pre-Rameau opera scoring of soprano and flute accompanied by a violin. Lalande made use of massive blocks of sound in the grandiose five-part, homophonic choruses, but also composed fugal choruses of great breadth in which polyphonic tension is strongly maintained, as in the ‘Requiem aeternam’ in De profundis. He used the orchestra more imaginatively than his predecessors, and at times (following the tentative lead of Du Mont) allowed it a degree of independence, freeing it from merely doubling the vocal lines: see, for example, the second version of the chorus ‘Vitam petiit’ from Domine, in virtute tua. These traits, considered ‘ingenious disparities’ in their day (‘Avertissement’ to Motets de feu M. Delalande, 1729), were no doubt responsible for the great popularity of his motets as concert pieces throughout the 18th century.
During the last two decades of the 17th century many petits motets were composed for convents. Those by Nivers and Clérambault for Saint-Cyr are typical: they are scored for two or three voices, and their simple diatonic melodies are laden with French vocal agréments. Brossard composed 32 petits motets, of which 16 were published in two volumes (1695–8). They were composed for the choir schools at Strasbourg and Meaux; though harmonically conservative, they include original touches, and they have detachable ‘Alleluia’ or ‘Amen’ finales should they ‘appear to be a little long’ (‘Avertissement’ from Elévations et motets, 1695). Brossard also composed three grands motets between 1687 and 1698 when he was maître de chapelle at Strasbourg Cathedral.
(iv) The 18th century.
The Lalande grand motet served as both inspiration and obstacle to change for later 18th-century composers. From Campra and Bernier to Michel Mathieu and Giroust, the sous-maîtres of the royal chapel were reluctant to alter the basic form of the Versailles motet. Within this tradition, some of the 45 motets by C.-H. Gervais, the three surviving by Collasse, the two surviving by François Pétonille, the six of Minoret, the 11 surviving by Bernier, the Te Deum by Collin de Blamont and most of the 26 grands motets by Henri Madin (‘one of the best motet composers of this century’, according to Titon du Tillet) deserve attention. On the other hand, the patina of italianisms brings little life to most of the motets by Lallouette, Courbois, Guignard, Gomay and Gaveau, which remain exercises in the ‘old style’.
In Campra’s grands motets for the royal chapel, composed between 1723 and 1741, there are solemn homophonic choruses, well-planned double fugues and effective ostinato basses as well as virtuoso ‘arias’, often accompanied with brilliant instrumental obbligatos. Campra and Rameau made a descriptive agent of the motet orchestra in the manner of the large choral-orchestral complexes of their tragédies lyriques. In Campra’s Lauda Jerusalem (1727) and Rameau’s Deus noster refugium (c1714), for example, the violins constantly penetrate the chorus in rapid, concerto-like passages to create exciting ‘storm’ scenes. Further operatic inroads are found in the opening countertenor récit of Rameau’s masterpiece, In convertendo (1751 version), which resembles an elegiac monologue from Hippolyte et Aricie or Castor et Pollux and introduces the fluctuating metres of French recitative. Although he held posts as a church musician for 26 years (usually as organist), Rameau composed very little church music. Three of his four grands motets were written as concert pieces for the Concert Spirituel and the Lyons Concert.
Boismortier and Blanchard further expanded the role of the orchestra in the grand motet, especially with respect to woodwind and brass instruments. Boismortier’s Exaudiat te Dominus (1730), for example, has parts for piccolo, two oboes, trumpet and timpani; and Blanchard’s Benedicam Dominum (1757) is scored for flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons and horn. Elaborate symphonies and da capo airs assured these works a place in the repertory of the Concert Spirituel along with the nine surviving grands motets of Mondonville and 70 grands motets by Giroust.
The important grand motet composers from the early and middle years of the 18th century continued to dominate the music heard at the royal chapel up to the Revolution. This is verified by a Ballard publication (Livre de motets pour la chapelle du roy) of the years 1787–92. The 1792 volume gives a list of titles and texts of motets, presumably those performed at the royal chapel between January and June that year: it includes 14 by Lalande, 13 by Campra, four by Bernier, five by Gervais, 25 by Madin and a few by Devins, Gilles, Joseph Michel and the Abbé Vignot.
The grands motets of most Parisian and provincial composers follow the uniform style emanating from Versailles. The early grands motets of Henry Desmarets were ghost-written for the mediocre composer Goupillet, a sous-maître at the royal chapel. The four late motets stem from Desmarets' years in exile at the court of the Duke of Lorraine. They were composed in an effort to obtain a pardon from Louis XIV and were intended for the royal chapel. These psalm settings (now in F-Pn) are long even by the standards of the genre, averaging more than 100 pages each; they include passages of polyphonic concentration rare in French music of the time (for example ‘Laboravi in gemitu meo’ from Domine ne in furore). Gilles composed 12 grands motets, some of which remained in the repertory of the Concert Spirituel up to the end of the 18th century. Although they are more intimate in style, and although their solo récits and some of their homophonic choruses reflect the asymmetrical phrase groupings of Provençal melody, these works conform in large measure to the Versailles motet. On the other hand, the Tenebrae lessons by Gilles are unique in that they introduce a chorus and instrumental ensemble into a genre that traditionally used only one or two solo voices and continuo.
Composition of grands motets, already in decline by mid-century, was sustained (especially for concert performances) by Blanchard, Mondonville and Giroust. Late in the century Marmontel, writing in the 1776 supplement to Diderot’s Encyclopédie (article ‘Concert spirituel’), suggested extracting certain versets from the grands motets for separate performance. He realized, however, that even at this late date, the pre-eminence of the grand motet at the Concert Spirituel was so great that no deletions would be permitted: ‘The difficulty in performing separate movements is the necessity of conquering tradition and perhaps changing public opinion’.
Less governed by tradition than the grand motet, the petit motet absorbed more and more elements from both French and Italian opera and cantata around 1700. The numerous motets of Daniel Danielis, with their frequent modulations, vocalises and text repetitions, persuaded Le Cerf de la Viéville that the composer was indeed Italian. In the ‘Avertissement’ to the first book of J.-F. Lochon’s motets (1701), the printer Ballard claimed that Lochon ‘by his genius has found the secret of uniting Italian design and expression with French delicacy and gentleness’. Campra made a similar claim, apropos his cantatas, seven years later; all four books of his petits motets were printed before the cantatas and may be thought of as preliminary studies in the goûts-réunis. His third book (1703) includes a motet (Quis ego Domine) ‘à la manière italienne’; in his fourth, the many da capo airs, sequential vocal melismas, triadic melodies and mechanical rhythmic pulsations clearly reveal a debt to the Italian sonata and concerto.
The petits motets in two books (1704–9) by Morin and the 12 Motets à I. II et III voix by Foliot also combine French and Italian features and, like those of Brossard, may be abridged, ‘in order not to prolong the Divine Office’ (‘Avertissement’ to Foliot’s collection). The petits motets of François Couperin are on a more elevated musical plane, and there is little parroting of Italian devices. For Couperin the goûts-réunis consisted of a natural synthesis of French melodic shapes and dance rhythms with Italian vocalises, abrupt changes of tonality and discreet chromaticism. In his three collections of psalm verses (1703, 1704, 1705), Couperin wisely set only the verses best suited to his particularly lyrical, intimate musical style. His masterpieces are surely the three Leçons de tenébres composed between 1713 and 1717 for the convent at Longchamp: nowhere else, except possibly in some of his keyboard pieces, did Couperin make more effective use of French vocal agréments as an organic and expressive part of the musical line.
Like many cantatas and cantatilles, some petits motets were fashioned for performances by well-known opera singers at the Concert Spirituel and other concerts. Mouret’s petits motets (published posthumously in 1742) were ideal for this environment (O sacrum convivium includes a vocal cadenza); the composer was director of the Concert Spirituel from 1728 to 1734.
Dufourcq (p.109) suggested that the performance of motets at the Concert Spirituel ‘might have killed religious music’ in France. The French motet had never had a liturgical function, so it was never bound to stay in the sanctuary; but whether or not the lack of a specific function or the new spirit of rationality diminished religious music is immaterial to the fact that the latter half of the 18th century lacked motet composers of the calibre of Charpentier and Lalande.
IV. After 1750
It is impossible to trace any continuous line of development in the history of the motet after 1750. The form never regained the central position it had occupied in the music of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance; nor did it claim the attention of leading composers to the extent it had in the Baroque period. In addition the weight of ecclesiastical tradition kept church music so far removed from stylistic developments in secular music that very few important 19th-century composers were able to write motets in a style that was not to some extent assumed. For this reason the motets of Liszt, Brahms and Verdi, among others, rarely show them at their best or most characteristic. The main concern of the student of post-Baroque motets is to distinguish the form from other sacred pieces closely resembling it, to observe the influences (ecclesiastical as well as musical) that have determined its character and to isolate those composers and those works that have contributed most to the form.
1. Latin to 1830.
Salzburg and Vienna were the most important centres for the Latin motet during the late 18th century. J.E. Eberlin, who composed over 300 motets, was Kapellmeister at Salzburg from 1749 until his death in 1762, and in Vienna the orchestral motet of the Neapolitan school – represented at its fullest flowering by such prolific and successful motet composers as Hasse and Jommelli – had, even before 1750, been cultivated with notable success by Fux, Caldara and others. The motet figures hardly at all among the extant works of Joseph Haydn, but his younger brother Michael is important both for his own compositions in this form and for the influence that his church music as a whole exercised on Mozart. Like those of Michael Haydn, Mozart’s motets are mostly brightly coloured, extrovert works, expressing a resplendent dogma rather than a strongly personal faith. Some use deliberately archaic, Baroque-style, Fuxian counterpoint; most use the harmonic and instrumental textures of the new symphony and call for four-part chorus (SATB) with an orchestra of symphonic proportions. Examples can be found which do not fit this description, but they were mostly written for performance outside Vienna and Salzburg. For example, the antiphon Quaerite primum regnum Dei k86/73v, written at Bologna in 1770 as part of the required examination for admission to the Accademia Filarmonica, calls only for organ accompaniment from a figured bass. The brilliant motet for solo soprano and orchestra, Exsultate, jubilate k165/158a, was written for the famous castrato Venanzio Rauzzini and performed by him in Milan in 1773. And the very last motet, Ave verum corpus k618, written for the feast of Corpus Christi at Baden in 1791, is exceptional in its intimate, expressive homophony, discreetly accompanied by strings and continuo only. Beethoven’s settings of the Roman liturgy are confined to the two great masses, but Schubert’s interest in church music extended to the composition of several splendid motets, scored, like Mozart’s, for chorus and orchestra and sometimes including parts for solo voices.
2. Latin, 19th century.
From about 1830 onwards the influential Cecilian movement sought actively to replace the worldly, symphonic church music of the Viennese school with a ‘purer’ style, based on the a cappella masses and motets of the late Renaissance. In Germany the reforms of Caspar Ett, Eduard Grell (a prolific composer of motets), Carl Proske and others resulted in the formation in 1868 of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Cäcilienverein, presided over by F.X. Witt. Closely bound up with this and similar movements in other countries (notably France) was a renewed interest in the music of Palestrina. Giuseppe Baini’s critical biography appeared in 1828, and in 1863 there was initiated the collected edition of Palestrina’s works under the editorship of F.X. Haberl, president of the Cäcilienverein from 1899. This had been preceded by a number of important publications of Renaissance music, including Musica divina (edited by Proske and Joseph Schrems, 1853–69) and Trésor musical (edited by R.J. van Maldeghem, 1865–93). In France, Alexandre Choron’s Institution Royale de Musique Classique et Religieuse was founded in 1818 for the performance of Renaissance music and resuscitated in 1854 as the Ecole Niedermeyer. The study of Gregorian chant and 16th-century polyphony was of primary importance in its curriculum. The Société pour la Musique Vocale Religieuse et Classique (founded in 1843) and the Schola Cantorum (1896) likewise encouraged a conservative attitude towards church music.
The effects of these reforms – one of them the composition of a vast quantity of third-rate church music – were felt in all Catholic countries, but it was in France especially that the motet enjoyed an unbroken tradition. Gounod’s main contributions to the form are contained in the Motets solennels of 1856–66 and the three volumes of Chants sacrés (1878), but he also wrote several psalms, hymns and graduals. Franck’s Trois motets (O salutaris, Ave Maria and Tantum ergo) of 1865 are for solo soprano and baritone, chorus and organ, and he wrote about a dozen similar pieces that could properly be classed as motets. Berlioz’s Tantum ergo and Veni creator and the 20 motets of Saint-Saëns are also noteworthy. Chausson wrote three sets of motets (opp.6, 12 and 16) between 1883 and 1891, and Fauré’s religious compositions include a number of motets that reflect the traditions of the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he studied for 11 years.
The ideals of the Cecilian movement also found expression in Liszt’s church compositions, most of which contrast sharply with the flamboyant virtuoso piano works by which he is best known. Many of the shorter ones require only chorus and organ; they include an Ave verum corpus, two settings of O salutaris hostia (the first dedicated to Haberl) and a Tantum ergo, dedicated to Witt. Bruckner also lent at least nominal support to the Cecilian movement, although his own church music was founded on a sincere and direct faith and a reverence for the whole musical tradition that supported it. He revived the style of the Viennese school in his large orchestral masses and Te Deum and reached back towards the Venetians of the 16th and 17th centuries in some of his motets. Their archaism leads even to the occasional use of modal harmony (e.g. the Aeolian Asperges me, the Phrygian Pange lingua and the Lydian Os justi), though Bruckner’s language in these works is not pastiche. He wrote about 40 motets in all, the majority being either unaccompanied or with only organ in support. They represent a peak in the Catholic motet of the late 19th century attained by no other composer except Verdi, some of whose late motets (Quattro pezzi sacri) have much in common with the devout spirit of Bruckner’s.
3. Protestant Germany.
Pursuing a development largely independent of Catholic traditions, the motet of the German Protestant Church was almost as backward-looking in style. Schütz and Bach were to the Lutheran composer what Palestrina and Lassus were to the Catholic. The Protestant motet, with a vernacular text often selected from the Bible, was usually distinguished from the cantata (as it had been by Bach) by its more contrapuntal style and its lack of independent accompaniment. Chorale melodies were often used as a kind of cantus firmus (as in Bach’s Jesu, meine Freude), and many motets were composed for double chorus (like Bach’s Singet dem Herrn and some motets by Schütz). The modest achievements of the second half of the 18th century are seen in the motets of Bach’s sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christoph Friedrich and more particularly in those of his pupils G.A. Homilius (most of whose 60 or more motets date from after 1755) and J.F. Doles (whose motets include 15 for double chorus). Other composers include J.H. Rolle, who wrote more than 60 motets, and J.A. Hiller, whose funeral motet Alles Fleisch ist wie Gras was particularly admired.
It was not until well into the 19th century that the Protestant motet again attracted the greatest composers, and even then it rarely inspired their finest works. Mendelssohn wrote both Latin and German motets, but more important are the seven German motets, some to biblical texts, by Brahms (opp.29, 74 and 110) and his three Fest- und Gedenksprüche op.109, also to biblical words. These were published in the same year (1890) as the three motets op.110 and, like the first and last of that set, are scored for eight-part chorus, divided into two equal parts. The two earlier sets are deliberately archaic in their use of late Baroque chorale harmony, chorale prelude technique and Bachian counterpoint, and the effect is sometimes rather impersonal. The retrospective elements in the two later sets (e.g. the scoring for double chorus, their indebtedness to the German lied tradition, and the occasional modal harmonies) are more successfully absorbed into the composer’s personal style. Composed near the end of the 19th century, they occupy a position in the history of the German motet analogous to that of Verdi’s late examples in the much longer history of the Latin motet.
4. 20th century.
The motet was accorded a place of even less importance in the 20th century than in the 19th, at least by major composers. The Motu proprio of Pope Pius X (1903), as well as extolling Gregorian chant and the style of Palestrina as ‘the supreme model of all sacred music’, specifically laid down that
the antiphons of the Vespers must be as a rule rendered with the Gregorian melody proper to each. Should they, however, in some special case be sung in figured music, they must never have either the form of a concert melody or the fullness of a motet or a cantata.
The Motu proprio was directed mainly against the ‘theatrical style, which was in the greatest vogue, especially in Italy, during the last century’. The motets of G.F. Ghedini and Ettore Desderi in Italy and those of Florent Schmitt, d’Indy, Poulenc and Messiaen in France show in varying degrees the effects of Pius X’s reforms. Among later composers of Latin motets in Germany were J.N. David, Hermann Schroeder and Joseph Ahrens. The German Protestant motet is best represented by Reger, Arnold Mendelssohn, Heinrich Kaminski, Ernst Pepping and Hugo Distler.
In England the Renaissance conception of the motet as a short a cappella composition to a Latin text persisted into the 20th century; very few works, therefore, complement the orchestral motets of the Viennese school or the German Protestant motets of the 19th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Latin church music of Tallis and Byrd (like that of Palestrina and Lassus) had not only been cherished by antiquarians but also sung regularly (in translation) in Anglican churches and cathedrals and often reprinted. The Motett Society met regularly in London between 1841 and 1857 to rehearse works by early composers, and they published as ‘anthems’ with English words motets by Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons, Palestrina, Lassus and Victoria.
In the 20th century Latin motets began to be sung to their original words in Anglican services, but as far as original church music was concerned the motet naturally took second place to the anthem. Stanford’s three Latin motets op.38 (1905) – Justorum animae, Coelos ascendit and Beati quorum via – have established themselves in the repertory of most English cathedrals, and Edmund Rubbra (a Roman Catholic) successfully recaptured the flavour of Tudor (and earlier) styles in several of his motet compositions. Bernard Naylor’s nine motets of 1952 (to English texts), arranged as a cycle for the nine major feast days of the church year, are a landmark in the development of the motet in England.
A General. B Middle ages. C Renaissance: (i) Studies of sources (ii) History and development (iii) Structure and style. D After 1600: (i) France (ii) Germany and Italy (iii) Other studies.
- MGG2 (K. Kügle, L. Lütteken, A. Forchert and L. Finscher)
- H. Leichtentritt: Geschichte der Motette (Leipzig, 1908/R)
- H. Besseler: Die Musik des Mittelalters und der Renaissance (Potsdam, 1931/R)
- H.J. Moser: Die mehrstimmige Vertonung des Evangeliums, 1 (Leipzig, 1931/R)
- O. Ursprung: Die katholische Kirchenmusik (Potsdam, 1931/R)
- M.F. Bukofzer: Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music (New York, 1950)
- R. Dammann: ‘Geschichte der Begriffsbestimmung Motette’, AMw, 16 (1959), 337–77
- Anselm Hughes and G. Abraham, eds.: Ars Nova and the Renaissance, 1300–1540, NOHM, 3 (1960/R)
- E. Apfel: Beiträge zu einer Geschichte der Satztechnik von der frühen Motette bis Bach (Munich, 1964–5)
- H. Hüschen, ed.: Die Motette, Mw, 47 (1974; Eng. trans., 1976)
- W. Boetticher: Geschichte der Motette (Darmstadt, 1989)
- H. Schneider and H.-J. Winkler, eds.: Die Motette: Beiträge zu ihrer Gattungsgeschichte (Mainz, 1991)
- Hearing the Motet: St Louis 1994
- AdlerHM (‘Die geistliche nichtliturgische, weltliche einstimmige und die mehrstimmige Musik des Mittelalters’)
- F. Ludwig: ‘Die mehrstimmige Musik des 14. Jahrhunderts’, SIMG, 4 (1902–3), 16–69
- F. Ludwig: ‘Die 50 Beispiele Coussemaker’s aus der Handschrift von Montpellier’, SIMG, 5 (1903–4), 177–224
- P. Aubry: Introduction to Cent motets du XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1908)
- F. Ludwig: Repertorium organorum recentioris et motetorum vetustissimi stili, 1/1 (Halle, 1910); vols.i/2, ii ed. F. Gennrich, SMM, vii–viii (1961–2); vols.i/1, ii repr. in Musicological Studies, vii, xvii (Brooklyn, NY, 1964–72)
- H. Besseler: ‘Studien zur Musik des Mittelalters’, AMw, 7 (1925), 167–252; viii (1926), 137–258
- F. Gennrich: ‘Trouvèrelieder und Motettenrepertoire’, ZMw, 9 (1926–7), 8–39, 65–85
- H. Anglès: Introduction to El códex musical de Las Huelgas (Barcelona, 1931/R)
- C. van den Borren: Introduction to Polyphonia sacra: a Continental Miscellany of the Fifteenth Century (Burnham, Bucks., 1932, 2/1963)
- J. Handschin: ‘Zur Geschichte von Notre Dame’, AcM, 4 (1932), 5–17, 49–55, 104–5
- Y. Rokseth, ed.: Polyphonies du XIIIe siècle (Paris, 1935–9)
- E. Dannemann: Die spätgotische Musiktradition in Frankreich und Burgund vor dem Auftreten Dufays (Strasbourg, 1936/R)
- H. Husmann: ‘Die Motetten der Madrider Handschrift und deren geschichtliche Stellung’, AMf, 2 (1937), 173–84
- G. Kuhlmann: Die zweistimmigen französischen Motetten des Kodex Montpellier (Würzburg, 1938)
- G.D. Sasse: Die Mehrstimmigkeit der Ars Antiqua in Theorie und Praxis (Leipzig, 1940)
- H. Nathan: ‘The Function of Text in French 13th-Century Motets’, MQ, 28 (1942), 445–62
- J. Handschin: ‘The Summer Canon and its Background’, MD, 3 (1949), 55–94; v (1951), 65–113
- R.H. Hoppin: ‘Rhythm as a Structural Device in the Motet around 1400’, JAMS, 3 (1950), 157–8
- K.J. Levy: ‘New Material on the Early Motet in England’, JAMS, 4 (1951), 220–39
- A. Auda: Introduction to Les ‘motets wallons’ (Brussels, 1953)
- W. Apel: ‘Remarks about the Isorhythmic Motet’, L’Ars Nova: Wégimont II 1955, 139–48
- L. Schrade: ‘Unknown Motets in a Recovered Thirteenth-Century Manuscript’, Speculum, 30 (1955), 393–412
- G. Reichert: ‘Das Verhältnis zwischen musikalischer und textlicher Struktur in den Motetten Machauts’, AMw, 13 (1956), 197–216
- H. Tischler: ‘The Evolution of the Harmonic Style in the Notre-Dame Motet’, AcM, 28 (1956), 87–95
- F. Gennrich: Bibliographie der ältesten französischen und lateinischen Motetten, SMM, 2 (1957)
- R.H. Hoppin: ‘The Cypriot-French Repertory’, MD, 11 (1957), 79–125
- R.H. Hoppin: ‘A Fifteenth-Century “Christmas Oratorio”’, Essays on Music in Honor of Archibald Thompson Davison (Cambridge, MA, 1957), 41–9
- U. Günther: ‘The 14th-Century Motet and its Development’, MD, 12 (1958), 27–58
- E. Apfel: Studien zur Satztechnik der mittelalterlichen englischen Musik (Heidelberg, 1959)
- E. Apfel: ‘Über einige Zusammenhänge zwischen Text und Musik im Mittelalter, besonders in England’, AcM, 33 (1961), 47–54
- G. Birkner: ‘Motetus und Motette’, AMw, 18 (1961), 183–94
- U. Günther: ‘Das Wort-Ton-Problem bei Motetten des späten 14. Jahrhunderts’, Festschrift Heinrich Besseler, ed. E. Klemm (Leipzig, 1961), 163–78
- R.H. Hoppin: Introduction to The Cypriot-French Repertory of the Manuscript Torino, Biblioteca Nazionale, J.II.9, 2, CMM, xxi/2 (1961)
- G. Reicheit: ‘Wechselbeziehungen zwischen musikalischer und textlicher Struktur in der Motette des 13. Jahrhunderts’, In memoriam Jacques Handschin, ed. H. Anglés and others (Strasbourg, 1962), 151–69
- E.H. Sanders: ‘Peripheral Polyphony of the 13th Century’, JAMS, 17 (1964), 261–87
- U. Günther: Introduction to The Motets of the Manuscripts Chantilly, Musée Condé, 564 (olim 1047) and Modena, Biblioteca estense, α.M.5.24 (olim lat.568) (14th c.), CMM, 39 (1965)
- F. Mathiassen: The Style of the Early Motet (Copenhagen, 1966); see also reviews by E.H. Sanders, Notes, xxiv (1967–8), 33–6, and H. Tischler, JAMS, xx (1967), 489–92
- H. Husmann: ‘Ein Faszikel Notre-Dame-Kompositionen’, AMw, 24 (1967), 1–23
- E.H. Sanders: ‘Die Rolle der englischen Mehrstimmigkeit des Mittelalters in der Entwicklung von Cantus-firmus-Satz und Tonalitätsstruktur’, AMw, 24 (1967), 24–53
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Notre Dame Bilingual Motets: a Study in the History of Music c1215–1245’, MMA, 3 (1968), 50–144
- F.Ll. Harrison: Introduction to Motets of French Provenance, PMFC, 5 (1968)
- G. Anderson: The Latin Compositions in Fascicules VII and VIII of the Notre Dame Manuscript, Wolfenbüttel, Helmstadt 1099 (1206) (Brooklyn, NY, 1968–76)
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Clausulae or Transcribed Motets in the Florence Manuscript?’, AcM, 42 (1970), 109–28
- R. Hammerstein: ‘Über das gleichzeitige Erklingen mehrerer Texte’, AMw, 27 (1970), 257–86
- K. Hofmann: ‘Zur Entstehungs- und Frühgeschichte des Terminus Motette’, AcM, 42 (1970), 138–50
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Notre Dame Latin Double Motets ca.1215–1250’, MD, 25 (1971), 35–92
- K. Hofmann: Untersuchungen zur Kompositionstechnik der Motette im 13. Jahrhundert (Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1972)
- G.A. Anderson: ‘Motets of the Thirteenth-Century Manuscript La Clayette’, MD, 27 (1973), 11–40; xxviii (1974), 5–37
- E.H. Sanders: ‘The Medieval Motet’, Gattungen der Musik in Einzeldarstellungen: Gedenkschrift Leo Schrade, ed. W. Arlt and others (Berne, 1973), 497–573
- G.A. Anderson: Introduction to Motets of the Manuscript La Clayette, CMM, 68 (1975)
- K. von Fischer and F.A. Gallo: Introduction to Italian Sacred Music, PMFC, 12–13 (1976–87)
- G.A. Anderson: Introduction to Compositions of the Bamberg Manuscript, CMM, 75 (1977)
- H. Tischler: Introduction to The Montpellier Codex, RRMMA, 2–8 (1978–85)
- E.H. Sanders: Introduction to English Music of the Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries, PMFC, 14 (1979)
- F.Ll. Harrison: Introduction to Motets of English Provenance, PMFC, 15 (1980)
- N. Smith: ‘From Clausula to Motet: Material for Further Studies in the Origin and Early History of the Motet’, MD, 34 (1980), 29–65
- M. Bent: ‘Rota Versatilis: towards a Reconstruction’, Source Materials and the Interpretation of Music: a Memorial Volume to Thurston Dart, ed. I. Bent (London, 1981), 65–98
- P.M. Lefferts: ‘Two English Motets on Simon de Montfort’, EMH, 1 (1981), 203–25
- G.A. Anderson: Introduction to The Las Huelgas Manuscript, CMM, 79 (1982)
- H. Tischler: Introduction to The Earliest Motets (to circa 1270) (New Haven, CT, 1982)
- D. Leech-Wilkinson: ‘Related Motets from Fourteenth-Century France’, PRMA, 109 (1982–3), 1–22
- F.Ll. Harrison, E.H. Sanders and P.M. Lefferts: Introduction to English Music for Mass and Offices, PMFC, 16–17 (1983–6)
- M. Bent: ‘The Fourteenth-Century Italian Motet’, L’Europa e la musica del Trecento: Congresso IV: Certaldo 1984 [L’Ars nova italiana del Trecento, 6 (Certaldo, 1992)], 85–125
- H. Tischler: The Style and Evolution of the Earliest Motets (Henryville, PA, 1985)
- P.M. Lefferts: The Motet in England in the Fourteenth Century (Ann Arbor, 1986)
- D. Pesce: ‘The Significance of Text in Thirteenth-Century Latin Motets’, AcM, 58 (1986), 91–117
- W. Frobenius: ‘Zum genetischen Verhältnis zwischen Notre-Dame-Klauseln und ihren Motetten’, AMw, 44 (1987), 1–39
- D. Pesce: ‘A Revised View of the Thirteenth-Century Latin Double Motet’, JAMS, 40 (1987), 405–42
- D. Leech-Wilkinson: Compositional Techniques in the Four-Part Isorhythmic Motets of Philippe de Vitry and his Contemporaries (New York, 1989)
- C. Page: The Owl and the Nightingale: Musical Life and Ideas in France, 1100–1300 (London, 1989)
- M. Bent and D. Howlett: ‘Subtiliter alternare: the Yoxford Motet O amicus/Precursoris’, CMc, nos.45–7 (1990), 43–84
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- H.C. Slim: Introduction to A Gift of Madrigals and Motets (Chicago, 1972)
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- E.E. Lowinsky: Das Antwerpener Motettenbuch Orlando di Lasso’s und seine Beziehungen zum Motettenschaffen der niederländischen Zeitgenossen (diss., U. of Heidelberg, 1933); repr. in TVNM, xiv/3–4 (1935), 18–229; xv/1 (1936), 1–46; xv/2 (1937), 194–205; pubd separately (The Hague, 1937; Eng. trans. in Blackburn (1989), 358–431)
- W. Stephan: Die burgundisch-niederländische Motette zur Zeit Ockeghems (Kassel, 1937/R)
- O. Strunk: ‘Some Motet-Types of the 16th Century’, PAMS 1939, 155–60; repr. in Essays on Music in the Western World (New York, 1974), 108–13
- D. Launay: ‘A propos de quelques motets polyphoniques en l’honneur de Saint Martin: contribution à l’histoire du motet aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles’, RdM, 47 (1961), 67–80
- W. Kirsch: ‘Zum Verhältnis von Motettenstil und liturgisch-musikalischer Praxis im 16. Jahrhundert’, GfMKB: Leipzig 1966, 196–201
- T.L. Noblitt: ‘The Ambrosian Motetti missales Repertory’, MD, 22 (1968), 77–103
- R.J. Snow: ‘The Mass-Motet Cycle: a Mid-Fifteenth-Century Experiment’, Essays in Musicology in Honor of Dragan Plamenac, ed. G. Reese and R.J. Snow (Pittsburgh, 1969/R), 301–20
- A. Dunning: Die Staatsmotette 1480–1555 (Utrecht, 1970)
- W. Dehnhard: Die deutsche Psalmmotette in der Reformationszeit (Wiesbaden, 1971)
- L. Cuyler: ‘The Imperial Motet: Barometer of Relations between Church and State’, The Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion: Ann Arbor 1972, 483–96
- H. Benham: Latin Church Music in England, c. 1460–1575 (London, 1977)
- S. Burstyn: ‘Early 15th-Century Polyphonic Settings of Song of Songs Antiphons’, AcM, 49 (1977), 200–27
- W. Elders: ‘Humanism and Early-Renaissance Music: a Study of the Ceremonial Music by Ciconia and Dufay’, TVNM, 27 (1977), 65–101
- L. Lockwood: ‘Jean Mouton and Jean Michel: New Evidence on French Music and Musicians in Italy, 1505–1520’, JAMS, 32 (1979), 191–246
- A.M. Cummings: ‘Toward an Interpretation of the Sixteenth-Century Motet’, JAMS, 34 (1981), 43–59
- D. Harrán: ‘Stories from the Hebrew Bible in Music of the Renaissance’, MD, 37 (1983), 235–88
- D. Fallows: ‘The Performing Ensembles in Josquin’s Sacred Music’, TVNM, 35 (1985), 32–66
- P. Ludwig: Studien zum Motettenschaffen der Schüler Palestrinas (Regensburg, 1986)
- L.H. Ward: ‘The Motetti missales Repertory Reconsidered’, JAMS, 39 (1986), 491–523
- A.F. Carver: Cori spezzati, i: The Development of Sacred Polychoral Music to the Time of Schütz (Cambridge, 1988)
- M.Y. Fromson: Imitation and Innovation in the North-Italian Motet, 1560–1605 (diss., U. of Pennsylvania, 1988)
- J. van Benthem: ‘Lazarus versus Absalom: about Fiction and Fact in the Netherlands Motet’, TVNM, 39 (1989), 54–82
- B.J. Blackburn, ed.: E.E. Lowinsky: Music in the Culture of the Renaissance and Other Essays (Chicago, 1989)
- H.M. Brown: ‘The Mirror of Man’s Salvation: Music in Devotional Life about 1500’, Renaissance Quarterly, 43 (1990), 744–73
- G. Nugent: ‘Anti-Protestant Music for Sixteenth-Century Ferrara’, JAMS, 43 (1990), 228–91
- M.J. Bloxam: ‘La contenance italienne: the Motets on Beata es, Maria by Compère, Obrecht, and Brumel’, EMH, 11 (1992), 39–89
- J.E. Cumming: ‘Music for the Doge in Early Renaissance Venice’, Speculum, 67 (1992), 324–64
- J.T. Brobeck: ‘Some “Liturgical Motets” for the French Royal Court: a Reconsideration of Genre in the Sixteenth-Century Motet’, MD, 47 (1993), 123–57
- W. Elders: Symbolic Scores: Studies in the Music of the Renaissance (Leiden, 1994)
- P. Phillips: ‘Reconsidering Palestrina’, EMc, 22 (1994), 574–85
- J.T. Brobeck: ‘Musical Patronage in the Royal Chapel of France under Francis I (r. 1515–1547)’, JAMS, 48 (1995), 187–239
- P. Macey: ‘Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Musical Patronage in Milan: Compère, Weerbeke and Josquin’, EMH, 15 (1996), 147–212
- B.J. Blackburn: ‘For Whom do the Singers Sing?’, EMc, 25 (1997), 593–609
- T.M. Borgerding: The Motet and Spanish Religiosity, c 1550–1610 (diss., U. of Michigan, 1997)
- J. Noble: ‘Weerbeke’s Motet for the Temple of Peace’, Music in Renaissance Courts and Cities: Studies in Honor of Lewis Lockwood, ed. J.A. Owens and A.M. Cummings (Warren, MI, 1997), 227–40
- P. Macey: Bonfire Songs: Savonarola’s Musical Legacy (Oxford, 1998)
- B.J. Blackburn: ‘The Virgin in the Sun; Music and Image for a Prayer Attributed to Sixties IV’, JRMA, 124 (1999), 157–95
- J.E. Cumming: The Motet in the Age of Du Fay (Cambridge, 1999)
- A. Orel: ‘Einige Grundformen der Motettkompositionen im XV. Jahrhundert’, SMw, 7 (1920), 48–101
- E.E. Lowinsky: ‘Zur Frage der Deklamationsrhythmik in a-capella-Musik des 16. Jahrhunderts’, AcM, 7 (1935), 62–7
- M. van Crevel: ‘Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet?’, TVNM, 16/4 (1946), 253–304
- E.E. Lowinsky: Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet (New York, 1946/R)
- C. van den Borren: ‘Quelques réflexions à propos du style imitatif syntaxique’, RBM, 1 (1946–7), 14–20
- R. Dammann: ‘Spätformen der isorhythmischen Motette im 16. Jahrhundert’, AMw, 10 (1953), 16–40
- L. Finscher: ‘Zur Cantus-Firmus-Behandlung in der Psalm-Motette der Josquinzeit’, Hans Albrecht in memoriam, ed. W. Brennecke and H. Haase (Kassel, 1962), 55–62
- J. Kerman: ‘The Elizabethan Motet: a Study of Texts for Music’, Studies in the Renaissance, 9 (1962), 273–308
- E.H. Sparks: Cantus Firmus in Mass and Motet, 1420–1520 (Berkeley, 1963/R)
- S.W. Kenney: Walter Frye and the ‘Contenance angloise’ (New Haven, CT, 1964/R)
- J. Kerman: ‘Byrd, Tallis and the Art of Imitation’, Aspects of Medieval and Renaissance Music: a Birthday Offering to Gustave Reese, ed. J. LaRue and others (New York, 1966/R), 519–37
- W. Elders: Studien zur Symbolik in der Musik der alten Niederländer (Bilthoven, 1968)
- L. Finscher: ‘Zum Verhältnis von Imitationstechnik und Textbehandlung im Zeitalter Josquins’, Renaissance-Studien: Helmuth Osthoff zum 80. Geburtstag, ed. L. Finscher (Tutzing, 1979), 57–72
- W. Kirsch: ‘Zur Funktion der tripeltaktigen Abschnitte in den Motetten des Josquin-Zeitalters’, Renaissance-Studien: Helmuth Osthoff zum 80. Geburtstag, ed. L. Finscher (Tutzing, 1979), 145–57
- W. Kirkendale: ‘Circulatio-Tradition, Maria lactans, and Josquin as Musical Orator’, AcM, 56 (1984), 69–92
- D. Fallows: ‘The Contenance angloise: English Influence on Continental Composers of the Fifteenth Century’, Renaissance Studies, 1 (1987), 189–208
- R. Sherr: ‘Illibata Dei virgo nutrix and Josquin’s Roman Style’, JAMS, 41 (1988), 434–64
- T. Brothers: ‘Vestiges of the Isorhythmic Tradition in Mass and Motet, ca. 1450–1475’, JAMS, 44 (1991), 1–56
- R.M. Nosow: ‘The Equal-Discantus Motet Style after Ciconia’, MD, 45 (1991), 221–75
- M. Fromson: ‘A Conjunction of Rhetoric and Music: Structural Modelling in the Italian Counter-Reformation Motet’, JRMA, 117 (1992), 208–46
- C.C. Judd: ‘Modal Types and Ut, Re, Mi Tonalities: Tonal Coherence in Sacred Vocal Polyphony from about 1500’, JAMS, 45 (1992), 428–67
- R.M. Nosow: The Florid and Equal-Discantus Motet Styles of Fifteenth-Century Italy (diss., U. of North Carolina, 1992)
- M. Brenet: La musique sacrée sous Louis XIV (Paris, 1899)
- M. Brenet: ‘La musique dans les églises de Paris, de 1716 à 1738’, Tribune de Saint-Gervais, 8 (1902), 274–81; ix (1903), 71–5
- M. Brenet: ‘Notes sur l’introduction des instruments dans les églises de France’, Riemann-Festschrift (Leipzig, 1909/R), 277–86
- J.E. Richards: The ‘Grand Motet’ of the Late Baroque in France (diss., U. of Southern California, 1950)
- N. Dufourcq: ‘La musique religieuse française de 1660 à 1789’, ReM, no.222 (1953–4), 89–110
- A. Verchaly: ‘La musique religieuse française de Titelouze à 1660’, ReM, no.222 (1953–4), 77–88
- D. Launay: ‘Les motets à double choeur en France dans la première moitié du XVIIe siècle’, RdM, 39–40 (1957), 173–95
- M. Garros: ‘La musique religieuse en France de 1600 à 1750’, Histoire de la musique, ed. Roland-Manuel, 1 (Paris, 1960), 1591–613
- D. Launay: ‘A propos de quelques motets polyphoniques en l’honneur de Saint-Martin’, RdM, 47 (1961), 67–80
- D. Launay: Introduction to Anthologie du motet latin polyphonique en France (1609–1661), PSFM, 1st ser., 17 (1963)
- M. Benoit: Versailles et les musiciens du roi, 1661–1733 (Paris, 1971)
- J. Duron: ‘Le grand motet: Rameau face à ses contemporains’, Jean-Philippe Rameau: Dijon 1983, 331–70
- Le grand motet français: Paris 1984
- J.R. Mongrédien, ed.: Catalogue thématique des sources du grand motet français (1663–1792) (Munich, 1984)
- E. Hehr: ‘An Anonymous Motet Manuscript in Brossard’s Library’, MR, 47 (1986), 77–88
- H. Vidal: ‘Le grand motet aux états de Languedoc: note sur la vie musicale à Montpellier au XVIII siècle’, RMFC, 26 (1988–90), 222–30
- L. Sawkins: ‘Chronology and Evolution of the grand motet at the Court of Louis XIV: Evidence from the Livres du roi and the Works of Perrin, the sous-maîtres and Lully’, Jean-Baptiste Lully and the Music of the French Baroque: Essays in Honor of James R. Anthony, ed. J.H. Heyer and others (Cambridge, 1989), 41–79
- D. Launay: La musique religieuse en France du Concile de Trente à 1804 (Paris, 1993)
- M. Seiffert: Introduction to Thüringische Motetten der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, DDT, xlix–l (1915/R)
- F. Blume: Das monodische Prinzip in der protestantischen Kirchenmusik (Leipzig, 1925/R)
- M. Schneider: Preface to Altbachisches Archiv, EDM, 1st ser., 1–2 (1935/R)
- D. Arnold: ‘The Significance of “Cori Spezzati”’, ML, 40 (1959), 4–14
- S.H. Hansell: ‘Sacred Music at the Incurabili in Venice at the Time of J.A. Hasse’, JAMS, 23 (1970), 282–301, 505–21
- K. Fischer: Die Psalmkompositionen in Rom um 1600 (ca. 1570–1630) (Regensburg, 1979)
- D. Arnold: ‘The Solo Motet in Venice (1625–1775)’, PRMA, 106 (1979–80), 56–68
- G. Dixon: ‘The Origins of the Roman “Colossal Baroque”’, PRMA, 106 (1979–80), 115–28
- G. Dixon: ‘Progressive Tendencies in the Roman Motet during the Early Seventeenth Century’, AcM, 53 (1981), 105–19
- J. Whenham: Duet and Dialogue in the Age of Monteverdi (Ann Arbor, 1982)
- G. Dixon: ‘Oratorio o mottetto? Alcune riflessioni sulla classificazione della musica sacra del Seicento’, NRMI, 17 (1983), 203–22
- J. Roche: North Italian Church Music in the Age of Monteverdi (Oxford, 1984)
- C.J. Westendorf: The Textual and Musical Repertoire of the Spruchmotette (DMA diss., U. of Illinois, 1987)
- W. Steinbeck: ‘Motettisches und madrigalisches Prinzip in der geistlichen Musik der Schütz-Zeit: Monteverdi–Schütz–Schein’, Schütz-Jb 1989, 5–14
- W. Steude: ‘Der galante Motettenstil seit dem ausgehenden 17. Jahrhundert und Johannn Sebastian Bach’, Das Frühwerk Johann Sebastian Bachs: Rostock 1990, 203–16
- R.L. Kendrick: ‘Sonet vox tua in auribus meis: Song of Songs Exegesis and the Seventeenth-Century Motet’, Schütz-Jb 1994, 99–118
- A. Adrio: Die Anfänge des geistlichen Konzerts (Berlin, 1935)
- A.E. Schröder: De meerstemmige muziek op de Lamentaties van Jeremia van de 15. tot de 18. eeuw (diss., U. of Leuven, 1948)
- W.K. Morgan: The Chorale Motet from 1650 to 1750 (diss., U. of Southern California, 1956)
- A. Lewis and N. Fortune, eds.: Opera and Church Music 1630–1750, NOHM, 5 (1975)
- T.W. Bolton: A History and Survey of the Baroque Solo Motet for One Solo Voice outside of Italy (diss., North Texas State U., 1980)
- E.P. Schwandt: ‘The Motet in New France: some 17th- and 18th-Century Manuscripts in Quebec’, FAM, 28 (1981), 194–219
- T.F. Taylor: ‘The Spanish High Baroque Motet and Villancico: Style and Performance’, EMc, 12 (1984), 64–73
- I. Fellinger: ‘Zur Situation geistlicher Musik in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts’, HJbMw, 8 (1985), 223–36
- F. Noske: Music Bridging Divided Religions: the Motet in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic (Wilhelmshaven and New York, 1989)
- E. Lemaître, ed.: Guide de la musique sacrée et chorale profane (Paris, 1992)
B: Middle Ages
For further bibliography see Organum.