Musical Rhetoric in the Multi-Voice Chansons of Josquin des Prez and His Contemporaries (c. 1500-c. 1520)
The first quarter of the sixteenth century witnessed tightening connections between rhetoric, poetry, and music. In theoretical writings, composers of this period are evaluated according to their ability to reflect successfully the emotions and meaning of the text set in musical terms. The same period also witnessed the rise of the five- and six-voice chanson, whose most important exponents are Josquin des Prez, Pierre de La Rue, and Jean Mouton. The new expanded textures posed several compositional challenges but also offered greater opportunities for text expression. Rhetorical analysis is particularly suitable for this repertory as it is justified by the composers' contacts with humanistic ideals and the newer text-expressive approach. Especially Josquin's exposure to humanism must have been extensive during his long-lasting residence in Italy, before returning to Northern France, where he most likely composed his multi-voice chansons. The present dissertation explores the musico-rhetorical resources that demonstrate how composers read and interpreted contemporary poetic texts in conjunction with their efforts to accommodate larger textures in the secular domain. Musical rhetoric is thus understood as the totality of musical gestures that aim to secure a successful delivery of musical speech.
Musico-rhetorical analysis of the repertory demonstrates that composers of the time read more in the poetry they set than the rhyme scheme and the syntax of the verses. They responded, albeit by various and subtle musical means, to the semantic implications of the text, its bawdy, serious, or mixed register, to the changes from indirect speech to personal declaration or third-person address, to the sonorous quality of the verse and its projection through the expanded polyphonic fabric, and to the resonances of the text with other texts or musical settings. Especially in chansons in the courtly register, composers frequently employed gestures derived form classical rhetoric either to alert the listener to a specific textual point or to weave meaningful connections that project the larger argument of the text. The expanded texture functioned as a multi-layered canvas on which multiple readings of the text were juxtaposed in intricate relationships.
School:University of Cincinnati
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:french chanson multi voice chansons for five and six voices josquin la rue mouton early sixteenth century rhetoric musical rhetorical figures poetry music intertextuality analysis
Date of Publication:01/01/2008