In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there was a flourishing of culture in the Netherlands with the rise of humanism and the patronage of the Dukes of Burgundy. With the advances in trade and commerce, there was also a general prosperity which contributed to the wealth of artistic endeavors. This extra capital the Netherlanders spent not only on domestic genre paintings for their walls, but also aural stimulation in the form of music. Visitors to Antwerp commented on the omnipresence of music, whether in processions, churches, or flowing out of windows to the pleasure of passersby on the street. Netherlandish music was not just important in the homes of the middle class, however, it was indispensable in the courts of nobles and kings, and Franco-Flemish composers of the time were sought after by rulers from the Pope to the Kings of France. Such composers as Guillaume Dufay, Josquin des Prez, Johannes Okeghem, and Orlando di Lasso were among those in Netherlandish school who were instrumental in the rise of choral polyphony; they were the indisputable leaders of the style in their time and contributed invaluably to the development of Western music.
[...] These two developments went hand in hand, for in fauxbourdon compositions, the cantus firmus is found in the topmost voice or superius rather than the tenor, and it was this melody which was incorporated into all the parts of the mass to achieve unification. Dufay worked in both Italy and France, employed by the Burgundian court, but is most closely associated with the cathedral of Cambrai. He was proficient in both sacred and secular music and was actually known as a poet as well as a composer. [...]
[...] This period marks the end of Franco-Flemish leadership in the world of music and the rise of the great Italian composers, as well as the Spanish school of Church composers. It is interesting that the Italians, who are commonly most associated with polyphony, were in fact inheriting the style from Flemish composers who had come to work in Italy. It is to them that we owe the birth of the madrigal; the Franco-Flemish composers were the vital link that helped music to break out of the Church chanting tradition and give it a direction in which to develop through the Renaissance into the Baroque and beyond. [...]
[...] This talent was summed up in the words of Martin Luther, who said of him, “Other composers do what they can with the notes, but Josquin does what he wishes.” Orlando di Lasso: Also known under the Latinized form, Orlandus Lassus, this composer is considered by some to be the greatest representative of the Flemish school. He was for sure the last of the great Flemings as the creative output was soon taken over by first the Dutch with the fall of Antwerp and the rise of Amsterdam, and then the Italians. Born in Mons in 1532, Lasso spent his formative years in Sicily, Milan, and Naples before returning to the Low Countries to Antwerp where some of his first publications appeared in 1556. [...]
[...] This practice was also forbidden, however, by Pope Pius X in the Motu Proprio because the troping had reached such a point that the words had become nonsensical and incomprehensible. Ulrich and Pisk 57. Ulrich and Pisk 58. Ulrich and Pisk 59. Manfred F. Bukofzer, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1950) 177. Bukofzer 180. Homer and Pisk 78. Chailley 154. The tessitura is the general position, as to pitch, of the tones of a composition. [...]
[...] “With the introduction of polyphony, only the sections which the chant had intended for soloists were recast for two or more voices, while the rest remained choral monophony.” The first known piece of truly choral polyphony was written in 1426 by Guillaume Legrant. The chorus still sang in a more chordal style, however, whereas the solo parts had more complex rhythms and harmonies. Once established, choral polyphony developed at a rapid pace, especially in the Burgundian territories. The Franco-Flemish composers were important in the emergence of the practice of simultaneous composing with specific voices in mind. [...]
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