Kyrie. ex. Guillaume de Machaut, La messe de Nostre Dame: Ite, missa est. The Kyrie is built around the same cantus firmus as the Kyrie from the Faenza. Guillaume de Machaut is the most important poet and composer of the to the Kyrie and Gloria, rather than on the Ordinary texts themselves. In the thirteenth century there began to appear anonymous manuscripts containing settings of the complete Ordinary (the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus.

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Machaut composed his Messe de Nostre Dame for the Cathedral at Reims where he served as a canon, a permanent member of the clergy. Stylistically it was utterly different kyre the other principal liturgical polyphonic form of the time, organumin which the voices usually moved at different speeds; in conductusthe voices sang together, in a style also known as discant.

Kyrie : Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

In general, most probably because of convention, or, in dynamics’ case, macuaut further emphasise the harmonic qualities of the music through neutrality, expressive techniques seem to be more up to the performer than the composer, and dynamic variation is non-existent.

The modern setting of the Mass would be much more spaced, using an upper voice in addition, however the cause of this could be the patriarchal nature of Medieval society, thus removing a soprano part, and the low quality of boy singers, eliminating the treble part.

Perhaps because two or three generations ago it sounded so splendid, new — exotic, almost. See Robertson, Anne Walters.

Where most movements see the use of rhythmic texturing, and a lack of rhythmic unity that complement each other quite well, the Gloria and Credo sees for the most part unified rhythm.

Polyphonic settings of sections of the Ordinary of the Mass are found in an eleventh-century manuscript known as the Winchester Troperbut these focus on tropes added to the Kyrie and Gloriarather than on the Ordinary amchaut themselves.

Regarding the use of instruments: According to a rubric found at the Cathedral, it would have likely been performed for the Saturday Lady Mass. An example of this kind of scribally-created cycle is the Tournai Massso called from its appearance in a manuscript now in Tournai.

The sum quotient is, although we have this mass and can read its notation, we cannot really know what Machaut intended it to sound like; there is not enough support material outside of its sources to tell us that.

Messe de Nostre Dame – Wikipedia

There have been dozens for recordings of the complete Mass and even more incomplete recordings, but most are out of print today. There are currently fewer than a dozen recordings in the catalog; these do not include the one by Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica, an iconic recording central to the early music revival.


Kyrie from the Messe de Nostre Dame. I prefer all male ensembles, singing one voice to a part, and this is not that kind of group. In his later years he began a relationship with a young woman named Peronne. Where the Kyrie is homogeneous in texture, without much need for articulation and with a consistent dynamic for all 8 of its minutes, besides some welcome off-beat rhythmic deviation in the first Kyrie, the Gloria, with a vastly greater number of words and a shorter running time, is given a lighter treatment, with the exception of the 2-page ‘Amen’ melisma at its end.

Timbre does not change throughout the Mass, as vocal settings do not involve a change in instruments, and tone of voice is not altered throughout, as this was not conventional, as the voice was the most effective instrument for the cathedral acoustics at the time.

The six sections included here are not related musically, so they were almost certainly brought together by the scribe or someone else associated with the compilation of the manuscript. View all posts by f. See below two excerpts from David Fallows. The foundational music of Christian worship in medieval Europe was Gregorian chantwhich was monophonica single melodic line without accompaniment.

But when listening to this mass, if it weren’t for the juicy harmonies, it is easy to see how it may be boring, as there is little variation in dynamics during the entire duration of the mass. Of particular interest is the use of lengthy melismas in the throughout the mass, particularly in the Kyrie. Email required Address never made public.

Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: It holds its own with all other available recordings. It is possible that Machaut was familiar with the Tournai Massan even earlier polyphonic 14th-century mass setting in which each movement is believed to have been written independently by different composers.

Since even before Machaut’s time, Mass settings would be always performed solely by voice, and only until the development of the pipe organ did the concept of instrumental accompaniment to the consistent vocal timbre.

Missa de Notre Dame (Machaut, Guillaume de)

Top voice again omitted. Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is for four voices rather than the more common three. This is a remarkably unified, and hence profoundly satisfying, account.

Precisely analogous figures appear in these voices and in the other two voices elsewhere in both movements kachaut points where all editors have agreed on a fully vocal homophonic rendering; moreover the text underlay, mcahaut is reasonably precise in the manuscripts, does not stop at those sections.

Vocal timbre also exploits the acoustics of a cathedral, the common venue for performances of this mass, particularly the enveloping reverberation, that neutralises the timbre further. For the most part, these early Mass movements appear to have been machautt independently, and they survive in the manuscripts organized by text: It is from their correspondence that we begin to have record of the notion of reading music from a notated score – a novel idea in the fourteenth century.


There was nothing – a repeating motive, or a similarity in compositional style – that tied the individual parts together. This form of Mass setting, of polyphony versus unison or organum had come to rise only in machaaut century, though its development has its roots in gregorian chant and organum.

Original Partbook of Machaut’s Mass. But these wise musicians are also at one with the novelty and innovative impact which the mass must have made when first sung. This ranges from general remarks about poetics and other aesthetic concepts to details about the composition of particular pieces, questions about their fixing and transmission in writing and their realization in sound.

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Perhaps this makes more sense in a 14th century context, and within the acoustics that this mass would be sung in. In his later years, Machaut set about the task of compiling his life’s work for posterity. Three soloists sing new music polyphonically with ornamentation. Why Guillaume composed it has been subject of a heated debate in musicological circles for some time. This gesture by Machaut imposed on the Ordinary a previously unconsidered abstract artistic idea, and potentially influenced composers throughout the ages to continue setting the Ordinary to stylistically coherent music.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Later scholarship, using the name as an entrypoint and confirmed by the use of Kyrie IV as a cantus-firmus, felt that the Mass was written for a Marian feast day, such as the Nativity.

It was written in an age — the calamitous fourteenth kgrie — when belief and kyrle may have been the only certainties; so to have emphasised them with strenuous vocal textures and driving melodic lines would have been, perhaps, implicitly to undermine the strength of belief and devotion, which had to be taken for granted.

Naxos Early Music-Alte Musik 8. Yet as much as an object of beauty and wonder as a rather austere — No, restrained — service. Machaut composed all parts.