Comparison of 15th Century Renaissance Vocal Music
By closely analyzing music and comparing the scores of musical works, one can gain a much more thorough understanding for them, as well as the scope of the music from the composer’s perspective. Through examining two 15th-century vocal works: the chanson entitled De plus en plus by Gilles Binchois and the Agnus Dei from Johannes Ockeghem's Missa De plus en plus, there is much that can be said in this respect. The first part will be looking at the Binchois melody that serves as the cantus firmus for the Agnus Dei of Ockeghem's Missa, and how the Tenor part of the cantus firmus is either missing notes, or has some notes added. And an in-depth look at the musical and stylistic features will try to explain why the Ockeghem composition sounds more "modern" than the Binchois chanson on which it is based.
A large number of added notes in the cantus firmus of the Agnus Dei are accounted through rhythmic imitation of the uppermost voice. Ockeghem liked to mimic the rhythmic patterns of the melodic line, and placed them into the Tenor. One such example can be found in the fifth and sixth bars of the Missa. Here, added notes are seen in the Tenor that are between the numbered notes of the borrowed Binchois melody. These notes have the same rhythmic values as the upper voices, especially the D to C as a dotted half note to quarter note, which is an imitation of the two upper voices just two beats before it. Another instance can be found between 26 and 27 of the borrowed melodic notes in the Tenor. The run from low D to high D is in the same dotted half to quarter pattern that was previously mentioned, and runs in parallel with the upper voices in the second half of the run. The significance of this technique is to emphasize the importance of the cantus, drawing attention away from the melodic lines so the listener can appreciate the textures and inner harmonies of the piece.
Another pattern that can explain the addition...