Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The name comes either from the Latin movere, ("to move") or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." If from the Latin, the name describes the movement of the different voices against one another.
According to Margaret Bent (1997), "'a piece of music in several parts with words' is as precise a definition of the motet as will serve from the thirteenth to the late sixteenth century and beyond. This is actually very close to one of the earliest descriptions we have, that of the late thirteenth-century theorist Johannes de Grocheio ."
The earliest motets arose, in the thirteenth century (Bent, 1997), out of the organum tradition exemplified in the Notre Dame school of Leonin and Pérotin. The motet arose from discant (clausula) sections, usually strophic interludes, in a longer sequence of organum, to which upper voices were added. Usually the discant represented a strophic sequence in Latin which was sung as a discant over a cantus firmus, which typically was a Gregorian chant fragment with different words from the discant. The motet took a definite rhythm from the words of the verse, and as such appeared as a brief rhythmic interlude in the middle of the longer, more chantlike organum.
The practice of discant over a cantus firmus marked the beginnings of counterpoint in Western music. From these first motets arose a medieval tradition of secular motets. These were two or three part compositions in which several different texts, sometimes in different vernacular languages, were sung simultaneously over a Latin cantus firmus that once again was usually adapted from a passage of Gregorian chant. It is suspected that, for the sake of intelligibility, in performance the cantus firmus and one or another of the vocal lines were performed on instruments.
Increasingly in the 14th and 15th centuries, motets tended to be isorhythmic; that is, they employed repeated rhythmic patterns in all voices—not just the cantus firmus—which did not necessarily coincide with repeating melodic patterns. Philippe de Vitry was one of the earliest composers to use this technique, and his work evidently had an influence on that of Guillaume de Machaut, one of the most famous named composers of late medieval motets.
The name of the motet was preserved in the transition from medieval to Renaissance music, but the character of the composition was entirely changed. While it grew out of the medieval isorhythmic motet, the Renaissance composers of the motet generally abandoned the use of a repeated figure as a cantus firmus. Guillaume Dufay was a transitional figure; he wrote one of the last motets in the medieval, isorhythmic style, the Nuper rosarum flores which premiered in 1436 and was written to commemorate the completion of Filippo Brunelleschi's dome in the Cathedral of Florence. During this time, however, the use of canti firmi in works such as the parody mass tended to stretch the cantus firmus out to great lengths compared to the multivoice descant above it; this tended to obscure the rhythm supplied by the cantus firmus that is apparent in the medieval isorhythmic motet. The cascading, passing chords created by the interplay between multiple voices, and the absence of a strong or obvious beat, are the features that distinguish medieval and renaissance vocal styles.
Instead, the Renaissance motet is a short polyphonic musical setting in imitative counterpoint, for chorus, of a religious text not specifically connected to the liturgy of a given day, and therefore suitable for use in any service. The texts of antiphons were frequently used as motet texts. This is the sort of composition that is most familiarly named by the name of "motet," and the Renaissance period marked the flowering of the form.
In essence, these motets were sacred madrigals. The relationship between the two forms is most obvious in the composers who concentrated on sacred music, especially Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose "motets" setting texts from the Canticum Canticorum, the Biblical "Song of Solomon," are among the most lush and madrigal-like of Palestrina's compositions, while his "madrigals" that set poems of Petrarch in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary would not be out of place in church. The language of the text was the decisive feature: if it's Latin, it's a motet; if the vernacular, a madrigal. Religious compositions in vernacular languages were often called madrigali spirituali, "spiritual madrigals." Secular motets continued to be written; these motets typically set a Latin text in praise of a monarch or commemorating some public triumph; the themes of courtly love often found in the medieval secular motet were banished from the Renaissance motet. This was one of the pre-eminent forms of Renaissance music. Other important composers of Renaissance motets include:
- Alexander Agricola
- Gilles Binchois
- Antoine Busnois
- William Byrd
- Loyset Compčre
- Josquin Des Prez
- John Dunstable
- Antoine de Févin
- Francisco Guerrero
- Nicolas Gombert
- Heinrich Isaac
- Pierre de La Rue
- Orlando di Lasso
- Cristóbal de Morales
- Jean Mouton
- Jacob Obrecht
- Johannes Ockeghem
- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
- Thomas Tallis
- John Taverner
- Tomás Luis de Victoria
In the latter part of the 16th century, Giovanni Gabrieli and other composers developed a new style, the polychoral motet, in which two or more choirs of singers (or instruments) alternated. This style of motet was sometimes called the Venetian motet to distinguish it from the Netherlands or Flemish motet written elsewhere.
The name "motet" was preserved into Baroque music, especially in France, where the word was applied to petits motets, sacred choral compositions whose only accompaniment was a basso continuo; and grands motets, which included instruments up to and including a full orchestra. Jean-Baptiste Lully was an important composer of this sort of motet. Lully's motets often included parts for soloists as well as choirs; they were longer, including multiple movement in which different soloist, choral, or instrumental forces were employed. Lully's motets also continued the Renaissance tradition of semi-secular Latin motets in works such as Plaude Laetare Gallia, written to celebrate the baptism of King Louis XIV's son; its text by Pierre Perrin begins:
- Plaude laetare Gallia
- Rore caelesti rigantur lilia,
- Sacro Delphinus fonte lavatur
- Et christianus Christo dicatur.
- (Rejoice and sing, France: the lily is bathed with heavenly dew. The Dauphin is bathed in the sacred font, and the Christian is dedicated to Christ.)
In Germany, too, pieces called motets were written in the new musical languages of the Baroque. Heinrich Schütz wrote many motets in a series of publications called Symphoniae sacrae , some in Latin and some in German.
- BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (1726)
- BWV 226 Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf (1729)
- BWV 227 Jesu, meine Freude (?)
- BWV 228 Fürchte dich nicht (?)
- BWV 229 Komm, Jesu, komm! (1730 ?)
- BWV 230 Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden (?)
The motet since Bach
In the 19th century German composers continued to write motets occasionally, notably Johannes Brahms (in German) and Anton Bruckner (in Latin). French composers of motets included Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck. Similar compositions in the English language are called anthems, but some later English composers, such as Charles Villiers Stanford, wrote motets in Latin. The majority of these compositions are a cappella, but some are accompanied by organ.
- Margaret Bent (1997). "The late-medieval motet", Companion to Medieval & Renaissance Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198165404.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details