The Evolution of the Motet Essay

1284 Words Oct 17th, 2013 6 Pages
The Evolution of the Motet

The Evolution of the Motet
Throughout the history of music, there have been few styles that not only have opened doors to masterwork compositions in their own genres, but have also led the way to other musical techniques over the musical eras and one of these magical music styles is the motet. The motet can easily be confused with other musical structures but what separates the motet from other types of group-performance based styles of music is "a piece of music in several parts with words."1 This is the closest definition of motet as can be said without overgeneralization and will operate from the beginning of the 13th century well into the late 16th century and beyond. Some scholars
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Instead of being isorhythmic like the medieval era, the Renaissance motet was set polyrhythmically. It was defined by occasional imitative counterpoint of a Latin text, but not primarily, and therefore fitting for use in any context. The stylistic expansion of the Flemish motet is of extreme relativity to the importance it plays in other musical stylings, because the motet provided the most fertile soil for the majority of improvements and innovations in musical style. The most interesting aspect of the Flemish motet in comparison to its Medieval counterpart is the ever-increasing use of imitation as the style progresses. It is in fact so prominent that the use of such imitation will later be coined the “Motet Style.”3 Prominent pioneer composers of the Renaissance era and Flemish motets were William Byrd, Francisco Guerrero, and Jean Mouton and they instituted such polyrhythmic, sacred texts into the medieval motet mold laid out before them. Josquin was possibly the most influential of this time because of his full understanding and subtle yet explicit use of the imitation in both homophonic sections and in free counterpoint. As the Flemish motets declined and the Baroque motets grew in strength, as did the meaning of motet as a whole. Not only were motets no longer a Capella, but also the convention of solo voices and stringed instruments gained momentum. Motets in the new Baroque period were split into two types: petits motets and Grands motets. Petits

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