The Motet

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The motet has been defined by scholars in various ways, including by Margaret Bent as simply "a piece of music in several parts with words," a definition that applies from the Thirteenth Century onwards (Bent 1992: 114). It is generally used to refer to sacred choral works, usually of a polyphonic nature (Nosow 2012: 1), but later in the Renaissance Era, compositions became more varied in subject and style, as the motet transformed from its cantus firmus-based, isorhythmic origins to a more free and often secular genre. Despite these vast changes, as Robert Nosow points out, Motets almost exclusively used Latin text, which demonstrates that a degree of prestige has always been associated with the style (Nosow 2012: 84).

The early renaissance
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This refers to the quadrivium, a selection four liberal arts subjects – arithmetic, geometry, music and cosmology – thought to be of considerable value ‘from antiquity to the Renaissance’ (Martineau 2011: 1). The motet also became secularised through the fusion of the genre with secular styles, most notably the chanson. Motet-chansons, otherwise known as ‘song motets’ were developed in Milan in the late Fifteenth Century (Sherr 2000: 336) and can be seen as a transitionary form between the sacred and secular motet. They were often through-composed, lacking the ‘internal markers or repetitions of stanzaic song forms’ (Nosow 2012: 210) and the tenor sang a slow cantus firmus in typical sacred fashion while the upper voices used a faster-paced, secular chanson text (Sherr 2000: 336). However, a piece such as Ockeghem’s Mort tu as navré (1460), despite using chanson features such as ballade form and text in the vernacular, is considered to be chanson-motet, due to the retention of motet tropes such as the setting of two texts and the presence of a cantus firmus (Sanders et al., 2007-17). While the motet-chanson style could have arisen from a growing sense of tedium regarding orthodox sacred works, it was most likely simply an attempt to find an effective combination between two popular genres, as composers such as Ockeghem continued to use some of the most traditional features, such as the cantus firmus, in their chanson-motets. John Dunstaple and Leonel Power were among the composers of the motet-chanson, and both also typically used secular text, as was the English style (Sanders et al., 2007-17). Notably the motet also borrowed tropes from the tenor mass, and, later in the century, the madrigal (Sanders et al., 2007-17). Even as

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