Mass as a genre of middle ages music is spanned well in the page that introduced the music of the middle Ages and in ours slideshow study guide, but the compositional an approach used to compose all masses in this duration is worth extr study. This content goes a small deeper right into the cantus firmus method of composition than important for this class, but it serves to highlight the level to which middle ages composers feeling it vital to build on the past.

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Pieces of new music started with a pre-exisiting melody and constructed everything else roughly it. Our principle of a composer who creates something entirely original merely wasn’t existing in the minds of medieval musicians. You’ll view this mindset begin to readjust as we get into the later on Renaissance. This present melody was dubbed a “cantus firmus.”


In music, a cantus firmus (“fixed song”) is a pre-existing melody forming the communication of a polyphonic composition.


The more quickly polyphonic compositions nearly always associated a cantus firmus, typically a Gregorian chant, although the hatchet itself was not offered until the 14th century. The earliest making it through polyphonic compositions, in the Musica enchiriadis (around advertisement 900), save on computer the hymn in the height voice, and the freshly composed component underneath; yet this usage changed around 1100, after i m sorry the cantus firmus typically showed up in the lowest-sounding voice. Later, the cantus firmus appeared in the tenor voice (from the Latin verb tenere, come hold), to sing notes of much longer duration, roughly which much more florid lines, crucial and/or vocal, to be composed.

Composition using a cantus firmus continued to be the norm with the thirteenth century: almost every one of the music of the St. Martial and also Notre Dame schools uses a cantus firmus, and most thirteenth-century motets. Countless of this motets were composed in number of languages, v the cantus firmus in the shortest voice; the text of love poems might be sung in the vernacular above sacred Latin texts in the form of a trope, or the sacred text could be sung to a acquainted secular melody.

In the fourteenth century, the technique continued to it is in widely offered for many sacred vocal music, with considerable regional variation.

The cyclic mass, which became the standard form of mass composition about the center of the fifteenth century, supplied cantus firmus an approach as its commonest arranging principle. At an initial the cantus firmus was nearly always attracted from plainchant, but the variety of sources gradually widened to include other spiritual sources and also even sometimes popular songs. The cantus firmus to be at first restricted to the tenor, but by the finish of the century many composers experimented through other ways of making use of it, together as introducing it right into each voice together a contrapuntal subject, or utilizing it with a range of rhythms. Throughout the 16th century the cantus firmus technique began to be abandoned, changed with the parody (or imitation) technique, in which multiple voices that a pre-existing source were integrated into a sacred composition such together a mass.

Probably the many widely collection of the secular cantus firmus melodies was “L’homme armé.” end 40 setups are known, consisting of two by Josquin des Prez, and six by an anonymous composer or composers in Naples, which to be intended together a cycle. Plenty of composers that the middle and late Renaissance created at least one mass based on this melody, and also the practice lasted right into the ten century, with a late setting by Carissimi. There are number of theories concerning the an interpretation of the name: one argues that the “armed man” represents St Michael the Archangel, while one more suggests the it refers to the name of a renowned tavern (Maison L’Homme Armé) close to Dufay’s rooms in Cambrai. Being the this music emerged shortly after the loss of Constantinoplein 1453, it is feasible that the text “the armed man must be feared” occurred from the fear of the footrest Turks, that were widening militarily towards main Europe. There are countless other examples of secular cantus firmi used for ingredient of masses; several of the most famed include: “Se la confront ay pale” (Dufay), “Fortuna desperata” (attributed come Antoine Busnois), “Fors seulement” (Johannes Ockeghem), “Mille Regretz,” “Pange lingua” (Josquin), and “Westron Wynde” (anonymous).

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German composers in the Baroque period in Germany, notably Bach, supplied chorale melodies together cantus firmi. In the opening activity of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, the chorale “O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig” shows up in lengthy notes, sung by a separate choir of guys “in ripieno.” countless of his chorale preludes include a chorale tune in the pedal part.