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Define: Motet

  • Jan 1, 1170

    Perotinus's modernization of Lenoninus's Magnus liber

    Perotinus's  modernization of Lenoninus's Magnus liber
    The Great Book of Organum containing the discant clausulae of Gregorian chant.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1175 to Jan 1, 1375

    the Notre Dame tradition

  • Jan 1, 1204

    The original motet. Ars Antiqua.

    The original motet. Ars Antiqua.
    Poetic text is applied to duplum of clausula to create the motet. Tenor and duplum only. This litterature beckoned the invention of mensural notation (beyond ligatures).
    The addition of new text to old melodies, and unbalanced repetition created unbalanced versus that characterized the motet.
  • Jan 1, 1250

    Division and Death of French and Latin motets

    The French double motet (triplum and tenor) outnumber Latin double motets by a ratio of four to one. The macaronic/bilingual double motet and triple motet also grabbed some attention. All of these motets had a new rhythmic mode with tendency of subdivision. The lack of clarity or direction in the genre of double motet led to a lack of enthusiasm.
  • Jan 1, 1250

    English composers persue Latin motet

    The Latin motet, monotextual Latin motet, and Latin double motet, all favor plain chant and pes, a reinterpreted cantus firmus, with untexted duplum. The latter choice avoids excessive rhythmic complications.
  • Jan 1, 1275

    Notre Dame ocifies notariety, but loses power.

    Notre Dame ocifies notariety, but loses power.
    With the technology of mensural notation the Notre Dame compositions are internationally disseminated. The tradition has impacted motet performance everywhere but is no longer a leader in the tradition.
  • Jan 1, 1320

    French Ars Nova motets

    French Ars Nova motets
    Two virtuosic upper voices of the same range sing strophic, rhythmically unlimited poetry above a slow moving tenor reciting the cantus firmus, most often in Latin.
    Many compositions are anonymous, but Vitry and de Pestain are two names of the era.
  • Jan 1, 1400

    Ars Nova Motet from France to end the Middle Ages

    Using sacred Latin and Mass Ordinare texts moves from France to England influencing the works of Dunstaple in the 15th century.
    Composers: Du Fay, Dunstaple, Power, Arnold de Lantins, Brassart, and Johannes de Lymburgia.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1400 to


    Beginning with Du Fay in the early 15th century, motets are cross-culturally influenced and composed for liturgical and regal events. Isorhythmic motets begin as the precursor to canonic and polyphonic imitation. Later contemporaries include Ciconia, Latins, and Brassart, starting the Renaissance with Franco Flemish influence.
  • Jan 1, 1414

    Council of Konstanz

    Council of Konstanz
    International church council gatherings and celebrations such as this mixed composers and performers from all over Europe.
  • Jan 1, 1425

    Liturgical works of Dunstaple

    Dunstaple and Power leave strict isorhythm in their sacred Latin motets in favor of four-voice scoring, still drawing on cantus firmus.
  • Jan 1, 1450

    Experimenting with Bi-textuality

    Regis, a student of Du Fay, writes bi-textual repertoire, assigning festal and social texts for the contropuntal voices, while assigning a sacred cantus firmus to the tenor. Voicing is often five parts.
    Other composers include Ockeghem and Busnoys.
    Ockeghem's "Mort tu as navre" in 1460 draws parellels to the chanson: a four voice texture, and a vernacular melody in the top voice to replace a cantus firmus makes a chanson subgenre of the motet, keepig bi-textuality, sacred and festal texts.
  • Jan 1, 1495

    Josquin: defining the motet at the turn of the century

    Josquin: defining the motet at the turn of the century
    With melodic imitation, homophonic declamation, melodic liturgical references, ternary mode rhythms, and alternating duo and trio exchanges, Josquin des Prez defines the motet entering the 16th century. He uses strict canonic imitation to intoroduce four to six voices. Often the top two voices sing a borrowed chant while the other voices make comments or paraphrase the chant.
    Contemporaries include: Antoine de Fevin, Jean Mouton, Gombert, and Obrecht.
  • Jan 1, 1550

    Palestrina and Lassus

    Palestrina and Lassus
    After Josquin defines the motet in the first half of the 15th century, Palestrina and Lassus use his compositional characteristics to expand the genre.
    Palestrina composed conservatively adhering to liturgical order of texts and strict sequencing. His works influenced the Spanish motet tradition to follow, specifically the work of Victoria. Lassus used bold text painting inspired by the contemporary madrigal and the secular Italian court traditions.
  • Jan 1, 1575

    William Byrd and the UK

    William Byrd and the UK
    William Byrd's compositions bring the Franco Flemish motet traditions to England and influence the sacred music of the Elizabethan era. Adhering to strict Protestant rule Byrd often surpressed his Catholic faith in his compositional choices. However, his choice of dedications and refrerences to Catholics caused some trouble.
  • France enters the 17th cent. conservatively

    Du Cuarroy's thick counterpoint and harmonies made his work the archetype of French motets, remeniscent of Franco Flemish traditions.
  • Period: to

    Baroque Era

    The motet continues losing dominance in Western musical culture as a leading genre. The genre is definedy by a sacred nature: Catholic motets in Latin and Protestant motets in the vernacular. The Baroque era moves to characterize the motet as a style defined by polyphonic compositional language, most notably that of Palestrina.
  • Viadana and the Baroque Concertato Motet

    Viadana and the Baroque Concertato Motet
    Ludovico da Viadana's 'Cento concerti ecclesiastici' marks the first Baroque Concertato motet as the first piece with four voices and organ continuo. Other influential names are Donati, Fattorini, and Grandi. This style is marked by simplicity, small performing forces, and of course the organ accompaniment. Melodies become the center of this style and overlap to creat climax, painting the sacred text, often of Christ, sacrament, and female saints. The tradition is centered in Venice.
  • Schutz, Italian immitation, and the Lutheran Choral motet

    Schutz, Italian immitation, and the Lutheran Choral motet
    Heinrich Schutz' name captures the bulk of German/Lutheran litrugical composition for the mid 17th century. Although most of this music follows the Italian lead, Schutz incorporates madrigal elements, elaborate counterpoint, and polychoral settings to innovate his sacred music. Contemporaries iclude Franck, Erich, Praetorius, Schein, and Demantius.
  • 1650's Italy: sacred and secular

    1650's Italy: sacred and secular
    The mid-17th century motet lives in Italy where Cazzati, Bassani, and Petrobelli, made their names with compositions for secular opera and sacred motets. Small scale works celebrated biblical texts in Latin. Cazzati employs violins, brass, organ, and other instruments in his sacred motets.
  • the Versailles motet

    the Versailles motet
    Du Mont's are the first motets available for the chapel and court of Versailles. In the coming decades Lully and Pierre Robert added compositions to Louis XIV's chapel to create an impressive repertoire of three movement Low Mass settings: a grand motet, petite motet, and Psalm setting.
  • Charpentier continues the grand and petitie motets

    The French motet tradition evloved into the grand motet and petit motet. Charpentier commisioned many grand motets for churches and chapels, while he composed petite motets for private courts. In all his work he prefered four part textures emulating his Italian and German contemporaries. The grande motet is based in the concerted motet trend of the 17th century.
    Charpentier and Lalande serve as compositional models for the Versailles motet of the 18th cent. (influencing Compra, Gervais, Mandin).
  • J.S. Bach bridging into the 18th century

    J.S. Bach bridging into the 18th century
    JS Bach's motets are a small portion of his total output, with five polycoral motets, one four voice, and one five voice motet. In contrast with his cantatas, Bach's motets focus on text declamation over motivic repition and contropuntal action. This favoring of text stress over motivic emphasis is to blame for the decline of the motet and the rise of genres like the cantata.
  • 18th Century Vienna and Salzburg

    Influenced by the works of Michael Haydn, Mozart composes a bulk of Latin motets for SATB and symphonic orchestra. Schubert also departs his usual compositions for SATB and continuo motets at the end of the 18th century.
  • the UK brings back Byrd

    As the Viennese remember Palestrina, the churches of the UK republish and translate Byrd's motets for Anglican services.
  • Reviving Palestrina

    The Viennese School and catherdrals throughout Italy saught to revive the conservative, "pure," rensaissance stylings of Palestrina. Liszt and Bruckner are two composers who diverted from their typical virtuosic compositions for more conservative chorus and continuo motets.
  • Protestant Motet

    As with Palestrina, German Protestants found a particular affinity with the motets of Bach, and saught to bring back that purity in a sacred, vernacular, historic works with new composers like Mendellsohn.