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Title: Ciconia's Equal-Cantus Motets and the Creation of Early Fifteenth-Century Style
Authors: Buff, Carolann
Advisors: Wegman, Rob C.
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: Bologna Q15
Early 15th-century Italy
Guillaume Du Fay
Johannes Ciconia
Oxford 213
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This study starts at the junction between the music of medieval France and the Italian Renaissance at the cusp of a new century. Although the repertoire from the period between 1390 and 1440 is often labeled as “transitional,” unprecedented access to manuscripts, archival documents, and high quality recordings demonstrates that there is an urgent need to reassess a prejudiced notion that early 15th-century Italian motets are peripheral to a so-called “French central tradition.” Indeed, it has now become more apparent than ever that the motets of the Veneto in the first decades of the quattrocento were part of a significant musical tradition with influence reaching well beyond Italian political borders and the study of this repertoire is crucial to understanding the musical culture of the early Renaissance. In particular, the music of Johannes Ciconia now stands out as one of the linchpins linking Italian localized traditions, elements of the Ars subtilior, and the innovative musical developments epitomized by Guillaume Du Fay and his contemporaries. Ciconia and Du Fay are significant in this study particularly because they were so notable in their own time both through the diversity of works they produced and the widespread distribution of their music. I propose that there is connective tissue that links a distinctive Italian motet tradition with an early 15th-century body of works copied into significant Veneto manuscripts such as Q15 and Ox213, and connects still further into the earliest notable features of the Renaissance. Through study of Ciconia’s corpus of motets, an exhaustive analysis of the early 15th-century Italian motet repertory, and a stylistic comparison of works by Ciconia, Du Fay, and their contemporaries, my dissertation contemplates several questions: What more can be understood of Ciconia’s life and career through the close examination of his musical style? How are Ciconia’s works perceived considering that most of his motets have been preserved in sources created long after his death? To what extent did he influence composers around him and following him? And perhaps most crucially, is there a definitive early 15th-century Italian motet style and what elements of that style carry forward into the music of subsequent generations of composers? I am primarily interested in the analysis of this fascinating repertory. I focus on large-scale structures and textures as well as localized details of distinctive of rhythmic construction and characteristic melodic shapes and motions. To this end I focus on the in-depth study of manuscripts, which function as sort of first-hand accounts of the repertoire, musical culture, and performance practices. Modern transcriptions aid me by allowing a clear overview of the grammar and structure of the elaborate counterpoint of these works. I also engage on an aural level, both as a singer and a listener, allowing the musical experience to guide my understanding of these works on a very physical and personal level. Among my conclusions is the possibility that Ciconia’s motets are more significant than has ever been expressed before. As exemplars of the 14th-century Italian motet style, his works are the pinnacle of a distinctive musical tradition. As one of the most widely known composers in the early 15th century, he is the representative example of the Veneto motet style. Because of characteristic features that correspond between Ciconia’s motets and other works by Du Fay and the next several generations of composers, the influence of these compositions should not be underestimated.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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