Josquin Des Prez 

History would remember Josquin Des Prez as THE great composer of the renaissance. To put it today's musical terms, imagine Led Zeppelin and Tupac wrapped into one man. He was renowned in his time and continued to release music after his death. 

The advent and implementation of the printing press may have contributed to a "right place, right time scenario." Burkholder, Grout, and Palisca state "Ottaviano Petrucci, the first printer of polyphonic music, published three books of Josquin masses and reprinted each to meet the demand; no other composer received more than a single volume from Petrucci."(200) 

He was prolific and innovative in motets (mostly sacred, polyphonic and unaccompanied), Masses (liturgy used in the various stages of mass), and chansons (lyrical, polyphonic and secular in nature). Burkholder, Grout, and Palisca say "Josquin's eighteen masses are as varied as his motets and chansons and abound in technical ingenuity. Nine use a secular tune (either monophonic or drawn from polyphonic chanson) as a cantus formus."(206) 

I submit: 

Josquin Desprez - Salve Regina – 

Based on my analysis of the lyrics, I would consider this a motet as it is unaccompanied by instruments, vocally polyphonic and sites Jesus and The Virgin Mary, the very definition of sacred. 

I can identify three voices in this version. One might notice the tenor and the contratenor holding down the lower two voices and a bright cantus in the higher register doing something completely different than the lower two voices. 

This subject matter is also part of mass liturgy and is sung at the very end of the day. 

Salve Regina mater miseri cordiae, vita, dulcedo et spes nostra salve 
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae 
Ad te suspiramis gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle 
Eia ergo advocata nostra, illos tuos miseri cordes oculos ad nos converte 
Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exsilium ostende 
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria 


Queen Mother miserable secrets of life and sweetness and our hope 
We cry out children of Eve; 
You SUSPIRAMOS mourning and weeping in this valley 
Ah, then turn those differences miserable your eyes on us 
Jesus, blessed fruit of your womb, after this exile 

Clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary 

Dr. Charles Burney calls Josquin the "Father of Modern Harmony" and listening to the piece I chose, I can see what he means. The sound of these voices working in and around each other is something we will hear in the centuries to come and can hear to this day. Around 3:30 in the recording, one can notice the lower the voices taking on the leading role melodically. This is one of the innovations that I think represents a shift from the old style of composition. The lower voices were no longer strictly assigned to simply "hold down the fort." 

However, to make a point of distinction, I tend to believe that any huge trend never has only one father. One has to consider the medium by which the music of Josquin Des Prez moved throughout the world. As I noted earlier, the printing press and the degree to which Josquin's music was printed may have had much to do with his notoriety and staying power. He was the first rock-star composer. I might offer that he could also be referred to as the "Father of Modern Mass Media Musical Movements." 

Burkholder, J.Peter, Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca. A History of western Music, Ninth EditionNew York: W.W.Norton and Company, inc.,2014, Print.

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