Thursday, March 30, 2017

The 13th-century Motet

Let’s wrap up our month of Medieval music by looking at a very important genre that developed in the early 13th century – the motet.  This type of polyphony adds a newly-written Latin text to the upper voices of clausulae. Wait – what does that mean? “Clausulae” were sections of organum (see my last post!) that could be removed and replaced with a new section. Therefore, a motet contained a new text sung with a lower part that usually was taken from chant. Eventually more voices were added, singing their own individual texts. The motet developed in form over time and was performed both inside and outside of the church. One example of a leading motet composer is Guillaume de Machaut.

Guillaume de Machaut
Courtesy of
Around this time, we see more developments in notation including note duration signified by note shapes – quite similar to how we notate music today! Also, we see mensuration signs, the ancestor to modern-day time signatures.

Next month, we’re taking a leap forward in time and hitting our annual music and cinema month in Clef Notes! Join me as we look at our favorite films and how music plays a major part.

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