The Cultural Life of the Early Polyphonic Mass: Medieval Context to Modern Revival

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The 'cyclic' polyphonic Mass has long been seen as the pre-eminent musical genre of the late Middle Ages, spawning some of the most impressive and engrossing musical edifices of the period. Modern study of these compositions has greatly enhanced our appreciation of their construction and aesthetic appeal. Yet close consideration of their meaning – cultural, social, spiritual, personal – for their composers and original users has begun only much more recently. This book considers the genre both as an expression of the needs of the society in which it arose and as a fulfilment of aesthetic priorities that arose in the wake of the Enlightenment. From this dual perspective, it aims to enhance both our appreciation of the genre for today's world, and our awareness of what it is that makes any cultural artefact endure: its susceptibility to fulfil the different evaluative criteria, and social needs, of different times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Kirkman’s excellent use of both historical writings and modern musicological scholarship will go far towards contextualizing musical compositions for other scholars of this period."
-ELIZABETH RANDELL UPTON,University of California
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521114127
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2010
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Kirkman is Associate Professor of Music at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations viii

Preface ix

List of abbreviated manuscript titles xiv

Part I The Status of the Early Polyphonic Mass 1

1 Enlightenment and beyond 3

2 Contemporary Witnesses 26

Part II The Ritual World of the Early Polyphonic Mass 37

3 "Faisant regretz pour ma dolente vie": piety, polyphony and musical borrowing 39

4 "Head of the church that is his body": Christological imagery and the Caput Masses 77

5 Sounding armor: the sacred meaning of L'homme armé 98

6 The profane made sacred: outside texts and music in the Mass 135

Part III The Cradle of the Early Polyphonic Mass 165

7 The shape of the Mass 167

8 Counterpoint of images, counterpoint of sounds 177

Last things 208

Appendix 1 Texts relating to L'homme armé 215

Appendix 2 Texts concerning secular music in church 233

Appendix 3 Madrigals listed in L'Histoire de la Mappe-Monde papistique 247

Notes 253

Bibliography 348

Index 370

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