Show off your theory chops with my weekly challenge! You’ll find a new question here every Monday. Please comment to post your reply.
This week’s challenge:
Reaching back to the High Renaissance this week! This is the opening of a paraphrase mass by Josquin des Prez (I’ll tell you which one on Friday). The melody in all four voices is based on a Medieval hymn. Which mode was it in? HINT: look at the tenor and soprano voices, and try not to read too much into the major/minor implications of this mass. Josquin was making near-tonal use of a much older (and modal) hymn. Be sure to listen to the audio as well!
Reply to post your answer, and check back on Friday, November 5th to see if you’re right!
ANSWER for 11/1/21
This is Josquin’s Missa Pange Lingua, written in the early 16th Century. It’s based on the Medieval hymn of the same name. In its original form (seen in the tenor and soprano voices here), the hymn was in the Phrygian Mode:
The tonic is E, and the hymn has the half-step from E to F characteristic of the Phrygian mode. In Josquin’s mass, the bass and alto have an altered version of the hymn in the Aeolian mode (natural minor). In the entire mass, we never actually hear the entire hymm; it’s used instead as a giant motive for imitative writing and quasi-fugal techniques. This is different from a cantus firmus mass, in which the original hymn is heard in its entirety, and the other voices are “scaffolded” above and below it.
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