Monday, October 27, 2008

Journal Response 2b

Jaime Tyser

28 Oct 2008


Response to Lassus: Missa Pro Defuncti/Prophetiae Sibyllarum (Victoria Brown)

When one thinks of church and its music, often lively hymns of rejoicing come to mind. However, after listening to the recording of Orlando di Lasso’s Missa Pro Defuncti and Prophetiae Sibyllarum I am reminded that the music found in church today and church then is incredibly different. Today you can hear “rock bands” and many short uplifting hymns are sung. Centuries ago, the mass settings written for church and sacred music were so deep and nearly haunting. As the layers of music began to unfold to composers and listeners alike in the 1500’s they started to explore the intensity of chromatics.

After reading Victoria’s journal entry about this recording, I was very intrigued to listen to this recording. I thought her opening thoughts were very clever and they definitely caught my attention. The explanation of how Lassus spent his early years of life gave me a good insight to the background of this music and also made a few connections to our discussions we had about him in class. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lassus and the abduction he went through as well as the Greek influence found within the music, I felt that all of that was more introductory material than response. Her choice of words kept my attention throughout the whole response, I love her creativity with writing but at the end I felt a little bit cheated because I wanted to read so much more.

I was pleased to read about the fact that all of the songs on this recording are four voice parts and written for the mass. I would have liked to have read about the texts used in these songs. They are set for the mass and by reading the translations the material is easily recognized as strongly sacred which coincides with the melodic parts and the interaction of the voices. The use of chromatics in the music is engaging and draws me in as a listener. Upon reading the texts while listening to the music I can distinguish that there is some definite word painting throughout the songs. The rapid changes in tonality and the way individual lines intertwine with each other are extremely impressive. Another thing I took note of after reading the insert provided is that Lassus came up with these Latin verses for his music by taking and interest in specifically the paintings of Sibyls in the late fifteenth century. The prophecies accompanying the paintings played a large role in the texts Lassus used. Victoria could have taken a whole different angle to this response by researching the paintings of Sibyls more and seeing how much of an effect they had on Lassus and his music. The change in art during the Renaissance was incredible and impacted music in more ways than we probably realize.

One last thing I think would have been inviting to read about is a more in depth look at Lassus’ use of chromatics. Victoria does a good job of touching the basics that he indeed used a lot of chromatics in his music, but for what purpose? It leaves me wondering how the use of all these new colors affected other musicians and listeners. These Lassus songs are great examples of music leaving the boundaries of the mode. The transition of music out of the mode into dissonance and chromatics is a very deep subject, yet another direction that Victoria could have researched and talked a little more about.

Overall, I enjoyed Victoria’s response. Her way of writing is light, fun, and easy to read while providing a great overview of information. Since I like her style of writing so much, I would love to read a more in depth response written from her. It is difficult at times to harness the ideas that are bouncing around in the mind, I too struggle with this. However, I feel if she expanded on some more ideas this response would be a little more substantial in aiding to my understanding of how Lassus and his music contributed to the development of the Renaissance era.

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