Author Topic: Ockeghem's Office  (Read 11382 times)

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2019, 01:37:59 PM »
Roger Bowers in his paper on English Church Polyphony says that it was not until the late 15th century at the earliest that the clef started to assume the role of conveying exact pitch. This is confirmed by some of the things that Peter Philips says in  his paper Beyond Authenticity.

So it would be incorrect to claim there was an idea of exact pitch regarding the works of Ockeghem.  Therefore, it is nonsensical to state that an ensemble "lowered the pitch" for their recording, since there is no such thing as "the pitch."

 
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I guess it's not out of the that the clef signified exact pitch in the La Rue Requiem then.

I disagree.  "At the earliest" would imply that it was not widespread, if it occurred at all, and most likely these composers would not necessarily have been early adopters of a practice which had not existed for most of their lives.  Anyway, once the music was in the hands of cathedral choirs it would have been up to the singers to establish what pitch to use, in any event.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2019, 01:44:26 PM by San Antone »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2019, 01:47:18 PM »
.  Anyway, once the music was in the hands of cathedral choirs it would have been up to the singers to establish what pitch to use, in any event.

But we don't know what conventions and practices were around to limit their discretion about this.

So it would be incorrect to claim there was an idea of exact pitch regarding the works of Ockeghem. 

Similarly you can't say this, all you can say is that the pitch expectations of the composer may not have been embedded in the clef. But there may well have been all sorts of traditions of singing which guided the singers.

But it is true that I haven't ever seen any debate about pitch in the Ockeghem requiem. It's always been about the La Rue requiem.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2019, 01:52:08 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2019, 01:54:14 PM »
I don't think the composers had any expectations regarding pitch, since they assumed different groups would be made up of a variety of singers who would find the most comfortable pitch.  It most likely didn't matter to them what the starting pitch was.  You must keep in mind that there wasn't even a composite score, each part was written out for the singers - but there was no "score" for a leader to conduct from.

It seems to me that you are (in an anachronistic manner) applying to the Medieval period ideas about key and pitch that we take for granted, but which did not exist during the Middle Ages.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2019, 01:57:42 PM by San Antone »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2019, 01:58:28 PM »
I don't think the composers had any expectations regarding pitch, since they assumed different groups would be made up of a variety of singers who would find the most comfortable pitch. 

Well now you're just begging the question.


What do you think of this thought from the Vox Ensemble people? If it's right then it would suggest that one constraint on pitch is that the low voices are low!!

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Noteworthy, then, are the more than 100 pieces from the Renaissance that regularly descend to the E, E-flat, D, C, 13-flat, and even A below the gamut. These are concentrated largely in the period between 1475 and 1525, a time that is marked by a dramatic rise in polyphonic expressions of mourning. Although numerous elegiac compositions remained comfortably within the gamut, a large proportion of pieces that explore the lowest ranges are works of sorrow and loss. Indeed, four of the five compositions using the very lowest pitches are pieces about death or mourning. Extremes of grief inspired extremes of range.

The symbolic power of these low notes is obvious, and they raise the question as to whether they were, indeed, purely symbolic: were singers really expected to produce these pitches? There was no fixed pitch standard, after all, during the Renaissance or for quite some time thereafter. Yet a number of factors suggest that the low notes were not simply Augenmusik, music for the eyes, but rather had a sounding existence as well—that extreme singing flourished under the right circumstances.

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Offline San Antone

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2019, 02:05:27 PM »
Well now you're just begging the question.


What do you think of this thought from the Vox Ensemble people? If it's right then it would suggest that one constraint on pitch is that the low voices are low!!

I think the written parts were interpreted relative to each part and did not describe a notion of exact pitches.  Those claims of pitch values are speculative in the extreme since they are based on a notated manuscript which was written at a time when, as they admit "there was no fixed pitch standard, after all, during the Renaissance or for quite some time thereafter."

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2019, 02:11:09 PM »
I think the written parts were interpreted relative to each part and did not describe a notion of exact pitches.  Those claims of pitch values are speculative in the extreme since they are based on a notated manuscript which was written at a time when, as they admit "there was no fixed pitch standard, after all, during the Renaissance or for quite some time thereafter."

All this is right I think; but the interesting thing for me is the idea that whatever pitch is chosen it has to be one which keeps the low voices very low, and the argument for that is contextual (the symbolic meaning of low notes.) This is the way that it can be true that the score doesn't contain any suggestion of absolute pitch and yet pitch wasn't left completely to singers' discretion.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #46 on: March 24, 2019, 02:13:37 PM »
Well, the vocal ensembles would have included only male voices and would have naturally been lower.  Ockeghem is known for writing low parts, but I am unconvinced this had to do with the meaning of the text.  He may have simply preferred a low tessitura.

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2019, 12:45:05 AM »
So one should make a study of all compositions of "De profundis" vs. "Gloria in altissimis Deo" and similar texts wrt to pitches?
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #48 on: March 25, 2019, 01:19:08 AM »
Well, the vocal ensembles would have included only male voices and would have naturally been lower.

Errr yes, but the question is, how low do they go.

I am unconvinced this had to do with the meaning of the text.

Because?

We're at the level of gathering evidence for the symbolism  (which in fairness to Vox Ensemble they've started to do) and trying to see how it would translate into music (which Vox Ensemble and Diabolus in Musica, followuing their example, have also done and made public. )
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 01:24:42 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #49 on: March 25, 2019, 01:23:26 AM »
Errr yes, but the question is, how low do they go.

I would expect that there is no set standard, and it would vary according to the ensemble.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #50 on: March 25, 2019, 01:26:39 AM »
I would expect that there is no set standard, and it would vary according to the ensemble.

Yes but it still may be that they always went very low -- because of the symbolic meaning.

Distinguish between

1. there is no set standard
2. it would vary according to the ensemble
3. The ensembles had complete discretion.

1 and 2 I agree with, as far as 3 goes, I don't see why anyone would believe this.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #51 on: March 25, 2019, 01:27:36 AM »
So one should make a study of all compositions of "De profundis" vs. "Gloria in altissimis Deo" and similar texts wrt to pitches?

Can you spell out your thinking a bit?
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #52 on: March 25, 2019, 02:37:54 AM »
I was not entirely serious. But beyond naive tone painting one would expect lower pitches for texts like "from deep despair" and higher for jubilating angels high in the sky. I am certain that occasionally this is being used. As late as Beethoven we have "naive" scales upwards at "ascendit" and movement downwards at "descendit", "vivos" loud and "mortuos" low and soft etc.
The research question would be how frequent and systematic such connections between pitch and textual meaning are. And if there is also a connection to the absolute pitch used.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Verena

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #53 on: March 25, 2019, 02:42:56 AM »


Today I discovered the L'Homme Armé mass from Ensemble Nusmido. The singers were students of Rebecca Stewart, and their style resembles the style in the early recordings of Cappella Pratensis as well as the Heinrich Isaac Fromm Cantus Modalis.

I love this way of singing, where the voice starts small and sweet. I expect this will become one of my favourite Ock recordings.

http://www.erhardt-martin.de/nusmido_eng.html

This recording is really wonderful. Belated thanks for pointing it out  :) . To my ears maybe the most beautiful Ockeghem recording I've heard so far.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #54 on: March 25, 2019, 05:08:03 AM »
This recording is really wonderful. Belated thanks for pointing it out  :) . To my ears maybe the most beautiful Ockeghem recording I've heard so far.

You should write him an email and tell him you enjoyed it, it would make his day!
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Offline Verena

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #55 on: March 25, 2019, 05:19:48 AM »
You should write him an email and tell him you enjoyed it, it would make his day!

I'd love to for sure, but I've forgotten his email address   :( Maybe someone here can help.  ::)

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #56 on: March 25, 2019, 05:43:41 AM »
I'd love to for sure, but I've forgotten his email address   :( Maybe someone here can help.  ::)

erhardt.martin@web.de

There's another CD that is inspired by the same sort of ideas, but  a different lineup




This also, but maybe  more compromising and secular, but still very good

 

And for totally no compromises hardcore modal singing there's this, they take no prisoners

« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 05:58:15 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Vinbrulé

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #57 on: March 28, 2019, 08:27:02 AM »
But is this really Ockeghem's output ?  After having listened to the Missa Prolationum and the Requiem, I am inclined to say 'NO'  .
I can't deny that the result is electrifying , but now I have to put the disc in my shelves..... where ?  Under the name 'Ockeghem' or under 'Contaminations' next to Uri Caine's WagnerCafèConcerto or Frederiksen's Wolkenstein ?  ( I have nothing against contaminations , but I would like the performers' intentions to be declared in advance )
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 08:36:01 AM by Vinbrulé »

Offline Verena

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #58 on: March 28, 2019, 11:01:01 AM »
erhardt.martin@web.de

There's another CD that is inspired by the same sort of ideas, but  a different lineup




This also, but maybe  more compromising and secular, but still very good

 

And for totally no compromises hardcore modal singing there's this, they take no prisoners



Thanks so much! I've bought the Petitionen Cordis from Qobuz and love it  :) :) :) I think I'll need to invest in the others, too  ;D

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Ockeghem's Office
« Reply #59 on: March 28, 2019, 12:12:38 PM »
Thanks so much! I've bought the Petitionen Cordis from Qobuz and love it  :) :) :) I think I'll need to invest in the others, too  ;D

Great!

This is an article about the approach to performing early music which is at the basis of these recordings

http://www.cantusmodalis.org/
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