A History of Western Music

By Donald Jay Grout; Claude V. Palisca | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

ENGLAND AND THE BURGUNDIAN
LANDS IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY

Music in the fifteenth century continued to move toward an international style. Composers from England, France, and Italy contributed to its formation. Secular genres still dominated, as did their treble-dominated texture, which even affected settings of the Mass and the motet, itself now a quasi-secular and ceremonial genre.


ENGLISH MUSIC

General Features

From the earliest times, English sacred and secular art music, like that of northern Europe generally, kept close connections with folk style. Unlike their Continental peers, English composers cared little for abstract theories as a guide to practice. They leaned toward major tonality as opposed to the modal system, wrote homophony rather than independent lines with divergent texts, and preferred consonances to the dissonances of the French motet. English music also exhibited a fuller sound than the music of the Continent and a freer use of thirds and sixths. Parallel thirds had already occurred in the twelfth‐ century Hymn to St. Magnus, patron saint of the Orkney Islands, and written and improvised parallel thirds and sixths were common in English thirteenth‐ century practice.


Fourteenth Century

As we saw earlier, the basic chant repertory in England was that of the Sarum rite (of the Cathedral Church of Salisbury), whose melodies differed somewhat from those of the Roman rite that appeared in the Liber usualis and other

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