Sunday, October 30, 2016

Four Basic Musical Textures in Josquin and Brian Wilson

This stemmed from a conversation I had with some of my bandmates in The New Prescriptions (a band of Medical Health Professionals (Physicians, Nurses, Residents) -- and me.  The Joke is, once per month they get to jam with me and play musician.  And to reciprocate, I get to visit them once per month and play doctor.
Below is a short clarification I provided regarding Musical Texture, which was spurred on my a simple request, "What key are we doing, "God Only Knows?"

Four basic textures of music:
1) Monophony – single line of melodic interest (e.g. solo vocal performance of national anthem)
2) Heterophony – single line of melodic interest sung / performed by more than one individual each with their own idiomatic articulations / phrasings et al – (e.g. Garth Brooks and Mariah Carey singing national anthem at the same time) * this is the most common texture in the world outside of western tradition
3) Homophony – single line of melody interest with chords / harmony (i.e. 4 part hymns, or anytime someone sings a song with chords or a bassline accompanying, or most western music symphonic or other written since 1600.) – if you ask “what are the chords?” – its homophonic.  Most so-called “World Music” is really a popular form of Western European structure, but “frosting” it a little differently giving it an “exotic” flair.)
4) Polyphony – more than one line of melodic interest:
   a) Imitative – same melody, BUT - 2 or more voices starting at different points – (i.e. in a round / canon / fugue etc. (e.g. row row row your boat)
   b) Non-imitative – 2  or more different melodies performed at the same time. (imagine National Anthem and America the Beautiful performed at the same time).
From here we can learn to build and embed the textures within each other:
PAIRED IMITATION: Is when a melodic line and /harmony part are imitated (as in Mille Regretz with the Soprano and Alto pairing being imitated by a Tenor / Bass response).

Anyway, in God only knows we have a great example of a broad homophonic structure supporting a non-imitative canon at the very close of the tune as well as in the Interlude.
BTW here is a scrolling text version of Mille Regretz in case you want to follow along.

From: K. Christian McGuire (Augsburg Colleg
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2016 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: Oct 1 draft
Don’t worry about being confused [God Only Knows...], I had to go over to the piano and spend some time working it out, before I finally resorted to looking up the chords. as the verse and chorus are in two different tonal areas.
Interestingly enough, and if I may geek out musicologically here. When I introduce my students to compositional practices of the High Renaissance—we focus on a very short 4-part polyphonic chanson composed by Josquin, entitled “Mille Regretz” (ca. 1500)  It is just packed full of technique and word painting symbolism (e.g. transitioning from paired imitative polyphony, moments of homophony...(the only time (before the ending) that all 4 voices contribute to a very definite homophonic texture is with the text, “si grand dueil”)  and the final cadence which alternates between the tonal centers of “A” and “E” – leaving one with an unanswerable question....unresolved --- as if counting ones days for eternity in a “fade out”
The text is also somewhat similar in sentiment to what Tony Asher penned for Brian Wilson:

Mille regretz de vous abandonnerEt d'eslonger vostre fache amoureuse,Jay si grand dueil et paine douloureuse,Quon me verra brief mes jours definer.

English Translation:
A thousand regrets at deserting you
and leaving behind your loving face,
I feel so much sadness and such painful distress,

that it seems to me my days will soon dwindle away.

God Only Knows:
If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me
Given Brian Wilson’s musical curiosity at this point, it seems remarkable that we would Not, know this---then again perhaps its just a fantastic coincidence....
Next time kids, I will demonstrate how G.F. Handel uses the exact same techniques Josquin exploited in Mille Regretz (by far one of the greatest continuous popular music hits from the last 500 years) in his Halleliuah chorus 250 years later, and how Mozart further enhanced that 45 years later (and the request of Baron Gotfried van Swieten) when he orchestrated Messiah for a performance in Wien.  (Handel btw has ALWAYS been popular since he hit the scene in 1707.  Meanwhile, JS Bach for many years (his death in 1750 to Mendelssohn’s revival of his works in 1830)  has only really gotten a mass following since the mid 19th century).  Mozart was virtually never played throughout the 19th century, until Richard Strauss championed his work in the early 20th, and Vivaldi was virtually unknown until all of this music he wrote for an orphaned girls school (pretty much everything we have) began to be performed in concert halls circa 1930....
OK, I’m done geeking out.
See you all tomorrow...
Then I can tell you about Johannes Kepler and Vincenzo Galilei...

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