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Thread: Choir size in Renaissance Polyphony

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    Senior Member JSBach85's Avatar
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    Default Choir size in Renaissance Polyphony

    Is there any documentation / information / testimonies or any sort of survival proof of choir sizes in Renaissance Polyphony in 15th century or/and 16th century? Regarding OVPP choirs, did they exist in Renaissance period? I guess that if JS Bach choir sizes in Leipzig were about the size that OVPP theory sustains, there should be any evidence that there should have been a tradition of small choirs OVPP probably inherited from Renaissance Polyphony.

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    Searching under Sistine Chapel Choir, Wikipedia yields:

    "With the building by Sixtus IV (1471–84) of the church for the celebration of all papal functions since known as the Sistine Chapel, the original "schola cantorum" and subsequent "capella pontificia" or "capella papale" became the "capella sistina", or Sistine Choir. Up to this time the number of singers had varied considerably, there being sometimes as few as nine men and six boys. By a Bull dated November, 1483, Sixtus IV fixed the number at twenty-four, six for each part."

    From my music history studies I know that employment records for various institutions with choirs are available. They have been used to trace the whereabouts and activities of major composers, many of whom were employed as singers. To get a general sense of the forces used, one would likely have to search a number of these sources and compute and average.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Feb-10-2018 at 19:25.

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    I've read that the choir lists at Cambrai Cathedral during Dufay's time show that none of Dufay's masses were ever sung in that cathedral with more than two singers on a part (& we know that Dufay's music was very influential on later Franco-Flemish school--Ockeghem, Josquin, etc.). This was the period when Dufay was in service to the Duke of Burgundy, whose court served as the model for noble courts across Europe. For madrigals, motets, and chansons, one singer on a part was the standard in the Renaissance, except in Dufay's isorhythmic motets where a part can split into two, and two singers are required.

    The following article by Scott Metcalf, the leader of the Blue Heron Renaissance choir in Boston may be of help:

    http://www.blueheron.org/learn-more/...ance-practice/

    Which causes me to wonder whether the larger choirs at the Sistine chapel were actually the norm of the day? At least in Dufay's time, since Dufay did spend a good deal of his career in Italy (but not in Rome): A country that was more or less comprised of autonomous city-states--so what was done in Rome may have had less bearing on what was done in Bologna, Florence or Ferrara, where Dufay spent his Italian years. If the choirs were indeed larger in Rome during Dufay's lifetime--that is, previous to the 1483 Papal bull that EdwardBast mentions, it appears to have had no bearing on the size of the choir under Dufay's musical direction at Cambrai Cathedral.

    The same is true of Bach's Protestant Germany in relation to Catholic Italy. Scholar/musician John Butt has shown that OVPP was standard practice in Dresden, for example, in Bach's time--based on contemporary sources. Other scholars have proven that OVPP was again the standard practice in the choral music of Buxtehude (Bach's idol) and Telemann. Other contemporary evidences show that the expectations for choirs in Bach's Germany were most often 4 to 8 singers, that is, one or two on a part, for 4 part works. And none of Bach's 200+ Cantatas were composed for a double choir, except for the lone BWV 50 "Michaelmas" one movement fragment. So, in Bach's uniformly 4 part cantatas, at least, the norm would have been one or two singers on a part, or 4 to 8 singers in the choir--just as in Cambrai during the time of Dufay!

    In Bach's larger choral works for double choirs, such as his oratorios & Mass in B minor--which required a five or six part chorus (six in the Sanctus of the Mass), naturally we would expect to see more singers. And if any additional ripienists were needed for extra heft, such as maybe for a performance in an outdoor town square, it's possible that the choir size might have occasionally ballooned to 16 singers or more. But that wasn't the norm, at least not on any weekly basis. (Nor was the size of the choir always uniform, it varied, depending on monies available, i.e., church budget, town funds, & royal patronage, as well as the size of the venue, the quality of singers and musicians available, etc. etc..)

    There are actually contemporary records in Bach's time that support this, where the writer complains about how paltry the German choirs were in relation to the lavishly funded choirs in Italy & Spain. Besides, it couldn't be more apparent from the incredible intricacy and complexity of Bach's contrapuntal music that he wasn't composing his choral works, & especially the cantatas, for overly large, plodding, homogenous choirs to sing, as the works (and their instrumentation) clearly require extremely lithe & nimble singing, and instrumental playing. Plus, we know that Bach generally favored fast tempi. I also doubt that Bach would have composed with such complexity, if he had expected to hear his music become lost in murky church acoustics, with all of his subtle, intricate, delicately composed parts becoming blurred from by having too many voices on a part; which is what happens when contrapuntally complex music is sung by 3 or 4 or more singers on a part, and especially in the hazy acoustics of a large church (even though Gardiner's 20--24 member Monteverdi choir can at times perhaps defy such expectations, as they're unusually virtuosic).

    In other words, had Bach composed his choral music for 20-24 singers, I expect he would have composed less intricate and complex music, just as the Renaissance composers did in their most massive, multiple part choral works: which could have as many as 8 choirs of 5 singers each, or up to 40 singers in total!--as in certain choral works by Striggio and Tallis (his "Spem in Alium"), or 36 singers as in Ockeghem's "Deo Gratias", or 24 singers in Josquin's "Qui Habitat", etc.. These are not choral works that require a choir's singing to be lithe, nimble and quick in anything resembling a Baroque style; otherwise, the performances would have been a total mess, and particularly if you add boy singers to the equation. On the contrary, these huge Renaissance works are massive walls of slowly moving, unfolding sounds. Obviously, when the Renaissance composers created these works, they wanted to keep their jobs.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-11-2018 at 04:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    I
    Which causes me to wonder whether the larger choirs at the Sistine chapel were actually the norm of the day? At least in Dufay's time, since Dufay did spend a good deal of his career in Italy (but not in Rome): A country that was more or less comprised of autonomous city-states--so what was done in Rome may have had less bearing on what was done in Bologna, Florence or Ferrara, where Dufay spent his Italian years. If the choirs were indeed larger in Rome during Dufay's lifetime--that is, previous to the 1483 Papal bull that EdwardBast mentions, it appears to have had no bearing on the size of the choir under Dufay's musical direction at Cambrai Cathedral.
    Thank you Josquin13!

    Yes, I imagine the six on a part choir of the Sistine Chapel was exceptional and that the forces at Cambrai and elsewhere were generally smaller. I just chose an example at random to suggest how one might investigate this sort of thing — employment records and the like, or by reading scholars who have looked at these primary sources.

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    I read from Renaissance Music by Kenneth Kreitner that OVPP was common in Palestrina’s day. But a few bigger churches have 2 per part at ATB, and 4 boy sopranos. The doubling was more to insure at least a singer per part in attendance in case of one being sick rather than for the actual sound.
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    Size of the groups was usually related to the venue of the piece. Sacred (mass and motet) music was usually performed by several singers per part. According to Howard Mayer Brown, choirs or groups of singers in churches in northern Italy increased in size from about six men in the first part of the fifteenth century to about twenty late in the same century. Additionally, he states that there was an undetermined number of choirboys. References in the diaries of the Sistine Chapel and in the establishment book of the Chapel Royal indicate that the minimum number of singers required for a full choral service in the sixteenth century was from twelve to sixteen. As for the maximum size, this was probably determined by how many performers the institution could afford. Many choirs in the cathedrals and princely chapels of Italy seem to have been organized or reorganized in the second half of the fifteenth century. A systematic survey of the size and disposition of church choirs in western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Brown states, “is likely to show that sacred polyphony in the fifteenth century was normally sung by relatively small groups, often with only one singer to a part, that choir sizes increased suddenly at the end of the fifteenth century or in the early sixteenth century (when fifteen to twenty-five singers appear to have constituted a large choir), and that there was a tendency to use more singers on the top and bottom lines than on the inner parts." Scholars do not always agree on precise numbers, however, except that as time passed, choirs gradually became larger.

    Most scholars agree that it was normal to have only one singer to a part when performing secular music (chanson or madrigal) with voices alone in small or medium-sized rooms. The exception to this is the festivals and celebrations given by court rulers which would require large numbers of performers even by 21st century standards.

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    Rick writes, "A systematic survey of the size and disposition of church choirs in western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Brown states, “is likely to show that sacred polyphony in the fifteenth century was normally sung by relatively small groups, often with only one singer to a part, that choir sizes increased suddenly at the end of the fifteenth century or in the early sixteenth century (when fifteen to twenty-five singers appear to have constituted a large choir), and that there was a tendency to use more singers on the top and bottom lines than on the inner parts.""

    This late 15th century increase in choir size would accord with EdwardBast's mention of the 1483 Papal bull that set the Sistine Chapel choir at 24 singers. However, it may also present us with similar tricky territory to Joshua Rifkin's argument for OVPP choirs in the Baroque era. To borrow from Rifken's 'baseball analogy'--do the "15 to 24" singers represent all of the singers used to sing a weekly mass in the Sistine chapel, or rather is that size representative of a "full team roster"--i.e., the bullpen & the dugout, from which a baseball manager can choose his starting line up of 9 players each week? Was "the doubling", as Phil writes, "more to insure at least a singer per part in attendance in case of one being sick rather than for the actual sound"?

    If it can be proven that the size of choirs singing masses increased to 15 to 25 singers after 1483, under the influence of this papal bull, then it would suggest that, yes, many of the sacred works by composers in Rome during the latter part of the 15th and early part of the 16th century were likely composed with larger choirs in mind (motets probably included).

    But, of course, we don't know how the various composers of the day, who were evidently accustomed to writing choral music for smaller choirs, felt about the papal bull of 1483--whether they liked it or not, or whether the papal bull was enforced throughout Italy & beyond, afterwards, by subsequent popes (especially since Sixtus IV died not longer after in 1484). Though, granted, from what Rick writes, it does appear that there was a significant effort made to conform to the papal bull.

    But, if the choirs at Cambrai cathedral were never more than two singers on a part during Dufay's years there, that also suggests that prior to 1483 large choirs were never the norm, and possibly seldom even used in the churches of the Burgundian and Franco-Flemish composers in the north, where most of the major composers of the Renaissance were born and spent their formative years. Indeed by the time the Burgundian & Franco-Flemish composers attained posts in Italy (Dufay, Josquin, Obrecht, etc.) they were already highly regarded composers, if not renowned across Europe. That isn't insignificant.

    Presumably, Dufay's Cambrai cathedral was well funded--being that the Dukes of Burgundy were important patrons during the early Renaissance. Hence, Dufay's consistent decision to never use more than 2 singers on a part in his masses at Cambrai may not have been due to a lack of funds, but rather an aesthetic choice. Given that the Sistine Chapel was likewise probably not lacking in funds, it may well be that what we're seeing here is evidence of two conflicting aesthetics regarding the size of choirs during the early Renaissance: one that was influenced by the Burgundian school and French, Flemish, Burgundian, & Hapsburg nobility in the north (which influenced all the noble courts of Europe, including ones in Italy), and another which came directly under the influence of the Vatican in the years leading up to the papal bull of 1483 and afterwards.

    I should also point out that the other hugely influential composer of the early & middle Renaissance, Josquin Desprez, didn't arrive in Rome until 1489: when he became part of the papal choir and composed there until 1495--a period of six years. Indeed, that is the time when Josquin is thought to have scratched his name on the wall of the Sistine chapels's choir room. While it is most likely that Josquin's compositions during this period do reflect a willingness to conform to the 1483 papal bull and compose for a larger choir, his Roman years were hardly a 'formative' period in Josquin's career, given that his birth date is generally supposed to be around 1450. In other words, Josquin was nearly 50 years old when he arrived in Rome in 1489. So, he'd been a mature composer for several decades.

    Indeed Josquin's most critical formative years were spent elsewhere--first as a choirboy (along with composer Jean Mouton) in the royal church of Saint-Quentin (around 1460)--Saint-Quentin being a disputed city between the King of France and the dukes of Burgundy in the 15th century; then he is thought to have studied counterpoint with Johannes Ockeghem (who is thought to have learned his counterpoint from the Burgundian composer, Gilles Binchois); then Josquin became a singer/composer in the employ of René, the Duke of Anjou, in Aix-en-Provence (1470s), René being one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance; followed by a possible subsequent connection to King Louis XI in Paris (with René's death in 1480), then back to his home town of Condé-sur l'Escaut in 1483 where his family is thought to have been killed in a siege by Louis XI, and then into the service of the Sforza family in Ferrara or Naples, and to Milan in 1483 or 84 where the Sforza family returned from exile, and subsequently to Rome in 1489 (though Josquin may have made an earlier visit to Rome while in the service of the Sforza family in the early 1480s).

    All of which shows that Josquin's early and middle years as a composer were spent under the influence of such major Renaissance figures such as Johannes Ockeghem and René d' Anjou, etc., prior to the 1483 papal bull & his six years at the Sistine chapel. Therefore, if Dufay's 'northern' practices at Cambrai Cathedral are not an anomaly, but rather indicative of the musical practices of the composers of the Burgundian & Franco-Flemish schools, then Josquin compositions prior to his arrival in Rome in 1489 were most likely closely tailored to Dufay's practices at Cambrai, and were not composed under any influence from Pope Sixtus IV in Rome.

    Furthermore, Josquin's compositions and techniques are not all the same, but vary throughout his career. Some of his works are written in a more austere, unadorned manner--without ornamentation (& therefore, were possibly composed with the expectation that they would be sung by larger choirs), while other works require considerably more virtuosity from the singers (& therefore, were possibly composed with smaller choirs in mind). The one work that we can be virtually certain that Josquin didn't compose for a small choir is his 36 part motet "Qui Habitat", and not surprisingly that composition is different from most of his other motets. I'd be surprised if "Qui Habitat", with its massive wall of sound, wasn't composed while Josquin was under the spell of Rome (though I don't know if the motet has ever been dated):



    I should also add that if the book Phil refers to--"Renaissance Music", by Kenneth Kreitner-- is correct that "OVPP was common in Palestrina's day", then the papal bull of 1483 wasn't still in effect by the time of Palestrina, who is viewed as the major composer of the late Renaissance (along with Lassus). In other words, if OVPP was common in Italy in Palestrina's day, that would mean that one or more of the subsequent popes after Sixtus IV had either changed things back to the way they were before the papal bull of 1483, or that the papacy had become more lenient, and possibly even sympathetic towards composers regarding how they wished to hear their music sung by choirs?

    Or, it's also possible, I suppose, that Joshua Rifkin's 'baseball analogy' holds true for the size of choirs throughout the early, middle, and late Renaissance too (in addition to the Baroque period), and therefore the papal bull of 1483 was more about increasing the size of available chorus members (to draw upon), rather than the size and sound of the choir itself, in the singing of weekly masses in Catholic churches.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-12-2018 at 21:47.

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    Thank you all for your replies. I understand that sacred polyphony in times of Josquin Desprez was composed and performed for/with small choir, presumably OVPP, I have read about this and there seems to be a consensus about that. We also know that women were not allowed in liturgical services as well as in sacred polyphony and due to the nature of Franco-Flemish sacred polyphony in times of Josquin Desprez and his contemporaries, the lower pitch suggest that was performed mainly by all male choir. Another question would be: young boys took part in sacred polyphony in times of Josquin Desprez in regard of where Franco-Flemish polyphony was developed?

    But I think Palestrina is completely another matter. Please, we can't even compare Burgundian Court or Dufay with Palestrina/Victoria at Sistine Chapel in 16th century. The higher pitch suggest a mixed choir of male and boys for lower and higher voices respectively. Would OVPP choirs suits such needs? I am really confused with your answers. I have read similar statements posted here but in my case I found that an usual number is around at 18 singers, ranging from a minimum of 12-16 to undefined. The nature of Palestrina masses suits with more than one voice per part. I would say the same applies for Victoria works in Rome. If it was true that a Palestrina choir in Sistine Chapel was OVPP, you will need good evidence so that I can understand it. The numbers you are giving contradicts.

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    I don't know about the numbers with Palestrina. I was simply going by what "Phil loves classical" wrote regarding Kenneth Kreitner's book "Renaissance Music"--that is, if Kreitner is correct that "OVPP was common in Palestrina's day", then the 1483 papal bull was no longer in effect in the late Renaissance:

    Phil wrote, "I read from Renaissance Music by Kenneth Kreitner that OVPP was common in Palestrina’s day. But a few bigger churches have 2 per part at ATB, and 4 boy sopranos. The doubling was more to insure at least a singer per part in attendance in case of one being sick rather than for the actual sound."

    I assume he's talking about this book, which is a collection of twenty essays on Renaissance performance practice:

    https://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-L.../dp/0754629635

    However, I don't don't know if Kreitner, or whoever wrote the essay in his collection, is correct or not.

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    Most performers don't use OVPP choirs. As far as I remember I can recall just 3 ensembles using OVPP choir: The Hilliard Ensemble, New York Polyphony and Pro Cantione Antiqua. The remaining ensembles performs Palestrina with at least 2 voices per part.

    In my opinion Pro Cantione Antiqua singing Palestrina are simply insufferable, the lower pitch and the terrible vibrato makes me to even can't finish listening any mass, particularly Missa l'Homme Arme. It's a shame since I am interested to listen a good performance of this mass. I have read good reviews of Hilliard Ensemble Palestrina, I will listen to them as soon as possible.
    Last edited by JSBach85; Feb-13-2018 at 14:49.

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    JSBach85 writes, "In my opinion Pro Cantione Antiqua singing Palestrina are simply insufferable, the lower pitch and the terrible vibrato makes me to even can't finish listening any mass, particularly Missa l'Homme Arme. It's a shame since I am interested to listen a good performance of this mass. I have read good reviews of Hilliard Ensemble Palestrina, I will listen to them as soon as possible."

    Are you talking about the Palestrina sung by the old Pro Cantione Antiqua of London, under Brno Turner? or the later group under Mark Brown? or do you have the same "lower pitch" & heavy "vibrato" issues with both eras of Pro Cantione Antiqua, under both choir directors?

    The early Hilliards recorded the "Song of Songs", or "Canticum canticorum" madrigals. It was actually the first Hilliard Ensemble recording I ever bought (a two LP EMI set), and I purchased it in the lobby at my very first early music concert, performed by the Hilliards in the mid-1980s at Haverford College, outside of Philadelphia. I'd question whether performances of Palestrina's 'spiritual' madrigals correlate closely to how Palestrina's masses were sung in the Sistine chapel, but they may. And yes, they performed the "Song of Songs" with just four singers (OVPP), as I recall.

    The later Hilliards (around 2000) additionally recorded parts of Palestrina's Requiem, along with parts of a 1592 Requiem by Victoria, and again the music was performed OVPP (in a monastery in Austria):

    https://www.amazon.com/Paradisum-Mus...ble+palestrina.

    JSBach85 writes, "But I think Palestrina is completely another matter. Please, we can't even compare Burgundian Court or Dufay with Palestrina/Victoria at Sistine Chapel in 16th century. The higher pitch suggest a mixed choir of male and boys for lower and higher voices respectively. Would OVPP choirs suits such needs? I am really confused with your answers. I have read similar statements posted here but in my case I found that an usual number is around at 18 singers, ranging from a minimum of 12-16 to undefined. The nature of Palestrina masses suits with more than one voice per part. I would say the same applies for Victoria works in Rome. If it was true that a Palestrina choir in Sistine Chapel was OVPP, you will need good evidence so that I can understand it."

    Over the years on Amazon, there have been two reviewers that appear to know a great deal more about early music scholarship and its musical practices than others--one is "Giordano Bruno", now just "Gio", I believe, who is a musician in the field and a scholar, and the other is "Maddy Evil" (yes, I know, it's a strange name, & must be a reference to something I don't understand). Both reviewers are well worth reading. I've just noticed that "Maddy Evil" wrote a review for Odhecaton's recording of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli on Arcana (one of the Palestrina CDs that I suggested on another thread), and he offers an interesting view on the question of OVPP in Rome during the time of Palestrina, and also mentions the musicological work of two relatively recent scholars to support his view. Here's an excerpt,

    "Well, in the first instance, Odhecaton is a choir made up almost entirely of Italian singers, providing a marked sound contrast from the norm established by groups like The Sixteen and The Tallis Scholars (excellent though they are). Secondly, the absence of sopranos or trebles here results in a rich, all-male vocal sonority which is clearly closer to that envisaged by Palestrina himself, adhering to the 'chiavette alte' (low clefs) of the first printed edition of the mass (1567). Lastly, the mass is presented in a pseudo-liturgical fashion, albeit somewhat loosely, not only giving the listener some concept of the work's original purpose but also affording a marvellous opportunity to include some of Palestrina's best motets, such as 'Sicut cervus', 'Victimae paschali laudes' and 'O sacrum convivium'. Only in the use of a full choir rather than soloists (one-voice-per-part) is Odhecaton's performance of these pieces historically shaky, although admittedly this problem applies to virtually every Palestrina recording available, and there can be no doubt that Odhecaton's 'choral' sound is truly wonderful. (Whilst the payroll for the Cappella Sistina included around 30 singers in Palestrina's day, scholars like Jean Lionnet and Graham Dixon have convincingly shown that only around 12 were usually active at a given time, and these took turns to sing music assigned to their voice part on the basis of seniority; elsewhere in Rome, the norm was nearer 8 singers in total on the payroll, and eyewitness accounts further confirm that polyphony was sung OVPP)."

    So apparently, as it turns out, it looks like Joshua Rifkin's 'baseball analogy' (which I referenced in my post above), does apply to the Cappella Sistina during the time of Palestrina: at least according to the scholarship of Jean Lionnet and Graham Dixon (not to be confused with the art critic, Andrew Graham-Dixon), & "others". I also wonder, since I don't know off the top of my head, how many of Palestrina's masses are more than 4 part masses? Since, in a six part mass by Palestrina, for instance--sung two on part, you'd expect to see a total of 12 singers used. I also found it interesting to read that it has been confirmed that 8 singers were kept on the payrolls of churches elsewhere in Rome during the time of Palestrina, and that "eyewitness accounts" confirm "the polyphony was sung OVPP".

    Here'a a link to the full review: https://www.amazon.com/Giovanni-Pier.../dp/B003XKDF5Q
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-13-2018 at 20:22.

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    In Parrott's book on Composers' Intentions, he says Dufay's lost requiem was sung at Cambrai the day after his death by 12 men. He says that a mass in Pesaro was sung by 32 singers in 1475. And by the 16th century large choirs were more common -- eg Lassus gave a mass with 33 men.

    Women were very much resisted. Instruments less so . . .
    Last edited by Mandryka; Feb-14-2018 at 21:24.

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    "In Parrott's book on Composers' Intentions, he says Dufay's lost requiem was sung at Cambrai the day after his death by 12 men."

    Does Parrott speculate whether Dufay's lost Requiem was a six-part mass?, with two on a part, or a four part mass with three singers on a part? As the latter would contradict what I have read, that Dufay's masses were never sung with more than two singers on a part at Cambrai. (I suspect that it was a 6 part Requiem mass, with two men on a part.)

    As for finding evidences of larger choirs of 32 or 33 or 36, or more, there's no dispute about that. The question is whether they were performing four (to six) part masses (i.e., the norm), or masses that were composed for many more parts, which obviously would require many more voices (with possibly intruments playing some of those parts too), even if such masses were sung with just one or two singers on a part.

    Alessandro Striggio, for example, has five choirs of eight parts (mixing high and low voices) in his Missa "Ecco si beato giorno" for forty individual parts (which served as Thomas Tallis' model for "Spem in Alium"). The leader of the group I Fagiolini, Robert Hollingsworth, argues that not all of these forty individual parts may have been sung, but rather some may have been taken by instruments. Hollingsworth adds that he's "gone down the Munich route" (i.e., the court of Lassus) in his recording of Striggio's mass, by choosing to add instruments to the voices.



    Therefore, when you're talking about a record of Lassus using "33" musicians in a mass, that's not surprising, as it could have been a many part mass, with instrumentalists added, and yet still have been sung one or two on a part.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-14-2018 at 23:56.

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    In the Addendum for the 1987 edition of his book on Dufay, David Fallows says that the work of William F Prizer shows that the requiem was in three voices.

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    Four singers on a part? That's a bit surprising. Dufay must have wanted it sung very slowly! It is after all the first Requiem mass ever composed, so maybe it was more or less an anomaly within his output. Although the late St. Anthony of Padua mass is also a three part mass. Hmm. Maybe Dufay wanted the St. Anthony mass sung slowly too? Dufay's other late masses--Ecce ancilla, Ave regina, Se la face ay pale and L’homme arme--are all four part masses.

    I'd be very interested to know what Andrew Kirkman has to say about all of this, since he's one of the foremost Dufay scholars today. As I don't recall any of the Binchois Consort's Dufay masses being sung by more than two men on a part. Which has to be relevant, being that if anyone knows about the historical records of singing practices at Cambrai, Savoy, etc., it would be Kirkman.

    Has anyone read Kirkman's books? I'll have to dig out his CDs, & see the booklet notes can be of any help on this matter.

    (It could be that the fewer parts in a mass, the less complex the polyphony was considered, and therefore, it might have been common to put more singers on a part, maybe three or four voices to a part in a three part mass (& to sing the work more slowly). While in the more complex polyphony of a many part mass, they may have strictly used only one singer to an individual part (as with Striggio). And, in a four or six part mass they may have generally used two singers per part. It's sort of the reverse of what I had been thinking, but that may actually make sense.)
    Last edited by Josquin13; Feb-15-2018 at 04:18.

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