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Samuel Hardy

Music History

Homework 5

1. There were 3 ways in which rhythm evolved in the A

rs Nova style. The first was the
allowance of the division of notes into duples and triples, as opposed to just triples, as
before. The triple was still regarded as sounding better though. As such, the duple was
regarded as imperfect and the triple as perfect. The second innovation was the
introduction of minims. This replaced the semibreve as the smallest rhythmic division of
a note, and was worth the metric value of a semibreve. The introduction of the minim
into music made syncopation possible, and also made much more interesting rhythms
possible. Finally, mensuration signs are the last of the innovations to rhythm in the A
Nova style. Mensuration signs were essentially precursors to the modern time signature.
The introduction of mensuration signs into made interpreting rhythm much easier for the
2. Repetition in the music that represents

Ars Nova is most often seen in a musical device

called isorhythm. Isorhythm was a long, repeating rhythmic pattern sung by the tenor in
motets from the 14th century, which served the purpose of laying the foundation for a
polyphonic composition. Isorhythm gave structure to large polyphonic works of the time,
and made the piece it was used in sound organized.
3. Three formes

fixes are
virelai, rondeau

, and ballade. In a virelai, music with text repeats

in refrains and various phrases.

Most virelais are monophonic, but can be polyphonic as

well. Their subject matter tended to be about nature
or love. Rondeaus had the same
structure, but were mostly

about only love.

Finally, b
allades were structurally similar to
the other

two formes fixes but were about serious subject matter. (They could as well be
about love if the love was serious enough.)
4. Machauts La Messe

de Nostre Dame was unique in that it was the first mass to

composed with polyphony that was attributed to one single composer. It was also unique
in that all of the pieces in the mass are meant to combine as one whole unit. This
differed from masses at the time, which viewed the compositions used during mass as
individual pieces that were not connected to each other at all. Finally, Machauts mass
contained specific musical themes throughout; the themes did not change for every
different movement sung during Mass.
5. Composers

of the Ars Subtilior pushed rhythm to the absolute limit. The would combine
rhythms marked in different mensurations, syncopation was utilized, voices moved in
very contrasting ways to each other, pulse was divided in many different ways, rests
were common, and smaller subdivisions were made possible. This music was composed
for educated audiences, who would appreciate the high level of musicianship
demonstrated in these difficult compositions and their performers.