Tactus, Mensuration and Rhythm in Renaissance Music

Tactus, Mensuration and Rhythm in Renaissance Music

By: Ruth I. DeFord (author)Paperback

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Ruth I. DeFord's book explores how tactus, mensuration, and rhythm were employed to articulate form and shape in the period from c.1420 to c.1600. Divided into two parts, the book examines the theory and practice of rhythm in relation to each other to offer new interpretations of the writings of Renaissance music theorists. In the first part, DeFord presents the theoretical evidence, introduces the manuscript sources and explains the contradictions and ambiguities in tactus theory. The second part uses theory to analyse some of the best known repertories of Renaissance music, including works by Du Fay, Ockeghem, Busnoys, Josquin, Isaac, Palestrina, and Rore, and to shed light on composers' formal and expressive uses of rhythm. DeFord's conclusions have important implications for our understanding of rhythm and for the analysis, editing, and performance of music during the Renaissance period.

About Author

Ruth I. DeFord is Professor Emerita of Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her principal areas of research are the Italian madrigal and canzonetta and music theory of the Renaissance. She has edited the canzoni of Giovanni Ferretti and the canzonettas of Orazio Vecchi for A-R Editions. Her articles have appeared in numerous scholarly journals.


Introduction; Part I. Theory: 1. Sources of information; 2. Principles of mensural notation; 3. Definitions and descriptions of Tactus; 4. Tactus and rhythm; 5. Tactus and signs in fifteenth-century music theory; 6. Tactus and signs in sixteenth-century music theory; 7. Tactus and tempo; Part II. Practice: 8. The songs of Du Fay; 9. The L'homme arme masses of Ockeghem, Busnoys, and Josquin; 10. The five- and six-voice motets of Josquin; 11. The Choralis Constantinus of Isaac; 12. The masses of Palestrina; 13. The madrigals of Rore; 14. Popular songs and dances; Conclusion.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107637023
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 516
  • ID: 9781107637023
  • weight: 900
  • ISBN10: 1107637023

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