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Masses from the Renaissance:

Look and Listen


Josquin, Isaac, Mouton, Pipelare, Vinders, de la Rue, Appenzeller, Bauldeweyn and many more.

Welcome to the Masses from the Renaissance: Look and Listen web site.

The idea of this under-construction Site is, in the first instance, to share with the broader community editions and soundfiles of selected polyphonic settings of the Mass and Mass fragments composed during the first 50 years or so of the Renaissance (ca. 1475- ca. 1525). It is my fervent intent that the materials on this site will stimulate further scholarly inquiry into the repertoire and as important promote performance.



Go To: COMPOSERS and select name.

The COMPOSERS box is the actual index to the Site. Each of the listed composers has his own page which contains his works available on the Site. Information on the Source from which the edition has been taken is also provided.

To Look: click on view document - a new window will open ("the pdf screen"), adjust pages to your viewing preferences and scroll through.

To Listen: click on and adjust settings to your listening preferences. Note that these may need to be changed according to the nature of each mass and your multimedia player. You may find that listening through external speakers with head phones is the best option. In cases where your machine's program requires that you download the file before playing, creating a folder in which to store the soundfiles might be useful.

To Look and Listen: 1st - click on view document and make page adjustments then minimize screen; 2nd - click on listen to music and adjust settings to your preferences; 3rd - maximize the "pdf screen" and scroll through with the audio input.




Superlatives abound when describing this music. It can also be majestic, heroic, contemplative, devotional, ethereal, profound and of course it is deeply religious. To assume that it was separate from the secular world would, however, be quite wrong. The myriad of inter textual and symbolic relationships so amply displayed and oftentimes embedded in the repertoire is testament to its temporal and spiritual nexus; and it can be noted, of course, that many settings draw their model from the secular domain. It is music that in its own time was avant-garde and was a platform for the exhibition of compositional mastery, ingenuity and the exploration of ideas, harmonic, melodic and contrapuntal. For me, its examination of what is seemingly the infinite possibilities of setting an essentially standard text is a compelling stimulus in my endless fascination for this repertoire. Indeed, this music attracts attention and holds one spellbound by its unique power.


These are source specific. The editions are works in progress by which I mean that the application of musica ficta and text underlay is always under review. This is one of the magical elements of working with the sources - they offer wide ranging possibilities, certainly some more workable than others, but all nonetheless worthy of investigation. Thus, my editions are reflective of what I think at a particular point in time, rather than what I think period.

Spellings, punctuation, capitalization and "hyphenation" transmitted in the sources are maintained in the editions. Examples can be noted where the same scribe uses different spellings and "hyphenation" on the same folio: these have been retained. Scribal abbreviations are written in full. From time to time what appears to be textual misalignment can be witnessed. Close examination suggests that in many cases this is a matter of textual juxtaposition for the purposes of inter textual symbolism. This has also be retained. In some transmissions words that can be hyphenated differently (e.g. Sanctus) are always written in full. In these cases present day common-practice hyphenation is used.

Important is that in many cases a given mass or mass segment is transmitted in a number of sources. Oftentimes elements contributing to textual transmission (and also the music itself) are different; and sometimes the differences between the various transmissions of the "same" setting are significant. They are reflective of broad-level aesthetic variance, what might be termed local performance practice and in varying degrees factional affiliation. With the advent of printing, coming into play with publications is the "infancy" of printing technology and entrepreneurial enterprise. Thus when we investigate the transmission history of a particular work and the tradition as a whole what we witness is a thinking outside of the ideology that espouses the present-day practice of authorial sanction. The files on this site should be considered as versions and with the added input of modern editorship as versions of versions.

Transmitted text is in plain type; editorial text in italics; and repeated text indicated by the sign ://: in the Blackmoor LET font. In cases where more than one text scribe has contributed to a source (in its present state of preservation) distinguishable fonts are also included. Chancery initials indicate either painted or inked calligraphic letters. Ut supra sections (e.g. Osanna II) are not written out a second time.

Musica ficta and its application is one area in particular that gives rise to much debate. The so called pervasive imitation characteristic of much of the repertoire included on this site lends itself to ficta treatment. Often this is included in the present editions as well as what might be termed the more standard ficta at cadential progressions and that necessary for both harmonic and melodic reasons. The ficta included here should not be considered prescriptive.


These pdf files provide folio by folio information on the source from which the edition has been taken. In table format, the files lists staves and those indented per folio and include information such as art work, voice designations, clefs, manuscript accidentals, the inclusion of puncti divisionis (pd), puncti perfectionis (pp), signa congruentiae (sc), erasures, other alterations and variants between the source and the edition. Some are now complete with the remainder gradually been added to the Site.


The soundfiles are electronically generated. Each file has a short lead in time of silence. The files are provided essentially as raw data. Care has been taken to put stereo to work, however. On the basis that performance from a choirbook is conditioned by standing around a large lectern and singing from a single manuscript, as a general guide folio content is allotted to each channel: verso folios right, recto folios left. Imitative and antiphonal interplay between the voices is thrown into sharp relief; and in cases for transmissions of the same work with different voice distributions on the folios, the generated soundscapes can be remarkably altered.

Nothing can surpass a live performance by the best singers in the best acoustic. But having said that, the files here provide an idea of the soundscapes composed by some of the most gifted musicians in the history of music.


At present my principal interest is expanding the repertoire offering on the Site. Much other material can also be added including paleographic and codicological studies, composer and music inquiry, socio-cultural and inter textual investigations and so on. Visitors to the Site who are interested in making a contribution are welcome to put forward a proposal.

Requests for particular works to be included on the Site are also welcome - specially in cases of set works where an edition and soundfiles would be helpful for study purposes. This is dependent on availability of sources.



I acknowledge the personnel making up the various Research Committees of the University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales who through policy and assessment have made research funds available for the continuation of my editorial projects. I also acknowledge the administrators of these funds.

Importantly, I acknowledge the invaluable assistance provided by the following Officers of the following Institutions with regard to the obtaining of copies (either microfilm or digital) of manuscripts:

Dr Joachim Ott - Thüringer Universitäts - und Landesbibliothek, Jena

Drs Willy Van de Vijver and Dieter Viaene - Stadsarchief, Mechelen

Dr Àngels Rius i Bou, Biblioteca de Montserrat, Montserrat

Drs Pascal Trousse and Marie Cornaz, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Brussels

Drs Brigitte Gullath, Ingrid Weiβ and Vera Möllering, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich


I also thank the following for their various kinds of technical support:

Dr Jason Stoessel, Lecturer, Music, School of Arts, University of New England

Mr Enzo Accadia - City Librarian, Coffs Harbour City Council

and Mr Ra Eakins.



The music presented on this Site is complex and may require several listenings before giving up its secrets. We should be mindful, however, that listening to these works as "concert pieces" is outside of the contextual parameters in which the music was performed. Even so, I hope you enjoy the music as both a visual and aural experience. If you would like to contact me about any of this, please feel free to do so.

First posted: 16. VI. 2009

Last updated: 20.II. 2010