A preliminary study in aspects of structural continuity in Lasso's Penitential Psalms

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The Penitential Psalms is often referenced as Orlando di Lasso’s most famous piece; however, it remains largely untouched by scholars, plagued by some of the same problems that typically impede research on Lasso’s works: that is, bulk and musical variation. Although there have been a few comparative studies of the cycle with the most recent being Stefan Schulze’s study on modality in settings by Orlando di Lasso, Alexander Utendal and Jacob Reiner: Die Tonarten in Lassos “Busspsalmen” (1984), this is the first study since Herrmann Bäuerle’s dissertation Musikphilologische Studie über die Sieben Busspsalmen (1906), that deals exclusively with Lasso’s Penitential Psalms from an analytical perspective. Because of the problems mentioned, analysis of the Penitential Psalms is very much a methodological challenge, due to its scope and use of varied musical style throughout the cycle. Structure was indubitably a primary concern in the composition of the Penitential Psalms, as shown in the title of the work published first in 1584 – ‘modis musicis redditi’. In proving the hypothesis that Lasso, indeed, employs other musical elements, as well as mode, in such a capacity as to reinforce the structure of the cycle, there are two main lines of inquiry in the musical aspects that were analyzed in this study (motivicity and harmony): (1) To what extent do certain observed phenomena occur and what function does this serve? (2) To what degree are these phenomena used in the composition? The minor doxology was used as the underlying focus of this study to function as a type of control group. This was ideal since the text remains a constant throughout all seven settings, corresponding to each of the seven penitential psalms across the cycle. In demonstrated compositional patterns, both of the above lines of inquiry together form the basis for a more complete understanding of the psalms as well as the musical logic which gives the cycle a remarkable degree of coherence based on the interrelatedness of the phenomena observed.


Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Goruchwylydd / Goruchwylwyr / Cynghorydd
    Dyddiad dyfarnuIon 2011