Tuesday, January 27, 2009

16th century style canon in augmentation

In one of my classes, today, I used, as an example, a canon in augmentation by Josquin des Prez

It is in the dorian mode on D and has two clear cadences -- a weaker one at measure 5 and a stronger one at the end. "weak" and "strong" are not used here as indicators of quality but rather, referring to relative strength. If every cadence was strong a piece would sound like it was repeatedly starting and stopping. Having different kinds of cadences makes controlling the form of a piece much easier. You usually want your strongest cadence at the end...

In Josquin's canon, both voices start at the same time but the upper voice moves at half the speed of the lower. The lower part completes the canon in measure 10 and continues more freely from there to the end.

(click on image to enlarge)

In my canon (also in D dorian), I chose to start the augmentation (in the lower part) one measure later. I used a typical 16th century style cadential figure and a leading tone (C#) to make the first cadence (measure 5) but by having it occur over F (making the interval of a 6th) instead of D (which would have given an octave), this cadence is weaker than the final. After the first cadence, I begin the next section with some imitation to further unify the piece,

I crossed the voices at measure 8 because I wanted to hear the leading tone-to-tonic motion on top.

(click on image to enlarge)

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