Week 3 – Listening Example: Guillaume de Machaut: Messe de Notre Dame

Amount of work:

1 pageDOUBLE

Subject: Music

Please write an SFHRMTX analysis of only the section from 0’0″-13’20” of Guillaume de Machaut’s “Messe de Notre Dame.”

Guillaume de Machaut

Machaut – Messe de Notre Dame (abbaye de Thoronet, Ens. G. Binchois, dir. D. Vellard) (1:03:46)



Be sure to answer these questions as part of the “X” element:

What about this selection is indicative of both the Middle Ages and Renaissance?
Discuss, briefly, why it is an example of a transitional piece of music between the Medieval and Renaissance.
What does the Latin text that they are singing mean (a quick Internet search will lead you to numerous resources that contain translations)
Does the music reflect the text (and vice versa)?
Some notes on the format.

1) Do not copy and paste from the SFHRMTX template. The piece above is a selection from a Mass (that’s the form), while the work analyzed in the template is four movements (four songs).

2) In the template, you’ll see Italian terms used to describe tempo (how fast or slow a piece of music is performed); those Italian terms should only be used to describe tempo! In some classical music, the name of a piece of music is simply the Italian tempo word which describes it (for example, the first movement of a symphony might be called “Allegro non troppo”).

3) For the Form and Harmony sections: I don’t expect you to be experts on these yet. Listen to the piece a few times, and then try to describe what you hear. Form can be compared to the plot of a story–for example, let’s imagine there’s a piece of music in which there’s a certain melody (let’s call it melody “A”), which is then followed by a darker, more sad melody (let’s call that melody “B”). Melody “A” returns, and then the piece of music ends. You might describe that form as A-B-A. There’s a specific form for a Mass–what is it? Look up the definition and parts. Read about these sections in the e-textbook for this class.

4) Texture– This is asking specifically about how many musical parts are interacting together–I’m looking for specific terms introduced in the textbook here. If it is a single melody–even if it’s sung or played by many people together–that’s called monophony. If there are a few parts more-or-less moving together (say, a rhythm section of guitar, bass, and drums backing up a singer)–that’s called homophony. If there are multiple melodies, all of about the same importance, happening together at the same, that’s called polyphony. These summaries are a bit basic–read up more on these terms in the book.

5) Extras– I’m looking for both your thoughts on the piece and also some historical information on the work and composer. Why do you think people are still listening to/studying this music many years after it was first written?

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