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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: July 2015

13 - Humanism and music in Italy

from Part III - Humanism


The source situation for Guillaume Du Fay's music, particularly in his early years, is quite good. Over a period of twenty-five years, a series of manuscripts transmits Du Fay's music in consistently good versions and with solid attributions. Du Fay's personal and clerical career is considerably better documented than those of most of his contemporaries. Despite the loss of late sources, Du Fay's music survives in higher proportion than that of his contemporaries and immediate successors. Du Fay was unusual in defining himself primarily as what is called today a "composer" rather than as a singer or even a clergyman. Du Fay promoted his music and sought to disseminate it. One of his earliest works is based on a plainsong that was sung at Cambrai as part of the Missa ad tollendum schismam. Du Fay's turn toward paraphrased cantus firmi led him to largely abandon the free cantilena style in liturgical and ceremonial works.


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