By Robert Toft
The oral traditions surrounding the applying of sharps and residences to sixteenth century vocal tune are documented relating to theoretical literature, vocal resources, and intabulations of vocal track. certain reference is made to the motets of Josquin Desprez, Clemens non Papa, and Alexander Agricola.
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Additional resources for Aural Images of Lost Tradition: Sharps and Flats in the Sixteenth Century
But were Renaissance instrumentalists actually aware of the theoretical precepts of their own time, and if they were, did they understand how to apply these precepts in the vocal works they intabulated? That many instrumentalists understood modal theory and solmization is hardly to be doubted. Biographical information on instrumentalists active in Italy, Spain, Germany, and England confirms that a number of players regularly were employed as singers and that lutenists often 41 42 Aural Images played other instruments.
11). 12 Proper setting of voices mollis contra duram: nee e contra. 12) (Ornithoparchus/Dowland MAM rv 4, pp 96, 200-1). However, at least one theorist, Juan Bermudo (1555), explained why this degree of latitude was required in the correction of vertical dissonance: 'Y como los cantores tengan hecho el oydo, oyendo lo en una boz: lo usan en composicion, si primero se prepara' / 'And as a result of the way singers have trained their ears, [that is,] to hear what [is] in one voice, it [and here Bermudo is referring to the diminished fourth CJ-F] is used in composition, if it is prepared first' (Bermudo Dec v 32, f 139r).
Para lo qual es necessario que las vozes intermedias que son tenor y contraalto o la una dellas, scan puntos sostenidos. Los quales hazen que las consonancias suenen rezias y sostenidas' / 'Compositions usually end on an octave or a fifteenth, the harmony of which must always be sharped. For this reason, it is necessary that one or the other of the middle voices, that is, tenor or contraltus, be a sharped note, which makes the harmony sound strong and sharped' (Sancta Maria ATF i 26, f 89v). In addition to the practices discussed above, the unnotated subsemitone was also commonly supplied in noncadential passages.