Tag Archives: Motets

🎻♫♪ – Motets by Orlande de Lassus

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 38/501Title: Motets
Composer: Orlande de Lassus
Nationality: Franco-Flemish

So, it would seem that this set of works from Orlande de Lassus (whose nationality is rather complex thanks to how often borders have shifted in the last 500 years) will be the last set of motets that I will be listening to for the sake of this list.

Thing is… these just felt like the other motets that I have listened to for this list so far. If you you read around about Orlande de Lassus liked to do different things with his compositions. However, I couldn’t really get any of these in the collection of motets that were highlighted by the book.

In the end, I guess that I don’t know enough about motets to get some of the weirder stuff that de Lassus was doing here. Considering just how long motets had been around at the time of these being written it makes perfect sense that someone has tried to play with the format. Retrospectively, I guess I can see some of it… or I’ll just take the word of the internet at this point.

In other exciting news for this list – due to how much I enjoyed The Sleeping BeautyI booked tickets to see Salome live in a few months time. This will be my third opera I’ve ever seen, so I cannot help but wonder if I’ll enjoy it (like Manon) or not (like La Traviata).


🎻♫♪ – Motets by Cristóbal de Morales

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 24/501Title: Motets
Composer: Cristóbal de Morales
Nationality: Spanish

Okay, so I didn’t start out with the best frame of mind. I heard the harmonies and the phrase ‘oh more of this shit’ just flew out. This is exactly why I shouldn’t watch UNHhhh right before listening to choral music; I’m meant to be listening to something pious and I have Katya laughing at the back of my mind.

Yes people, this is how far I have come from my drag queen phobia, I now spend my time trolling the internet looking for the latest from my favourite Drag Race contestants. I am proud, horrified and marvelling at the lack of relevancy of this non-sequitur.

Seeing as how we are still in the world of 16th century motets, this is a purely choral offering. Layers of voices upon voices upon voices. At several points I was wondering whether they would switch gears and go into Mozart’s Requiem.

I cannot fathom how someone would go about writing this and then getting a group of people to actually sing it. In many of these you have the voices harmonizing, then cross-harmonizing and somehow it all still sounds effortless. It’s a lot down to who you get performing it (i.e. a professional choir, not your local church group) as this is something that would sound like a massacre in a henhouse if poorly done.

Since this blog is a place of honesty I will fully attest to the fact that I do not get these choral classical pieces. If it wasn’t for the hub wanting to alternate between listening chronologically and freeform… well I probably would never have gotten to come of these earlier pieces.

I can sit and appreciate the merits, but if I was to go after classical music to listen to it would be more along the lines of Water Music or The Planets. Maybe it’s because I cannot help but separate this style of music from it being church music whereas the others feel more like pieces that I can just have on whilst I am cooking the dinner or containing the rage as I answer work e-mails.

Still, this is all part of the journey.

🎻♫♪ – Motets by Nicolas Gombert

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 21/501Title: Motets
Composer: Nicolas Gombert
Nationality: Franco-Flemish

Excuse me, but I think I’m suffering from a bout of motet blindness. I think I am getting to the point with this classical list that I am starting to find it difficult to tell some of these earlier pieces apart. This isn’t a slight at any of the performers whose recordings of these pieces I have heard up to this point.

The thing is – when you have this sort of choral music it can be hard to distinguish between composers if months have passed between pieces. What I can tell from listening to Nicolas Gombert in isolation is that these motets are an example of polyphonic choral music – something that we didn’t have in some of the earlier pieces of music.

Other than that I’m out. The problem with this in particular is that there didn’t necessarily feel as if there was any underlying story or throughline for each of the motets. It just felt like voices coming in, choosing whether to harmonize or not.

Hey ho, as with 1001 it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll like all the stuff that’s early in the chronology. It just helps with that overall learning experience.

🎻♫♪ – Motets by Antoine Busnoys

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 11/501Title: Motets
Composer: Antoine Busnoys
Nationality: Netherlandish

This is going to be a short one today, mainly because I completely lost all sense of time whilst listening to the recording of Busnoys work.

In a number of cases the losing of time is a positive thing. Like how you suddenly realise you are an hour into watching Gone With The Wind and remark how quickly time flew or how, when watching Beauty & The Beast, you get to 20 minutes in and are amazed at how much they have packed in.

No, with this I got to about an hour in (I was listening to this in the office) and thought I had looped around to the beginning again.

This is the problem with listening to a bunch of music intended for masses. I can’t imagine the masses of the 1400s being the liveliest or most varied of occasions when it comes to music. I get this. The thing is that when I was envisioning this list as an addition I didn’t realise the wealth of religious music (yes, I am that dumb apparently).

Next week I am jumping ahead to Chopin because of Your Lie In April. I need piano music now!

🎻♫♪ – Motets by Guillaume Dufay

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
 10/501Title: Motets
Composer: Guillaume Dufay
Nationality: Franco-Flemish

Okay so two weeks ago I was full of love for Spotify because it houses so many recordings that I need for this list. However, on two of my playthroughs of the Huelgas Ensemble’s album of Dufay’s Motets there could have been more suitable adverts.

To describe what I mean I think I need to describe what a motet is. Essentially they are short vocal pieces with multiple voices singing independent parts (also known as polyphony). Since these ones are all sung in Latin you can’t help but think that they are singing something either fully religious or with a religious bent.

So imagine me listening to these at work and feeling somewhat relaxed and then suddenly an advert for this comes on. Talk about being yanked out of a comfortable choral blanket and back into the realities of current music.

As much as I know that Guillaume Dufay is an influential figure in Renaissance music, I am just counting down the entries until we reach music with some instruments. I never thought I would say this, but I want a piece of music with a harpsichord. I know I have long ways to go. I know this. It’s just that it feels like all I have been listening to for this so far are vocal harmonies which, although nice, sound very similar to my ear in training.