The greatest Renaissance creator of liturgical music, the revered sixteenth-century composer known as Palestrina wrote works that served for centuries as models of counterpoint. Until The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance,
theoreticians seldom closely analyzed the composer’s work to discover its fundamental elements, including the handling of rhythm, line, and harmony.
Beginning chapters discuss the standard use of rhythm and mensuration in Palestrina’s time, the ecclesiastical modes, and treatment of words. Author Knud Jeppesen proceeds to explore Palestrina’s music in terms of the elements that constitute his personal style, isolating unusual vertical lines and establishing common and uncommon interval skips and rhythmic accents.
The heart of the book presents a modern empirical treatment of dissonance. Palestrina's contrapuntal technique forged new harmonic devices, placing dissonance on unaccented beats and highlighting text in very unorthodox ways for his time. These new uses of dissonance and resolution are explored in meticulous detail. In addition, Jeppesen includes a complete history of the evolving concept and treatment of dissonance before Palestrina, including quotations from the earliest theoretical works and numerous musical examples that illustrate the practices of Palestrina’s predecessors.
Reprint of the Oxford University Press, 1946 edition.
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