Monday, April 01, 2013

Renaissance Polymeter!

It sounds like an April Fools joke, but it isn't! This piece by the Renaissance composer Christopher Tye (c. 1505-c. 1572) is the last of a set of 21 instrumental pieces that share the same cantus firmus. They begin simply, and become increasing complex as they go along. In this, the final piece of the set, Tye puts the two upper voices in 3/4 time, and the three lower voices in 4/4 time. I imagine he amused (or perhaps frustrated) his friends with this.

You can listen to it here.

1 comment:

Allen Garvin said...

Do you know the Picforth In Nomine? Each part is a sequence of notes of the same length, different from all the other parts. One of the higher parts is set with minor prolation as well. It's a peculiar piece, found in a single manuscript, ascribed to a composer that is not otherwise known. When played well, it's a mesmerizing.

There are a lot of great In Nomines, which are great for new players, since the cantus line is so simple, while often the other parts are very athletic and difficult.