It is regularly the situation throughout background that music innovation starts in a single genre climate spreads to others. This is the situation in the Renaissance with the motet. For understandable reasons, composers were much more willing to shot out more recent compositional formats in the genre of the motet than they to be in the mass. Because that example, the older cantus firmus method that developed in the Middle eras was used in masses for much longer than in motets. In motets, composers moved away from the cantus firms and favored freer, more expressive techniques (including imitative and homophonic textures) far earlier than in the mass. In time these newer styles at some point spread to various other genres consisting of the mass.

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In classical music, a motet is a very varied choral musical composition. The motet was among the pre-eminent polyphonic develops of Renaissance music.

According come Margaret Bent, “a piece of music in several parts with words” is as precise a definition of the motet as will certainly serve native the 13th to the late 16th century and beyond. This is close to one of the more quickly descriptions we have, that of the late 13th-century thinker Johannes de Grocheo, who believed that the motet to be “not to be commemorated in the presence of common people, due to the fact that they execute not notification its subtlety, nor room they delighted in hearing it, yet in the visibility of the educated and also of those who room seeking out subtleties in the arts.”


In the early twentieth century, it to be generally believed the name came from the Latin movere, (“to move”), despite a derivation from the French mot (“word” or “phrase”), had additionally been suggested. The medieval Latin because that “motet” is motectum, and also the Italian mottetto was additionally used. If words is from Latin, the name explains the motion of the various voices against one another. Today, however, the French etymology is favoured by recommendation books, as the word “motet” in thirteenth-century French had actually the feeling of “little word.”

Medieval Motets

The more quickly motets occurred in the thirteenth century native the organum legacy exemplified in the Notre Dame school of Léonin and also Pérotin. The motet probably emerged from the enhancement of text to the lengthy melismatic passages of organum. The motet take it a identify rhythm indigenous the indigenous of the verse, and also as such appeared as a quick rhythmic interlude in the middle of the longer, more chantlike organum.

The exercise of discant over a cantus firmus marked the starts of counterpoint in west music. From these very first motets developed a medieval tradition of secular motets. These were two or three component compositions in i beg your pardon several different texts, occasionally in various vernacular languages, to be sung at the same time over a Latin cantus firmus that when again was usually adapted from a passage of Gregorian chant. That is doubt that, for the sake of intelligibility, in power the cantus firmus and one or one more of the vocal lines to be performed top top instruments. Among the trouvères, Robert de Reins La Chievre and also Richart de Fournival composed motets.

Renaissance Motets

The motet was maintained in the change from medieval to Renaissance music, however the character of the composition was completely changed. While it flourished out the the medieval motet, the Renaissance composers that the motet generally abandoned the use of a repeated number as a cantus firmus. Instead, the Renaissance motet is a polyphonic music setting, periodically in imitative counterpoint, for chorus, the a Latin text, usually sacred, not specifically linked to the liturgy of a provided day, and therefore suitable for use in any kind of service. The texts of antiphons were typically used as motet texts. This is the type of composition that is many familiarly designated through the ax “motet,” and also the Renaissance period marked the flower of the form.

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In essence, this motets were sacred madrigals. The relationship in between the two forms is most evident in the composers who focused on sacred music, specifically Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, whose “motets” setup texts native the Canticum Canticorum, the biblical “Song of Solomon,” are amongst the many lush and madrigal-like that Palestrina’s compositions, while his “madrigals” that collection poems that Petrarch in prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary would certainly not be the end of place in church. The language the the message was the decisive feature: if it’s Latin, it’s a motet; if the vernacular, a madrigal. Religious compositions in vernacular languages were often referred to as madrigali spirituali, “spiritual madrigals.”

In the latter part of the sixteenth century, Giovanni Gabrieli and also other composers occurred a brand-new style, the polychoral motet, in which two or much more choirs the singers (or instruments) alternated. This format of motet to be sometimes dubbed the Venetian motet to identify it native the Netherlands or Flemish motet created elsewhere.