Keyboard Music and Liturgy in the Renaissance etc.
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 31
    Readers must excuse my ignorance - the question will make it obvious I have no professional training as an organist.

    In the renaissance and baroque periods, one finds these keyboard pieces that are written according to a "tone." Presumably that might refer to one of the chant tones (?).

    There are no words that accompany the text.

    The instrument is an organ, so presumably this was used in the context of a liturgy.

    Would any organists be able to explain how music like this was used in the liturgy?

    Was it perhaps "background" music at specified times of the Mass?

    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Such short verses as you show most likely would have been played to set a pitch for the singers for the singing of psalms or canticles, or some other vocal parts of mass or office.
    Or, perhaps to accompany short processions or liturgical movement.
    Or some other ceremonial purpose that we can only guess at.
    Alternatim style use would seem unlikely because there is just the single 'verse' in each tone.
    It's not likely that we can say definitively what such single and brief little 'verses' were used for.
    Most likely to establish pitches in the appropriate 'tone' or mode.

    Some others on the Forum may have other suggestions.

    This is a good opportunity for me to grind one of my axes - namely, the giving of pitches. Sounding out one note for a choir is a musically senseless intrusion into the liturgical action and sound-scape. Even worse (infinitely worse!) is sounding out the SATB notes either in a chord or (infinitely infinitely worse!) arpeggiated. Improvising short little pieces such as these (or actually using already composed pieces such as these) would really grace a liturgy and its musical elements far more than the constant honking of pitches.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    I sound pitches for one item only, communion chants. Half the choir may not show up for rehearsal on any given week and didn't practice them. it helps keep them from total disaster, although I choose chants so simple they can easily sing them if given a starting pitch. I play introductions for everything else.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,328
    I agree the Diruta are probably intonations; a point of confusion is that they employ 12 "tones", the usual 8 tones being those on C, D, E and F in their plagal and authentic forms. The 12-mode system was proposed in Glarean's Dodecachordon and is illustrated on the first page of that work.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,781
    Those are most likely "Intonazione" to set the pitch for the choir. During the Renaissance the majority of organ music was improvised to suit the specific occasion and location--just like today, some churches are larger, some smaller; some priests slower, some faster. Collections like this, such as the famous Fiori Musicali, were put together primarily to tutor organists in the art of liturgical improvisation, not necessarily as pieces to perform--though, of course, they could be, and were.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 31
    Why would a musician write two lines of music, if the purpose was to give choristers their pitch? Wouldn't it be faster to just play a note or a single chord? Pardon me if the question comes across as unenlightened ...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,628
    Efficiency is not a liturgical value!
  • Wouldn't it be faster...
    I have railed above on this very thread and elsewhere on our forum against the giving of pitches by honking out mere notes (even if they are softly honked), worse yet entire chords, and worse even yet the oh so careful sounding out of the B-T-A-S notes. All of this is unseemly, distracting, and, worst of all, artless. - And it suggests that the choir are musical idiots (which, of course, they are not).
    (And, exponentially worse than the aforementioned honking of notes or chords from the organ is the choral humming of those pitches which the organ has honked out. Dante could, I think, have thought of a fitting punishment for their indecorous insertions into the sacred soundscape.)

    It is precisely the sort of intonazione that is referenced above which should be one's guide as to how to set pitch and tonality (or modality) for a choir or a priest. If one can't improvise such short intonations in renaissance or modern style then there is no shortage of printed ones. They would add so much to your liturgy!

    And, at last, an answer as to 'wouldn't it be faster' - yes, it would, but 'fastness' in any form or for any purpose is the enemy of good liturgy. We are not in a hurry. We take the time to do what is seemly and gracious.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    One of our choirs has a leader who uses some god-forsaken app on her i-phone to sound pitches. It sounds like an out of tune banjo, but then a banjo always sounds out of tune. I find a soft organ flute is much less obnoxious. Then there is the inevitable whine that rises to the sky when a regular intro is played, "We can't get our pitch."

    Danged old people. They are impossible to work with and are never happy.
  • Carol
    Posts: 679
    Isn't saying "out of tune banjo" redundant?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Last time that group sang she gave the pitches for, I kid you not, "My Dog Has Fleas."
    Thanked by 2Carol Incardination