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The Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance [Format Kindle]

Knud Jeppesen

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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.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  2 commentaires
18 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An AHA! moment in Music history 6 octobre 2009
Par Hexagram of the Heavens - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
This was Jeppesen's doctoral dissertation, I believe, and explores a very narrow area as might be expected. You really have to be into music theory in a serious way to want to read it at all. After deciphering the detailed arguments, I realized that Jeppesen had a genuinely fresh insight to offer: that the late 16th century, as reflected in the Palestrina style represents a watershed in the psychological / stylistic attitude toward dissonance, separating all of medieval music from all modern music (post-1600).
For me, this is a great AHA! But as I say, you have to be REALLY into music theory to get it. As with Jeppesen's "Counterpoint", you must read multiple C-clefs in score, or be willing to transcribe the examples into modern clefs if that's what you can read, so it's not a casual read. I give it 5 stars for the AHA! but dock it one star for inaccessibility.

The English translation preserves intact many of the convoluted clauses of the Danish. Footnotes are confidently presented in original languages: German, Danish, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and Medieval Latin, with the apparent expectation of linguistically sophisticated readers. lol... wish I could rise to the occasion.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the masterpieces in music theory 18 août 2012
Par Hans Hummel - Publié sur Amazon.com
You might need to have studied species counterpoint before committing yourself, just a fair warning. (Fux or Jeppesen prefered due to voice-crossing)

Despite the lack of translation of quotes Jeppesen still manages to bring forth his points by the use of examples taken from the late works of Palestrina. These he compares with the earlier work by same composer as well as other earlier masters(about 1400-1550) especially the works of Josqin des Prez. He does this in a way that brings forth the different treatment of the dissonance in the hands of different masters then debates the reason for Palestrina's more "strict" approach.
In this way you will clearly understand the fundamental treatment of dissonances in late Palestrina style without being confused by what you've read elsewhere.

This historical aspect and a very logical approach(besides some personal opinions here and there) is imho what makes this book a masterpiece.

Jeppesen's treatment of the dissonance is planned out very carefully, he divides it into categories which he again subdivides etc.
In this way it could easily be used as a reference source if you are studying species counterpoint. Especially since Fux(as the author proves) was mistaken more than once in his "gradus ad parnassum". Jeppesen even debates as to the reason why many music theorists had a hard time understanding the specific style of Palestrina.

I would also say that Jeppesen's superb understanding of his subject enables him to catch errors in earlier publications of Palestrina scores(and those of other old composers) - often because of the publisher's own erroneous correction of the score. This because the publisher didn't understand some exceptions of dissonance treatment and thought them to be mistakes(especially pre-Palestrina styles have a less strict approach to voice-leading).

Because this book is so important in understanding general voice-leading, the person who might benefit from this isn't just the theorist(like the other review claims) but also the hardworking composer. Even composers of the classical era(Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven) studied voice-leading mainly through Fux, and Fux attempted to do what Jeppesen has done here(and in his other book on Counterpoint). Therefore anybody serious about mastering voice-leading should get this great masterpiece a.s.a.p.
Yes it's tough at times and it may require you to rewrite most examples of Palestrina to prefered clefs, but even so, as far as I know this is the only work dealing in depth with such an important area of music theory(the dissonance) and because of its restrictions(late Palestrina with comparisons to other composers for clarity) it actually accomplishes its task better than any other work known to me.

For that reason I think this work and the authors working method should stand as an example for all music theorists to follow - restrict yourself to an important aspect of music theory, choose one master as your prime example and compare the works of this master to his contemporaries, his own earlier works and works of earlier masters.
Do this and you might change the future of music theory.
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