The first full-length study of how motets were used and performed in the fifteenth century, this book dispels the mystery surrounding these outstanding works of vocal polyphony. It covers four areas of intense compositional activity: England, the Veneto, Bruges and Cambrai, with reference to the works of Dunstaple, Forest, Ciconia, Gren and Du Fay. In every documented instance, motets functioned as ceremonial vehicles, whether voiced in procession through the streets of a city or the chapel of a king, at the guild chapel of a parish church or the high altar of a cathedral. The motet was an entirely vocal genre that changed radically during the period from 1400 to 1475. Robert Nosow outlines the motet's social history, demonstrating how the incorporation of different texts, musical dialects, cantus firmus materials and melodic styles represents an important key to the evolution of the genre, and its adaptability to widely variant ritual circumstances.
Robert Nosow has published widely on fifteenth-century Latin polyphony and the relationship of written and oral traditions in the performance of Italian poetry. His writing has appeared in many publications including The New Grove, the Journal of Musicology, Early Music History and Musical Quarterly. He also edited the first scholarly edition of the three 'Concertos for Violoncello' of C. P. E. Bach.