Musical borrowing: the intentional integration of previously-composed material into a new composition. Such borrowing has been an integral facet of music composition throughout music history, and was particularly important during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. During the Medieval period, most instances of musical borrowing reflected the beliefs and ideals of the church, generating a sense of holy authority by incorporating the traditional sacred melodies (which were considered to be of holy origin) into new compositions. During the Renaissance, composers continued to borrow, but for different reasons, and from different sources. For instance, while they continued to draw upon the traditions and existing music of the church, Renaissance composers also incorporated aspects of other composers’ works into their own compositions, and even drew upon melodies and texts of secular music, in order to establish authority by alluding to other important compositions, to pay homage to their predecessors, and to demonstrate their own worldly knowledge of music. Generally speaking, the fourteenth century served as a transitional period between the Medieval and Renaissance, allowing the borrowing techniques and rationales of the past to mingle with the new and experimental spirit of the Renaissance. Written at the height of this transition, Johannes Ciconia’s Sus Une Fontayne provides an example of the highly sophisticated treatment of musical borrowing during this volatile period of musical and cultural change.
Joni Rice, ’08 Englewood, CO
Major: Music Performance – French Horn
Sponsor: Jama Stilwell