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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Vocal Music - Mass & Motet

Continuing our alphabetical look at vocal music, today we come to Mass and Motet.


Mass

From the Latin “Missa,” Mass is a sacred musical composition that takes text from the Christian Eucharistic liturgy and sets it to music.


The earliest form of Mass appeared in around the 7th century in the form of Gregorian Chant.


Masses can be sung A Capella or accompanied.


As time went on the composition of the Mass became more complex with the introduction of polyphonic texture.


The Mass consists of several sections:

Kyrie (Lord have mercy upon us…)

Gloria (Glory be to thee…)

Credo (I believe in God the Father…)

Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy…)

Agnus Dei (O Lam of God…)

These sections are from the Ordinary Mass which simply means the the words don’t change and they are used everyday.


Other sections some composers use are from the Proper Mass. That is to say the words may change from day to day in the service. However, due to the nature of a composed Mass, a composer would take words for a particular section - regardless of its use (unless being written for a specific event).

The Proper Mass sections are:

Introit

Gradual

Alleluia

Tract

Offertory

Communion


Since 1800’s (approx) composer have written Masses to be performed as concert pieces rather than solely for Church. These will feature different sections taken from the Ordinary and Proper Mass, and will often fill a whole concert programme. Though Fauré's Requiem (mass) is only about 35 minutes long, and Mozart’s Requiem (Mass) is just under 60 minutes.

Motet

The motet were originally religious texts set to music. However, during the Renaissance Period, non-religious texts started to be used.

In Church, the words would be in Latin. If the words were English then it would be classed as an Anthem.

As time went on instruments would be added to the music to accompany the choir.

Motets would use a lot of polyphony and imitation.


One of the most famous Motets comes from Mozart, who wrote Ave Verum Corpus for choir and small orchestra.



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