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Review article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of the Alamire Foundation
Volume (Issue) 9
Page(s) 11 - 32
Title of proceedings Journal of the Alamire Foundation


In order to provide a new theoretical basis for reassessing the late fifteenth-century motetti missales and their interaction with liturgy in Sforza Milan, this papers starts from a basic set of questions that regard not the missales specifically, but rather a much broader issue. The precept of ‘hearing the Mass’ was central to the life of early modern Christians: but in how many ways could the faithful fulfil it? how many forms of attention and participation were deemed acceptable? what role did sonic elements play in all this? and conversely, how did these conceptions influence musical choices? Through the study of treatises, methods, and other documents, the first parts of the paper explore the theory and practice of attending Mass and examine fundamental problems such as that of the synchronization between ritual actions, individual devotion, and collective experiences. Focusing back on the motetti missales in the light of the background thus delineated, in the third part I argue that the motetti missales were performed during votive low Masses. Furthermore, in the conclusions, I put this practice in the longue durée perspective of the early modern era and suggest that the low Mass might have been an important venue for the performance of motets throughout the period.