THE WORKS OF DU CAURROY
A) Two Songs in 4 and 5 voices, in Vingdeuxieme livre de chansons a quatre & cinq parties, d'Orlande de Lassus et autres. Paris, A. le Roy et R. Ballard, 1583.
B) One Song in 4 voices, in Vingtroisieme livre de chansons a quatre & cinq parties, d'Orlande de Lassus et autres. Paris, A le Roy et R. Ballard, 1583.
C) One Song in 4 voices, in Le Rossignol musical des chansons de diverses et excellens autheurs de nostre temps a quatre, cinq et six parties. Antwerpen, P. Phalese, 1597.
D) Forty four Motets, four Psalms, three Te Deum in Preces ecclesiasticae. 2 volumes. Paris, Pierre Ballard, 1609.
E) Ten Psalms, 36 Songs, 15 Noëls in Meslanges de la Musique. Paris, Pierre Ballard, 1610. (Of which five Songs, seven Noëls and eight Vers mesurés à l'antique have been published in Les Maîtres musiciens de la Renaissance française, éd. Henry Expert. Vol. 17. New York: Broude Brothers, 1903).
F) Fantasies, in III, IIII, V and VI parts. Paris, Pierre Ballard, 1610. (Edited in E. Du Caurroy: Les oeuvres complètes, ed. Blaise Pidoux, Gesamtausgaben, ix. Brooklyn: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1975).
G) Missa pro defunctis in 5 voices. Paris, Pierre Ballard, 1636. (Re-edited by E. Martin. Paris: Salabert, 1951).
H) Pie Jesu Domine, Canon in 6 voices in Mersenne: Harmonie universelle, livre VII. Paris, 1636.
I) Three Masses in 4 voices, mentioned by Mersenne (1636), lost.
The chant of Du Caurroy is an absolute polyphony, where each voice, while independently following its proper course, still finds itself «in harmony» with its neighbours. It is as complex and difficult an exercise as one could wish. Classical ambush: the combining of two voices which, accidentally, forms what is called a tritone, that is a three tone interval. The ancients abhorred this interval which was called Diabolus in Musica, the devil in music. As a matter of fact, the composers of the era did not take the trouble to correct the occasional tritones, assuming that the musicians were experienced enough to effect the correction on their own.
In 1570 the Académie de Musique was founded in Paris, through the efforts of the poet Antoine de Baïf and a musician named Thibault de Courville. This academy wished to mark out the metered music.
DIABOLUS IN MUSICA
The most common example: the «F-B» interval. To correct it, one would add a flat to the B, or a sharp to the F. This isn't always the solution because if there are more than two voices in continuation, by correcting the problem between two of them, one would perhaps create a new one with the third... The theorists pondered the problem and have written pages upon pages of knowledgeable calculations - not always convincing. This explains perhaps why, to our modern ear, the polyphony of the Renaissance - as well as that of Palestrina and Victoria as that of Du Caurroy - seems here and there, sometimes, a little bizarre (in our edition, the suggestion to correct a tritone is done by the addition of a change, in parentheses, beneath the stave). One might believe the interpreters of the time were musicians of vast experience, especially if one considers that each one concerned himself only with his own part and that a bass, for instance, could not see what the tenor was singing at the same time as himself! It is also known that, sometimes, the composer would make an unexpected change ( flat or sharp) for a subjective or aesthetic reason, called Causa Pulchritudinis. (The modern feeling is much more accepting of the tritone: Fauré uses it - in successive notes - and Bartok puts it practically at the base of his harmonic system! - See bibliography, Beltrando-Patier, pp. 394 and 539).
This refers to music where all the voices sing the same syllables simultaneously, in the manner one would call homophonic, and where the harmony is «vertical». The intent was to take up the metrical principles of Greek or Latin poetry - which, in French, causes many headaches since the accent is always on the last syllable of the word...
Maybe we should go back to the French Books of Psalms by Bourgeois and Goudimel to understand the need for a vertical harmony. The Calvinist psalms were not meant for a trained choir, but for all the assembled faithful. We note here that in the beginning, the Calvinist theologians, primarily the reformer-musician Zwingli, wanted nothing to do with music at the temple. At most, the faithful were allowed to sing hymns with the family, at home, and without harmony. Fortunately this rigidity softened and the talents of Bourgeois and Goudimel could blossom.
Du Caurroy had little interest in this style; he directed seasoned musicians and had no real need to simplify things. We know however that he directed an anthem for double choir by his confrere Claude LeJeune, who, himself excelled in this style (see, for example, Revecy venir du printans).
(English version by Fran Wright and Cindy Teel)