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Reconstructing Tallis's Latin magnificat and Nunc dimittis

Rice, Stephen (2005) Reconstructing Tallis's Latin magnificat and Nunc dimittis Early Music, 33, (4), pp. 647-658. (doi:10.1093/em/cah155).

Record type: Article


Tallis's five-part setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, preserved uniquely in Christ Church, Oxford, Mss. Mus. 979–83, is less well known than most of his sacred music. In part this is probably due to its incomplete survival: the tenor partbook is lost. This article surveys the possible liturgical contexts for the work in the light of the changing confessional circumstances of mid-16th-century England, before examining in depth several questions of editorial policy encountered in reconstructing the tenor part. The tonality of the canticles is firmly G Mixolydian with emphasis on pitch-class C, suggesting a Salisbury chant in mode 8 as the most likely material to be interpolated between the polyphonically-set even verses. Within this tonality Tallis's use of sequential writing is unlike that found elsewhere in his output, producing rapid motion between distantly related sonorities on several occasions. The implications of editorial choices at these points are discussed. Whereas imitation is for the most part clearly handled, one verse is exceptional in this respect, and the problems of reconstruction and tonality presented by this verse are examined

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Published date: November 2005
Keywords: tallis, magnificat, nunc dimittis


Local EPrints ID: 67307
ISSN: 1741-7260
PURE UUID: 9bba4f43-7ea8-49eb-90a4-e88565f71074

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Date deposited: 19 Aug 2009
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:20

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Author: Stephen Rice

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