Gilles de Bins (Binchois) (ca 1400-1460) spent most of his compositional career at the courts of Burgundy. Considered a contemporary of DuFay, the two were the best known secular chanson composers from the early Renaissance. Binchois’ works were well circulated and his melodies known for their simple directness. One of the first to compose quantities of chansons, he composed them at the beginning of a bevy of composers during the Renaissance.
Most of Binchois’ music is simple, with regular phrase lengths and mostly syllabic text. His compositions have little harmonic color. In line with his style, the countertenor in this piece is supportive of the melody. Most of his pieces have simple melodies, keeping phrases within three or four notes. One of Binchois’ characteristics in his early three-voice chansons is an octave leap cadence in all cadences to the pitch of the final. The contratenor in this piece leaps an octave at three cadences, all of which are marked on the score. Amoureux suy stays true to his style, with mostly thirds, fourths and fifths contouring the melody. In several measures, major triads are used, and the piece has a movement toward the cadences.
DuFay constantly added new variations to his pieces, while Binchois seems to have developed a more consistent style. In writing service music, Binchois showed evidence of more English contact than DuFay. Both composers wrote formes fixes, but Binchois’ style remained much the same for both secular and sacred compostions. DuFay and Binchois both wrote sacred pieces using fauxbordon, but Binchois style remained much simpler in melody and harmonic texture in all genres.
The rondeau, a popular type of chanson during the Renaissance, creates a rich harmonic sound. The secular music of this time period appeals to me, as do the instruments of the time. This particular piece was clearly a rondeau, and several youtube videos demonstrated various ways of performance. Several were entirely instrumental, a couple used a combination of vocal and instrumental. The one I chose for the link here is a cappella, as it was easier to follow the score’s words.
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