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Musica Poetica in Sixteenth-Century Reformation Germany

WONG, Helen Kin Hoi

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment


of the Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Philosophy
in
Music
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
June 2009

Abstract of thesis entitled:


Musica Poetica in Sixteenth-Century
Reformation Germany
Submitted by WONG, Helen Kin Hoi
for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Music
at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in June 2009

ABSTRACT

Musica poetica is a branch of music theory developed by German pedagogues of the


Reformation era. It is the discipline within music composition that was grounded on
the powerful relationships between music and text. The term musica poetica was first
coined by the Lutheran musician/teacher Nicolaus Listenius in 1533 to distinguish it
from musica theorica (the study of music as a mathematical science) and musica
practica (applied theory dealing with aspects of performance), the two disciplines
continuing from the medieval education curriculum. By the middle of sixteenth
century, musica poetica began to be firmly established, alongside with musica
theorica and practica, as an independent branch of composition instruction, and was
taught in the Latin schools in Lutheran Germany. As the treatises on musica poetica
convey, the teaching of musica poetica was modelled on pedagogical principles of
rhetoric that was taught in the humanistic curriculum of the Latin schools. In
defining compositional procedures in relation to text-setting, these treatises borrowed
or emulated terminologies from the discipline of classical rhetoric, and treated a
musical composition as a work of oration, with an aesthetic aim of producing a work
that could instruct, move and delight the auditor (docere, movere, delectare). These
aesthetic goals were in line with the new liturgical function of music that resulted
i

from the theology of Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant church.

Given the intricacies behind the formation of the musical tradition, there is no doubt
that musica poetica was inspired by Luther's theology on music, shaped by
educational environment of the Reformation and were also influenced by the artistic
and aesthetic currents prevailing in sixteenth century. To better understand the
concept of musica poetica, all the above factors must be taken into account in
constructing a thorough historical interpretation of the discipline. While research has
long been done on historical development of musica theorica and practica, to date no
comprehensive study of the history musica poetica has been published. This thesis
aims to fill part of this void by providing a historical investigation of the concept of
musica poetica of the sixteenth-century from a widened perspective. By drawing
together the historical, cultural, social and theological factors that gave rise and
shape to the musical discipline, it is hoped that a fuller historical context for musica
poetica will be presented.

ii

(musica poetica)

1533
Nicolau Listenius
(musica practica)
(musica theorica)

iii

iv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would never imagine myself having come to this point of my study without the help
of so many teachers, friends, and my family, whose significance in my life only
intensify as the understanding of my own research deepens, and whose names I fear I
do not have enough space here to cover. Thanks must go to my adviser, Prof.
Michael McClellan, for his continuous guidance and his inspiring thoughts on the
craft of research and writing, his penetrating and insightful questions which always
hit my blind spots, and his sharing and listening both for the benefit of my
professional and personal growth. I thank Prof. Greta Olson, who drew me into the
orbit of the Middle Ages by exposing me to abundance of primary resources of the
pre-reformation liturgical repertoires, showing by her own work the significance of
contextual factors in liturgical music, which broadened my understanding of the
music in its post-Reformation counterparts. I thank Prof. Cheung Wai Ling for her
sincere advice on how to cope when things (in research and life in general) at times
seem to fall apart, by sharing with me her own life insights. Thanks also go to Rev.
Dr. Brandner Tobias from Theology Department, for having me as an auditor in his
course on Reformation Theology where many clues about the context of musica
poetica were uncovered, and for his advises on theological aspects of certain parts of
my thesis, which ensured my trains of thoughts were on the right track. I also want to
thank the administrative staffs from the Interlending Department of the University
Library, for their reliable service, problem solving, which made access to remote
research materials an enjoyable process.

Special thanks go to the Principal, Dean and staffs and colleagues of the Hong Kong
International Institute of Music for their support and encouragement over the past
years. Working at this place gave me many inspirations and insights into how
mission of education and school curriculum was designed at aim at the realization
theological principles. Special thanks also go to Miss Brigit Frommel, for her
continuous guidance and support on my German language learning, and her help
with translating seventeenth century German into its modern form. Thanks Miss
Jaclyn Hung and Lau Sze Hong, for their assistance in proof-reading of certain
sections of the thesis and pointing out formatting errors.

I thank my parents-in-law, who provided their study (which I deemed it as my


personal attic) as a second home where many important milestones of this study
were made, and their love and support over the years of my studies. I also thank my
parents in Australia, for their support and patience (especially for waiting my return
until everything is done) and being always proud of whatever I might be. Their
perseverance is the model for enduring my own work. My everlasting thanks goes to
my husband, Kim, for his love and support that gave me a sense of security to endure,
his words of wisdom that saves me from being a perfectionist, and for selflessly
tolerating and appreciating this important side of my life apart from being a mother
of our two children, Hannah and Joanna, whose presence on earth are the source of
my strength. I dedicate this work to my family.

vi

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract.i
Acknowledgements.iii
Introduction..1
Chapter
1. Luthers Ideas about Music: a Historical Precursor to Musica Poetica....7
Luthers Education Background...7
Luthers Aesthetic...11
The Greek Doctrine of Ethos..12
Biblical Reference of Music...13
Luthers Parting with Church Fathers.15
The Place of Music within Luthers Theology...16
Function of Music within the Lutheran Theology......17
Chorales..19
The Use of Polyphonic Music in the Lutheran Liturgy......21
Luthers Views on the Importance of Music in Education.23

2. The Rise of Musica Poetica in Sixteenth-Century Lutheran Germany.25


Definition of Musica Poetica.33
Heinrich Faber: De Musica Poetica 1548..38
Gallus Dressler: Praecepta Musica Poeticae 156339
Seth Calvisius: Melopoiia Sive Melodiae Condendae Ratio, Quam
Vulgo Musicam Poeticam Vocant (Erfurt, 1592) ...41
vii

Joachim Burmeister: Hypomnematum Musicae Poeticae (1599)......42

3. Musica Poetica in the Lutheran Latin School: Rhetorically Inspired Compositional


Instruction...46
Teachers of Musica Poetica....46
Students of Musica Poetica....49
Pedagogical method of Musica Poetica:
Praeceptum-Exemplum-Imitatio.54
Praceptum...56
Exemplum........60
Imitatio61

4. Conclusion - Understanding Musica poetica in sixteenth-century Lutheran


Germany....67
Religious Functions as Expressive Goals...67
From Context to Method, or Vice Versa.68

Bibliography...70

viii

INTRODUCTION

Musica poetica is a branch of music theory developed by German pedagogues of the


Reformation era. It is the discipline within music composition that was grounded on
the powerful relationships between music and text. The term musica poetica was first
coined by the Lutheran musician/teacher Nicolaus Listenius in 1533 to distinguish it
from musica theorica (the study of music as a mathematical science) and musica
practica (applied theory dealing with aspects of performance), the two disciplines
continuing from the medieval education curriculum. By the middle of sixteenth
century, musica poetica began to be firmly established, alongside with musica
theorica and practica, as an independent branch of composition instruction, and was
taught in the Latin schools in Lutheran Germany. As the treatises on musica poetica
convey, the teaching of musica poetica was modelled on pedagogical principles of
rhetoric that was taught in the humanistic curriculum of the Latin schools. In
defining compositional procedures in relation to text-setting, these treatises borrowed
or emulated terminologies from the discipline of classical rhetoric, and treated a
musical composition as a work of oration, with an aesthetic aim of producing a work
that could instruct, move and delight the auditor (docere, movere, delectare). These
aesthetic goals were in line with the new liturgical function of music that resulted
from the theology of Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant church.

Given the intricacies behind the formation of the musical tradition, there is no doubt
that musica poetica was inspired by Luther's theology on music, shaped by

educational environment of the Reformation and were also influenced by the artistic
and aesthetic currents prevailing in sixteenth century. To better understand the
concept of musica poetica, all the above factors must be taken into account in
constructing a thorough historical interpretation of the discipline. However, a survey
of research on the subject to date reveals that knowledge contributed in this area,
while rich in terms of variety of perspectives and methodologies, remains scattered
with respect to an historical understanding of the concept as a whole. In fact, instead
of linking idea of musica poetica to its religious foundation of the reformation era, a
large part of the earlier literature exhibit a tendency to construe the musica poetica
tradition as primarily concerned with the figural expression of textual meaning and
affect, in other words the history of musica poetica was generally presented as the
history of musical figures.

Starting from the early twentieth century, interest in the study of music and rhetoric
was pioneered by German musicologists. Attempts were made to build up a unified
system of musical grammar and syntax of Baroque music, the so called figurelehre.1
Despite the unsuccessful outcome of these scholarly attempts, these studies
nonetheless demonstrated the close relationship between compositional devices in
music and rhetorical procedures in oratory. Monographs on individual theorists and
their treatises, either in facsimile editions or in German or English translations,
together with Dietrich Bartels monumental survey of the treatises on musical figures

The call for a more systematic study of music and rhetoric, specifically regarding the
musical-rhetorical figures, was issued in Arnold Schering, Die Lehre von den musikalischen Figuren
im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 21 (1908): 106-14; for catalogues of
musical figures for the purpose of labelling the rhetorical devices presumed universal in Baroque
compositions, see Heinz Brandes, Studien zur musikalischen Figurenlehre im 16. Jahrhundert (Berlin:
Triltsch & Huther, 1935); Hans-Heinrich Unger, Die Beziehungen zwischen Musik und Rhetorik im 16.
- 18. Jahrhundert (Wrzburg: Triltsch, 1941; Hildesheim: Olms, 1969); and Arnold Schmitz, Die
Figurenlehre in den theoretischen Werken Johann Gottfried Walthers, Archiv fr Musikwissenschaft
9, no. 2 (1952): 79-100.
2

enable readers to see the diversity of theoretical approaches adopted within the
musica poetica tradition. 2 George Buelows essay Music, Rhetoric, and the
Concept of the Affections: A Selective Bibliography provides a general
examination in English of the relationship between music, rhetoric, and the concepts
of the musical-figures as well as the affections in the Baroque period and a useful
bibliography of secondary literature, laying a foundation for further contextual
studies.3 While the theories of musical figures has been popularly used to serve as an
analytical tool for analyzing Baroque music,4 skepticism of using this approach has
been voiced: Brian Vickers (a professor of English Language who has written
extensively on Renaissance philosophy and rhetoric) asked How can the terms of
rhetoric be applied directly to music? How far can one aesthetic system, a linguistic
one, be adapted to another, non-linguistic? 5 Amo Forchert has also identified
several important conceptual shifts that occurred during the musica poetica period
and has questioned the historical basis for applying the figures and affects directly to
2

Helmut Federhofer, Die Figurenlehre nach Christoph Bernhard und die Dissonanzbehandlung in
Werken von Heinrich Schtz, Internationaler Musikwissenschaftlicher Kongre Bamberg (Kassel:
Brenreiter, 1953), 132-35; Joachim Burmeister, Musica poetica. Rostock: S. Myliander, 1606. Facs.
ed. (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1955), or Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, translated by Benito V.
Rivera (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); Christoph Bernhard, Tactatus compositionis
augmentatus; Ausfuhrlicher Bericht vom Gebrauche der Con-und Dissonantien, in Josef. M.
Mller-Blattau, ed, Die Kompositionslehre Heinrich Schtzens in der Fassung seines Schlers
Christoph Bernhard (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1963); Johannes Lippius. Synopsis musicae nova.
Straussburg, 1612; Synopsis of New Music, trans. Benito Rivera (Colorado Springs: Colorado College
Music Press, 1977); Benito V. Rivera, German Music Theory in the Early 17th Century: The Treatises
of Johannes Lippius (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1980); Dietrich Bartel, Handbuch der
Musikalischen Figurenlehre (Regensburg: Laaber, 1985); Musica Poetica: Musical-Rhetorical
Figures in German Baroque Music (Lincoln University of Nebraska Press, 1997).
3
George J. Buelow, Music, Rhetoric, and the Concept of the Affections: A Selective Bibliography,
Notes 30, no. 2 (December 1973): 250-59.
4
Butler, Gregory. Fugue and Rhetoric, Journal of Music Theory 21 (1977): 49-109; Kirkendale,
Warren. Ciceronians Versus Aristotelians on the Ricercar as Exordium, from Bembo to Bach,
Journal of the American Musicological Society 32, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 1-44; Kirkendale, Ursula.
The Source for Bach's Musical Offering: The Institutio Oratoria Of Quintilian, Journal of the
American Musicological Society 33, no. 1 (Spring 1980): 88-141; Harrison, Daniel. Rhetoric and
Fugue: An Analytical Application, Music Theory Spectrum 12, no. 1 (Spring 1990): 1-42;
Borgerding, Todd. Preachers, Pronunciatio, And Music: Hearing Rhetoric in Renaissance Sacred
Polyphony, The Musical Quarterly 82, no. 3/4 (Autumn - Winter, 1998): 586-98; Jasmin Melissa
Cameron, The Crucifixion in Music: An Analytical Survey of Settings of the Crucifixus between 1680
and 1800 (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2006).
5
Brian Vickers, Figures of Rhetoric/ Figures of Music?, Rhetorica 2 (1984): 1-44.
3

instances of word painting in vocal music.6 With the increasing awareness over the
contextual implications underlying the theories of musica poetica, scholars have
begun to draw connections between these musical theories and the Lutheran theology
which originally inspired it and to justify their interpretation of the musical-rhetorical
devices from a theological standpoint.7 More recent attempts situate compositions
within the particular environment under which they were produced in order to
achieve a contextual interpretation of musica poetica compositions.8

The diversity of research methodologies and analytical perspectives in the field have
once again led us to different understanding of the intricate nature of musica poetica.
Musica poetica is, in a retrospective summary by Bartel, the uniquely German
discipline of Baroque music which seeks to combine medieval music theory with
Lutheran

theology,

inspired

by

Renaissance

humanistic

thought

and

seventeenth-century rationalism.9 Therefore, any attempt to interpret music based


on a rhetorical model will be of no avail without having considered all of its
underlying historical, cultural, social and theological elements. While research has
long been done on historical development of musica theorica and practica, to date no

Arno Forchert, Musik und Rhetorik im Barock, Schtz-Jahrbuch 7-8 (1985-86): 5-21.
Eric Chafe, Allegorical Music: The Symbolism of Tonal Language in the Bach Canons, The
Journal of Musicology 3, no. 4 (Autumn 1984), 340-62; Eric Chafe, Tonal Allegory in the Vocal
Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Gregory S. Johnston, Rhetorical
Personification of the Dead in 17th-Century German Funeral Music: Heinrich Schtz's Musikalische
Exequien (1636) and Three Works by Michael Wiedemann (1693), The Journal of Musicology 9, no.
2 (Spring 1991), 186-213; Michael Marissen, Lutheranism, Anti-Judaism, and Bach's St. John Passion
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Janette Tilley, Meditation and Consolatory Soul-God
Dialogues in Seventeenth-century Lutheran Germany, Music and Letters 88, no. 3 (2007): 436-57.
8
Bettina Varwig, Expressive Forms: Rethinking Rhetoric in the Music of Heinrich Schtz, (PhD
diss., Harvard University), 2006 and 'Mutato Semper Habitu': Heinrich Schtz and the Culture of
Rhetoric, Music & Letters (2009): 1-25. [check vol]; Hyun-Ah Kim, Humanism and the Reform of
Sacred Music in Early Modern England: John Merbecke the Orator and the Booke of Common Praier
Noted (1550) (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).
9
Dietrich Bartel, Musica Poetica: Musical-Rhetorical Figures in German Baroque Music (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1997), xi.
7

comprehensive study of the history musica poetica has been published.10 This thesis
aims to fill part of this void by providing a historical investigation of the concept of
musica poetica of the sixteenth-century from a widened perspective. By drawing
together the historical, cultural, social and theological factors that gave rise and
shape to the musical discipline, it is hoped that a fuller historical context for musica
poetica will be presented. This study will also serve to complement those existing
studies on the history of musica theorica and musica practica to offer a better
understanding of the development of academic studies of music in the sixteenth
century.

Chapter one will begin by examining Martin Luther's ideas on music and its place
within his theology. Historical evidence regarding Luther's musical experiences and
rhetorical training during the years of his humanistic schooling in Erfurt will be
considered. The aesthetics and the humanistic beliefs of this sixteenth century
theologian will be drawn together to account for his decided views on music and its
use in education. Chapter two will provide a detailed historical account of the rise of
musica poetica as an independent branch of musical instruction in the Lutheran
education system. The place of music and rhetoric in the reformed school curriculum
of Phillip Melanchton (Luther's collaborator, and an education minister in the
Reformation Germany of the sixteenth century) will be examined in order to see how

10

For the history on musica theorica, see Manfred F. Bukofzer, Speculative Thinking in Mediaeval
Music, Speculum 17, no. 2 (April 1942): 165-80; Ann E. Moyer, Musica Scientia: Musical
Scholarship in the Italian Renaissance (City: Publisher, year); Part II, Speculative tradition of The
Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, edited by Thomas Christensen, 109-306 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2002); for the history on musica practica, see John Butt, Music
Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1994); Ralph Lorenz, Pedagogical Implications of Musica Practica in Sixteenth-Century
Wittenberg (PhD diss., Indiana University, 1995); Robert W. Wason, Musica Practica: Music
Theory as Pedagogy, in The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2002), 46-77.
5

his teaching influenced the pedagogty adopted of the first generation of musica
poetica theorists. Chapter three attempts to provide a better understanding of the
cultural environment in which musica poetica was taught by examining the
interconnections between pedagogical aspects of music and rhetoric at the Lutheran
Latin Schools. The final chapter will conclude the study by providing a discussion of
the significance of contextual study to our understanding of Lutheran compositions
of this period.

CHAPTER ONE
Luthers Ideas about Music: a Historical Precursor to Musica Poetica

The relationships between rhetoric and music existed long before the Reformation,
but only in Lutheran Germany can one find a rich tradition of musica poetica, the
teaching of composition founded on rhetorical principles. Therefore, it is impossible
to ignore the influence of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the founder of the Lutheran
church, whose ideas about music and its use in education prepared the soil for an
entire tradition. Luther's educational background and aesthetic values will be
examined in order to see why his educational reform contained the seed of the new
discipline. It was the theologian's ideas about music that changed the function and
form of church music, and his ideas on educational reform that gave rise to an
environment where the study of rhetoric combined with that of musical composition
became feasible. By the middle of the sixteenth century, musica poetica began to be
firmly established, alongside musica theorica and practica, as an independent
musical discipline in Lutheran Germany.

Luthers Education Background


Like most educated Germans of his time, Martin Luther began his primary education
at a Lateinschule, the Latin school under the medieval scholastic education system.
He first attended the Mansfeld Trivial School where the rudimentary elements of the
medieval trivium, grammar, rhetoric and logic, were taught. Apart from these
academic subjects, Luther also learned the Catechism, i.e. the Creed, the Lords

Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, as well as some ecclesiastical and liturgical
music. The teaching was largely based on rote learning accompanied by severe
physical discipline Luther remembered having been chastised no less than fifteen
times in one single morning. Students first learned their letters and vocabularies, then
grammar and morphology from the elementary grammar texts by Aelius Donatus (fl.
354 A.D.) and Alexander de Villa Dei (1170-1250), supplemented by writings of
classical authors.11

In 1497, when Luther was 13 years old, he entered the Domschule (cathedral school)
in Magdeburg, an institution led by the Brudern vom Gemeinsamen Leben (Brethren
of the Common Life).12 The cathedral in Magdeburg had a rich liturgical life, and
music was doubtless a part of the ritual. Luther moved on to the Latin school at St.
George in Eisenach in 1498. The Latin school at St. George had been closely
connected with the parish church of the city since its founding year of 1190, and it
had a reputation for excellence in education. Like most Latin schools in Thuringia
(Eisenach's province), the Latin school of St. George was a so-called Trivium der
Antike, which offered subjects primarily in Latin grammar, logic and rhetoric.13
While grammar was taught in the junior classes, it was in the senior years where
logic and rhetoric were introduced. Students were taught the grammatical rules and
intricacies

of

the

Latin

language

based

on

the

instructional

manual

11

Rebecca Wagner Oettinger, Music as Propaganda in the German Reformation (Aldershot: Ashgate,
2001), 41.
12
The Bretheren of the Common Life was a reforming movement within Catholicism that put
emphasis on education and the cultivation of individual spiritual life, the devoitio moderna. Robin A.
Leaver, The Reformation and Music, in European Music, 1520-1640, edited by James Haar
(Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2006), 375.
13
Friedrich Henning, Martin Luther als Lateinschler in Eisenach, Luther: Zeitschrift der
Luther-Gesellschaft 67 (1996): 110.
8

Doctrinalepuerorum of 1199 by Alexander de Villa Dei.14

The teaching method of

the school usually required rigorous drilling and memorization, which was very often
accompanied by physical punishment. Luther later in his table talk described this as
Prgelpdagogik (Pedagogy by hit-and-learn) that he himself had experienced,15
attacking the established medieval scholasticism.16

In addition to Latin instruction, the school provided a basic education in theology, as


well as an extensive music education. In particular, students learned to sing liturgical
music, and had to take part in singing during mass in the church of St. George.
Luther, as a student, earned his living as a choirboy in Kurrende, by singing music in
the streets and in front of private residences for alms.17 Luther himself later recalled:
At the time that the festival of Christ's birth was celebrated we went from house to
house, and village to village, singing popular Christmas carols and common psalms

14

In its first part, the Doctrinale deals with Inflections, in its second with Syntax, in its third with
Quantity (of syllables), Accent, and Figurae (fixed ways of speech). It had been intended for advanced
students, who were supposed to learn from memory all the exceptions, and was very instrumental in
evolving the medieval Latin, which had become quite different from the classical Latin in structure as
well as in vocabulary. Terms such as substantia, essentia, existentia, quantitas, qualitas, identitas,
causalitas, finalitas, quidditas(!), and haecceitas(!) were either newly created or given new meanings
adapted to the terms used in Aristotelian philosophy. The Doctrinale was immensely popular until the
16th-century humanists did away with it. Ernest F. Livingstone, The Place of Music in German
Education from the Beginnings through the 16th Century, Journal of Research in Music Education
15, no. 4 (Winter 1967): 249-50.
15
Friedrich Henning, Martin Luther als Lateinschler in Eisenach, Luther: Zeitschrift der
Luther-Gesellschaft 67 (1996): 111.
16
Scholasticism as a school activity describes a rational approach to investigations in theology,
philosophy, and the liberal arts. It was based largely upon the logic of Aristotle and his improvers, and
was used both to conduct research and to teach. It was thought that authorities from antiquity had
made substantial contributions and that contemporary advances on those authorities would be
incremental and cumulative, but only if those authorities were well understood. The two principal
features of scholastic procedure exposition and disputation each developed as a response to the
fragmentary recovery of materials from late antiquity. Exposition was needed at first to understand
obscure or different texts, which were often studied in isolation from recognizable contexts. From
marginal notes, scholia, and glosses, exposition developed into lectures and lengthy commentaries,
and in time the mastery of texts entailed the mastery of massive amounts of earlier exposition.
Disputation was used at first to confront the conflicting patristic interpretations of Scripture, and in
time was adapted to problems in areas beyond biblical hermeneutics. Lawrence D. Green,
Scholasticism, in Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition: Communication from Ancient Times
to the Information Age, edited by Theresa Enos (New York: Garland Publication, 1996), 655-6.
17
Frederick W. Sternfeld, Music in the Schools of the Reformation, Musica Disciplina 2 (1948):
113.
9

in four-part harmony. 18 As a member of the school choir Luther would have


learned the speculative aspects of music theory (in Luther's time, schools retained a
respect for music in its ancient role as a component of the medieval quadrivium,
music as a science of proportion and number that mirrored the order of creation). He
would also have learned the more specialized skills of reading music, improvisation,
and perhaps composition, which would have included principles of polyphonic
composition

underlying

hymnody

(i.e.,

the

harmonizing

melody

in

note-against-note style, so that all the voices sing syllables together and yet with each
part having an individuality of its own).19 Later in his life Luther attributed his
experience as a performer and familiarity with the liturgy to the education he
received in Eisenach. Aside from his school training, Luther was also exposed to a
rich musical culture in Einsenach. Under the leadership of Archbishop Ernst von
Sachsen (1476-1513), choral music and florid counterpoint flourished in the school
and church of St. George.20 Luther also enjoyed the friendship of the priest Johannes
Braun, who often led spiritual and secular music-making, including the singing of
motets, in the home of Heinrich Schalbe, with whose family Luther lived.21

In 1501, Luther began his law studies at the University of Erfurt. Founded in 1392,
the University of Erfurt was the largest German university at this time, taking in
approximately 260 new students per year. Luther's undergraduate studies included
the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and Aristotelian philosophy. The trivium
was to be augmented, in the years of his master's degree and was followed two years

18

Eva Mary Grew, Martin Luther and Music, Music & Letters 19, no. 1 (January 1938): 70.
Ibid., 70.
20
Walter Blankenburg, Luther, Martin, in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. Friedrich
Blume (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1960), 8:1334-36.
21
Hans Schwarz, Martin Luther and Music, Lutheran Theological Journal 39, no. 2
(August-December 2005): 214.
19

10

later, by the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy) of the


postgraduate curriculum of the university, together encompassing the septem artes
liberales (seven liberal arts). As a part of the quadrivium, Luther was required to
study speculative music theory,22 which was complemented with a required lecture
class on Aristotle's teachings on music.

During his study of the liberal arts, Luther learned to play the lute and to compose.
The University of Erfurt, since 1494, offered students education in poetry and
rhetoric, demonstrating a strong orientation towards humanistic studies.23 Students
were encouraged to write their own poetry following classical models of Virgil, Ovid,
and Horace, and to compose musical settings for them in homophonic style. The
lasting influence of these exercises was later confirmed by Luther himself. During
the time that the Deutsche Messe of 1533 was being prepared, the composer Johann
Walter asked Luther who had taught him the skill of setting words to music and he
replied: The poet Virgil taught me this, who is also able to apply his poetry and
vocabulary so artfully to the story he is writing. So should music arrange all its notes
and songs in accord with the text.24

Luthers Aesthetic
Luther's ideas about music can be gleaned from the numerous statements (e.g.

22

The Erfurt University statutes of 1412, reaffirmed in 1449, directed that candidates for the master's
degree should study the Musica speculativa secundum Boetium of Johannes de Muris for at least a
month. Robin A. Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music: Principles and Implications (Grand Rapids:
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 113.
23
Uwe Frster, Lateinschule und Gymnasium zwischen Reformation und Neuhumanismus:
Strukturen, Inhalte, Ziele, in Strukur, Funktion und Bedeutung des deutschen protestantischen
Kantorats im 16. bis 18. Jahrhundert, (Magdeburg, 1997), 18.
24
Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music, 334.
11

forewords to musical publications, the Table Talk ,25 correspondences) he made


throughout the years of his career as a religious reformer (1517-1546).26 While it is
impossible to ascertain precisely with which theoretical works Luther was
particularly familiar, a survey of reading sources available to Luther as a student will
show that his frequent remarks on music were likely informed by the Greek Doctrine
of Ethos, biblical commentary on song, as well as the works of Church Fathers.

The Greek Doctrine of Ethos


Luther adhered to the idea that the right kind of music cooperates in the formation of
good human character (the Greek Doctrine of Ethos is articulated in Aristotle's
Politics, in Plato's Laws and Republic.)27 because of its power to uplift the soul and
govern the feelings of the heart. In his Foreword to Georg Rhau's Symphoniae
iucundae atque adeo breves quattuor vocum (1538), Luther stated that: the noble
art of music is the greatest treasure in this world. It controls our thoughts, minds,
hearts, and spirits.. Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason
that music be always used in the churches. Hence we have so many songs and
psalms.28

25

The Table Talk (Tischreden) consists of remarks made by Luther at the dinner table recorded by
others.
26
The very fact that he discoursed on music on many occasions proves that the thoughts and
opinions he expressed were well established convictions and were not merely casual or transitory. His
statements likewise show that his musical philosophy was carefully thought out, logical, sincere,
enthusiastic, and applicable to situations of life and ecclesiastical activity. Walter E. Buszin, Luther
on Music, The Musical Quarterly 32, no. 1 (January 1946): 80-1.
27
Aristotle, as stated before, applies the concept of Mimesis [art as a result of imitation of human in
action] to all the arts. Plato, in the third book of the Republic, considers music sovereign because
rhythm and harmony possess to the utmost degree the power to penetrate the soul and move it
strongly. Hence the primary role of music in Greek education and the choice of appropriate
harmoniae to influence the listener in the best possible way for his own edification. Gerard LeCoat,
Comparative Aspects of the Theory of Expression in the Baroque Age, Eighteenth-Century Studies
5, no. 2 (1971): 207-23.
28
Buszin, Luther on Music, 83.
12

Luther also believed in the ethical quality of music in the molding of fine and
skillful people, and therefore recognised the pedagogical value of music in
educating young people: Music makes men gentler and milder, more mannerly
and more rationalHe who knows this art is in the right frame, and fitted for every
good pursuit. We cannot do without music in our schools.29 This belief in the
edifying purpose of music was also evident from his views regarding the function of
his setting of the Geistliches Gesangbuchlein (1524) as Luther himself wrote in the
preface: The music is arranged in four parts. I desire this particularly in the interest
of the young people, who should and must receive an education in music as well as
in the other arts if we are to wean them away from carnal and lascivious songs and
interest them in what is good and wholesome. Only thus will they learn, as they
should, to love and appreciate what is intrinsically good.30

Biblical Reference of Music


Luther understood music (with its raw components such as air vibration, the
proportions and relationships of different pitches and so forth) to be not a work of
humankind (inventio), but rather a work of God, a creatura that is a gift to
humankind.31 As a creation of God, music therefore could offer something more

29

Georg Walch, Luthers smtliche Schriften, vol. 22, 2249-2253, quoted in Frederick Eby, Early
Protestant Educators: The Educational Writings of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, and Other Leaders of
Protestant Thought (New York: McGraw Hill, 1931), 160.
30
Martin Luther, Luther's Works, vol. 10, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T.
Lehmann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965), 1422. Henceforth LW.
31
On the question of the invention of music there was a fundamental conflict between the
Judeo-Christian biblical tradition and Greek philosophic perceptions of history. On the one hand,
Genesis 4:21 states, according to the Vulgate: Iubal ipse fuit pater canentium cithara et organo
(Jubal is the father of those who play the harp and organ). On the other hand, according to Greek
tradition it was Pythagoras who, on hearing the different pitches made by blacksmiths hammering
metal, deduced the basic proportions of musical soundFor [Luther] it was beside the point to
discuss the primacy of either Jubal or Pythagoras, since neither invented musicthe question of the
origin of music cannot be answered simply in terms of history, chronology, or human progenitors;
indeed, the question cannot be understood, let alone answered, without recourse to theology, since
music per se was not invented by humans but rather created by God. Leaver, Luther's Liturgical
Music, 67-70.
13

than an entertainment for the human senses; it could exercise positive moral
influence and diminish the negative effects of evil.32 Luther frequently affirmed that
music could dispel sadness, banish the devil or physical temptation and was directly
related to Gods Word:

He [the Holy Spirit] testifies in the Holy Scriptures, that through the medium of music
His gifts have been put into the hands of the Prophets [e.g., Elisha]; again, through
music the devil has been driven away, that is, he, who incites people to all vices, as was
the case with Saul, the King of Israel. For this very reason the Fathers and Prophets
desired not in vain that nothing be more intimately linked up with the Word of God
than music.

33

Having recognized music as a gift of God, Luther also saw that music, with its
persuasive power, was also embedded with homiletic functions akin to preaching
since God has [through the accounts of Old Testament] preached [praedicavit/
gepredoget] the Gospel through music. 34 One of the many examples of such
analogy can be found in his exposition of Psalm 98, in the first series of lectures on
the Psalms given between 1512-1515,35 where he commented:

To make music with hammered trumpets is to preach [predicare] the mystery of the
kingdom of heaven and exhort to spiritual good things. To make music with voice of
the bronze horn is to preach [predicare] and to reprove our sins and evil.

36

32

Luthers understanding of music as a gift of God and its power to cast out the devil has theological
connection, as Leaver observes: From his point of view the corollary of music being the gift of God
is that the devil, being opposed to God, must therefore abhor musicIn his table talks are recorded a
number of similar statements, such as Satan is a spirit of sadness; therefore he cannot bear joy, and
that is why he stays very much away from music. Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music, 93.
33
Praefatio D. M. Lutheri in Harmonias de Passione Christi; LW, 14:428-31.
34
LW, 54:129.
35
In 1508 Luther was sent to the Augustinian priory in Wittenberg and began to study for his
doctor's degree, which was conferred in October 1512. He did not begin teaching until a year later,
during the winter semester 1513-1514, and his first lectures were on the Psalms, the songs of the Old
Testament: Dictata super psalterium (1513-1515). Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music, 32. LW, vols.
10-11.
36
LW, 11:275.
14

Another example can be found in Luthers treatise on the Last Words of David
(1543), where he wrote:

When David uses the word sweet he is not thinking only of the sweetness and charm of
the Psalms from a grammatical and musical point of view, of artistic and euphonious
words, of melodious song and notes, of beautiful text and beautiful tune; but he is
referring much more to the theology they contain, to the spiritual meaning The
Book of Psalms is a sweet and delightful song because it sings and proclaims [predigt]
the Messiah even when a person does not sing the notes but merely recites and
pronounces the words. And yet the music, or the notes, which are a wonderful creation
and gift of God, help materially in this, especially when the people sing along and
reverently participate.

37

Luthers Parting with Church Fathers


Having been an Augustinian monk, Luther would have studied the Church Fathers'
attitudes towards music throughout the ages. While many of them were devoted to
and enjoyed music, they showed a cautious attitude towards its position in Church
due to its potentially negative emotive power. For example, St. Augustine, whom
Luther had specially singled out for comment, had grave doubts about the propriety
of music in Christian life since music hath charms. Augustine was cautious in his
endorsement of the musical art, and in Book 10 of his Confessions, he admitted his
suspicion of and respect for an art that was so powerful in its sensory stimulation that
it threatened to overshadow the words being sung.38 This traditional suspicion of

37

LW, 15:273-74.
Augustine was wary of music's power, admitting that even he was more moved by sacred texts
when they were sung than when they were read. Seeing this enjoyment as sinful bodily gratification,
he questioned whether music had a place in the Church, but concluded it did: Yet when I recall the
tears that I shed at the song of the Church in the first days of my recovered faith, and even now as I
am moved not by the song but by the things which are sung - when changed with fluent voice and
completely appropriate melody - I acknowledge the great benefit of this practice. Thus I waver
between the peril of pleasure and the benefit of my experience; but I am inclined, while not
maintaining an irrevocable position, to endorse the custom of singing in church so that weaker souls
might rise to a state of devotion by indulging their ears. Oettinger, Music as Propaganda in the
German Reformation , 13.
38

15

music expressed by the early church authority is totally absent in Luthers attitude
toward music, as Faulkner has pointed out:

Yet there is something quite remarkable about the attitude he expressed toward music:
the traditional ecclesiastical suspicion of music is totally absent, and in its place stands
a love, an open, warm acceptance of music in all forms.

39

Luther clearly distinguished his position from the Church Father in this matter:

Music is a beautiful and lovely gift of God which has often moved and inspired me to
preach with joy. St. Augustine was afflicted with scruples of conscience whenever he
discovered that he had derived pleasure from music and had been made happy thereby;
he was of the opinion that such joy is unrighteous and sinful. He was a fine pious man;
however, if he were living today, he would hold with us.

40

The Place of Music within Luther's Theology


Unlike other reformers of the sixteenth century, who were rather circumspect with
regard to music,41 Luther understood music as a donum Dei, a gift from God.
Luther perceived an affinity between music and theology rooted in their power to
uplift the soul and chase away the demon of sadness, and its ethical nature could
serve to edify the listener. Luther observed that music was an integral part of
prophecy in the Old Testament and therefore music and theology must be
inextricably bound together. Luther judged music as the highest art in serving
theology, a conviction that distinguishes him from his predecessors and
39
Quentin Faulkner, Wiser Than Despair: The Evolution of Ideas in the Relationship of Music and the
Christian Church (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996), 138-140.
40
Helen Pietsch, On Luthers Understanding of Music in Lutheran Theological Journal 26
(December 1992), 160.
41
The Swiss reformers [e.g. John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli] were suspicious of music because it
had a power of its which, in their view, could undermine the primacy of the Word of God; it was also
subject to misuse and abuse, and instead of celebrating the glory of God in worthy hymns it was
frequently used to deify the inglorious aspects of human nature in immoral songs. Robin A. Leaver,
The Lutheran Reformation, 265.

16

contemporaries. On 4 October 1530, Luther wrote a letter to the composer Ludwig


Senfl, in which he stated:

I plainly judge, and do not hesitate to affirm, that except for theology there is no art
that could be put on the same level with music, since except for theology [music] alone
produces what otherwise only theology can do, namely, a calm and joyful disposition....
This is the reason why the prophets did not make use of any art except music; when
setting forth their theology they did it not as geometry, not as arithmetic, not as
astronomy, but as music, so that they held theology and music most tightly connected,
and proclaimed truth through Psalms and songs.

42

Function of Music within the Lutheran Theology


Luthers emphasis of music as a great tool to serve theology was reflected in its new
role in the reformed liturgy. Luthers emphasis on the Bible as the only source of
understanding salvation (sola scriptura) and his idea of a universal priesthood of all
believers43 were exemplified by the fact that the sermon increasingly became the
focus of the liturgy. 44 This means that the priest was no longer the agent of
transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass from the congregations point of
view,45 but rather a proclaimer of the Word,46 a preacher in the true sense. The

42

LW, 46:427-28.
It is a well known and easily established fact that Luther made much of the doctrine of the
universal priesthood of all believers. This doctrine, based largely on 1. Peter 2,9, prompted him not
only to have high regard for the common man and for his well-being, temporal as well as spiritual, but
also to consider the worshipper seated in the pews while arranging his services of worship. The laity
was to take an active part in the performance of the Church's liturgies, and hymn-singing by the
congregation became an integral part of Lutheran liturgies. Buszin, Luther on Music, 94.
44
The significance of the sermon for the Lutheran Reformation is indisputable - Luther and his
followers transformed the entire worship service into a vehicle for the proclamation of the gospel.
From its roots in the late medieval preaching revival, the Reformations messages were spread through
the largely illiterate population of the early modern Empire as much by actual preaching as by the
written word, and many of the early books and pamphlets were sermons. Beth Kreitzer, The Lutheran
Sermon, in Preachers and People in the Reformations and Early Modern Period, ed. Larissa Taylor
(Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2001), 59.
45
Whereas the Roman Church spoke of the Mass in terms of sacrificium, opus bonum, meritum
supremely expressed in the eucharistic Canon Luther spoke in terms of beneficium, testamentum,
donum, which are clearly presented in the proclamation of the Verba Testamenti alone The action of
the Mass in traditional thinking was of humans making an offering to God, but for Luther the
movement was entirely in the other direction: Gods gift is brought to us. Leaver, Luther's Liturgical
43

17

theological ideas of sola scriptura and priesthood of all believers also gave music a
new role music became a partner to the sermon in the service of proclamation,
since the Word of God was best delivered by preaching and singing, as Luther stated
in his preface to Georg Rhaus Symphoniae jucundae (1538):

It was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be
associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many
hymns and Psalms where message [sermo] and music [vox] join to move the listeners
soul, while in other living beings and [sounding] bodies music remains a language
without words. After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only
given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music
[sonora praedicatione], namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and
by providing sweet melodies with words.

47

Kremer summarizes the new function of liturgical music in the Lutheran church by
drawing a connection between music and the sermon:

Liturgical music simultaneously represented divine praise, confession of faith and


proclamation and thus served the Gospel; its basis, like that of the sermon, combined
'cantio' (song) with 'contio' (speech), in subordination to the Word of God and not to
canonic rule. Accordingly, music was 'not bound and approvable by rule', and could
aspire to become the 'living voice of the Gospel' (viva vox evangelii). Within this
distinctively theological comprehension of sacred music the congregation assumed an
active role. If 'the Word of God or song should abide among the people', song would

Music, 176.
46
For Luther, the Word, in its most basic form, is Christ.... Luther also often speaks of both
scripture and preaching as the Word, but that does not mean that for Luther every literal word in the
Bible is the Word. Rather, the center and meaning of scripture is Christ, and thus the Bible can only
be understood insofar as it is interpreted through ChristIn scripture, the Word can be found in two
forms: law and gospel. The law serves to show the perfect will of God, but also to prove to human
beings that they are sinful and unable to do Gods will. The gospel, on the other hand, first calls
Christians to repentance (through the law), then provides forgiveness and grace through ChristThe
Word is found in scripture, but most accurately it is the spoken rather than the written
wordBecause the Word is a living word, however, Luther felt it must be preached in order for it to
be effective. the preacher is the instrument or medium through whom God works to change his
listeners: It is easy enough for someone to preach the word to me, but only God can enter it into my
heart. He must speak it in my heart, or nothing at all will come of it. Kreitzer, The Lutheran
Sermon, 41-42.
47
LW, 53:320-321.
18

lead the congregation to an understanding of the Word of God.

48

Chorales
It is because of this proclaiming function of that music assumed an important role in
the task of ecclesiastical reform. Beginning in winter 1523-4 Luther and his
colleagues began writing, revising, composing and arranging hymns

49

for

congregational use in the new evangelical worship, and these were published as
Geistliches Gesangbuchlein (1524), the first Wittenberg hymnal. These hymns, or
chorales, were written in the vernacular with an aim to facilitate congregational
participation, 50 and were incorporated into the Latin Mass. In the same year
Geistliches Gesangbuchlein (1524) was published, Johann Walter arranged these
hymns into four or five parts for choirs for alternatim use in services. This collection
was published in 1525 as Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn,51 with a foreword by Luther.

In the process of making the chorales, Luthers primary concern was the clarity and
comprehensibility of the liturgical text and its close representation of the Gospel
message for the purpose of indoctrination of the laity. For example, when Luther

48

Joachim Kremer, Change and Continuity in the Reformation Period: Church Music in North
German Towns, 1500-1600, in Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns, ed. Fiona
Kisby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 120.
49
In the Bible, Paul speaks of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col 3:16), although he did not
define or distinguish among them. These terms were used interchangeably in Luthers expression as
equivalent.
50
The church service became the occasion for the proclamation of the Word among believers: the
congregation, united through the act of singing, could participate by responding to the spoken word of
the pastor, proclaiming the Gospel and expressing the joy of faith and the praise of God. Robert
Marshall and Robin Leaver, Chorale, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Mar 10, 2009).
51
Modeled on Franco-Flemish cantus-firmus compositions such as those of Josquin, the settings of
Walter are notable for their conciseness and for the fact that, instead of being based on plainsong
melodies (in augmentation), they are composed on the melodies of the new congregational hymns
(in regular note values), with the cantus-firmus usually in the tenor and imitative counterpoint in the
other parts. Walters chorale settings first appeared in part books issued as Geystliche gesangk
Buchleyn (Wittenberg, 1524), the so-called Chorgesangbuch, a work that was revised and expanded
in subsequent editions of 1528, 1544, and 1550/51. Robin A. Leaver, The Reformation and Music,
391.
19

asked the help of Spalatinus52 in 1524 to compose a hymn text based on a Psalm
passage, Luther requested:

I desire, however, that you exclude unfamiliar words and courtly expressions in order
that the words be simple and familiar to the people, and yet, at the same time, pure and
apt and that the meaning be clear and faithful to the psalms. He who has grasped the
sense of the words must be free, however, to substitute for the original expression other
convenient words. I do not possess the gift in so great a measure that I am able to do
what I desire. I desire, therefore, to put you to the test to ascertain whether you are a
Heman, an Asaph, or a Judith.

53

Not only the text sung must be clear and comprehensible, Luther insisted that every
subtle aspect of the vernacular hymns must fit together to be idiomatically expressive.
He stated this clearly in his writing Against the Heavenly Prophets of 1525:

Although I am willing to permit the translating of Latin texts of choral and vocal music
into the vernacular with the retention of the original notes and musical settings, I am
nevertheless of the opinion that the result sounds neither proper nor correct; the text,
the notes, the accents, the tune, and likewise the entire outward expression must be
genuine outgrowths of the original text and its spirit; otherwise, everything is nothing
more than an apish imitation.

54

Regarding the process of transforming the entire Latin Mass into German (Deutsche
Messe 1526), Luther expressed a similar concern regarding the word-tone relation for
expressive purpose:

To translate the Latin text and retain the Latin tone or notes has my sanction, though it
doesnt sound polished or well done. Both the text and notes, accent, melody, and
manner of rendering ought to grow out of the true mother tongue and its inflection,

52
53
54

Spalatinus was at the time private secretary to Frederick the Wise and of great service to Luther.
Buszin, Luther on Music, 87.
LW, 20:197.
20

otherwise all of it becomes an imitation, in the manner of the apes.

55

Johann Walther's words of 1565, recorded in Michael Praetorius Syntagma Musicum


(1565) reveals how Luther himself actually incorporated musical elements into the
different parts of the liturgy to produce an artistic whole:

When Luther, forty years ago, wanted to prepare his German Mass, he requested of the
Elector of Saxony and Duke John . . . that Conrad Rupff and I be summoned to
Wittenberg, where he might discuss music and the nature of the eight Gregorian
psalm-tones with us. He himself selected finally the eighth tone for the Epistle and the
sixth for the Gospel, saying at the same time that Christ is a friendly and charming
Lord, hence we shall take the sixth tone for the Gospel. Since St. Paul is a very
serious-minded apostle, we shall use the eighth tone for the Epistle. He [Luther]
prepared the music for the Epistles and Gospels, likewise for the Words of Institution
of the true body and blood of Christ; he chanted these for me and asked me to express
my opinion of his efforts. At that time he kept me in Wittenberg for three weeks; we
discussed how the Epistles and Gospels might be set properly. I was in Wittenberg with
Luther until the first German Mass had been presented [October 29, 1525]. I had been
asked to listen to this first performance and then take a copy with me to Torgau and
report, at the command of the Doctor, my impression to His Glace, the Elector. . . . I
know and hereby truthfully testify that . . . Luther . . . found great delight in the chorale
as well as in figurate music [i. e., solo or unison music as well as part music]. I spent
many a pleasant hour singing music with him and often experienced that he seemingly
could not weary of singing or even get enough of it; in addition, he was able to discuss
music eloquently.

56

The Use of Polyphonic Music in the Lutheran Liturgy


Although Luther decreed that the use of German chorales would bring the
congregation into closer participation in worship, he never ceased admiring the both
the traditional chants and the more recent styles of liturgical polyphony of the
Catholic Church (as exemplified by Josquin, Isaac, and Obrecht and la Rue among

55
56

LW, 40:14.
Buszin, Luther on Music, 96.
21

others) and largely retained them as an important musical ingredient in Lutheran


worship.57 Among these composers Luther especially admired Josquin, whom he
described as the Noten Meister for his sensitivity to text-setting.58 Toward the end
of 1531 the Reformer expressed the view:

God preached the Gospel through music, too, as may be seen in Josquin, all of whose
compositions flow freely, gently, and cheerfully, [and] are not forced or cramped by
rules like the song of the finch.

59

On 26 December 1538, after listening to Josquins Haec dicit Dominus, a motet for
six voices, Luther made the following comment:

It beautifully comprehends the difference between Law and Gospel, death and life.
Two voices make the plaintive lament Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis etc, against
which four voices sing Haec dicit Dominus, de manu mortis liberabo populum meum
etc. It is a very good and comforting composition.

60

57

Luthers theology of music was formed within the context of a particularly rich tradition of choral
liturgical music in Wittenberg. Kathryn Duffy has demonstrated the extent of this liturgical music
tradition in her study of the repertory of the Castle Church in Wittenberg during the early decades of
the sixteenth century, Duke Frederick the Wise, Elector of Ernestine Saxony between 1486 and 1525,
was second in political rank only to the Emperor Maximilian. Duffy convincingly argues that Duke
Fredricks intention was to rival Maximillians Hofkapelle - which included, in succession, such
musicians as Isaac, Senfl, and Hofhaimer - by establishing a significant musical foundation for the
liturgical life of the Castle Church, Wittenberg. Between 1508 and 1520 this foundation was doubled,
as 40 singers and musicians were increased to 81. They were responsible for singing almost 1,200
Masses throughout the year, as well as the daily Offices, to music by much prominent composers as
Josquin, Isaac, and Obrecht among others. It was therefore against a rich experience of polyphonic
liturgical music that Luther developed his theology of music, and also, with others, notably the
composer Johann Walter, created patterns of worship-music for the Wittenberg churches that proved
normative for the formation of the Lutheran tradition of liturgical music. Leaver, The Reformation
and Music, 390-1.
58
Mathesius records when the motet was sung at Luthers table, sometime around 1540: In between
the singing he expressed good things. Josquin, he said, is the master of the notes [Noten Meister],
which must express what he desires; he other masters of singing [Sangmeister] must do what the notes
dictate. He most certainly possessed a great spirit, like Bezalel [see Exodus 31:2-6], especially when
he ingeniously and beautifully intertwines together Haec dicit Dominus with Circumdederunt me
gemitus mortis. Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music, 56. Mathesius was a personal friend of Luther.
59
LW, 22:427.
60
Leaver, Luther's Liturgical Music, 54.
22

Luthers Views on the Importance of Music in Education


Luther believed that the church and the school should be inseparable in promoting
the Lutheran reformation, and music must be taught for a practical preparation for
participation in church services. This can be reflected in his emphasis on the
importance of practical music study in schools, for the students made up the choirs
that led congregations in worship. In 1520 (in An den christlichen Adel deutscher
Nation) and again in 1524 (An die Ratsherren aller Stdte deutschen Landes, da sie
christliche Schulen aufrichten und erhalten sollen) Luther argued for the reform of
the existing educational system and the foundation of new grammar schools where
practical music would resume an important role:

I have always loved music. Those who have mastered this art are made of good stuff,
they are fit for any task. It is necessary indeed that music be taught in the schools. A
teacher must be able to sing; otherwise I will not as much as look at him. Also, we
should not ordain young men into the ministry unless they have become well
acquainted with music in the schools. We should always make it a point to habituate
61

youth to enjoy the art of music for it produces fine and skilful people.

While this was a clearly defined policy that owes much to the leadership of Luther,
his idea of music education was implemented largely through the support of such
colleagues as Bugenhagen, and Jonas, and most prominently Melanchthon, who
compiled Lutheran school and church orders in which the role of music was carefully
prescribed. Thus music formed an important part of the studies at schools of all
levels, and eventually some of these students in their turn would become teachers of
music in the schools, producing textbooks promoting the art of practical music for
the purpose of liturgical use.

61

LW, 22:1538.
23

This chapter has demonstrated that, as a humanistically inclined theologian and a


reformer of the Christian church, Luthers emphasis on the proclamation and
intelligibility of the Word of God gave music a new liturgical role, reflected in his
use of congregational hymns for the purpose of worship, edification and
indoctrination. Seeing the close bond between the church and the school in sustaining
a community of Lutheran worshipers, Luther agued that music should serve the
pedagogical purpose of training the minds and skills of the younger generation for
the service of the church. Although Luther did not personally construct and oversee
the program for music education (given he was already occupied with other
theological issues supporting the Reformation debate by the 1520s), there is no doubt
that it is this new religious function of music that laid an aesthetic foundation for all
kinds of musical studies to be taught at the schools under the reformed curriculum,
implemented by his alliance and colleague, Phillip Melanchthon. Therefore, it is
necessary to understand the school curriculum itself in order to see how musica
poetica laid its roots.

24

CHAPTER TWO
The Rise of Musica Poetica in Sixteenth-Century Lutheran Germany

While Luthers theology inspired a rich tradition of Lutheran hymns proclaiming the
Word, the church reformers ideas would not have been realized so spontaneously in
art music without the contribution of Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560),62 whose
education program offered an environment where musica poetica became feasible as
a new musical discipline. In the newly reformed secondary schools (i.e. the
Lateinschulen) and universities,63 Melanchthons teaching of the classical languages
and rhetoric inspired music theorists to suggest a category of music study which
combines rhetoric with composition, and therefore, alongside the established musica
theorica and musica pratica, erecting a separate branch of music study.

Melanchthon was by training and experience well prepared to become an advocate of


humanistic principles of education. The nephew of the renowned humanist Johannes
Reuchlin,64 he attended the Latin School in Pforzheim where he studied Greek at the
age of ten. He was made a Bachelor at Heidelberg in 1511, and in 1514 a Master of
62

As a colleague and ally of Luther, [Melanchthon] also elucidated Reformation principles in the
Loci communes, conducted church visitations and diplomatic missions, and composed the public
declaration of Lutheran doctrine, the Augsburg Confession. Sachiko Kusukawa, Melanchthon, in
The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology, ed. David Bagchi and David C. Steinmetz
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 57.
63
Generally speaking, the educational system under Melanchthon contains three phases. Each of
these phases contains a variety of school names according to their particular pedagogical emphasis
within a humanist curriculum: basic (Lateinschulen, Trivialschulen, Partikularschulen, Ratsschulen);
intermediate (Gelehrtennschulen, Paedagogien, Fuurstenschulen, Klosterschulen, Landesschulen,
Gymnasium); and advanced (Gymnasium, Academica, Lyceum, Universitas).
64
Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522) was chancellor to the duke of Wrttemberg and professor at
Ingolstadt and Tbingen. He wrote De verbo mirifico and De arte cabalistica in support of
Christianity. Processing knowledge of Hebrew, he promoted humanistic learning in the universities.
Lewis William Spitz, Luther and German Humanism (Aldershot: Variorum, 1996), 17.
25

Arts at Tbingen. He taught classes on Virgil, Cicero, Livy, and Terence. He took up
the position of the chair of Greek in the University of Wittenberg in 1518, teaching
rhetoric and dialectic alongside classical and biblical texts, and published biblical
commentaries in which he applied the methods of rhetoric and dialectic to the
elucidation of the Scriptures. Melanchthons expertise in rhetoric can be gleaned
from Peter Macks account of his academic activities in Wittenberg University:

[In the beginning of] Melanchthons career, during those crucial years from 1518 to
1524 ... [he] lectured on both biblical and profane texts, and published his first
rhetorical textbook and his commentary on Ciceros Topics, among some eighty other
texts ... [He] lectured in 1529 on Pauls Letter to the Romans, a few months later on
dialectic and the Organon of Aristotle, and finally on two Ciceronian orations, Pro
Murena and Pro Marcello. In 1530 he taught Ciceros De Oratore, immediate
followed by Ciceros Pro Archia ... In 1531, he probably lectured on Homers Iliad,
and certainly on three Ciceronian orations, Pro Caelio, Pro Sulla, and the ninth
Philippic. In 1532, he took up Romans again, as he did so many times before and after
this period, then the Ethics of Aristotle, Book V, and a Ciceronian oration, Pro
Ligario.

65

His De rhetorica libri tres (Three Books on Rhetoric, 1519), Institutiones rhetoricae
(Rhetorical Instruction, 1521) and Elementa rhetorices (Elements of Rhetoric, 1532)
were among the earliest textbooks that he wrote on the subject of rhetoric.66

65

Peter Mack, Humanist Rhetoric and Dialectic, in The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance
Humanism, ed. Jill Kraye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 88.
66
Melanchthons treatises, particularly the Elementa, were immediately influential among Lutherans.
Already in the 1530s other authors such as Georg Major and Arsacius Seehofer incorporated
Melanchthons adaptation of the classical rules of rhetoric. Major appropriated Melanchthons ideas,
and in 1535 published his Quaestiones Rhetoricae die Predigt in a question-and-answer format.
Seehofers Enarrationes Evangeliorum Dominicalium (first published in 1538), a postil directed
toward students, praised Melanchthons contributions to homiletics, and applied the genera to specific
scriptural periscopes Other Lutheran theoretical treatises on rhetoric and preaching owed a great
debt to Melanchthon, such as Wellwes De modo et ratione concionandi pro studiosi Theologi
(1558), Pankratiuss Methodus Concionandi (1571), Lucas Osianders De ratione concionandi (1584),
Andreaes Methodus concionandi (1595), and Hunniuss Methodus concionandi (1595), all published
in Wittenberg. Beth Kreitzer, The Lutheran Sermon, in Preachers and People in the Reformations
and Early Modern Period, ed. Larissa Taylor (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2001), 50-51.
26

Melanchthons education reforms for Wittenberg University became the model for
other universities throughout Protestant Germany. 67 In his On Improving the
Studies of the Young (De Corrigendis Adolescentium Studiis), an inaugural speech
delivered upon assuming the chair of Greek at Wittenberg University in 1518,
Melanchthon introduced a university curriculum that revolutionized the approach to
the liberal arts, philosophy and Scripture. Casting aside the methods and content of
medieval scholasticism, he proposed the study of languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew),
literature, history, rhetoric, and mathematics. In place of the traditional scholastic
authors, he endorsed the study of classical philosophers, rhetoricians, and poets,
especially Plato, Homer, Virgil, Horace, and the true historical Aristotle (as distinct
from the Aristotle of scholastic commentaries).68

Melanchthon also organized in his home a schola privata, giving private tuition on
aspects of humanistic subjects to a group of students from advanced schools such as
the Gymnasium, to prepare them for admission to universities. The teaching program
of the schola privata includes the cultivation of refined Latin speech, the training of

67

Melanchthons successes in restructuring the Wittenberg curriculum ensured that he was asked to
give curricular advice at the foundation and/or reform of several other universities, such as Marburg
(1527), Tbingen (1535), Leipzig (1539), Knigsberg (1544), and Heidelberg (1557). William
Harrison Woodward, Studies in Education During the Age of the Renaissance 1400-1600 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1924), 214.
68
Steven E. Ozment, Humanism and the Reformation, in The Age of Reform (1250-1550): An
Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1980), 290-317; despite the traditional acceptance of the scholastic method for
interpreting Aristotles works in the Middles Ages, understanding of his works was revived from a
humanistic perspective in the Renaissance. Luther, who specially valued the linguistic components of
Aristotles output, also expressed similar opinion with Melanchthon in his letter To the Christian
Nobility of the German Nation (An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation) of 1520: I would gladly
agree to keeping Aristotles books, Logic, Rhetoric, and Poetics, or at least keeping and using them in
an abridged form, as useful in training young people to speak and to preach properly. But the
commentaries and notes must be abolished, and as Ciceros Rhetoric is read without commentaries
and notes, so Aristotles Logic should be read as it is without all these commentaries. Martin Luther,
Luthers Works: 55 Vols., ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House,
1955-1972), 44: 201.
27

manners, and the perfecting of rhetoric and declamation in theatre performances.69

Melanchthons plan for the restructuring of secondary schools is mainly outlined in


the second part of his Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors in Electoral
Saxony (the Unterricht der Visitatoren in Sachsen, 1528),70 which presents a model
for the Latin school, the public school proper at the time,71 as can be seen in
hundreds of school ordinances in some sixty towns in Lutheran Germany.72 In the
Instructions, Melanchthon provided a carefully stratified curriculum consisting of
three levels. The first level, which consists of children who are beginning to read and
write, began with Melanchthons primer Enchiridion elementorum puerilium which
presents the Latin alphabet, followed by the Lords Prayer, the Creed, and other
prayers. Having learned this material, students began to build up a vocabulary of
Latin words by reading the proverbs of Cato and studying the grammar of Donatus.73
At the second level, students were introduced to Latin grammar of various classical
69

Bert Roest, Rhetoric of Innovation and Resource to Tradition in Humanist Pedagogical


Discourse, in Medieval and Renaissance Humanism: Rhetoric, Representation and Reform, ed.
Stephen Gersh and Bert Roest (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2003), 144.
70
On Luthers suggestion of November 22, 1526 to the new elector, John the Steadfast, a visitations
committee was formed to conduct a survey of Saxon churches. Luther was appointed director, and
Melanchthon prepared the Instruction of the Inspectors (Unterricht der Visitatoren) which was
published on March 22, 1528 As a result of the inspection, school ordinances were prepared, with
Melanchthons plan for the Electorate of Saxony (1528) standing as the model. Bruce Allan
Belingham, The Bicinium in the Lutheran Latin Schools During the Reformation Period, (Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Toronto, 1971), 48-9.
71
Ernest F. Livingstone, The Place of Music in German Education from the Beginnings through the
16th Century, Journal of Research in Music Education 15, no. 4 (Winter 1967): 267.
72
... the legislation for school visitations in Saxony (the Unterricht der Visitatoren in Sachsen,
1528) established a highly influential norm for regulating schools ... [For example], the 1529
Kirchenordnung of Hamburg expressly referred to Melanchthon in its regulations concerning the
school that was to be set up: Therefore, the form shall be adopted for the other classes, and exercises
shall be conducted, according to the rules outlined by Magister Philip Melanchthon in its his Visitatie
der pastoren tho Sassen. Joachim Kremer, Change and Continuity in the Reformation Period:
Church Music in North German Towns, 1500-1600, in Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities
and Towns, ed. Fiona Kisby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 119.
73
Initially, it appears odd that a medieval grammar (fourth century) should find a place in a
humanist curriculum. The conciseness of Donatus expositions of the eight parts of speech, however,
featuring capsule definitions of each part in a question/answer format, makes this grammar useful to
the humanists. Moreover, its brevity - a mere ten pages, makes memorization of the whole text easier
for the young student. John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German
Musical Theory and Practice (1560-1606) (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1982), 9.
28

and humanist authors. Students began to study elements of etymology, syntax and
prosody based on examples from the verses of Terrence, Plautus, Erasmus and
Luthers translation of Aesops Fables, along with recitation of the Lords Prayer, the
Creed, the Ten Commandments and some selected Psalms. When the students are
sufficiently trained in Latin grammar, they moved on to the third level to begin the
study of eloquence using readings from Ovid, Cicero, and Virgil, from which further
study on etymology and syntax and prosody was made. Having mastered the
grammaticae praeceptiones, students could, in place of hours originally assigned to
grammar study, begin rhetoric and dialectic with the aid of Erasmus De duplici
copia verborum. The study of eloquence was enhanced by weekly writing exercises
in both prose and verse. All three levels of students, as outlined in regulation, must
be trained using Latin as the primary language. In addition, they were to receive
daily instruction in music and hymnology.

During the sixteenth century rhetoric was a standard subject in the Latin schools
across Lutheran Germany. It is possible to chart its development in these schools
through their school textbooks, regulations and curricula. 74 Under the Lutheran
education system, rhetoric was only taught in the final one or two years of school,
after the students had thoroughly mastered Latin grammar and syntax. According to
Dietrich Bartel, the typical weekly curriculum of the advanced students included
eight hours of Latin, three hours of dialectic, two hours of rhetoric, and two hours of
reading of the classics.75 In addition to other subjects, provision was also made for
further private tutoring in rhetoric. The student was taught to prepare a given topic

74

Dilwyn Knox, Order, Reason and Oratory: Rhetoric in Protestant Latin Schools, in Renaissance
Rhetoric, ed. Peter Mack (New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1994), 70.
75
Dietrich Bartel, Musica Poetica: Musical-Rhetorical Figures in German Baroque Music (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1997).
29

either in oral or written form according to the examples of classical authors. As


Dilwyn Knox has pointed out, since the study of rhetoric was allocated to the end of
the Latin school curriculum, during which students had only about two years to
acquire a good grounding in subjects to prepare for their university education and
eventually for use in their ecclesiastic or civil positions, rhetorical textbooks had to
be concise and stripped of all impractical details. 76 Melanchthons rhetorical
textbooks, with their brevity and practicality, became standard in Protestant Latin
schools. These textbooks limited instruction in rhetorical theory to inventio,
dispositio and elocutio, 77 and reduced the lengthy explanations of rhetorical
concepts and techniques by classical authors to a few easily grasped precepts.
Written in a catechetical format, rules of rhetoric were defined with examples from
classical writings, providing material that the students could emulate/imitate.
Classical authors, therefore, were not read for their literary content or theoretical
subtleties but rather to determine linguistic rules. In sum, Melanchthons rhetoric was
a guide to the methodus of rhetoric, and it was taught through praeceptum,
exemplum, et imitatio.78 In the classroom it was supplemented with readings from

76

The pedagogical and practical constraints outlined above determined the typed of rhetorical
textbook used in Protestant Latin schools. Classical rhetorics like Ciceros De oratore, Orator, De
inventione, Partitiones oratoriae, Quintilians Institutiones oratoriae and the pseudo-Ciceronian
Rhetorica ad Herennium were deemed unsuitable primers. They were assigned, if at all, as
supplementary rather than required texts, and usually at gymnasia [advanced schools] rather than
ordinary Latin schools. They were appropriate instead for university or special schools where
curricula overlapped with those of universities. This held true also for popular Renaissance works like
Agricolas De inventione dialectica. Dilwyn Knox, Order, Reason and Oratory: Rhetoric in
Protestant Latin Schools, in Renaissance Rhetoric, ed. Peter Mack (New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's
Press, 1994), 68.
77
In defining the art of rhetoric, Melanchthon has reduced the traditional fivefold theory of rhetoric to
three parts for practical use: The art of rhetoric is almost wholly incorporated in three subjects, the
devising of subject matter, arrangement of subject matter and expression. Therefore I shall not
propound rules for the other two subjects of memory and delivery. The former is helped very little by
theoretical rules, while delivery nowadays is quite different from what it was in antiquity. The most
appropriate manner of delivery should be learned by imitating public speakers. Dilwyn Knox, Order,
Reason and Oratory: Rhetoric in Protestant Latin Schools, in Renaissance Rhetoric, ed. Peter Mack
(New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1994), 69-70.
78
It was Melanchthons policy in teaching all subjects in the Latin schools that the teacher should
first present a rule (praeceptum) which he would then illustrate (exemplum) and give the students to
30

Terence, Cicero, Aesop, Virgil and others.

Melanchthons pedagogical methods were esteemed and subsequently adopted as a


model for musical instruction. This is evient, in part, from the predominance of the
use of catechetical format of music textbooks written by music pedagogues of the
sixteenth century, many of whom were former students of the Wittenberg University:
Johann Spangenberg: Questiones musicae (1536), Auctor Lampadius: Compendium
musices (1537), Sebald Heyden: De Arte Canendi (1540), Martin Agricola:
Quaestiones (1543), Heinrich Faber: Compendiolum musicae pro incipientibus
(1548), Gregor Faber: Erotemata (1552), Johann Zanger: Practicae musicae
praecepta (1554), Wilfflingseder: Musica teutsch (1561) and Erotemata musices
practicae (1563), Lucas Lossius: Erotemata musices practicae (1563), etc. In his
introductory letter (to Questiones musicae, 1536) to the publisher Georg Rhau,
Johannes Spangenberg put forward the reasons for using Melanchthons
trivium-based teaching and methods for the purposes of musical instruction:

For I perceive that study to be very easy which is treated by means of questions, and
for whose matter examples are not lacking. For who could be taught Dialectic itself
more accurately, more concisely and more richly than he who is taught by Doctor
Philipp Melanchthon, a most learned man of our age, by most beautiful and most clear
questions. Would that they too (the questions) might be sometimes forged by examples.
After this, who is not about to select Rhetoric with great desire when Georgius Maior,
an extraordinary creator of great maturity has grasped the whole discipline of Rhetoric
by means of most pleasant questions, in a most concise arrangement, in a small
package, as it were? And what further? This kind of instruction provides access to the
whole discipline easily.

79

learn as homework. The rules were to be learned by memory (memoria complectuntur), and in the
next class period were repeated (imitatio). Further examples were presented to provide practical
exercise (usus) in the acquired skills. Bruce Allan Belingham, The Bicinium in the Lutheran Latin
Schools during the Reformation Period, 142.
79
Quotation from John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German Musical
31

Melancthons educational reform, with its emphasis on the linguistic arts advocating
the humanistic understanding of classical authors, and the impact of his rhetorical
teachings, both in the form of primers in Latin schools and public lectures on
scriptural exegesis at University of Wittenberg, had great impact on his students,
many of whom later became teaching musicians in the Latin schools. For example,
Nicolaus Listenius (born Hamburg, c. 1510), the church Cantor and music master at
the Stadtschule in Salzwedel (from 1536), who studied at Wittenberg University in
1529-31, during the time Luther and Melancthon taught there, became the first to
define music, a subject which was traditionally part of the quadrivium (mathematic
disciplines), in relation to the language arts. In chapter one his Musica of 1537,80
one of the most widely-read school primers of the time,81 Listenius expanded the
traditional two-fold division of the study of music (i.e. musica theorica and music
pratica) by introducing the third branch, musica poetica, the study of composition, as
an independent technical category:82

Theoretical, whose goal is knowing, is that which is concerned only in the


contemplation of skill and the understanding of the subject. Hence the theoretical
musician who knows this art, truly content in this, presents no example of his work in
performance.

Theory and Practice (1560-1606) (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1982), 36.
80
Listenius Musica of 1537 was an expanded version of his earlier work Rudimenta musicae planae,
published in 1533 by Georg Rhaw, at Wittenberg. The term musica poetica first appeared in
Rudimenta musicae planae, but was defined in Musica of 1537 in more detail.
81
Musica (1537) was one of the two most popular instruction books in Germany during the
sixteenth century, running to many editions and being specifically required in numerous
Schulordnungen for various cities [e.g. Wittenberg, Augsburg, Nuremberg, Leipzig, Frankfurt,
Breslau] when schools were reorganized under the influence of the Reformation. In these schools,
Listenius Musica was generally required for use in the upper classes, whereas Heinrich Fabers
shorter Compendiolum musicae was used by the lower classes. Listenius Musica was also used as
the text for music lecturers at the University of Cracow in 1562. Nan Cooke Carpenter, Music in the
Medieval and Renaissance Universities (New York: Da Capo Press, 1972), 266.
82
According to the medieval classifications of knowledge, the study of composition was a branch of
musica practica. Joseph Dyer, The Place of Musica in Medieval Classifications of Knowledge, The
Journal of Musicology 24, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 3-71.
32

Practical, whose goal is doing, is that which delights not only in the intricacies of skill,
but extends into performance itself, leaving out no part of the act of performance.
Hence the practical musician, who teaches others something more than the recognition
of art, trains himself in it for the goal of any performance.

Poetic is that which is not content with just the understanding of the thing nor with
only its practice, but which leaves something more after the labor of performance, as
when music or a song of musicians is composed by someone whose goal is total
performance and accomplishment. It consists of making or putting together more in
this work with afterwards leaves the work perfect and absolute, which otherwise is
artificially like the dead. Hence the poetic musician is one who is trained in leaving
something more in his achievement. These latter two types (i.e., practical and poetic)
have always the first (theoretical) included, but the reverse is not true.

83

Definition of Musica Poetica


To understand the significance of Listenius definition of musica poetica, it is
necessary to first understand the nature of musical pedagogy of the time. In the early
sixteenth century, the study of music was divided between musica theorica and
musica practica. Musica theorica was a scholarly activity, which took the form of
study of speculative theories inherited from Boethius and the Pythagorean tradition
of the ancient Greeks.84 It was a branch of mathematics that deals with the study of
proportions that describes the behavior of sounding bodies, which mirrored the order

83

[Poetica, quae neque rei cognitione, neque solo exercitio contenta, sed aliquid post laborem
relinquit operis, ueluti cum quopiam Musica aut Musicum carmen conscribitur, cuius finis est opus
consumatum et effectum. Consistit enim in faciendo siue fabricando, hoc est, in labore tali, qui post se
etiam, artifice mortuo opus perfectum et absolutum relinquat. Vnde Poeticus Musicus, qui in negotio
aliquid relinquendo uersatur. Et habent hae duae posteriores sibi perpetuo coniunctam superiorem sed
non contra.] Nicolaus Listenius, Music [Musica], trans. Albert Seay (Colorado: Colorado College
Music Press, 1975), 3.
84
Boethiuss treatise [-De institutione musica-] remained the standard textbook on music throughout
the Middle Ages, until the end of fifteenth century; it was still widely used in te sixteenth. The
subjects covered in musical studies, the mathematical orientation, the concern for pitch nearly to the
exclusion of rhythm, and the Pythagorean foundation all remained essentially unchallenged for a
millennium. Boethiuss interpretation of the Greek sources also had no competitor, and his work
provided the only, if indirect, link with the early Greek sources for the musical scholars of the Latin
Middle Ages. Ann E. Moyer, Musica Scientia: Musical Scholauship in the Italian Renaissance (Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1992), 32.
33

of creation. 85 As such, it was studied together with arithmetic, astronomy, and


geometry as part of the quadrivium.86 Musica practica, in the sense as codified by
Italian theorist Gaffurio (Practica musicae, Milan 1496-7), mainly deals with
practical or applied theory, focusing on composition, counterpoint, and mensural
notation including a few recommendations on performing practice.87 It was learned
by working musicians, such as singers in chapel choirs or composers, who were
concerned with practical aspects of music. While Italian theorists defined musica
practica primarily as the art of composition, the term was used in Reformation
Germany primarily in association with vocal performance,

88

an important

component of Lutheran education system. Ralph Lorenz summarizes the nature of


musica practica in sixteenth century Lutheran Germany succinctly:

The German treatises on musica practica are designed for use in the schools, especially
at the secondary level. These manuals present concise definitions, illustrations, and
exercises for learning to perform vocal music. The focus is primarily on fundamentals
such as the scale (gamut), clefs, vocables, hexachords, mutation, solmization, the
modal system, and aspects of notation, including note and rest values, ligatures, and
mensuration. The treatises are often divided into musica plana (plainsong and basics)
and musica figuralis (polyphony) The practical aspects of these treatises were
important for choirboys because they were constantly performing at weddings, funerals,
banquets, and in regular church services.

89

85

As a mathematical discipline, [musica theorica] attempted to explain music as number and to


bring the numerical order of tone into an exact justaposition with the concept of God as universal
order. We meet here not only theoretical concepts of profound significance to German Baroque music,
but ideas vitally interconnected with theology, philosophy, and metaphysics. George Buelow,
Symposium on Seventeenth-Century Music Theory: Germany, Journal of Music Theory 16, no. 1/2
(Spring 1972): 39.
86
See Joseph Dyer, The Place of Musica in Medieval Classifications of Knowledge, 3-71.
87
John Butt, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque, Cambridge
Musical Texts and Monographs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), xii.
88
German writers from the early years of the Lutheran Reformation tended to confine [musica
practica] to the art of mere performance, something which could be grasped quickly and easily by
young boys in school. John Butt, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German
Baroque, Cambridge Musical Texts and Monographs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994),
xii.
89
Ralph Lorenz, Pedagogical Implications of Musica Practica in Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg
(Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1995), 4-5.
34

While both musica theorica and practica were musical disciplines carried down from
the medieval scholastic tradition, Listenius musica poetica had a humanistic
connotation. The word poetica derives from the Greek word poieo meaning to make,
produce, or create. Listenius tripartite division of music was modelled on
Aristotles theory of arts,90 from his Poetics (first printed in a Latin translation by
Giorgio Valla in 1498)91 in which human mental activity/knowledge is divided into
three spheres: the theoretical (from Greek therein, to contemplate), the practical
(from Greek prattein, to bring about, accomplish), and the poetical, or creative (from
Greek, poiein, to make). While composition was traditionally recognized as a
practical art, Listenius, under the influence of his humanistic studies, recognized
music as an imitative art, similar to a literary work created by the poet, that can
become expressive an idea conveyed by Aristotles term mimesis.92 In this sense,
the artistic goal of composition under musica poetica is different from that of musica
practica while musica practica involved treating musical compositions as
craftsmens application of speculative theories, musica poetica involved the laying
out of compositional devices and organizational techniques that resulted in a finished

90

Aristotles Poetics, printed in a Latin translation by Giorgio Valla in 1498. Aristotle did not speak
at length about music but he did include it, even in purely instrumental form, among the imitative arts.
From this brief text came the notion, expounded by theorists and composers, that music could, by
means of its latent imitative powers, move human affections, or, in modern terms, be an expressive
art. James Haar, Humanism, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Mar 29, 2009).
91
E. N. Tigerstedt, Observations on the Reception of the Aristotelian Poetics in the Latin West,
Studies in the Renaissance 15 (1968): 7-24.
92
Aristotles Poetics was also recognized as one of the greatest sources of influence in Renaissance
musical thoughts: The theoretical concepts for the process of humanization were provided by the
literary humanists. They in turn were under the influence of ancient theory, in particular, Aristotles
Poetics. The Poetics, which one scholar characterized as a literary Bible for Renaissance classicism,
was copied, commented and translated (from the original and from Averroes paraphrase) in numerous
editions from the last quarter of the fifteenth century on. From a musical standpoint its influence can
be pinpointed in two doctrines: imitation (mimesis), and the stirring of emotions (ethos). Don Harrn,
Word-Tone Relations in Musical Thought: From Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century
(Neuhausen-Stuttgart: American Institute of Musicology, 1986), 91.
35

piece of music, or a perfect and absolute work (opus perfectum et absolutum.)93


Rivera compares this idea to the nature of a linguistic work:

[Musica poetica] was more than devising counterpoint by properly using


consonances and dissonances; it was an art of setting down a completed work that had
a coherent design and unity - a beginning, middle, and end, as Aristotle observed in his
Poetics.

94

By counting composition as poeisis, Listenius new technical category redefined


composition from a humanistic perspective. Composition was no longer perceived
only as a practical art based on speculative theory, which had been richly cultivated
in the Italian musical tradition.95 Hence, the term musica poetica represents a call to
a humanistic pedagogical foundation to the study of composition that would not only
be in line with the pedagogical goals of the reformed school system, but also
complement the increasing demands of practical music making in the Lutheran
schools and churches:96

In Reformation Germany, it was the practical skills of singing and performance that
were taught in the Lutheran Lateinschule, the centerpiece of the humanistic educational
system developed and implemented by Luther and his education minister, Philipp

93

Listeniuss definition of musica poetica is quoted here: cuius finis est opus consumatum et
effectum. Consistit enim in faciendo siue fabricando, hoc est, in labore tali, qui post se etiam, artifice
mortuo opus perfectum et absolutum relinquat. Ludwig Finscher, ed. Die Musik des 15. und 16.
Jahrhunderts, vol. 3, no. 1 of Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft, ed. Carl Dahlhaus (Laaber:
Laaber, 1989), 169.
94
Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1993). viii.
95
[Listenius] is the first writer to define composition as the separate art of musica poetica, distinct
from the fields of musica theorica and practica. Later theorists adopt the threefold division (e.g. Finck
1556, Oridryus 1557) or merely omit to mention composition within the context of musica practica.
John Butt, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque, Cambridge Musical
Texts and Monographs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 8.
96
Thus, there was a highly organized school system in Wittenberg within which music was
considered to be a very important subject. The university and especially the secondary schools
provided fertile training grounds for the development of practical skills. Students were exposed to
music of the highest quality in the Netherlandish style. Ralph Lorenz, Pedagogical Implications of
Musica Practica in Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg, 24.
36

Melanchthon. What was lacking in this practical curriculum was the advanced teaching
of counterpoint and composition - skills essential to a fledgling cantor or composer that had developed so strongly in the Italian tradition of musica practica culminating
with Zarlino. Such skills could only be acquired by students in private lessons. What
stepped in to fill this void was, on the one hand, the dissemination of Zarlino's
compositional pedagogy, and on the other, musica poetica, a creative new branch of
music theory developed by German pedagogues.

97

It is the Lutheran Latin school system, with its emphasis on music as well as
rhetorical teachings in the form of systematic pedagogy, that inspired music theorists
(who were usually teachers in the Latin school the Kantors) to offer instruction on
composing music as a poetic art with a humanistic pedagogical foundation. In fact, it
was the Kantor's duty to teach music as well as the trivium subjects, which includes
rhetoric, and it would be very natural for them to adopt the classical art of rhetoric as
its conceptual and pedagogical model.

The term musica poetica soon began to appear in the titles of treatises on musical
composition. 98 Heinrich Faber (1500-1552), 99 a magister atrium (MA 1545) of
Wittenberg University and the rector of the cathedral school in Naumberg, became
the first to use the term in the title of an unpublished manuscript treatise, De musica
poetica, of 1548.
97

Patrick McCreless, Music and Rhetoric, in The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, ed.
Thomas Christensen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 853.
98
The following discussion will be a survey of some representative treatises of the discipline.
Although references pointing to the importance of musica poetica can be found sprinkled throughout
Lutheran sources, many of the musica poetica treatises of the sixteenth century were, possibly due to
its private mode of teaching, never published (e.g. Martin Agricola in Musicae Choralis Deudsch and
Musica Figuralis Deudsch referred to an intended musica poetica text; Likewise, Hermann Finck
promised a musica poetica treatise, but they were all not published.) For the purpose of this study, it is
also not feasible to look at every Lutheran musical textbooks of the period for instances of appearance
of the term or implicit references to the idea of musica poetica. Therefore, discussion will be focused
on compositional treatises specifically designed for the instruction of musica poetica.
99
Heinrich Faber was best known as the author of Compendiolum musicae pro incipientibus
(Brunswick, 1548), a textbook on singing used in Lutheran schools which was reprinted for numerous
times and was recommended more than 49 different school ordinances issued between 1599 and 1613.
He was also registered as a private teacher of music in Wittenberg University in 1551. Ralph Lorenz,
Pedagogical Implications of Music Practica in Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg, 286-9.
37

Heinrich Faber: De Musica Poetica 1548

Heinrich Fabers De Musica poetica was the third part of a larger treatise on music,
Ad musicam practicam introductio, first published in 1550. The first section of Ad
musicam practicam introductio provides an explanation of Greek musical
terminology and deals with rudiments of plain song and polyphony; the second part
deals with rhythmic-notational problems of mensural music based upon
contemporaneous musical practice. The third section, entitled Tertia Pars Musica: De
Fingendis Musicis, was intended as a final step in the authors pedagogical system. It
has been found in manuscript, together with the second part, under the collective title
Secunda pars Musicae practicae et poeticae Magistri Heinrici Fabri, dated
Brunschweig, August 1548.100

Faber defined musica poetica as the art of shaping a musical poem (Musica poetica
est ars figendi musicum carmen), before restating Listenius definition of musica
poetica. He divides poetic music into two parts, improvisation (sortisatio) and
composition (compositio). Considering improvisation as a sudden and impulsive
ordering of a song through diverse melodies which is based on ones practical
experience, Faber emphasized the superiority of composed over improvised music.101

100

One of the three extant copies resides in Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preuischer Kulturbesitz.
According to Bellingham, Heinrich Ktzel discovered the work in the Hofer Gymnasialbibliothek
during its rebuilding after World War II; another copy exists in the Zwickauer Ratsschulbibliothek.
Bruce Allan Belingham, The Bicinium in the Lutheran Latin Schools During the Reformation
Period, 98. Fabers Musica poetica was the subject of a dissertation at Frieburg im Breisgau (1966)
by Christoph Stroux: Die Musica poetica des Magister Heinrich Faber.
101
Dividitur autem musica poetica in duas partes, sortisationem et compositionem. Sortisatio est
subita ac improvisa cantus per diversas melodias ordination. Quia vero hc ordination canendi non
valde probatur eruditis, non opus est ut diutius huius rei, quque solummodo usu consistit immoremur
[Poetic music is divided into two parts, improvisation and composition. Improvisation is a sudden
and impulsive ordering of a song through diverse melodies. But because this ordering of singing is not
greatly approved of by the learned, it is not worth dwelling on this matter any longer, which consists
38

The first seven of the nine chapters deal with the basic vocabulary of composition:
consonance, dissonance, suspensions, voices or parts, and chord formation. In the
final two chapters, Faber provides discussion of the use of cadences (clausula) by
equating its function to the end of a sentence or paragraph, and musical devices such
as cadences, fugues, and rests were discussed in terms of musical ornaments.

Gallus Dressler: Praecepta Musica Poeticae 1563

Gallus Dressler (153380/89), cantor of the Magdeburg Lateinschule in 1558, where


he succeeded the noted Lutheran theorist Martin Agricola (1486-1556), and later a
magister from Wittenberg University, produced the Prcepta music potic, which
comprises the text of a series of private lectures he delivered in the Magdeburg
Lateinschule between October 1563 and February 1564. This treatise appeared in
four manuscript versions (Magdeburg, 1571, 1575, 1584, 1601), and was remained
unpublished throughout the sixteenth century.102 It is devoted exclusively to the art
of musical composition, which its author called musica poetica.

Dressler defines musica poetica in the same way as Faber, namely the art of
elaborating [or giving shape to] a musical poem (Musica poetica est ars figendi
musicum carmen). In discussing the use of cadences, Dressler draws an analogy
only of practical experience]. Translation of Fabers text is borrowed from Robert Forgcs, Gallus
Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 73.
102
The sole manuscript copy Dresslers Praecepta musicae poeticae now resides in the
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Preuischer Kulturbesitz (Mus. Ms. Autog. Theor. G. Dressler, 1563/1564).
The treatise was not printed until it appeared, in Latin and edited by Bernhard Engelke, in
Geschichtsbltter fr Stadt und Land Magdeburg (1914-1915): 214-250. An edition and French
translation of the treatise, edited by Olivier Trachier and Simonne Chevalier, was published in the
Collection pitome musical of the Centre d tudes Suprieures de la Renaissance (Paris-Tours:
Minerve, 2001); for an edition with English translation, see Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers
Praecepta Musicae Poeticae (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007). A translation of
part of chapter 13 of the treatise is also found in Ellen Beebe, Text and Mode as Generators of
Musical Structure in Clemens non Papas Accesserunt ad Jesum, Studies in the History of Music,
vol. I Music and Language (New York, Broude Brothers, 1983), 93.
39

between the importance of clear articulation of phrases in music and grammar and
punctuations in speech:

Let young men not persuade themselves that musical concentus are the result of a
casual and fortuitous accumulation of consonances. For just as speech has eight parts
of speech, likewise there is the sentence with commas and fullstops, by which it is
conjoined like members with joints; so too the musical concentus has eight or even
more tones, likewise intervals and cadences, from which the harmony is constituted.
Moreover, what the sentence and comma are in speech, in poetic music these are the
cadences, which constitute the parts as much as the whole body. Therefore, it is not
sufficient only to know the composition of cadences, but learners must be taught in
what order cadences are to be conjoined so that they also render a just harmony for the
ears. Two things are to be considered carefully in the placement of cadences: one of
which is that they correspond in a fitting way to the words, the other to the concentus,
and that they cohere to them equally.

103

In an apparent analogy to the three classical genera of orations, Dressler


distinguished four genera of polyphonic style, according to whether a composer used
a transparent type of fugal writing (nudus), fractured counterpoint (fractus), fully
sonorous imitative polyphony (plenus), or a more versatile style that adjusted to the
changing requirements of the underlying verbal text. Dressler considered that a
musical composition, like an oration, consisted of an exordium (opening
introduction), a medium (middle), and a finis (conclusion).104 Recognizing different
kinds of musical passages have different structural functions within the context of a
piece as a whole, he offered an extensive discussion of the kinds of materials that are
suitable for each of the three parts of a composition. Dressler concludes the treatise
with a final chapter [chapter XV. By what methods students may progress with profit
in this subject. (XV. qua ratione tyrones in hoc studio cum fruge progredi possint)]
103

Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 153-4.


According to Aristotle, a tragic drama or an epic poem, to be a unified whole, must have a
beginning (arche), middle (meson), and end (teleute). (Poetics 7.3 and 23.1.)
104

40

that gives five recommendations on how to proceed in learning musica poetica.

Seth Calvisius: Melopoiia Sive Melodiae Condendae Ratio, Quam Vulgo


Musicam Poeticam Vocant (Erfurt, 1592)

Seth Calvisius (1556-1615),105 Kantor of the Frstenschule in Schulpforta from


1582 until 1594, and later Thomaskantor in Leipzig, translated the term into Greek
and titled his treatise as Melopoiia sive Melodiae condendae ratio, quam vulgo
musicam poeticam vocant [Melopoeia, or method of composing melody, which is
commonly called musica poetica] (Erfurt, 1592.)106

Apart from transmitting the essence of Zalinos contrapuntal theory (as laid out in his
Istitutioni harmoniche of 1558) into the German compositional method, chapter
eighteen, entitled De orative sive textu, discusses the close relationship between
words and music in musical composition and mentions poetic figures to be
effectively set. Among its progressive features was a comparison between the
segmentations in a musical work and the punctuation points of poetry, and a musical
reflection of a question in the text by using an imperfect cadence ending on the
dominant.

105

After attending schools at Frankenhausen and Magdeburg [in 1572, where he probably studied
music with Dressler, who was there until 1575], Calvisius began his studies at the University of
Helmstedt in 1579 and continued them from Easter 1580 at the University of Leipzig, where he had
matriculated in 1576. In 1581 he became Kantor at the Paulinerkirche, Leipzig, only to move in
November 1582, on the recommendation of the Leipzig theologian Nikolaus Selnecker, to Schulpforta
as Kantor of the Frstenschule. He spent 12 fruitful years there not only as an inspiring teacher but
also in the study of history, chronology and music theory. In May 1594 he was recalled to Leipzig as
Kantor of the Thomaskirche in succession to Valentin Otto. (Adam Adrio and Clytus Gottwald,
Calvisius, Sethus [Kalwitz, Seth] in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Mar 10, 2009).
106
Calvisius, Seth. Draft (ca. 1589) for Melopoiia sive melodiae condendae ratio (Erfurt, 1592),
Gttingen, Niederschsiche Staats- und Universittsbibliothek, Ms. Philos. 103. Edited by Carl
Dahlhaus, Musiktheoretisches aus dem Nachla des Sethus Calvisius, Musikforschung 9 (1956):
129-139.
41

Joachim Burmeister: Hypomnematum Musicae Poeticae (1599)


Joachim Burmeister (1564-1629), Kantor of the Nikolaikirche and Marienkirche at
Rostock from 1589, and magister from the University of Rostock in 1593, and
thenceforth praeceptor classicus (teaching Latin and Greek classics) and music
teacher at the town school of Rostock, published his first treatise on composition,
Hypomnematum musicae poeticae, in 1599.107 Like Dressler, Burmeister conceives
the structure of a musical work by analogy to that of a classical oration, and he
divides the work into exordium, body, and peroration, and distinguishes the smaller
affective periods that make up these sections. His main contribution to the pedagogy
of musica poetica, however, lies in his discussion of the musical ornaments, i.e.,
the syntactical procedures for varying, combining, and amplifying musical phrases.
In chapter 12 of the treatise, which is devoted to the ornaments of music,
Burmeister identified twenty-two musical ornaments (classified as either harmonic,
melodic, or mixed) that are commonly used in polyphonic composition of the late
sixteenth century, and labels them with names that are either borrowed from
rhetorical manuals or freshly coined to emulate rhetorical terms. 108 Rhetorical
colores (or tropes and figures) such as metalepsis, hypallage, apocope, palillogia,
parembole and anaphora, were equated with musical devices such as a suspension,
cadences, fugues, melodic sequence, or repeated pattern, etc. In the dedicatory
107

Burmiester, Joachim. Hypomnematum musicae poeticae. Rostock: Stephan Myliander, 1599; the
complete title of Hypomnematum musicae poeticae reads: Hypomnematum musicae poeticae a
Magistro Ioachimo Burmeistero, ex Isagoge cuius et idem ipse auctor est, ad chrum gubernandum,
cantumque componendum conscripta, synopsis. [Synopsis of Observations on Musical Poetics by
Master Joachim Burmeister, from the introductory treatise of which he is also the author, which was
written for directing a choir and composing a musical piece.] Translation of the title is quoted from
Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, translated by Benito V. Rivera (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1993), xiv.
108
Burmeisters list or rhetorical terms were largely borrowed from Lucas Lossius Erotemata
dialecticae et rhetoricae Philippi Melanchthonis et praeceptionum Erasmi Roterodami of 1562.
Lossius was the vice-rector of Lneburg Lateinschule, who also taught Burmeister classical rhetoric
during his attendance in the Latin school.
42

preface of the treatise, Burmeister points out pedagogical purpose for his
musico-rhetorical figures:

I have also made it possible for those elements which are special and notable in this art,
hitherto in need of proper names so to speak, to be given their proper names so that our
discourse, aimed at illuminating the matter through comparison, may not be rendered
ineffective because of a lack of terminology.

109

By using a vocabulary already familiar through the students rhetorical studies,


Burmeisters system of musico-rhetorical figures aimed to offer students a systematic
tool for analysing a composition and to identify musical devices which they could
then apply in their own work. By moving away from dispositio (as covered by his
predecessors) to aspects of elocutio, Burmeisters Hypomnematum musicae poeticae
presents a refined application of rhetorical principles to musical composition.
Burmeisters Hypomnematum musicae poeticae also became the basis of his two
other treatises, Musica autoschediastike (Rostock, 1601), and Musica poetica 1606,
both of which deal with the same subject matter, showing the authors reworking of
his ideas on the presentation of musico-rhetorical figures.110

By the middle of sixteenth century, musica poetica became widely accepted as an


independent branch of music in Lutheran Germany, as many music textbooks
adopted the tripartite scheme in defining musica, such as Hermann Fincks Practica
musica (Wittenberg, 1556), Johannes Oridryus Practicae Musicae (Dusseldorf,
1557), Henning Dedekinds Praecursor Metricus Musicae Artis (Erfurt, 1590), and
109

Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, translated by Benito V. Rivera, xlvi.


All three [treatises] treat the same subject matter in various degrees of detail Musica
autoschediastike is a more compendious treatise than Musica poetica; the latter is sometimes clearer
and more concise, but the earlier versions must be consulted now and then to untangle obscurities that
remain in the final version. Peter Bergquist, review of Musical Poetics, by Joachim Burmeister,
translated with introduction and notes by Benito V. Rivera, Journal of Music Theory 40, no. 2
(Autumn 1996): 348.
110

43

Cyriacus Schneegass Isagoges Musicae Libri Duo, Tam Theoricae quam Practicae
(Erfurt, 1591).111 The study of composition was therefore no longer considered to be
the second part of musica practica. With Melanchthons education curriculum
emphasizing the trivium and practical music in the reformed schools and universities,
the study of music as a speculative science (musica theorica) was gradually phased
out of the curriculum and was no longer required by the statutes of universities112
along with the cancellation of professorships in music. 113 Leading musical
pedagogues were no longer full members of the faculty, but were incorporated in the
universities under sessional staff to give lectures to or to teach privately those
students who so desired, or to assist with the musical aspects of academic festivals.
Most of the advanced musical training (including the study of composition, musica
poetica) now began to take place in the secondary schools, or more typically in the
Latin schools (Lateinschulen), where music teachers, i.e., the Kantors, were

111

Heinz von Loesch, Der Werkbegriff in der protestantischen Musiktheorie des 16. und 17.
Jahrhunderts: Ein Miverstndnis (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2001), 126-30.
112
In many of the German universities, the teaching of music followed traditional medieval lines
until the time of the Reformation, after which music as a mathematical discipline was eliminated from
the curriculum altogether or absorbed in the teaching of physics. In Prague the Musica of Jean de
Muris was required for the last time in 1528. Viennas professors of mathematics were required to
lecture on music according to Ptolemy, Boethius, or Muris until the middle of the century. At
Heidelberg musica speculativa was likewise taught as a part of mathematics until well past the middle
of the century. Cologne, noted for its strong adherence to scholastic philosophy until near the end of
the century, required music as a mathematical discipline continuously from its founding until 1574,
after which it was probably taught as a part of physics. The Musica of Muris was offered at Leipzig in
the first half of the sixteenth century, but with the humanistic curriculum inaugurated there in 1558,
music was eliminated from the prescribed course of studies and absorbed by the natural sciences
(physics). Wittenberg, too, prescribed the Musica of Muris in its early statutes, but with the advent of
the Reformation, this subject was dropped from the curriculum. Nan Cooke Carpenter, Music in the
Medieval and Renaissance Universities, 317.
113
The coveted title of musicus [theoretician and mathematician] which previous centuries had
bestowed only on theorists was snatched away from the university and given to the composers of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries purely on the strength of their genius. It is no wonder that music
declined at the universities and was finally removed from their programs of study around the middle
of the 16th century. In 1545/46, Adrian Petit Coclico's drive for the establishment of a professorship in
music, though supported by his students and the University of Wittenberg, failed because of the
refusal of the Elector Johann Friedrich. A similar move on behalf of Sixt Dietrich, also at the
University of Wittenberg, had also failed; Salamanca remained the only European university with a
special chair for music. Ibid., 358-9.
44

employed. 114 In addition to directing school or church choirs and teaching the
rudiments of music, the Kantor was also frequently called upon to teach other
subjects of the trivium, especially Latin and rhetoric. This connection gave the
Lutheran Kantor a feasible opportunity for a new didactic undertaking, i.e. to give
aspiring composers instruction on the structural procedures and elaborative devices
for producing a persuasive musical work using an esteemed approach of rhetorical
pedagogy. The Latin school was then the place where such rhetorically inspired
teaching of composition was keenly cultivated and developed.

114

Although there were no full professorships in music, the [Wittenberg] University often contracted
with the music pedagogues to teach students privately. Wittenberg pedagogues who received such
commissions include Listenius, Faber, Finck, and Coclico. In addition, private teachers sometimes
gave lectures at the university and assisted with the musical aspects of academic festivals. Their
primary source of income, however, still came from teaching in the secondary schools. Ralph Lorenz,
Pedagogical Implications of Music Practica in Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg, 23; Livingstone also
acknowledged the overlapping nature of personnel in secondary schools and universities of the period:
[in the Lutheran Germany of the early sixteenth century], some larger secondary schools taught
almost the whole program of the arts faculty, and may well have done as good and thorough a job in
that as did many universities. Ernest F. Livingstone, The Place of Music in German Education from
the Beginnings through the 16th Century, 248.
45

CHAPTER THREE
MusicaPoetica in the Lutheran Latin School: Rhetorically Inspired
Compositional Instruction

As an independent branch of musical instruction alongside musica theorica and


musica practica, musica poetica was taught largely in the Lutheran Lateinschule the centerpiece of humanistic education emphasizing the trivium. While
Melanchthons curriculum required that music (such as singing and rudiments of
music theory) be taught for an hour per day for all students,115 musica poetica was
offered as the private lectures for the musically advanced students, and was taught in
addition to the schools publicly scheduled music classes.116

Teachers of Musica Poetica


Teachers of musica poetica were Lutheran Kantors who had received extensive
academic and ecclesiastic training in music, as well as humanistic studies at the
gymnasium and university. These theorist-Kantors, who were highly specialized
115

Melanchthon allocated music a significant time portion in the curriculum, as Nan Cooke Carpenter
details: In the school at Eisleben, generally considered the first product of Wittenbergs evangelical
and humanistic influence (1525), music was taught for an hour a day; in his Declamatio in laudem
novae scholae, presented in 1526 when a new school was opened in Nrnberg, Melanchthon included
the daily teaching of music in his plans for organizing the schools of that city; and Melanchthons
Schulordnung for Saxony also specified daily instruction and practice in singing from the first year
onward. Ralph Lorenz, Pedagogical Implications of Music Practica in Sixteenth-Century
Wittenberg (Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1995), 18-19.
116
For example, Dressler himself informs us on the title page of the treatise and in its prfatiuncula
[short preface] that the present form of the Praecepta musicae poeticae was delivered as a series of
lectures at the Lateinschule in Magdeburg, where he was Cantor, between the dates of 21 October
1563 and 29 February 1564. It was intended for the more advanced students in the school, and in the
same prfatiuncula, Dressler adds that the lectures were delivered on Thursdays, from midday to 1 P.
M., the topic of musica poetica having been specifically requested by some of the students for
treatment during this hour. Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dressler's Praecepta Musicae Poeticae (Urbana
and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 12.
46

musicians, constituted a small subset of the pool of Kantors employed throughout


Germany. As Butt has observed, historical evidence from school documents of
various German towns suggests that most Lutheran Kantors were academics who
were not necessarily eminent practical composers and performers, and who might
have considered the position of cantor as a stepping-stone towards a post as rector
(head of the school), pastor, or university professor.117 Many sixteenth-century
Kantors who were associated with the teaching of musica poetica (e.g. Martin
Agricola, Hermann Finck, Heinrich Faber, Gallus Dressler, Seth Calvisius and
Joachim Burmeister) were not only composers in their own rights but also well
experienced in the art of performance as demonstrated by their treatises on musica
practica.118

The Lutheran Kantor was an important figure in the school hierarchy, ranking third
after the rector (the Schulmeister or the headmaster) and deputy rector. Schools with
only two teachers would have a Kantor on the staff. 119 A Kantors main
responsibilities lie in his dual role as the choirmaster and composer who supplied the

117

John Butt, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1994), 12.
118
Treatises on musica practica by these Kantors include Heinrich Fabers Compendiolum musicae
pro incipientibus (Brunswick, 1548); Gallus Dresslers Musicae practise elementa (Magdeburg, 1571);
Seth Calvisius Compendium musicae (1594), Bicinia septuaginta ad sententias evangeliorum (2 st.)
(Leipzig, 1599), Exercitationes musicae duae (Leipzig, 1600), Exercitatio musica tertia (1609),
Compendium musicae pro incipientibus (Leipzig, 1602); Joachim Burmeisters Musica Practicae sive
artis canendi ratio (Rostock, 1601; extract from Musica autoschediastike).
119
The [Lutheran] aesthetic and functional need for music is reflected in the statistics which reveal
the fact that a cantor had a place on the faculty of even the small institutions. The staff of a school
with only two teachers would consist of a rector and a cantor or, in place of the latter, a sexton with
the clear understanding that he was required to teach singing and to look after the musical needs of the
community. A school of three teachers boasted a rector, a cantor and a sexton. As the size of the school
increased teachers with varying ranks and titles were added, but it is clearly evident from the
documents that an increase in the number of students called for an increase in personnel for the
instruction of music It is difficult to establish numerically the ratio between cantor and students, but
the statistics for the three great Saxonian Frstenschulen of the Reformation may be taken as a gauge:
at Meissen one rector, two baccalaurei, one cantor, sixty boys; at Merseburg one rector, two
baccalaurei, one cantor, 70 boys; at Pforta one rector, three baccalaurei, one cantor, 100 boys.
Frederick W. Sternfeld, Music in the Schools of the Reformation, Musica Disciplina 2 (1948):
110-111.
47

music, both Musica choralis (plainchant) and Musica figuralis (polyphony),120 for
church services, such as the music for the daily Matins, Vespers and the Sunday
services. Apart from composing music and rehersing with the church choir, he would
also be required to teach theories of musica practica, knowledge which was essential
for choir singers.121 In addition, the Kantor was responsible for preparing the singers
for any wedding, baptism, funeral, or civic celebrations held in the city.

Unlike the Medieval cantors who were clerics in charge of the liturgy (e.g.,
Gregorian chant) and financially secured by the church authorities,122 the cantors
during the Reformation were appointed by the civic community since schools were
run by the city councils.123 For the Lutheran Kantors, who were highly educated

120

For example, the Hamburg Kirchenordnung (written in Low German) requires that At noon the
cantor is to teach singing to all the older and younger children, not merely according to custom, but, in
time, artistically, and not only chant [den langen sanck] but also polyphony [in figurativis]. The four
teachers [de veer pedagogi] whose duty it is to sing in church are to assist him occasionally as
necessary in the school. He is also to be assisted by the schoolmasters [scholegesellen], with the
exception of the headmaster, when he desires to celebrate a festival with his choir in the churches, so
that the children shall be given good and cheerful training. Joachim Kremer, Change and Continuity
in the Reformation Period: Church Music in North German Towns, 1500-1600, in Music and
Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns, ed. Fiona Kisby (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2001), 124.
121
The Wittenberg 1533 Ordinance gave a plan for teaching music in the Latin School: after noon,
at the twelfth hour, as soon as they come into the school, they should first sing Come Holy Spirit.
After that, Music is to be practiced by the cantor with the highest and the second class so that they can
sing over the melodies for the Feasts; but at other times in the week, when possible, when they have
nothing to do with the church song, they are to learn theory. Lorenz notes that the four periods of
music per week of the Wittenberg 1533 Ordinance were about average for the Saxon schools. Ralph
Lorenz, Pedagogical Implications of Music Practica in Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg, 18-19.
122
The pre-Reformation Kantorat [the office of a Kantor] developed from the function of the
principal singer into the office of a director, and after the 11th century it became a highly respected
administrative post. The musical duties of the position passed to a succentor, while the cantor
undertook its more formal functions. Joachim Kremer, Kantorat, in Grove Music Online. Oxford
Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Apr 10, 2009).
123
Kremer considers the office of the Lutheran cantor not as a reform/ evolution of its Catholic form,
but rather was rooted in the changing social structure in German towns of the previous centuries
resulted by the founding of city parish schools: some towns had already founded cantorships at
municipal schools before the Reformation. In the rich mercantile cities of Lbeck and Hamburg, city
parish schools had already been founded in the thirteenth century (Lbeck in 1262 and Hamburg in
1281). Similarly, in Helmstedt (1407), Brunswick (1415-20), Hanover (1441) and Schningen (1499)
the establishment of cantorships was linked with the founding of city parish schools. In historical
terms, the civic school cantorship represents a precursor of the Lutheran cantorship, rather than the
German cathedral cantorship.19 The rapid imposition of the Reformation, completed by 1535 in
towns of Lower Saxony such as Lneburg, Celle, Hanover, Brunswick, Goslar, Gttingen and Minden,
thus coincided with a preliminary stage in the history of schools and cantorships which enhanced the
48

men, well versed in Latin grammar and literature, financial security and career
advancement (by moving on to the posts such as rector (head of the school), pastor,
or university professor) was achieved by simultaneous employment as a teacher in
the Latin school in charge of music, but also with an obligation to teach other
academic subjects, in most cases Latin. The Kantors Latin classes were also the
primary venue for recruiting singers for the Schulkantorei,124 which consisted of
different school choirs for use in church services, serving as the musical transmitor
of biblical messages, as Robinson-Hammerstein observed: The cantor could make
his selection for the ablest vocal candidates and he could check up on their Latin, the
perfect knowledge of which was required as a prerequisite of membership of the
Lutheran Kantorei. For the primary function of the Kantorei as educator of the
congregation was to sing Latin-psalm-motets of the most intricate but
Word-supporting kind, departing from medieval psalmody.125

Students of Musica Poetica


Students of musica poetica were those who were considered musically advanced.
That is, according to the widely held view in the sixteenth century, the requirements
were an experience in practical music, particularly singing. Knowledge of singing
efficiency of Reformation music education. A phenomenon characteristic of Lower Saxony, namely,
the production of numerous didactic treatises for teaching music, may owe its origin to this local
coincidence. Joachim Kremer, Change and Continuity in the Reformation Period: Church Music in
North German Towns, 1500-1600, 120-1.
124
One of the chief purposes, and a natural outgrowth of the intensive music program in the
16th-century Protestant schools, was the development of school choirs for use in the church service.
Much of the singing during the music period was devoted to the preparation of the choirs for their part
in daily and Sunday worship services. Within the Schulkantorei were several branches, each of which
had a particular assignment in the church music program. The Schulchor was usually the largest of the
choirs since it encompassed all the students in the middle and upper grades, except those who were
selected for special polyphonic singing. the Chorus symphoniacus specialized in the singing of
polyphonic music. It was through this type of Kantorei organization that the Nethelandish music
and the polyphonic music of the early Lutheran composers found its best vehicle of expression.
Herbert Nuechterlein, The Sixteenth-Century Kantorei and Its Predecessors, Church Music 71, no. 1
(1971): 5.
125
Helga Robinson-Hammerstein, ed., The Lutheran Reformation and Its Music, in The
Transmission of Ideas in the Lutheran Reformation (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1989), 153.
49

was commonly considered by theorists in the sixteenth century as to be prerequisite


to learning composition. In the introductory comments made by Dressler in the
preface to his Praecepta Musicae Poeticae of 1563, Dressler notes that the subject
matter of musica poetica is suitable only for more advanced students who already
have a basic knowledge and experience of practical music, particularly through
singing. Similarly, Listenius began his treatise Musica (1537) with the following
explicit comments linking singing and composition: Music is the knowledge of
singing well and correctly. To sing well is to produce the voices and notes of a song
fittingly according to certain definite rules and proportions.126 A similarly close
connection between singing and composing is found in Adrianus Petit Coclio's
remarks on Josquin des Prez's teaching method, and this is the approach adopted by
Coclico himself, as can be seen in the title of his Compendium musices descriptum
ab Adriano Petit Coclio discipulo Iosquini de Pres, in quo praeter caetera tractantur
haec: De modo ornate canendi, de regula contrapuncti, de compositione:127

My teacher Josquin never gave a lecture on music or write a theoretical work, and
yet he was able in a short time to form complete musicians, because he did not keep
back his pupils with long and useless instructions but taught them the rules in a few
words, through practical application in the course of singing. And as soon as he saw
that his pupils were well grounded in singing, had a good enunciation and knew how to
embellish melodies and fit the text to music, then he taught them the perfect and
imperfect intervals and the different methods of inventing counterpoints against
plainsong. If he discovered, however, pupils with an ingenious mind and promising
disposition, then would teach these in a few words the rules of three-part and later of
four-, five-, six-part, etc. writing, always providing them with examples to imitate.
Josquin did not, however, consider all suited to learn composition; he judged that only
those should be taught who were drawn to this delightful art by a special natural
126

Nicolaus Listenius, Music [Musica], trans. Albert Seay (Colorado: Colorado College Music Press,
1975), 3. This quotation is adapted from the English translation from Robert Forgcs, Gallus
Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 67.
127
Nuremberg: Johann Berg and Ulrich Neuber, 1552; reprint, Kassel: Barenreiter, 1954. This
translation, adapted from Smijers, is found in Gustave Reese and Jeremy Noble, Josquin Desprez,
The New Grove High Renaissance Masters (New York, 1984), 20.
50

impulse.

128

The students of musica poetica were not only musically advanced students with an
interest in composition; many of them aspired to take music as their career and
considered musica poetica as a part of their formal education. As historical evidence
shows, the musical language employed by these Kantors in their compositions
demonstrates a strong affinity to the kind of aesthetic embodied by musica poetica.
Johannes Reusch (1525-1582) states in the preface to his Elementa musicae that he
had been a student of Heinrich Faber (author of Musica poetica 1538) around 1538
in Naumburg. Upon matriculation at the University of Wittenberg in 1543, he
became the Kantor at the Stadtschule of Meissen, and headmaster from 1548 to 1555;
he was Kantor at the Frstenschule of Meissen in 15478. According to Walter
Blankenburg, his principal work Zehen deudscher Psalm Davids (1551) exhibits the
earliest examples of German-language psalm settings, a genre that was to become
particularly popular in the Lutheran heartlands, and his motets exhibit considerable
compositional skill; in accordance with the Netherlandish style of the time of Josquin,
their characteristically linear flow is interrupted by expressive homophonic interludes
closely related to the sense of the words. 129 David Palladius, Kantor at the
Martineum in Brunswick from 1572 to 1599, attended the Lateinschule at
Magdeburg during the period Dressler was teaching there, was considered by Martin
Ruhnke as a typical German composer of the Lassus school. His sixteen motets
based on biblical texts bear witness to his solid, workmanlike training, and in
settings of the six metrical texts, which include an ode by Horace, he demonstrated

128

Jessie Ann Owens, Composers at Work: The Craft of Musical Composition, 1450-1600 (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1997), 11.
129
Walter Blankenburg, Reusch, Johannes, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Apr 10, 2009).
51

his sensitivity to the text by loosening the musical fabric: instead of having all the
voices declaim the text homophonically, he added counterpoints, set one group of
voices against another, inserted polyphonic sections and created lively rhythms by
means of syncopation.130

As the teaching methods and layout of the musica poetica treatises have
demonstrated (see chapter 2 and later part of this chapter), the teaching of musica
poetica was designed for students who were also informed of principles and teaching
methods of rhetoric. As a part of the trivium, rhetoric has a distinctive role that offers
students beyond instruction in correctness of speech and writing:

Rhetoric, most broadly defined, is the art of communicating by means or words.


Renaissance scholars, however, had a less comprehensive view of rhetoric,
distinguishing it from its sister disciplines in the trivium, grammar and dialectic.
Grammar taught the principles of constructing sentences, punctuation, and the
classification and use of such elements as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Dialectic concerned rules of logic and proofs. Rhetoric was the art of persuading and
131

moving readers and listeners to believe and feel as the author or orator intended.

This distinctively persuasive nature of rhetoric required students to be both


intellectually and psychologically prepared before beginning to study it. As Peter
Mack points out, apart from proficiency in Latin grammar, rationality and
psychological maturity was requisite to the study of rhetoric:

For rhetoric the requisite maturity was rationality. Until the age of seven a boy was
only potentially a rational being. The formative stage was the next seven years, from
the age of seven to fourteen or fifteen, the years during which he was at Latin school.
130

Martin Ruhnke, Palladius, David, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online,
http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com (accessed Apr 10, 2009).
131
Claude V. Palisca, Music and Rhetoric, in Music and Ideas in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth
Centuries (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 203.
52

During these years parents and teachers had to direct the growth of a boy's reason, his
capacity to reflect on information from the sense and to control impulses like hunger,
fear and anger. A Latin school promoted this variously. It taught a boy to check
instinctive, unreflective verbal expression by making him learn Latin and speak it in
and out of the classroom. It taught him to check instinctive bodily movement according
to the rules of civilitas. And it taught him ethical and theological imperatives that
censured improper thoughts provoked by a disordered will inherited from Adam. These
controls had to be in place before a boy could be entrusted with rhetoric and dialectic.
Only when he had acquired ratio, only when he was more than thirteen years old and
was just or was about to become an adolescens, should a boy begin to learn oratio, that
is, the rhetorical and dialectical techniques that would permit him to express rather than
suppress his thoughts. To rephrase Catos influential definition of an orator, first, the
132

puer bonus, then the adolescens bonus dicendi peritus.

This would imply that the subject of musica poetica, the subject designed for the
rhetorically informed students, was reserved for the end of the Latin school
curriculum, after the study of rhetoric had begun, i.e. for students of the upper one or
two classes. This approach to the music education of musicians is unique to Germany
As Hermann Finck (1556) has observed that, while in other countries gifted students
begin their musical studies very early and pursue them exclusively, the Lutheran
school curriculum did not permit students to specialize in music until they knew the
principles of the other chief disciplines (reliquarum quoque praecipaurum artium
principia cognoscunt).133

Brian Vickers provides an overview of the general contents of rhetoric study in the
sixteenth century:

The rhetorical education trained the student in both criticism and composition. He

132

Dilwyn Knox, Order, Reason and Oratory: Rhetoric in Protestant Latin Schools, in Renaissance
Rhetoric, ed. Peter Mack (New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1994), 64.
133
John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German Theory and Practice
(1560-1606) (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto, 1982), 1-2.
53

was taught to read analytically, to identify metaphors, sententiae, and anything from
forty to two hundred rhetorical figures, in all the literature he read, whether the poems
of Ovid or Virgil, the prose of Cicero or Seneca, or the Bible. He would mark these in
the margin of his book, and transfer some as quotations in his notebook, to be reused in
his own writing. He was taught how to compose as oration, or write an essay, using the
traditional processes of creation (invention, disposition, elocution, pronunciation,
memory), and to arrange the final work into one of the canonical patterns (prooemium,
divisio or narratio, confirmatio, confutatio, peroratio). He was taught the three levels
of style, the main literary genres, and the styles appropriate to each genre. He learned
these and other pieces of knowledge by slow and systematic instruction, painstaking
memorization, and constant recapitulation. Whoever had an education in Europe in this
period can be counted on to be familiar with all of the main processes of rhetoric.
Those composers who had at least a grammar-school education certainly knew their
rhetoric, whether, like Thomas Campion, they had been to Cambridge or whether, like
Burmeister, they had been to the Gymnasium in Lneburg.

134

Pedagogical Method of Musica Poetica: Praeceptum-Exemplum-Imitatio


In the teaching of rhetoric, Melanchthons policy required that the teacher should
first present a rule (praeceptum) which he would then illustrate with literary models
(exemplum), followed by imitation (imitatio) and practical application. This method,
which was also used in teaching other subjects of the trivium, is an ancient method
and can be traced back to Quintilians outline for the praelectio.135 As discussed in
chapter 2, the study rhetoric was offered in the final years of the Lutheran Latin
schools. The agenda of the humanist educators requires that students acquire the
skills of eloquence without undue delay; thus, rhetorical textbooks for the Latin
schools were organized with an expectation of brevity and practicality.136Like other

134

Brian Vickers, Figures of Rhetoric/ Figures of Music? Rhetorica 2, no. 1 (1984): 3.


The method [praeceptum-exemplum-imitatio], of course, is not new; indeed, [it was cited in]
Quintilians outline for the praelectio. Like Quintilian, the humanists presuppose a firm grasp of the
categories and terminology of dialectic and rhetoric, disciplines that are summoned at this stage as
tools for analysis and evaluation of style. John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of
Rhetoric in German Musical Theory and Practice (1560-1606), 25. See section 2.5.6-9 of Quintilians
Institutio Oratoria.
136
These works attempt to facilitate the educational process by means of correct, clear and brief
presentation of material in a systematic format. Several arrangements gain popularity, including the
question/answer pattern, which is related to the classical dialogue form. Other schemes present the
135

54

trivium subjects, a motto of rhetorical pedagogy was praeceptum-exemplum-imitatio:


learning the rules, studying examples, and imitating established masters.137 For the
purpose of their rhetorical studies, students of the Latin schools used various
textbooks which presented the rhetorical principles in a condensed form. Rules of
rhetoric were defined with examples from classical writings, providing material
which the students could emulate/imitate. Thus, by the time musical composition was
attempted, the students would have also gone through training in the trivium, and
know the method used in teaching the artes decendi (the language arts of grammar,
rhetoric and dialectic) well. The vocabulary and concepts of rhetoric, already
ingrained, could be called upon to illuminate unfamiliar procedures and serve as
mnemonic aids for advanced composition. Adrianus Petit Coclicos statement [in
1552] provides the best summary about the how music was taught in the advanced
schools of the Lutheran region:

Nec Musica extra liberalium artium numerum posita est, ideo eadem quoque via, qua
vel Rhetorica, vel alia ars addiscitur. Arte nimirum, exercitatione, et imitatione.
[Music has not been placed outside the number of liberal arts, for it is taught in the
same way as either Rhetoric or any other art, as an art, certainly by practice and
imitation.

138

material in brief statements under appropriate headings. In all of these textbooks, the author strives to
define all of the constitutuent parts of a subject and then to define their relationships in a methodical
way; so that the reader is left with a complete and integrated view of the topic. Martin Crusius defines
this approach to the presentation of information as method in the following characteristic exchange
from his edition of Melanchthon's Elementorum rhetorices libri duo (1570): [Latin quote translation]
By what means are the precepts of rhetoric transmitted? By means of method. What is method? It is
like a short cut and a certain path, indeed a scheme of the transmission of arts and disciplines. John
Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German Musical Theory and Practice
(1560-1606), 17.
137
It was Melanchthons policy in teaching all subjects in the Latin schools that the teacher should
first present a rule (praeceptum) which he would then illustrate (exemplum) and give the students to
learn as homework. The rules were to be learned by memory (memoria complectuntur), and in the
next class period were repeated (imitatio). Further examples were presented to provide practical
exercise (usus) in the acquired skills. Bruce Allan Bellingham, The Bicinium in the Lutheran Latin
Schools During the Reformation Period, 143.
138
John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German Musical Theory and
Practice (1560-1606), 13.
55

Praceptum
In presenting the precepts of the craft of musical composition (praeceptum), terms
are either borrowed from the rhetoricians vocabulary or emulated to suggest a
literary parallel. Terms dealing with different compositional stages of an oration,
such as inventio, dispositio, and elocutio were common in discussing stages of
planning of a musical composition. In discussing how to write different musical
passages that are functional within the composition as a whole (i.e. dispositio)139 one
would find terms such as exordium, medium, and finis.140 These musical references
to the steps of the rhetorical dispositio were first found in Gallus Dresslers Musica
poetica of 1563, and were still seen in Burmeisters Musica poetica of 1606, which
also referred to the central section of a musical work as the body of the composition
itself.141

Apart from terms dealing with the overall structure of the composition, rhetorical

139

Dispositio is the suitable arrangement of the parts of the oration and of the arguments. It fulfills
the function of bringing so much clarity to the speech that even if you have invented the best ideas,
none of them will be worth anything when you do not proceed suitably or intelligently. Phillip
Melanchthon, Institutiones rhetoricae (Strasbourg, 1523), fol. 22v. Translation quoted from Joachim
Burmeister, Musica Poetica (1606), in Source Readings In Music History, vol. 3, The Renaissance,
ed. Gary Tomlinson (New York: Norton, 1998), 190.
140
Classical authors varied in their numbering of the parts of an oration. Rhetorica ad Herennium
1.3.4 lists six parts: oxordium, narratio, divisio, confirmatio, confutatio, and conclusio. The broader
threefold division was obviously inspired by Aristotle's injunction that a tragic drama or an epic poem,
to be unified whole, must have a beginning [arche], middle [meson], and end [teleute] (Aristotle,
Poetics 7.3 and 23.1). A comparison of the middle part to a human body is found in Aristotle,
Rhetoric 3.14.8: If the listener is already well disposed, there will be no need of an exordium, except
to summarize the subject of the speech, so that, like a body [soma], it may have a head. Joachim
Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 203.
141
The later German theorist Joachim Burmeister (ca. 1564-1629) must have known Dresslers
work, as his own treatise of 1606 entitled Musica poetica (Rostock: Stephanus Myliander) expands on
the tradition represented by Faber and Dressler. Furthermore, Burmeister analyzes and refers to the
very same motet by Orlando do Lasso, In me transierunt of 1562, that Dressler had already singled
out for comment. In addition, Burmeister, following Dresslers lead, subdivides a composition
according to the traditional rhetorical categories of exordium, medium or corpus cantilenarum, and
finis.53 Furthermore, he concurs with Dressler in classing various fugal techniques as among the
ornaments of composition. Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 16-17.
56

terminologies were also used with reference to musical devices for varying,
combining, and amplifying musical phrases for the purpose of heightened expression.
While in earlier periods general terms such as clausular, color, punctum, flores,
distinctio, diminutio, repetitio, and others were commonly used, from the end of
sixteenth century onwards specific terms dealing with elocutio (eloquence or style)
occupied a central place in the discussion of musica poetica treatises. As the third
part of the compositional stage for the oratory, elocutio taught how to ornament an
oration with figures of speech, literary devices used to ornament an oration with the
aim of moving the affections.142 Passages containing expressive literary devices
given by terms such as hyperbaton, polyptoton, ploce, paranomasia, isocolon,
homoioteleuton, etc., and every Latin school student would have spent years learning
to recognise and name rhetorical figures in literary texts. The use of a system of
musico-rhetorical

figures

was

pioneered

by

Burmeister

in

his

treatise

Hypomnematum musicae poeticae of 1599, which provided a list of terminologies


either adopted from the figures of speech or newly coined to emulate one, to literally
describe the expressive compositional devices which deviated from the norm of
prima prattica imitative counterpoint.143

The precepts of musica poetica gave similar pedagogical benefits of precepta in


rhetoric. Melanchthon made the following statement regarding the original purpose
for the rhetorical rules: Rules were devised not to make men eloquent but to show

142

In book IX of his Institutio oratoria, a work which remained authoritative throughout the
Renaissance, Quintilian describes a rhetorical figure as a conformation of our speech altered from the
common and obvious usage. A figureis therefore a new and artful manner of speech: Figura
conformatio quaedam orationis remota a communi et primum se offerente ratione.Ergo figura sit
arte aliqua novata forma dicendi. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria IX.i.4, 14, 350, 354.
143
Dietrich Bartel, Rhetoric in German Baroque Music: Ethical Gestures, The Musical Times 144,
no. 1885 (2003): 18.
57

students the method and theory of judging the speeches of eloquent men.144 Just as
the knowledge of rhetorical precepts helped a listener to critically evaluate a
delivered speech, musical precepts helped the budding composers to make
sophisticated judgments about the music of other compositions. In his Praecepta
Musicae Poeticae of 1563, Dressler gave similar reasons for the study of
composition through musical precepts:

The usefulness of this art is when frequent practice will lead to the nature and
recognition of the art, so that we are able to judge about the quality of a song, whether
it is refined or commonplace, true or false, and to correct what is false and compose
something new.

145

Apart from offering rules for the students against which certain standards of criticism
for musical works, the musical precepts also provided a vocabulary and analytical
tool for musical analysis, which was a preliminary step students had to take prior to
imitating their models and creating their own compositions. Derkson provides
reasons for the privileging of analysis over imitation in the study of rhetoric in the
Renaissance:

The unceasing rhetorical analysis of classical literary works in the Renaissance is


directly linked to the humanists concern for recapturing in their own writings the
lucidity and elegance which they find in Ciceros works. They believe that before one
can imitate, one must analyze. The more one understands a models structure,
mechanics, interrelationship of parts, and the details of individual segments, the better
is he equipped to produce an imitation. Rhetoric provides the tools for exactly such
analysis, complete with technical terminology and standards of style. Because it
144

Melanchthon, Philipp. Corpus reformatorum, seu opera quae supersunt omnia, 28 vols. Edited by
Carolus Bretschneider and Henricus Bindseil (Halle and Braunschweig, 1834-1860), 13:492.
145
Huius artis utilitas est, ubi ad naturam et artis cognitionem frequens exercitatio accesserit, ut de
cantus qualitate, an sit urbanus, an vulgaris, verus an falsus iudicare possimus, et falsum corrigere et
novum componere. Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 65. Dresslers
first three reasons for studying musica poetica are modeled on those given by Heinrich Faber in his
manuscript treatise De musica poetica of 1548 (f. 98r).
58

provides such a complete system for artistic evaluation, rhetoric, already firmly
entrenched in literary theory, begins to take root also in other arts.

146

Similarly, the theorists of musica poetica were primarily interested in giving students
a vocabulary in order to analyse a composition and identify musical devices which
they could then apply in their own composition. The educational value of the musical
precepts and their use in musical analysis was recognized by Dressler, who advised
using the following procedure when studying musica poetica, the rules of the art
handed down above must [first of all] be learned, and secondly, let the songs of
proven composers be investigated and let them be examined by means of the
rules of reason, and specifically, in the course of such an examination, let the more
beautiful syncopations, cadences, fugues, and the sweeter combinations of
consonances be noted especially.147

The use of musical precepts as a tool for analysis was made most explicitly by
Burmeister, whose rationale for his system of musical figures as an analytical tool
can be found in his Musica autoschediastike 1601.148 He observes that well-written
musical works contain effective features which help to account for their
expressiveness, and in seeking to categorize these musical features within a coherent
framework, offers a vocabulary of musical figures as an aid to teachers, who may
base their lectures and analyses on it, as well as to students, for whom it may serve as
a reference work for discussion and for analysis. A more detailed and systematic
treatment of analysis appears in Burmeisters Musica poetica of 1606, which
contains a chapter devoted to analysis. After laying out his analytical method and
146

John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The Function of Rhetoric in German Theory and Practice
(1560-1606), 32.
147
Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 189.
148
Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 229-39.
59

illustrating its operation, Burmeister shows how his scheme works by analyzing
Lassus well-known motet, In me transierunt, revealing the underlying aspects of the
composition from mode, genus of tuning, type of counterpoint, system of accidentals,
to finally the disposition of the various segments of the piece with his musical
figures.149

Exemplum
As discussed in chapter 2, in the humanistic study of rhetoric, works from ancient
authors (e.g. Cicero, Quintilian) were extracted and read for the purpose of
illustrating linguistic rules. In the study of musica poetica, theorists turned to musical
works of the recent past for the purpose of illustrating musical precepts. In particular,
musical passages that demonstrate certain persuasive or effective instances of
text-setting were chosen to illustrate the musical precepts. Students would memorize
these rules and use them for analysis of other compositions. In illustrating the
invention of fugues for the opening, middle and concluding sections of a composition,
Dressler comments that these things must be learned by practical experience and are
to be recognized more by examples than by rules and then proceeds to different
ways in which fugues can be formed or recognized, using motets by contemporaries
such as Clemens non Papa and Orlando di Lasso as examples.150 In Burmesiters
Hypomnematum musicae poeticae of 1599, Lasso is by far the most frequently cited
composer, with twenty-five of the twenty-nine citations. In his Musica

149

In his Musica poetica of 1606, Joachim Burmeister analyzes Lassuss In me transierunt according
to his use of rhetorical figures in the following manner: This harmonic piece can be divided very
appropriately into nine periods. The first comprises the exordium, which is adorned by two figures:
fuga realis and hypallage. Seven inner periods comprise the body of the piece, similar to the
confirmation of a speech (if one may thus compare one cognate art with anot her). The first of these is
adorned with hypotyposis, climax, and anadiplosis; the second is likewise, and to those figures may be
added anaphora Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 207.
150
Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 165-173.
60

autoschediastike of 1601, Burmeister titles his chapter 12 The Ornaments or Figures


of Music, Illustrated with Examples by the Most Admired Master Composers,
Written in Staff Notation, explaining once again each of the original twenty-two
figures from his previous treatise in greater detail with additional musical examples
drawn from Orlando di Lasso, Clemens non Papa, Andr Pevernage, Jacob Meiland
and other comtemporaries.151

Imitatio
Imitatio was discussed in classical treatises on rhetoric, and especially those by
Cicero, the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica ad Herennium, and Quintilian's Institutio
oratoria;152 as a pedagogical method used in the study of rhetoric throughout the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance, imitatio denotes the writing exercises by which
the student of rhetoric acquires skill and stylishness of a chosen model. Fromson
illustrates what elements are involved in the process of imitatio advocated by the
humanists:

In sum the imitative strategies advocated by Vives, Melanchthon, Ledesma and


Erasmus have a great deal in common. Of paramount importance is the ability to
emulate the formal structure of the model - the order of its ideas, the layout of the
opening section, the transitions between adjacent sections, and the overall argument,

151

Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 155-197.


The classical treatises had urged imitation as a pedagogical exercise. Thus the Rhetorica ad
Herennium begins by pointing out that the orator needs to possess the faculties of Invention,
Arrangement, Style, Memory, and Delivery - the five principal parts of Ciceronian rhetoric - and the
treatise goes on to say that all these faculties we can acquire by three means: Theory, Imitation, and
Practice .... Imitation stimulates us to attain, in accordance with a studied method, the effectiveness of
certain models in speaking. But the ancients also realized that imitation was an essential element in
the formation of any mature literary style. Thus Quintilian begins the second chapter of Book X of his
Institutio oratoria - which is entirely devoted to the concept of imitation - by pointing out that it is
from authors worthy of our study that we must draw our stock of words, the variety of our figures
and our methods of composition, while we must form our minds on the model of every excellence.
For there can be no doubt that in art no small portion of our task lies in imitation. Howard Mayer
Brown, Emulation, Competition, and Homage: Imitation and Theories of Imitation in the
Renaissance, Journal of the American Musicological Society 35, no. 1 (Spring 1982): 39.
152

61

perhaps in an amplified or compressed format.

153

Similarly, musica poetica theorists emphasize the importance of imitation of models


as a exercise in acquiring proficiency in composition. This requires in the first place
both understanding and memorzing of the musical precepts presented through
musical examples. Having understood the nature of those precepts, the students
would be directed to models which are to be closely analyzed, with careful attention
given to every aspect of structure, ornament, and artifice. Having mastered such
analysis, the students attempt to compose an imitation by making use of the best
features of the original. In this way, the students learn the basic mechanics of
composition, method of writing a coherent structure, expressive devices and the
niceties of an individual writers style by composing similar pieces themselves. In
the appendix to his Musica poetica of 1563 (Chapter XV - Concerning the method of
progressing in this study), Dressler stressed the importance of imitation as exercises
for bringing the precepts into musical reality:

It is not enough for learners to have examined in this manner the work of others unless
they approach them in their own experiences. Therefore, they must come to them
through practice, and the teacher must conjoin the practical experience of the arts with
rules.

154

Similarly, Burmesiter believes that imitation is the structured and detailed


observation and analysis of models through which the student eventually learns to
compose similar pieces:

153

Michele Fromson, A Conjunction of Rhetoric and Music: Structural Modelling in the Italian
Counter-Reformation Motet, Journal of the Royal Musical Association 117, no. 2 (1992): 242-3.
154
Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 189.
62

Imitation is the study and endeavour to pattern and model our musical compositions
after the works of master composers, which are skillfully examined through
analysis.

155

Burmeister outlines two kinds of imitation general (genike) and specific (eidike).156
The first type is the imitation of the best musical practice invention, disposition,
vertical intervallic progressions, and general musical syntax to be found in the
works of all good composers.The second type is the close imitation of a single
composers style. He then suggests twelves composers as masters worthy of
emulation: Clemens non Papa, Orlando di Lasson, Ivo de Vento, Alexander Utendal,
Jacobus Regnart, Johannes Knfel, Jacob Meiland, Antonio Scandello, Andr
Pevernage, Leonhardt Lechner, Luca Marenzio and Johann Dressler.157

Among the models that are considered worthy of emulation, musica poetica theorists
also differentiated these composers according to different levels of style of musical
language, a method similar to that of a humanistic way of imitating different styles of
oration.158 In chapter XV (Concerning the method of progressing in this study) of

155

Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 208-9.


Melanchthon outlines two types of pedagogical imitation - imtatio in genere and imitatio in specie.
Imtatio in genere entails the adherence to standards of diction, correctness, and stylistic decorum
common to all writers of the Augustan age; Imitatio in specie is the imitation of a single model.
Melachthon considered Cicero as the best model for such type: Because this art cannot be made
perfect without examples and imitation, and it is an established fact among experts that the most
perfect composition is that of Cicero, we must admire those who set before them this author in order
to imitate bother his strengths and his arrangement. John Henry Derkson, De Imitatione: The
Function of Rhetoric in German Theory and Practice (1560-1606), 65.
157
Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 209.
158
This crucial step in discriminating between the levels of style was first properly made by
Aristotle, who in book III, chapter 12 of the Rhetoric stated that a different style was appropriate for
each kind of oratory (namely, (1) judicial, (2) deliberative and (3) demonstrative). Later theorists
such as Demetrius would distinguish four styles, but the codification at three (Grand, Middle, Simple)
was made by Cicero (Orator, 21) using the terms vehemens, modicum, subtile, and by the author of Ad
Herennium, who prefers to call the gravis, mediocris, extenuata . Cicero went on to apply the
categories to his triple division of the aims of the orator: to prove was best done using the plain style;
to delight the middle, and to move the grand or vigorous (vehemens; Orator, 21.69f). Brian
Vickers, Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry (London; New York: Macmillan; St. Martin's P., 1970),
74; In his Institutiones rhetoricae, Melanchthon identifies three styles of orations: Those who write
on style [de elocutions] mention three characteristics: Elevated [sublimis], when the oration contains
156

63

Praecepta musicae poeticae, Dressler states that pupils should choose an appropriate
compositional model among recent or contemporary polyphonists and should imitate
their style, he recommends four groups of composers in particular: (1) Josquin and
his contemporaries, whose works, though fugal, are rather spare in texture; (2) Issac,
Senfl, and their imitators, whose fractured counterpoint is outstanding; (3) Clemens,
Gombert, Crecquillon, and their contemporaries, whose fugal writing is more
sonorous than that of the generation of Josquin, and (4) Orlando di Lasso, who
surpasses all the others in suavitas, decorum, and sensitivity towards a text.159
Similarly, in Musica poetica of 1606, Burmeister identified twelve polyphonists
worthy of imitation and grouped them into three styles: low, middle and elevated,
according to which a student should imitate progressively:

Each of the above composers has an individual vein style. Some lean toward the lowly,
such as Meiland, Dressler, and Scandello; others toward the middle, such as Clemens
non Papa, Ivo de Vento, Regnart, Pevernage, and Marenzio; others toward the elevated
[sublime] such as Utendal Knofel, and Lechner; and others toward a mixture of the
middle and the grand, such as Orlando, and so on. The aspiring composer should
begin by imitating a composer who has cultivated the lowly style in everything that he
has published, and from there he should gradually proceed to the higher style.

160

Having explored the ways in which the teaching of musica poetica was modeled on
pedagogical principles of rhetoric in the Latin school, it is easy to see that, despite
that fact that its existence as a new discipline was a result of the feasibility of
combining teaching resources on music and rhetoric in the Latin school curriculum,

many figures; in short, it is a certain grandeur of style [grandiloquentia], as in the speeches of Cicero.
Lowly [humilis], when the oration does not rise above common usage; such are letters to friends.
Middle [medius], when the oration rises slightly above common usage, as in the case of stories
[historiae]. Translation quoted from Ibid., 211.
159
Robert Forgcs, Gallus Dresslers Praecepta Musicae Poeticae, 191.
160
Joachim Burmeister, Musical Poetics, trans. Benito V. Rivera, 211.
64

music and rhetoric were intrinsically bound together for their shared artistic
concerns:

Like the grammatical structure of language, a [musical] composition has punctuations,


syntactical terms, sentences, periods, which have to be pronounced with prosodical
accuracy and clearness of declamation. They have to be executed with improvised
ornaments, oratorical urgency and dynamics. Like the creation of a speech,
composition consists of the invention (inventio), disposition (dispositio), elaboration
and decoration (elaboratio, decoratio) of musical movement. Like an oratio, a
composition must, in arrangement and style, take account not only of its subject, but
also of the actual circumstances of the audience, the place and the time. Like a speech,
it has a beginning, a middle and an end (exordium, medium and finis, or more detailed
perhaps: exordium, narration, propositio, confirmatio, confutatio, perotatio). Like a
work of eloquentia, it must have elegantia, exornatio, decorum. Like an ingenious
oration, it will be ornamented by figurations which, at the same time, increase the
expression; for example, repetitions can have an emphatic effect, antitheses a
contrasting, and pauses a surprising one, just as in a speech. And like an orator, the
composer can vary his thoughts and can reflect upon means to give variety and
diversification (varietas) to his composition.

161

Not only were music and rhetoric similar in terms of materials and structure, what
was more important was the shared didactic purpose behind these common
vocabularies. Ars rhetorica teaches the orator how to deliver a speech (oratio) that is
coherent to its subject and aim, is vivid and impressive, and can instruct, move and
delight the auditor (docere, movere, delectare;)162 similarly, the goal of the musicus

161

Willem Elders, Humanism and Early-Renaissance Music: A Study of the Ceremonial Music by
Ciconia and Dufay, Tijdsschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 27, no.2
(1977): 79.
162
It was Aristotle who distinguished three criteria for the artistic proof of an oration: ethos, the
speakers ability to convince the audience of his moral character; pathos, emotional appeal to the
audience; and logos, appeal to the reason by logical argument. Brian Vickers, Figures of Rhetoric/
Figures of Music?, 62-63. Based on this distinction, Quintilian (Institutio oratoria) tried to show
that the duty of the orator is composed of instructing, moving and delighting his hearers. He declared
that moral philosophy was properly the province of rhetoric. He further assented to a doctrine of
musical ethos, and viewed musice as the handmaiden of rhetorice. Willem Elders, Guillaume Dufay
as Musical Orator, 2. Quintilian's Institutio oratoria (The Training of an Orator) was rediscovered in
1416 at St. Gall by the Florentine humanist Poggio Bracciolini, and this idea soon became
incorporated in the humanistic study of rhetoric.
65

poeticus was to take the musical and textual elements at hand and to put them
together in such a way that the listener was both persuaded and edified. Therefore it
was natural for the Kantors to turn to rhetoric as a model for compositional
instruction; through it, they and their students had been taught to compose extended
prose communications. By borrowing its terminologies and method, expressive
elements of existing masterpieces could be analyzed and made available for
pedagogical purpose to ensure a tradition of text-sensitive polyphonic styles of
compositions be continued for the service of the church.

66

CHAPTER FOUR
Conclusion - Understanding Musica Poetica
in sixteenth-century Lutheran Germany

If the congregational chorale expressed most fully, in musical terms, Luthers


theological idea of the priesthood of believers, then polyphonic vocal music, the
product of musica poetica, with its carefully considered structure and its
communicative aims akin to the musical sermon, would certainly come closer to a
representation of his idea of the proclamation of the Word. This study has provided a
context for musica poetica of the sixteenth century by tracing its ideological roots in
Luthers theology, leading to the rise of the discipline as a ramification of Luthers
education reform, and constructing a clearer picture of the pedagogical tradition by
placing it within the institutions that fostered its development. Several implications
can be drawn through this process:

Religious Functions as Expressive Goals


By locating the roots of musica poetica within Luthers idea of music as a
proclamation of the Word as illustrated by his own treatment of the hymns, one is
brought to see how ideologies, whether theologically or philosophically based, can
manifest themselves in different musical genres while retaining a unified function.
This consistency in function was particularly important for the music written during
the Reformation, since its primary objective was to persuade the hearts and
indoctrinate the minds of a new community of Lutheran worshippers. Having

67

understood musica poetica as having a pedagogical function for the purpose of


advancing the theological ideals of Lutheran liturgical music, text-sensitive
polyphonic music, which the sixteenth-century teachers of musica poetica advocated,
was logically considered to serve the same function. Therefore, when interpreting
liturgical music written within this tradition (i.e. those works composed by the first
generation of Lutheran composers) it is important to relate this function to the
expressive means of these works and set it as the benchmark for accessing the
expressive features of the music.

From Context to Method, or Vice Versa


By tracing the rise of musica poetica in the Latin school as an extension of Luthers
ideas about liturgical music, one is brought to see the fact that, despite the care with
which Luther's theology and related aesthetic values were articulated and
disseminated, contingent factors surrounding and informing his thought (e.g. his
educational background and that of the musica poetica theorists, the choice of
rhetorical methodologies, the choice of musical examples used to construct the
musical vocabulary, etc.) largely determined the shape of the pedagogical discourse.
In other words, the context which fostered the tradition was as important as the
philosophical ideas that engendered it. While on a macro level the teaching system of
musica poetica was itself a result of its context, on a micro level, each musica
poetica treatise was a product of its particular context. The pedagogues musical
background and his rhetorical education would have had an impact of how musica
poetica was taught. Compared to later periods, the relative consistency in terms of
methodologies and aesthetic assumptions employed in the discourse surrounding
sixteenth-century musica poetica reinforces the primacy of the didactic-religious

68

function of the music that it inspired.

From the seventeenth century onwards musica poetica was subject to increasing
heterogeneous discourse.163 It is therefore important to understand the particular
context in which it first developed. This thesis has employed a context to method
model in order to make sense of sixteenth-century musica poetica broadly. However,
for the analysis of individual treatises or compositions, a method to context
approach, particularly with respect to repertoire from the 1600s, would undoubtedly
prove useful.

The intended audience, theological ideals, compositional models, aesthetic


assumptions, all informed the various treatises and pedagogical methods discussed in
the previous chapters. Together, they provide us with many clues about the
intellectual force, rhetorical thought and musical taste of the sixteenth century and
offer us a deeper appreciation of the ideological goals that supported Lutheran
composers concern with text setting.

163

Beyond this initial reality of the divergent roles for musical-rhetorical figures, difficulties for
further research have been compounded by historical and geographical variants, particularly in
accounting for the style changes occurring during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
national/regional differences in aesthetics and practice, and the rhetorical aims of each treatise
Concerning the musical styles that incorporate such figures, Burmeister, Nucius, and Thuringus wrote
primarily of the strict styles of Renaissance polyphony and fugue. Kircher and Bernhard incorporated
the new techniques of opera (especially recitative) from Italy, while Printz addressed ornamentation,
emanating largely from Italy in the vocal style and from both Italy and France in the instrumental style.
Janovka Vogt, and Walther attempted to catalogue figures from all previous styles, and Ahle
concerned himself primarily with issues of text. In contrast, Mattheson, Scheibe, and Forkel
characterized rhetoric increasingly as a theory of melody (the Ordering of ideas, punctuation, and
grammar) for the new gallant style. Karl Braunschweig, Genealogy and Musica Poetica in
Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Theory, Acta Musicologica 73, no. 1 (2001): 51-52.
69

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