Johannes Tinctoris

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Born: c. 1435

Died: 1511


Johannes Tinctoris was a Flemish composer and music theorist of the Renaissance. He is known to have studied in Orleans, and to have been master of the choir there; he also may have been director of choirboys at Chartres. Because he was paid through the office of petites vicars at Cambrai Cathedral for four months in 1460, it has been speculated that he studied with Dufay, who spent the last part of his life there; certainly Tinctoris must at least have known the elder Burgundian there. Tinctoris went to Naples in c. 1472 and spent most of the rest of his life in Italy.

Tinctoris published many volumes of writings on music. While they are not particularly original, borrowing heavily from ancient writers (including Boethius, Isidore of Seville, and others) they give an impressively detailed record of the technical practices and procedures used by composers of the day. He wrote the first dictionary of musical terms (the Diffinitorium musices); a book on the characteristics of the musical modes; a treatise on proportions; and three books on counterpoint, which is particularly useful in charting the development of voice-leading and harmony in the transitional period between Dufay and Josquin. The writings by Tinctoris were influential on composers and other music theorists for the remainder of the Renaissance.

While not much of the music of Tinctoris has survived, that which has shows a love for complex, smoothly flowing polyphony, as well as a liking for unusually low tessituras, occasionally descending in the bass voice to the C two octaves below middle C (showing an interesting similarity to Ockeghem in this regard). He wrote masses, motets and a few chansons.

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List of choral works

  • Missa L'homme armé 4vv
  • Missa sine nomine a 4
  • Missa (sine nomine a 3, high clefs)
  • Missa (sine nomine a 3, low clefs)
  • Missa Helas (lost)
  • Missa Nos amis (lost according to NG 2001/rev.2010, but see Reinhard Strohm: "Die Missa super “Nos amis” von Johannes Tinctoris", Mf 32 1979)
  • O Virgo miserere mei (3vv)
  • Virgo Dei throno digna 3vv
  • Alleluya (2vv)
  • Fecit potentiam (2vv)
  • Gaude Roma vetus, lost
  • Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophete (4vv)
  • Pater rerum, lost
  • De tous biens playne (on tenor by Hayne)
  • D'ung aultre amer (on tenor by Ockeghem)
  • Comme femme (on tenor by Binchois)
  • Helas le bon temps (3vv)
  • Le souvenir a 4 (on descant by Morton)
  • Le souvenir a 2 (on tenor by Morton)
  • O invida fortuna (3vv)
  • Tout a par moy (on tenor by Frye or Binchois)
  • Vostre regart (3vv)

A Credo sometimes attributed to Tinctoris is from Missa L'ami Baudichon (Josquin Desprez)

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External links