Guest Lecture: Thirteen Ways of Concealing a Canon: Exposition Strategies in Josquin’s Five- and Six- Voice Chansons


Location: 306 O'Neill Hall

Associate Professor of Music Theory at Oberlin, Megan Kaes Long

This lecture is free and open to the public. 


Josquin des Prez may be the most celebrated of all Renaissance composers. He is particularly well known for the incredible virtuosity of his counterpoint, which was famously on display in his Latin motets. By contrast, we have long understood his French chansons to be fairly homogenous – they all seem to be composed according to the same general script. But close inspection reveals that each of Josquin’s five- and six-voice chansons creates and solves a distinct contrapuntal problem. Josquin’s mastery in these songs lies in his capacity to create the impression of uniformity amid the splendid compositional diversity of these elegant compositions. This talk will examine three of Josquin’s apparently similar opening gambits and unpack the sorts of compositional challenges Josquin set for himself in each.

Megan Kaes Long is Associate Professor of Music Theory at Oberlin Conservatory. She holds a B.A. in music from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University. Megan’s research focuses on Western European vocal music of the 16th and 17th centuries and the theoretical discourses that describe them. Her recent work on hexachordal solmization was just published in Music Theory Spectrum this fall and she has work forthcoming in two edited volumes celebrating William Byrd and Josquin des Prez. Her book Hearing Homophony: Tonal Expectation at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century was published by Oxford University Press in 2020, and won the Society for Music Theory’s Wallace Berry Award. Megan’s articles have appeared in Music Theory Spectrum, the Journal of Music Theory, Music Theory Online, and Open Access Musicology, and her research has been awarded the SMT Emerging Scholar Award, and has been supported by grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. At Oberlin, Megan and her colleagues have recently developed an innovative new music theory core curriculum that approaches the study of music from a more global perspective; Megan was the recipient of Oberlin’s 2022 Excellence in Teaching Award. Megan is also the editor of SMT-V, the Society for Music Theory’s peer-reviewed video journal, and she is a mezzo-soprano who performs with choral ensembles in the Cleveland area.

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