Introduction[edit | edit source]

Johannes Ockeghem (1410-1497) was a prominent Franco-Flemish composer of the middle Renaissance period. He was most well known for his settings of the mass. His work, Missa Mi-Mi, was written sometime around 1475-1480. The title itself was a solmization of the descent in the bassus voice on which both pitches would be sung on the syllable "Mi." The origin of the title of this work remained unknown until musicologist Haruyo Miyazake published in 1985 his discovery of a possible "lost model" for this mass -- one of Ockeghem's chansons, Presque trainsi.


Ockeghem Missa Mi-Mi Gloria

Analysis[edit | edit source]

A link to the full score of this work can be found at: Ockeghem: Missa Mi-Mi.

What characterizes this work for belonging to Ockeghem was the voicing particularly. Although the quantity of voices was normal (four part), the range of each part (mainly the upper and lowest voices) was greatly extended and can be heard in this mass setting. Ockeghem used the distinct sound of a high register versus a low register all throughout his works. Many times in this mass setting, the upper voice was paired with the bass voice with a very apparent displacement of multiple octaves. The bass voice itself also had a bigger role in this period of time, and that characteristic can easily be seen throughout the mass.

The rhythms in this mass were more freely written and does not adhere to the rules of earlier writings (not confined to only duple or triple rhythms). There was a certain fluidity to this mass stemming from the flowing rhythm and melodies.

The melodies in this mass continually flowed into the next. At almost any given cadence point, one or multiple voice(s) resumed the melody after it just cadenced (usually after only a beat of rest). This also helped with the fluidity in the sound that is very different from any earlier period in history. In addition to the idea of sound, the chords in this mass were much more filled out, including more thirds and sixths at cadences (although a lot of cadences were still using open perfect intervals).

Comparison[edit | edit source]

I decided to compare both Gloria movements of this mass to that of Obrecht's Missa Fortuna Desperata. The most noticable similarity was in the bass voice. In Obrecht's mass, however, the bass voice went further below what was written in Missa Mi-Mi. The contrast of registers were not as distinct as in Ockeghem's mass. Although the bass voice was written lower, it was not often paired with the highest voice. The use of imitation was also more present in Missa Fortuna Desperata than in Missa Mi-Mi.

Observations[edit | edit source]

I chose this piece because as a Catholic bass singer for many years, I very much enjoy the mass settings of this era. I also thought that this mass had an interesting story about the name "Mi-Mi." The name itself caught my eye as I was choosing which mass to analyze. I also particularly like the change to the bass voice in this era. 

Sources[edit | edit source]

Dickey, Timothy. "Missa Mi-mi (Missa quarti toni), for 4 voices." Allmusic. Allmusic, 2014, accessed February 11, 2014.

Obrecht, Jacob. "Jacob Obrecht - Missa Fortuna Desperata - II Gloria" (video). Accessed February 14, 2014.

Ockeghem, Johannes. Missa Mi-Mi.

Ockeghem, Johannes. "Ockeghem Missa Mi-mi Gloria" (video). Accessed February 14, 2014.

Perkins, Leeman L. "Ockeghem, Jean de." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 11, 2014.

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