Jacobus Vaet

Jacobus Vaet

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Jacobus Vaet was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

. He was a representative of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

, writing smooth polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 with pervasive imitation
Imitation (music)
In music, imitation is when a melody in a polyphonic texture is repeated shortly after its first appearance in a different voice, usually at a different pitch. The melody may vary through transposition, inversion, or otherwise, but retain its original character...

, and he was a friend both of Clemens non Papa and Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...



He was born in either Kortrijk
Kortrijk ; , ; ) is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province West Flanders...

 or Harelbeke
Harelbeke is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Harelbeke proper and the towns of Bavikhove and Hulste. On January 1, 2006 Harelbeke had a total population of 26,172...

. His first appearance in the historical record is from Kortrijk, where he was admitted in 1543, at age 13, as a singer to the church of Onze Lieve. In 1547 he was enrolled at the University of Leuven, and by 1550 he was in the court of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

, where he was listed as tenor in the chapel choir. He became Kapellmeister to Maximilian II
Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian II was king of Bohemia and king of the Romans from 1562, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1563, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from 1564 until his death...

 in 1554, and held that post for the rest of his life. Evidently Maximilian was fond of his Kapellmeister, and mourned him both in his diary, and by having elegies written for him by other prominent composers in his circle.

Music and influence

Vaet's influences included Nicolas Gombert
Nicolas Gombert
Nicolas Gombert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous and influential composers between Josquin des Prez and Palestrina, and best represents the fully developed, complex polyphonic style of this period in music history.-Life:Details of his early life are...

, whose style of unbroken, smooth polyphony can be seen in most of Vaet's music; his friend Clemens non Papa; and Lassus, whose style he often imitated. Vaet used cross-relations to a degree rare at the time (though they are also significant in the music of Gombert), and they pungently spice contrapuntal
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 passages; sometimes they are even simultaneous, resulting in dissonant clashes: no one would mistake his music for that of Palestrina, for this reason alone. Vaet also sometimes ended compositions on minor triads (for example the motet Postquam consummati essent — ending on a minor chord was a relative rarity before the late 16th century). Another peculiarity of his style was a liking for progressions based on the circle of fifths
Circle of fifths
In music theory, the circle of fifths shows the relationships among the 12 tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys...

, as well as dominant
Dominant (music)
In music, the dominant is the fifth scale degree of the diatonic scale, called "dominant" because it is next in importance to the tonic,and a dominant chord is any chord built upon that pitch, using the notes of the same diatonic scale...

Tonic (music)
In music, the tonic is the first scale degree of the diatonic scale and the tonal center or final resolution tone. The triad formed on the tonic note, the tonic chord, is thus the most significant chord...

 cadences, both features which foreshadow the changes in music which were to come at the end of the century. His use of circle-of-fifths progressions may be an influence from Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...

; it is also a feature of Spanish polyphony of the period, and as a member of the chapel of Charles V, and later Maximilian II, he may have been familiar with the music of Spaniards such as Guerrero, who wrote in a similar idiom and also worked for Maximilian.

Even more unusual than his pungent cross-relations was his liking for quotation and parody. He was the first to write a Missa quodlibetica, a five-voice mass which was a series of quodlibet
A quodlibet is a piece of music combining several different melodies, usually popular tunes, in counterpoint and often a light-hearted, humorous manner...

s—simultaneous presentations of several familiar tunes, from both sacred and secular sources. In other compositions he also borrowed sections of pieces by his associates and predecessors, including Josquin, Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was famous both for his motets, which are among the most refined of the time, and for being the teacher of Adrian Willaert, one of the founders of the Venetian School....

, Jacquet of Mantua
Jacquet of Mantua
Jacquet of Mantua was a French composer of the Renaissance, who spent almost his entire life in Italy...

, Clemens non Papa and Cipriano de Rore
Cipriano de Rore
Cipriano de Rore was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in Italy...


Vaet wrote nine complete masses
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

 which have survived, including a setting of the Requiem
A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead or Mass of the dead , is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal...

, one of relatively few from before the mid-16th century. His many surviving motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s are both sacred and secular, and also wrote eight settings each of the Magnificat
The Magnificat — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn...

 and the Marian antiphon Salve Regina; the antiphon
An antiphon in Christian music and ritual, is a "responsory" by a choir or congregation, usually in Gregorian chant, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work....

s were all late works, published in the 1560s. Vaet also wrote a handful of chansons in French, and one setting in German of Vater unser im Himmelreich.

External links