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'Agricolesque, ou presque': For the Agricola Quincentenary

Fabrice Fitch
Early Music
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Aug., 2006), pp. 359-373
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3805881
Page Count: 15
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'Agricolesque, ou presque': For the Agricola Quincentenary
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Abstract

This article discusses the author's recent compositional work on agricologies, a cycle in two books for viol consort and string quartet, commissioned by and written for the London-based ensembles Fretwork and the Kreutzer String Quartet. Agricologies investigates the practice of borrowed material, and takes as its basis the work of the composer Alexander Agricola (c.1456-1506). The article considers the appropriateness of using Agricola's music as a model for new work from a number of perspectives, both historical and aesthetic. It considers the role of composition as a research discipline from a trans-historical standpoint, and argues also for the incorporation of trans-historical approaches within the discussion of musical repertories of the pre-modern and early modern periods. Finally, it draws on movements of the agricologies cycle to offer some work-specific examples of the reinterpretation of theoretical, compositional devices and concepts from Agricola's time within a contemporary context. These include the use of pitch-constructs, combinatorial and permutational procedures (including the use of number), organology and timbral issues. The article also addresses the 'performance practice' of the pieces as embodied in live performance and in the forthcoming CD with Fretwork and Michael Chance, devoted to Agricola's music (Harmonia Mundi USA, 907421).

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