Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/238

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MASS.
MASQUE.

Restoration what were called masques were occasionally given at Court, but they appear to have been rather masked or fancy dress balls than dramatic entertainments. An exception was Crowne's masque, 'Calisto; or, the Chaste Nymph,' performed at court by the princesses and courtiers Dec. 15 and 22, 1675. In the 18th century masques were not unfrequently to be seen on the public stage. The 'pantomimes' produced by Rich (for most of which Galliard composed the music) were really masques with harlequinade scenes interspersed. More recently masques have been performed on occasion of royal weddings; thus 'Peleus and Thetis,' a masque, formed the second act of the opera 'Windsor Castle,' by William Pearce, music by J. P. Salomon, performed at Covent Garden on the marriage of the Prince of Wales, 1795, and 'Freya's Gift,' masque by John Oxenford, music by G. A. Macfarren, was produced at the same house on the marriage of the present Prince of Wales, 1863. Soon after the death of Sir Walter Scott in 1832, 'The Vision of the Bard,' masque by James Sheridan Knowles was produced at Covent Garden.

[ W. H. H. ]

MASS (Lat. Missa; from the words, 'Ite, missa est'—'Depart! the assembly is dismissed'—sung, by the Deacon, immediately before the conclusion of the Service. Ital. Messa; Fr. Messe; Germ. Die Messe). The custom of singing certain parts of the Mass to music of a peculiarly solemn and impressive character has prevailed, in the Roman Church, from time immemorial.

Concerning the source whence this music was originally derived, we know but very little. All that can be said, with any degree of certainty, is, that, after having long been consecrated, by traditional use, to the service of Religion, the oldest forms of it with which we are acquainted were collected together, revised, and systematically arranged, first, by Saint Ambrose, and, afterwards, more completely, by Saint Gregory the Great, to whose labours we are mainly indebted for their transmission to our own day in the pages of the Roman Gradual. Under the name of Plain Chaunt, the venerable melodies thus preserved to us are still sung, constantly, in the Pontifical Chapel, and the Cathedrals of most Continental Dioceses. The specimen we have printed, in the article, Kyrie, will give a fair general idea of their style; and it is worthy of remark, that the special characteristics of that style are more or less plainly discernible in all music written for the Church, during a thousand years, at least, after the compilation of Saint Gregory's great work.

Each separate portion of the Mass was antiently sung to its own proper Tune; different Tunes being appointed for different Seasons, and Festivals. After the invention of Counterpoint, Composers delighted in weaving these and other old Plain Chaunt melodies into polyphonic Masses, for two, four, six, eight, twelve, or even forty Voices: and thus arose those marvellous Schools of Ecclesiastical Music, which, gradually advancing in excellence, exhibited, during the latter half of the 16th century, a development of Art, the æsthetic perfection of which has never since been equalled. The portions of the Service selected for this method of treatment were, the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, the Benedictus, and the Agnus Dei; which six movements constituted—and still constitute—the musical composition usually called the 'Mass.' A single Plain Chaunt melody—in technical language, a Canto fermo—served, for the most part, as a common theme for the whole: and, from this, the entire work generally derived its name—as Missa 'Veni sponsa Christi'; Missa 'Tu, es Petrus'; Missa 'Iste confessor.' The Canto fermo, however, was not always a sacred one. Sometimes—though not very often during the best periods of Art—it was taken from the refrain of some popular song; as in the case of the famous Missæ 'L'Homme armé,' founded upon an old French love-song—a subject which Josquin des Prés, Palestrina, and many other great Composers have treated with wonderful ingenuity. More rarely, an original theme was selected: and the work was then called Missa sine nomine, or Missa brevis, or Missa ad Fugam, or ad Canones, as the case might be; or named, after the Mode in which it was composed, Missa Primi Toni, Missa Quarti Toni, Missa Octavi Toni; or even from the number of Voices employed, as Missa Quatuor Vocum. In some few instances—generally, very fine ones—an entire Mass was based upon the six sounds of the Hexachord, and entitled Missa ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, or Missa super Voces Musicales.

Among the earliest Masses of this description, of which perfect and intelligible copies have been preserved to us, are those by Du Fay, Dunstable, Binchoys, and certain contemporaneous writers, whose works characterise the First Epoch of really practical importance in the history of Figured Music—an epoch intensely interesting to the critic, as already exhibiting the firm establishment of an entirely new style, confessedly founded upon novel principles, yet depending, for its materials, upon the oldest subjects in existence, and itself destined to pass through two centuries and a half of gradual, but perfectly legitimate development. Du Fay, who may fairly be regarded as the typical composer of this primitive School, was a Tenor Singer in the Pontifical Chapel, between the years 1380, and 1432. His Masses, and those of the best of his contemporaries, though hard, and unmelodious, are full of earnest purpose; and exhibit much contrapuntal skill, combined, sometimes, with ingenious fugal treatment. Written exclusively in the antient Ecclesiastical Modes, they manifest a marked preference for Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian forms, with a very sparing use of their Æolian and Ionian congeners. These Modes are used, sometimes, at their true pitch; sometimes, transposed a fourth higher—or fifth lower—by means of a B♭ at the signature: but, never, under any other form of transposition, or, with any other signatures than those corresponding with the modern keys of C, or F—a restriction which remained in full force as late as the