Monday, March 24, 2008

138. Music of the Great Tradition -- 38:Medieval Hocket

I left off last time with a cliffhanger, which I will now proceed to complete: "The whole question of hocket, its origins and the reason for its existence would seem to be a complete and total mystery, unless . . ." unless hocket represented an attempt to incorporate certain traditional "Old European" musical practices of the peasantry into the mainstream liturgical repertory. This isn't very different from the explanation offered by Burstyn with regard to the Sumer canon, which also, as he argues, is likely to have roots in polyphonic traditions already popular in the back streets and countryside. This would explain the continual complaints on the part of so many church leaders, as though hocketing represented the encroachment of an alien and uncouth "popular" element into the sanctum of serious church worship.

Now might be a good time to consider some specific examples of what I've been talking about (the images will be expanded if you click on them). First, from the "Orb" website, on the Medieval Hocket, by Mary Wolinski, an excerpt from the Conductus, Dic Christi Veritas:

In this simple type of note-by-note hocket (center of the page), it's easy to see how the melody, b-d-d-e-d-c-e-e-c-c-d, is divided between the two alternating upper voices.

Here are some examples of more complex types of hocket, from Earnest H. Sanders' "The Medieval Hocket in Practice and Theory," (The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 2., Apr., 1974, p. 247.):

As illustrated above, hocket is not limited to a simple note-by-note interchange of parts, but can in many cases involve the closely co-ordinated polyphonic interlocking of brief motives between two (or more) parts.

Compare the above with the following:

In this case, I've removed the pipe parts from Olga Velitchkina's transcription of two Russian panpipers singing as they play, from the village of Plekhovo, as presented in an earlier post (#127). Focusing exclusively on the vocal parts, we can more easily see how they exemplify both types of hocket presented above, the note-by-note type and the motivic interlock type.

Let's consider as well the following example of interlocking hocket, this time in three parts:

I wonder if there are any musicologists out there who'd be able to figure out where this one is from? Anyone out there who'd care to venture a guess before I reveal my source?


H,Andringa said...

this is bushman counterpoint. Please tell me how can I find the book :bushman counterpoint by England. Yhanks a lot

DocG said...

"Bushman Counterpoint" is a paper, not a book. Here's the reference: England, Nicholas. 1967. “Bushman Counterpoint.” Journal of the International Folk Music Council 19:58-66.