Philippe de Vitry
Philippe de Vitry
Later he was prominent in the courts of Charles IV, Philippe VI and Jean II, serving as a secretary and advisor; perhaps aided by these Bourbon connections, he also held several canonries, including Clermont, Beauvais, and Paris, also serving for a time in the antipapal retinue at Avignon starting with Clement VI. In addition to all this, he was a diplomat and a soldier, and is known to have served at the siege of Aiguillon in 1346. In 1351 he became Bishop of Meaux, east of Paris. Moving in all the most important political, artistic, and ecclesiastical circles, he was acquainted with many lights of the age, including Petrarch and the famous mathematician, philosopher and music theorist Nicole Oresme.
De Vitry died in Paris. Vitry has been most famous in music history for writing the Ars Nova (1322), a treatise on music, which gave its name to the music of the entire era. While his authorship and the very existence of this treatise have recently come into question, a handful of his musical works do survive, and show the innovations in notation, particularly mensural and rhythmic, with which he was credited within a century of their inception. Such innovations as are exemplified in his stylistically-attributed motets for the Roman de Fauvel were particularly important, and made possible the free and quite complex music of the next hundred years, culminating in the Ars subtilior. In some ways the "modern" system of rhythmic notation began with the Ars Nova, during which music might be said to have "broken free" from the older idea of the rhythmic modes, patterns which were repeated without being individually notated.
The notational predecessors of modern time meters also originate in the Ars Nova. Vitry is reputed to have written chansons and motets, but only some of the motets have survived. Each motet is strikingly individual, exploring a unique structural idea. Vitry is also often credited with developing the concept of isorhythm (an isorhythmic line is one which has repeating patterns of rhythms and pitches, but the patterns overlap rather than correspond—for example a line of thirty consecutive notes might contain five repetitions of a six-note melody, and six repetitions of a five-note rhythm). Five of Vitry's three-part motets have survived in the Roman de Fauvel; an additional nine can be found in the Ivrea Codex. He was widely acknowledged as the greatest musician of his day, and even Petrarch wrote a glowing tribute of him: "...he is the great philosopher and truth-seeker of our age." (From Wikipedia). Read more on Last.fm.
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