Le ray au soleyl (ensemble) -
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In the recording above, you can hear this piece performed by a flute clarinet and basson, each in a different octave. By setting each line in a different octave and with a different and distinct timbre, you can more easily hear each part and how it rhythmically interacts with the others.


A traditional performance blurs the boundaries of the upper two voices, which are meant to be in the same octave. Thus, I have provided this rendition to better aid an aural comprehension of the motet and its rhythmic implications.

Note that the score to the right is not written to represent the appropraite transpositions for the flute, clarinet, and bassoon you hear here.

Le ray au soleyl (voice I in mixed meter) -
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Le ray au soleyl (voice I in 6/8) -
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Further down this page you will see two metered realizations of the original voice printed in the manuscript as seen below and on the previous blog page.

Ciconia gives no explicit "meter" for this piece, so the metered realizations (one in mixed meter and one in 6/8) of the tune are fabrications. The mixed meter realization is based on how I hear the rhythm of the melody. Other scholars have suggested a more simple solution, forcing the tune into what we presently call 6/8 meter. While this is justified to an extent and is a much simplier solution, I disagree. A 6/8 solution, in my opinion, only vaguely agrees with the actual music, and forcing such a meter upon it fails to recognize Ciconia's true rhythmic ingenuity created through his melodic contours and rhythmic groupings based on multiples of twos and threes.

For comparison I have included the melody with a metronome in 6/8 as well as a metronome with my own rhythmic realization above. Hear for yourself and see which you think is more convincing.

Le ray au soleyl (rhythmic structure only) -
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If you find that my rhythmic realization is more convincing, then let's take it further. If this is a mostly reasonable solution to Ciconia's rhythmic complexity, then all other voices will also follow prolations of this pattern: voice II will be 4/3 times longer than voice I and voice III will be 3 times longer than voice II (or 4 times longer than voice I). Each will follow the same groupings of twos and threes, however voice II will follow the pattern in quarter-note triplets and voice III will follow it in half notes while voice I sings in simple eighth notes.

Superimposing the rhythmic groupings of twos and threes in all the voices gives you the rhythmic structure outlined in the last diagram below. Notice that the barlines given are where the voices coincide. There are few places where the voices rhythmically coincide, but there are fewer places still where ALL voices come together. This ultimately gives the piece a pervasive diversity and complexity of rhythmic phasing that will rarely be seen again until the 20th century, such as in the phase music of Steve Reich.

The last audio example is voice I against the rhythmic structure of all voices. If we are considering that voice I is the predominant melody, then this is the rhythmic world in which it lives.

Return to blog post here.

Transcription by Jordan A.  Key. For a PDF of the full transcription click here. My transcription is also available on Academia.edu here.
Mixed Meter (by: Jordan A.  Key)
6/8 Meter (by: Virginia Newes in "Canons and Canonic Techniques" cited on the previous page)
Le ray au soleyl (voice I against full rhythmic structure) -
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Rhythmic analysis by Jordan A. Key  of Johannes Ciconia's "Le ray au soleyl" 

Copyright © 2020 by Jordan Alexander Key