Palestrina’s “Missa Papæ Marcelli”

edited by Felipe M. L. Gasper

f e l i p e (at) f g m u s i c (dot) o r g

In preparing to conduct this important piece, I originally had planned to use Claudio Macchi’s edition from CPDL. However, I found that Macchi’s edition contains dozens upon dozens of note inaccuracies as well as some ill-chosen text underlays. I had intended to edit Macchi’s edition slightly to indicate some prominent musical features, so while I was at it, I decided to correct Macchi’s edition against an authoritative scholarly edition, that of Raffaele Casimiri.*

The brackets above the staves indicate rhythmic subgroupings, most of which are groups of three rhythmic units (half notes, whole notes, breves) or successive groupings of two against the “meter”. It must be understood that music from Palestrina’s time did not use barlines; each line should be understood to be rhythmically independent of the others. Having established this, though, it must also be noted that one reason for this Mass setting’s importance is its more predominant use of homophonic textures, particularly in the Gloria and in the Credo. The dotted brackets indicate groupings of three that contain a dissonance in the middle that should be brought out a bit.

The ovals around certain notes indicate ligature dissonances. These dissonances, falling on metrically strong beats, should be given a slight, gentle accentuation when singing (in my opinion, anyway). In instances of multiple “equivalent” dissonances (e.g. an E against two F’s), I circled the dissonant tones closest to one another, being that smaller dissonant intervals are generally easier to hear than larger ones. There were other concerns as well; if you have questions, let me know.

Other changes: the Mass has been transposed down one whole step; accent marks were added to indicate proper syllabic stress in words with more than two syllables.

You may download the score of the Mass from the links below. The source files are in Finale 2001 format, and I created the PDFs using Ghostscript and Russell Lang’s excellent RedMon utility.

Agnus Dei I
Agnus Dei II

Also have a look at my phonetic transcription and translation of the Mass Ordinary.
If you’re new to phonetic symbols, don’t fret – they’re easy! Check out my IPA primer for all you need to know.

Also give a listen to this recording of the Gloria.