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Truly remarkable sacred music from the 15th century. Each section of Pierre de la Rue's "Requiem" is based on the corresponding Gregorian chant, while Josquin's "Mass" abandons this tradition. Instead, he creates a completely original motto theme based on the dedicatee's name, transliterating its letters into pitches, a technique which came to be called "soggetto cavato".

Josquin's "Deploration" was likely composed in , the year of Ockeghem's death. Little is known for certain of Josquin's early life. Much is inferential and speculative, though numerous clues have emerged from his works and the writings of contemporary composers, theorists, and writers of the next several generations.

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Josquin was born in the area controlled by the Dukes of Burgundy, and was possibly born either in Hainaut modern-day Belgium , or immediately across the border in modern-day France, since several times in his life he was classified legally as a Frenchman for instance, when he made his will. Josquin was long mistaken for a man with a similar name, Josquin de Kessalia, born around the year , who sang in Milan from to , dying in More recent scholarship has shown that Josquin des Prez was born around or a few years later, and did not go to Italy until the early s. Around , perhaps on the death of his father, Josquin was named by his uncle and aunt, Gille Lebloitte dit Desprez and Jacque Banestonne, as their heir.

Their will gives Josquin's actual surname as Lebloitte.

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According to Matthews and Merkley, "des Prez" was an alternative name. Of the 20 masses that survive complete, 17 were printed in his lifetime in three sets , , by Ottaviano dei Petrucci. His motets and chansons were included in other Petrucci publications, from the Odhecaton an anthology of popular chansons of onward, and in collections of other printers. The expressiveness of his music marks a break with the medieval tradition of more abstract music.

In his motets, particularly, Josquin gave free reign to his talent, expressing sorrow in poignant harmonies, employing suspension for emphasis, and taking the voices gradually into their lowest registers when the text speaks of death. Josquin used the old cantus firmus style, but he also developed the motet style that characterized the 16th century after him. His motets, as do his masses, show an approach to the modern sense of tonality. In his later works he gradually abandoned cantus firmus technique for parody and paraphrase.

He also frequently used the techniques of canon and of melodic imitation. In his chansons Josquin was the principal exponent of a style new in the midth century, in which the learned techniques of canon and counterpoint were applied to secular song.

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He abandoned the fixed forms of the rondeau and the ballade, employing freer forms of his own device. Though a few chansons are set chordally rather than polyphonically, a number of others are skilled examples of counterpoint in five or six voices, maintaining sharp rhythms, straightforwardness, and clarity of texture. This bit of evidence has been used to show that he was French by birth. Additionally, he left an endowment for the performance of his late motet, Pater noster, at all general processions in the town when they passed in front of his house, stopping to place a wafer on the marketplace altar to the Holy Virgin.