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According to Glenn Gould (minute 28:20), Orlando Gibbons represents

the end of modality, the beginning of tonality

Can anyone deepen the meaning of this? Could you please point to a specific musical passage or phrase by Gibbons thanks to which we can award him this merit?

I'm totally new to the work of this composer and never had the opportunity to play anything from him: I'd like to understand the importance of his music from an historical and analytical perspective.

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what do you know about modes and keys so far? do you understand that the major scale effectively came to replace modes altogether? – Alexander Troup Nov 3 '13 at 20:47
I've studied and perfectly know the tonal system: I'm almost a total ignorant on what comes before and how it was invented. – Saturnix Nov 3 '13 at 20:53
As the answers to my question indicate, there may not a be a single piece which marks the change. It may refer to many little developments, which add up to this broad summary of his life. – luser droog Nov 5 '13 at 18:31

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There's no specific passage.

Gould suggests that Gibbons introduced the idea of modulation (as we'd call it in tonal terminology; Gibbons had no word for it). In a mode, you don't "change keys" as such: you just finish one piece, and then start chanting another in a different key, ahem, mode. That's why, in the middle of a piece of Gregorian chant, you don't ever see a fresh clef (i.e., key signature). Sure, plainchant has the occasional 'B flat', but that's hardly as harmonically sophisticated as Bach presenting a melodic idea in D major and again eight bars later in A major.

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