Having created the literary effect he wanted Josquin created its musical equivalent by opening the motet using lengthy melismas to give the effect of mourners bewailing Absalon’s death while the closing passages with their sense both of dread and of falling portray the descent into Hell. I doubt that anyone other than Josquin could have pulled this off within the limits of the 16th-century modal system.
I wrote about this motet back in July 2013 (see: Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): Absalon, fili mi | Saturday Chorale) featuring its performance by the excellent German ensemble The Dufay Ensemble their performance is so good and so distinctive that I think it’s well worth your while comparing it with the performance by New York Polyphony. Enjoy :-)
Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): Absalon, fili mi – New York Polyphony
Text & Translation Absalon, fili mi:
Absalon fili mi, quis det ut moriar pro te,
Absalom, my son, who will allow me to die
Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): Absalon, fili mi – Dufay Ensemble
Absalon fili mi,
quis det ut moriar pro te, Absalon? (from Samuel)
Non vivam ultra (from Job) ,
sed descendam in infernum (from Psalm 54) plorans.