Coat of arms of the Dukes of Gandía of the House of Borgia
Some musicologists chief among them Joshua Rifkin now believe that Absalon fili mi
should probably be attributed to Pierre de la Rue rather than Josquin, as things stand at the moment I don't find their arguments convincing. I think it's far more likely that Josquin wrote it in memory of Duke Juan Borgia the son of Pope Alexander VI, who was murdered in 1497. The text is a compilation of three Old Testament laments and the literary effect is to create a meditation upon David's lament:
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.
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