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Published on Jul 24, 2009
L'Homme Arme was a monophonic melody with political and satirical strains. Dufay made one of the first versions of it in a polyphonic setting in his Missa L’Homme Arme. The beginning of the cycle is designed so that, in the absence of instrumental accompaniment, the cantus firmus is virtually indistinguishable until near the end of the Gloria. The tenor sings the cantus firmus, overlapped by the bass line and other voices that conceal the melody of L'Homme Arme. If this were played by instrumentalists, rather than vocalists, the tone quality of the varying instruments would serve to open up all the parts to the ear, thus illuminating the cantus firmus as well. This hidden quality of Missa L’Homme Arme suggests the playfulness of Dufay with his compositions.