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Motet cycles (c.1470-c.1510)

Compositional design, performance and cultural context

In late fifteenth-century Europe, motets (Latin-texted polyphonic compositions with predominantly sacred-devotional subjects) began to be gathered in “cycles” and to be copied as such in manuscripts. The main focus of this project was the motet cycles copied in manuscripts prepared in Milan under the direction of chapel master Franchinus Gaffurius (1451-1522). The project endeavoured to reconstruct in detail, for the first time, the liturgical and devotional contexts for the performance of these motets. Of particular importance were the “motetti missales”, written by prominent composers such as Loyset Compère, Gaspar van Weerbeke and Gaffurius himself.

The project also established a comprehensive catalogue of the cycles and added it to a database and online research tool (
Performing Motet Cycles