Analysis of the Song Ave Maris Stella by Dufay

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Dufay and His Musical Contributions

Dufay is one of the most renowned artists of the past centuries and he is well known for the best type of music that he came up with. He made several contributions to the music industry and used different styles to present and compose different songs (Blachly, et al. 23).

The Musical Style of Dufay

The musical style used by Dufay was unique and of its kind. During the late fifteenth and sixteenth century, this was the newest style and harmonies were introduced and took full center and it was a priority for Dufay as well. He is associated with the burgundies court and the composition types he used included masses motets, the secular chansons and the magnificent. Dufay utilized the liberally composed tuneful treble voice that was backed up by a tenor and the contra tenor that came in three voice textures (Blachly, et al. 31).

The Song Ave Maris Stella by Dufay

Dufay is one of the prolific composers who set the Ave Maris Stella music that is still used by the divine offices in the world. The paper will focus on writing an essay about the song Ave Maris Stella that was sung by Dufay.


Dufay was known for coming up with unique composition styles that did not exist at that time as mentioned in the introduction. He was able to control the dissonance during that epoch and he was able to properly and appropriately arrange then without randomly presenting them like most composer of his time did. Additionally, he blended the voices in such a way that they all integrated to produce a complete sound when produced simultaneously. He also employed the four main part voices in his songs including ave Maris Stella and this included tenor, soprano alto, and bass. The rhythmic pattern he utilized was also representative thus completing the piece, thus making his work unique and attractive. In the song Ave Maris Stella, the composer explores innovative symbols for the Virgin Mary (CO Now LLC, Chicago, IL (reg):). The name of the virgin was read as Maris Stella which means the star of the sea and ave echoes the greeting made by angel Gabriel to the virgin. Guillaume Dufay generously gave loving care on the crafting of Ave Maris Stella when he was set to write his cycle of polyphonic vespers songs that were to be sung in cathedrals. Ave Maris Stella is a popular song of the unknown origin and was written by several composers prior to baroque to the present day (CO Now LLC, Chicago, IL (reg):). I feel that the song was timely and Dufay had the intentions of ensuring that the song is utilized and song in the church to ensure that each person reflects on how special Virgin Mary is to all Christians. The song has a clear flow and there is nothing I can attest to being confusing or infuriating thus making it a beautiful piece. Trying to imagine how this song is sung in the cathedrals it brings out a beautiful feeling since it is an attractive piece of music. It represents the early renaissance sounds and styles that were used in the western art music.


When analyzing the song, it is clearly noted that Guillaume Dufay composed the song with a very plainchant melody that preceded each stanza and it was written in three different voices. He also considered using an excellent style in the composition which is referred to as the fauxbourdon. The middle voice composed is a fourth lower than the highest of the voices while the lower voice is the most active. Every part of the plainchant melody can be easily heard in the stanzas and careful attention is given to the placement of the text. Ave Maris Stella is a popular song and was written by many composers but Dufay concentrated on the first three stanzas bringing out different tunes. The first three stanzas were specifically written to play different purposes as per the tones and that includes feasting solemnity and memorials of the Virgin Mary. The fourth stanza is in a memorial tone and thus can be sung in the four plainchants. The Acadians are well known for their piousness and they hold the Virgin Mary with the highest degree of honor and respect thus the song is more of an anthem to them (\"Morales Mass Book\"). Their respect for the originality of the anthem made them not to translate the first stanza and thus it remained in Latin, despite the translations to other languages such as French and English. Dufay has sung so many other pieces of music as earlier said and these being a motet; he used unique styles to help communicate the mood tone and message to the masses. The song is many sung in churches, cathedrals convents, chapels and monasteries in the whole of Western Europe. It was sung during the first half of the second millennium and was mostly performed in the vespers' services conducted in the evenings.


At the time the song was composed the printing era had come and different scripts were produced and spread to different areas in Western Europe. So many people were exploring and discovering who Jesus is and his origin and that was the time the song spread all over to bring out a true reflection of what the holy virgin is. The song was characterized by melodic and distinct structures thus proving Morales (\"Morales Mass Book\"). The song was composed in the 11th century and the ideas are clearly brought out in the song where the Virgin Mary is likened to the star of the sea which was then considered a special honor.


The question I still have about the work is the intentions behind his conversion of the song for it to be used in church. It was initially said as words but later converted to polyphonic and was sung in the mass. Clear analysis of the song has helped learn the different tones that were used and how they were integrated to bring out a nice sound of music (\"Morales Mass Book\"). I have also learned that you can blend different styles and come up with a wholesome music that looks so beautiful and sweet to listen to. I liked the piece of music since it brings a clear description of the holy Virgin Mary and reveres her with so many honors. Such a description lets you reflect. Culturally, the work of art is good since it has varied tones and different styles that leave a great impression in the mind of the person singing. It is a good piece of work since it is well organized and text composition is done in a perfect manner brings out the hidden message of the work. The different parts of the reflect the overall meaning since the piece is meant to honor the holy virgin and its description is very clear and brings out a true picture of what it is.

Works Cited

Blachly, Alexander, et al. Musical Book of Hours. Archiv Produktion, 2003.

CO Now LLC, Chicago, IL (reg):. "~ Ave Maris Stella ~." ~ The Most Holy Rosary ~,

"Morales Mass Book." Morales Mass Book,

October 05, 2023




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