Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ruth DeFord

Committee Members

Edward R. Lerner

Dennis Slavin

Andrew Tomasello

Barry S. Brook

Subject Categories



This study attempts to bring together all the conflicting attributions in the motets attributed to composers who worked on the Continent during the first half of the sixteenth century. In all, it accounts for a total of 266 motets (listed in the Inventory, Appendix A) that involve conflicting attributions among 122 composers. Rather than placing the emphasis on the problem of determining the correct authorship, however, I have used the conflicting attributions as a springboard in order to shed light on a number of different aspects of sixteenth-century music.

Chapter I briefly surveys conflicting attributions in various genres from ca. 1350 to ca. 1600, with the emphasis being placed on the first half of the sixteenth century.

Chapter II discusses the two main types of conflicting attributions, those involving multiple sources and those involving a single source. In addition, sub-categories of each type are explained in detail.

Chapter III explores possible causes for conflicting attributions. The first part of the chapter deals with such conventional explanations as confusion and intentional misattribution, while the second part concerns the new explanations proposed by Atlas, Boorman, and Spitzer.

Chapter IV attempts to show flaws in the traditional approaches generally used to resolve conflicting attributions: style analysis, analysis of source, testimony of theorists, etc.

Chapter V examines fifty select motets using the new methods of Atlas and Boorman.

Chapter VI explores the potential usefulness of conflicting attributions as a means through which to speculate about the biographies of the composers involved.

Three appendices list (1) the 266 motets involved in conflicting attributions, with concordances, modern editions, and commentary where appropriate, (2) the 122 composers for whom at least one conflict exists, and (3) all the sources that are listed in the Inventory.


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