Francisco Guerrero – Clamabat autem mulier

The music of Francisco Guerrero has been an important part of my musicological research. I worked on three of his motets that served as models for the same number of parody masses by Portuguese composer Duarte Lobo. I also sung a couple of works by him and listen to many. I find his music and especially the way he carved the motets very balanced and one can feel that everything fits in the right place at the right time.

The motets I studied for my Master dissertation were all first printed in the 1570 book. In this book was also published for the first time the motet Clamabat autem mulier (reprinted in 1597). The motet is scored for four voices (SATB) being indicated for the Second Sunday of Lent. It is also very interesting since it has two flats in the key signature.

Guerrero used an opening motive very similar to one of the motives used in another motet from the 1570 book, the Sancta Maria succurre miseris. He frequently aims for the intervals such as A-F-Bb-A and then an upper D-C-Bb with cadence to Bb. Another common feature of this work (as in others) is the long introduction between the Superius and Altus. In this case, the Bassus enters on measure 5 and the Tenor on measure 9.

One of the features I find great in Guerrero’s motets is that after the last cadence of the first point of imitation he immediately introduces another point of imitation with another one or two motives. Only late on the second segment or the third he begins grouping the voices in bicinia or in trio, as happens in “respondens ei”.

In the last segment of the secunda pars, Guerrero used a motive very close to the opening motive Dicebat Iesus from the same book, in a movement G-Bb-G… which reminds me of a conversation several years ago with musicologist Owen Rees who studied much of Guerrero’s motets. At the time he said to me that the composer frequently reused motivic material in the same book of motets and we can see it clearly in the case of this Clamabat autem mulier but also in other works, there is almost a motivic line that links the motets of this publication.