John Dunstable (c. 1380-1453)

Dunstable belongs among those great composers who accept their stylistic heritage and refine and polish it to a high degree.  If he is distinguished by one quality alone, it is the incredible sweetness emphasized in his music.  Dunstable avoided altogether the freely handled dissonances characteristic of music in the 14th century. Careful control of dissonance is an extremely important feature of his style, which Dufay and continental contemporaries may well have learned from him.  And this panconsonance, combined with an insistence of full triads, give to Dunstable's music its characteristically agreeable sound.

Like most major figures of the Renaissance, Dunstable composed Mass movements, motets, and secular pieces.  His motets, which include some of his loveliest and most immediately accessible music, may be divided into three large categories:

Most of Dunstable's isorhythmic motets, which are written in praise of a particular saint or of the Virgin, follow the same general structural outline.