Piet Swerts, PhD in the Arts

How does a contemporary composer intercommunicate with music from the past?  To what extent can polyphonic compositional techniques of the renaissance be applicated into the personal musical language? Five L'homme armé>-Masses (Josquin> (2), de la Rue> (2), Compère>) were utilized in this comparative study as case studies for the sake of their many-sided counterpointical
treatment of this famous melody. Furthermore, analysis, interviews and profound study of secundary literature are the means of this comparative research of the 20th and 21rst century works which were also inspired by the same melody: it concerns the Missa Quinque super l'homme armé> (Manneke, Vermeeren, D'Hollander, De Ley, Van Reyn>, 2004), Peter Maxwell Davies' Missa super L'homme armé> (1968-1971), Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace> (1999) and Christopher Marshall's L'homme armé Variations> (2003).The completion of an artistic portfolio with five new compositions stands for the musical reflection upon this study: an oratorio Heilige Seelenlust, Antifona> for fanfare, Ma fin est mon commencement> forensemble, Agnus Dei> for four voices and instruments andfinally 24 Emulations upon L'homme armé> for pianosolo are the symbiosis of all acquired insights and formulate a final answer with regard to the question of finding an alternative model for a longer piece of music. The process of these findings are stated in this extended dissertation.


  • Prof. dr. David Burn (supervisor, KU Leuven)
  • Mr. Dirk Snellings (co-supervisor, LUCA)

Research Unit: Music & Drama

Duration: completed 2011