Polyphonic composer of the Burgundian school; b. Mons (Hainaut), Belgium, c. 1400; d. Soignies (near Mons), Sept. 20, 1460. After a military service in his youth, Binchois served from c. 1430 as chaplain at the Burgundian court. He composed motets, hymns, Magnificats, and Mass sections that employ with distinction the technical devices of his day. One motet is isorhythmic; another, in honor of the Holy Cross, uses "fermata -marked block chords" to emphasize the important words; and several call for added voices in faux bourdon. The Magnificats are often characterized by faux bourdon-like
writing (perhaps an effect of English influence). Plain-song melodies are paraphrased in some Masses, and one Agnus Dei is noteworthy for its use of the lower range of the bass voice. Despite his excellent sacred music, he was known chiefly for his chansons. Many of these became the basis of later compositions, notably De plus en plus and Comme femme desconfortée, used, respectively, by okeghem in a Mass and by desprez in a Stabat Mater. Binchois is mentioned by tinctoris and others as among the most distinguished musicians of his era, and Okeghem wrote a Déploration on his death.
Bibliography: j. marix, ed., Les Musiciens de la cour de Bourgogne au XV e siècle, 1420–1467 … (Paris 1937), 10 Mass parts, 4 Magnificats, 17 sacred and 36 secular works. Modern reprs. in Trienter Codices, ed. g. adler and o. koller, Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (1893– ; repr. Graz 1959– ) 14, 15, 22, 53. j. schmidt-gÖrg, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949– ) 1:1853–57. c. van den borren, Études sur le XV e siècle musical (The Hague 1941). g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). Histoire de la musique, ed. roland-manuel, 2 v. (Paris 1960–63) v. 1; v. 9, 16 of Encyclopédie de la Pléiade. c. berger, "Hexachord und Modus: Drei Rondeaux von Gilles Binchois," Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis, 16 (1992) 71–87. j. a. boucher, "The Religious Music of Gilles Binchois" (Ph.D. diss. Boston University 1963). d. fallows, "Gilles de Bins Binchois," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 2 (New York 1980) 709–722. a. kirkman and d. slavin, eds. Binchois Studies (Oxford 2000). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Mass. 1996) 79–80. d. slavin, "Some Distinctive Features of Songs by Binchois," Journal of Musicology 10 (1992) 342–361. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (8th ed. New York 1992) 184.
[c. v. brooks]