The history of Cipriano de Rore's music in print begins in Venice in 1542 with Girolamo Scotto's edition of the First Book of five-voice madrigals. This book also has a wider significance as it appears to have been the first collection of printed madrigals to have an underlying numerical modal order which also observes the distinction between authentic and plagal modes. The use of modality as an organizing device for printed collections continued throughout the second half of the sixteenth century, for example in Lasso's Penitential Psalms of 1584 and Palestrina's five-voice Spiritual Madrigals of 1594. Rore used the device twice more: in his First Book of motets printed in 1545, and in his First Book of four-voice madrigals printed in Ferrara by Giovanni de Buglhat and Antonio Hucher in 1550.
There is no explicit reference to the modal ordering of Rore's 1542 and 1550 madrigal collections, either in the prints themselves, or in the substantial sixteenth-century theoretical comment which exists on Rore's music. Therefore, the cycles went unnoticed to musicologists until the 1960s, when Bernhard Meier published an edition of the collections for the American Institute of Musicology. Since Meier's work musicologists have confirmed, and discussed the importance of, the existence of modal cycles in Rore's 1542 and 1550 collections. Nowhere, however, has it been pointed out that in all ten reprints of the 1542 collections, and in all fourteen reprints of the 1550 collection, the modal cycles are disturbed.
Rore's music is given a certain prominence in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century literature as a new departure in musical practice, the works most often cited in this context coming from the two books of modally ordered madrigals. This thesis examines the nature of this new departure in musical practice, as understood by theorists writing shortly after Rore's death and using Rore's music as a vehicle for its expression. It then considers the possible role that Rore's modal representation played in earning him a reputation as the founder of a new practice. This is achieved first by looking at the evidence of contemporary theory, concerning issues of modality and the analysis of musical style; secondly, by looking at the evidence of the music itself; and thirdly, by looking at the evidence of the printing process. In so doing, this thesis comes to an understanding of the extent to which the linking of Rore's music with a new departure is a result of the propagandist approach of sixteenth-century theorists, rather than of any tangible quality of his music, and of Rore's position in the musical rhetoric of the time.