This study offers analysis-based explanations of the construction of points of imitation in Palestrina's First Book of Four-Voice Motets. The traditional view that musical sense is based on repetition seems almost irrelevant to this repertoire, and the wonderfully unpredictable arrangement of thematic entries has seemed a mark of Palestrina's greatness. The project of this essay is to answer the following questions: Why does Palestrina repeat the soggetto as many times as he does? Why does he choose a particular order of voices? Of transpositions? In short, how does he shape the point? I argue that Palestrina organizes his points around the repetition of modules (repeating contrapuntal combinations), and I find that that a mere handful of terms suffices to label all of the points in the collection. The richness and depth of meaning that have made Palestrina's music the object of constant fascination result less from the simple beauty of the lines than from the tension between these lines and the structural modules into which they are woven. Palestrina is probably not the only composer to use such techniques; modular analysis is a tool that can be used in other collections of pieces, in pieces for more voices and in other genres, and in pieces by other composers.

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