Biographical note

Philibert Jambe de Fer

[source: Grove's - Howard Mayer Brown]

(b Champlitte, c1515; d ?Lyons, c1566). French composer and writer on music. 
He probably moved to Lyons at an early age. Jacques Moderne published his motet Salve salutaris there in 1547, and Loys Bourgeois, in a polemic against Simon Gorlier written in 1554, referred to the Protestant Jambe de Fer with Francesco de Layolle and François Roussel as ‘maistres de chapelle’. In 1564 Jambe de Fer organized the music for Charles IX's entry into Lyons. In the same year he dedicated his four- and five-part settings of psalm translations by Clément Marot and Théodore de Bèze to the king, praising Charles's religious tolerance.
Most of Jambe de Fer's works are settings of the psalms translated by Marot, de Bèze, Jean Poitevin and others. The monophonic melodies in Les 150 pseaumes (Lyons, 1555) derive from those published for Marot's verses in 1551, combined with new melodies for Poitevin's texts . Three polyphonic collections survive: Psalmodie de 41 pseaumes royaux (Lyons, 1559), and two editions of Les 150 pseaumes de David (both Lyons, 1564). His polyphonic psalms are either simple note-against-note harmonizations of the traditional tunes stated in the tenor, or only slightly more elaborate compositions based on newly invented melodic material. 
He also wrote a treatise, Epitome musical des tons, sons et accordz, es voix humaines, fleustes d'Alleman, fleustes à neuf trous, violes, & violons (Lyons, 1556), one of the earliest introductions to music in French. The first and less original part explains the rudiments of music (e.g. scales, clefs, solmization, notation). In the second he briefly described the ranges, tunings, fingerings and playing techniques of the flute, the recorder, the viola da gamba and the violin. With its woodcut illustrations and charts the book is a rare and invaluable source of information. He was the earliest author to treat the violin at such length, and the only one to draw a comparison between Italian and French practices that provides insight into national differences.
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