Louys' compositions are squarely in the mid-century Dutch tradition of Crecquillon, Clemens non Papa and Gombert. Most of his motets and chansons, like all of the psalm settings, are for five voices. Motifs are often extended to form long, melismatic phrases, rather than being brief and declamatory as in the French style cultivated by Sermisy and Certon. They are overwhelmingly imitative, with thick textures. In his Pseaulmes cinquante de David he created successive points of imitation from each phrase of the Genevan melody. The psalms usually begin with longer points, which may use two phrases of the original melody simultaneously; subsequent points are generally shorter but often merge because of the absence of strong cadences between them. Psalm-derived material is all-pervasive. Although some settings open with clearly discernible counter-motifs, these are rare after the first point of imitation. As the psalm progressed, Louys tended to shape all voices after the tune. Some voices state the complete phrase, while others use only a few notes of the given melody before continuing in free counterpoint. Occasionally one voice may present the melody in breves, but this cantus-firmus style never lasts for more than a phrase. There is no pairing of voices and no expressive use of chordal writing, dissonance or chromaticism. This relentless polyphonic style reminiscent of Gombert permeates his motets and affects even his chansons, which were published in anthologies in Leuven and Antwerp.
The Psalms in this database all are transcribed from Pseaulmes cinquante de David composeez musicalement ensuyvant le chant vulgaire, 5vv (Antwerp, 1555) (3 volumes, published in a swift succession, if not at the same time).
Below the three dedications with translation and at the end of this page: two pages of one of the partbooks, to admire the beautiful engraving !
dedication book 1: Geraerdt Grammaye
To the very wise and virtuous Sr. Gerardt Grammaye, treasurer of the City of Antwerp, Jean Louys his humble servant: happiness and health.
Remembering, most dear Sir, the good will you have always borne me, I wanted to be Sure to recognize it, in order not to be found ungrateful for the benefit received. So as a slight recompense, I dedicate to you this first book of Psalms of David, which, to the best of my power, I set to musio in five parts a short time ago. And although your goodness is deserving of something more profound, 1 beg of you to remember this and to consider that 1 am still a youth, who will continue to practice with diligence in order to create something of greater experience and knowledge in the future