Posted in Project 1: Gesualdo and Madrigals

Exercise 1.0

The first exercise of the unit is about the madrigal Beltà poi che t’assenti by Carlo Gesualdo.

The first task is to identify the chords in the first four bars of the piece. Already here, at the beginning of the piece, Gesualdo’s characteristic chromaticism and connecting of the distantly-related chords can be observed:

Bar 1: G minor and E major

Bar 2: E major and D major

Bar 3: D major and G major

                              Bar 4: D major (1st inversion) and F# major

Next is the question: Does this chord progression call to mind any music you know from later eras?

Yes, this connecting of the distant keys and chords, as well as the interrupted (deceptive) cadences, reminds me particularly of the impressionism, twentieth century and contemporary music. Nonetheless, the chromatic mediants and double chromatic mediants (chords related by minor or major third with one tone or no tone in common) such as G minor and E major, and D major and F# major in this piece, were also previously frequently employed in the Romanticism, as I have noted in several blog posts about symmetrical scales for Music 1: Composing Music course (click here to see the posts with the symmetrical scales tag). In fact, as I have explained there, many symmetrical scales in the Western classical music resulted from these mediant Continue reading “Exercise 1.0”