Posted in Project 1: Gesualdo and Madrigals

Research point 1.0: Renaissance madrigals

The first research point is about listening to five Renaissance madrigals from the course-book list and choosing two to compare and contrast; beginning by writing about the composers of the two chosen madrigals. The ones I’ve chosen are Matona, mia cara by Orlando di Lasso and Sweet honey-sucking bees by John Wilbye.

Flemish School; Orlando Lassus

Fig. 1. Orlando di Lasso

Orlando di Lasso (Fig. 1) is a late-Renaissance Franco-Flemish composer from the 16th century, known as one of the most distinguished and influential of his time. He was born in Bergen (known today as Mons in Belgium), being a choirboy in his childhood. Lasso’s first biographer mentioned that he was kidnapped three times because of the beauty of his voice, and although many sources claim this to be a legend, it was not an uncommon practice at the time (Wisse, 2004: 89). Whichever the case, he was quite a cosmopolitan musician, who during his lifetime travelled throughout Europe, including France, Italy and Germany, leaving more than 2,000 compositions in five languages. He was skilled in compositional techniques for both the sacred and secular genres, using both polyphonic and homophonic textures, with his style linked to musica reservata. Although there are Continue reading “Research point 1.0: Renaissance madrigals”

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”