Madrigals: some listening.

I have listened to madrigals in the past while doing Composition 2 and now that I am starting Stylistic Techniques. However, I have found that it is not easy for me to remember many of them, which were listened to as if it were the first time ever.

  • John Bennet: All creatures now are merry-minded

It is very harmonic and varied. And, of course, being Bennet one of the Elizabethan madrigalists, there is singing to Oriana in it (it was the poetic reference to her). Women are singing here, which is already a contrast with Middle Age music. It even sounds relatively modern!

  • Adieu, sweet amaryllis

The voices sometimes alternate and sometimes sing homophonically. The longer chords (built with notes of longer values) come usually one note after what I was expecting, i.e. I was expecting it to finish at one chord, but the music moved one note further to a different chord, and that made it feel as older music, as if it was a feature of our times to end “earlier”, sort to speak.

  • Orlando Gibbons: Ah deere heart

The voices enter one after another. I personally do not like much the unnatural sound of professional voices, generally speaking, and in this case, if this madrigal was sung with more natural sounding voices, I reckon it would be much nicer. The colour changes very nicely with the contrasts in texture (just high voices, just low voices, then all, then some from both high and low register)

  • Thomas Morley: April is My Mistress

I know I have listened to this for my Stylistic Techniques course, but I have a gap in my memory. I guess my subconscious mind thinks it is forgettable (sorry).

  • As Vesta was from Latmos Hill descending

This is very joyful, jubilant. It would be suitable to open some celebration of probably any kind. Are they mentioning Oriana’s name towards the end? Quick research: yes, they are, according to this source. As a matter of fact, this anonymous madrigal includes the full refrain that linked all 26 madrigals offered by Thomas Morley to Elizabeth I in 1601 (Strong, 1959).

  • Thomas Greaves: Come away, sweet love

It is not difficult to imagine this being the Summer hit of the Renaissance, with its lively rhythm, its momentum, major mode, repetition (not through-composed!) and presence of all voices (male and female) all throughout.

  • John Ward: Come sable night

I am not sure whether they are fully in tune or it is a tuning system I do not understand. No: definitely, they are out of tune (bad performing, I presume—but I would probably sing even worse). Apart from that, it has some unexpected accidental notes that speak about a free approach to the (church) mode system, especially the chords at the end of phrases.

  • Orlando Gibbons: Dainty fine bird

Just one female singer accompanied by three instruments. I did some research and apparently this was written for a 5-part choir, so it may be an adaptation of a madrigal or a mislabeling of the video.

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