MADRIGAL TEXTS AND THEIR MUSICAL SETTINGS

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  • MADRIGAL TEXTS AND THEIR MUSICAL SETTINGS
    • texts were either adapted from loosely translated Italian lyrics or newly written in English, sometimes even by the composer himself.
      • The poetry set by the madrigal composers deals with a wide variety of subject material.
        • English texts were generally of a lesser quality than the texts of the Italianate texts.
          • LIGHT TEXTS-this was the most popular type of text as the purpose of the madrigal was simply to provide entertainment in the home.
            • May-day revels and subjects. eg Morley's famous ballett,'Now is the month of Maying' set in G major for SSATB is mostly homophonic with slight imitation of a rising scalic figure at the fa-la refrain.
              • Aspects of love and 'boy meets girl' situation, eg Dowland's 'Come again, sweet love', is light in moodand the 2nd half is characterised by a rising 4th motif beginning off beat and developed sequentially.
                • A 'woman;s song' eg Vautor's comic setting of 'Mother I will have a husband.'
                  • Wedding festivities, eg representation of wedding reveries in Morley's 'Arise, get up dear.'
                    • Topical subjects of the time eg Weelkes 'Come Sirah Jack-ho' which refers to the new fashion of the time in London for smoking a pipe-'Fill some tobacco. Bring a wire and some fire! I swear that this tobacco tis perfect Trinidado' is a lively piece in F major in triple metre but with a change to duple metre and lots of sequential writing.
                    • PASTORAL TEXTS
                    • The pastoral treatment of the 'love -making' and 'dancingof the nymphs and shepherds' was a common theme. Common names which appeared in madrigals include Diana, Goddess of the hunt, Phyllis and Amaryllis.
                    • The common refrain ofthe 29 madrigals in The Triumphes of Oriana is allegorical 'Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana, Long live fair Oriana.'
                    • 'Oriana' was the poetic name for Queen Elizabeth I and each madrigal in the collection is a tribute to honour her and ends with the same refrain eg imitative refrain of 35 bars as in As Vesta by Weelkes featuring augmentation and dominant pedal in the bass voice.
                    • SERIOUS TEXTS
                    • Wilbye's 'Adieu sweet Amaryllis'
                    • Bennet's 'Weep, O mine eyes' is a miniature lament which builds up a chord of A minor at the opening to depict 'weeping'; 'alas' is set to a poignant rising semitone and minor 3rd and the overall mood of sadness is reinforced by the use of suspensions , minor tonality , sustainrd melodic lines and simple rhythmic ideas.
                    • Gibbon's 'Dainty fine bird' in which cruelty is expressed in a simils 'that are encaged there.'
                    • Morley's 'April is in my mistress' face' begins with a light mood but changes at the text 'but in her heart a cold December' with suspensions and G minor tonality
                • UntGibbon's 'The Silver Swan' features suispensions at cadence points and an augmented triad on the word 'death'.itled
          • ETHICAL, INTELLECTUAL and RELIGIOUS TEXTS
          • Orlando Gibbons in particular was concerned with ethical issues and his 'What is Life?' centres around mortality and uses the theatre as a metaphor for life and death. Similarly 'The Silver Swan' makes a point about death and Elizabethan society 'more gees than swans now live, more fools than wise.'
          • Byrd wrote a number of fine madrigals which were semi-religious in character including his 'Lullaby my sweet Little baby ' in which it transpires that the singer is Mary and the baby in question is Jesus.
  • Both Gibbons and Byrd preferred the serious texts to lighter ones. These texts deal with subjects such as death, rejection of love, cruelty and feelings of unrequited passion and emotion.

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