Monteverdi - Ohimé, se tanto amate

  • Created by: Stephanie
  • Created on: 20-11-14 19:08


  • Madrigal (a secular work for a group of solo voices, in this case unaccompanied)
  • Setting of a text by the poet Guarini
  • Published in 1603
  • Shows many signs of Monteverdi writing in a newer, more modern style (stile rappresentativo/representational style or seconda practica/second practice), as opposed to the older Renaissance style
  • Due to the complexity of the writing, the piece was probably intended for trained singers
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Simple quadruple time
  • Monteverdi attempted to reproduce the inflections of Italian speech in the music, resulting in a variety of rhythmic patterns
  • Some passages consit of steady crotchets (bars 47-51) while others are more varied
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Melody and Word Setting

  • Mainly syllabic
  • Subordinate to the text (the purpose of the music is to express the text as clearly as possible)
  • Accented syllables usually appear on a strong beat, while unaccented syllables tend to appear on a weak beat
  • Repeated notes are often used to aid clarity of the text
  • Much of the melody is made up of conjunct movement or small leaps, any larger leaps are often followed by stepwise movement in the opposite direction (soprano part bars 8-9)
  • Some use of sequence (last 20 bars)
  • Sigh-like falling 3rd used for 'ohimé'
  • New style is evident in the use of intervals which had previously been avoided (the tritone)
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Harmony and Tonality

  • Primarily consists of root-position and first-inversion triads
  • Many dissonances (often unprepared)
  • Typical features include:

- False relations (Bb against B(natural) in bar 49)

- Tierce de Picardies (bars 38-39)

- Tonic and dominant pedals (bass parts bars 61-65)

- IIIb - I final cadence

  • The work predates the functional harmony developed in the Baroque period, but can be described as being in G minor, with sections in D minor and Bb major. Note the 'modal' key signature with only one flat
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  • Work is through-composed with each section of the text being treated separately
  • The falling 'ohimé' recurs frequently, and so provides a unifying element
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Resources and Texture

  • Work is written for five unaccompanied voices, the canto and quinto corresponding to two soprano parts
  • Variety of textures are employed to help convey the sense of the poem:

- Paired alto and tenor in the dialogue with paired canto and quinto over a sustained bass

- Homophony for three voices in various groupings

- Homophony for five voices

- Some limited imitation

- Free counterpoint

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