Music of the Day


Apologies for the lack of recent posts. I have two tests, four papers, a concert, and my regular workload for my nine classes all this week. Life’s crazy.

One of my classes is music history where we’ve been exploring the wonderful early music up to the Renaissance. While all the music is heavenly, this short piece is particularly nice. The interpretation is quite wonderful, especially since there’s a tendency to sing early music, even lively chansons and madrigals, with an air of somber superciliousness that tends to drag down the originally intended light-hearted nature of the piece. Even when performed with just enough liveliness to pass the proper performance practice test, it still has an air of ancientness that wasn’t intended at the time of the original composition of the piece. True, Palestrina’s not meant to be chirped and skipped along, but the secular music, especially when so informal as to include an instrumental accompaniment, was relaxed, with composers often poking fun at each other’s music within pieces, and in the case of canons, writing the piece so that the performer had to solve a musical riddle or puzzle in order to find the notes to sing. Secular early music (and before the Council of Trent, in the Church too, whoops!) was experimental and could be rather wild, and certainly wasn’t meant to be performed with handkerchiefs held to the nose. Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, barely even followed Zarlino’s standard rules of counterpoint that had been followed religiously since its publication almost a century earlier. The chromaticism reminds you of something that would be written today. So experimental! It’s the very essence of modern ancient music. (Think about that for a second.) The rules of counterpoint and polyphony were still being developed. Dissonance before Dufay (or Du Fay) and Palestrina was common, even expected during certain decades and in certain countries. Spain loved chromaticism. Italy loved lively, dissonant madrigals (so did Spain). France loved romantic chansons. England liked everything (generally speaking. Europe was a huge musical melting pot since composers moved around so much). And people today tend to perform it all in roughly the same fashion, taking precocious care not to perform anything too fast, slow, sharp, flat, lively, sadly.  That wasn’t the point.

(^I really shouldn’t write this late at night. I need to study, not spout words on my blog. I will probably come back to this later and ask myself “what on earth am I saying? People perform the music just fine. After all, we only have so many resources telling us how to play early music. [basically zilch in case you ever wondered.] How do I know how they played it? They could have had handkerchiefs permanently installed in their nostrils. Who knows? The majority of this was written for the courts anyway, and was expected to be performed by many people in the courts, so we’re not talking about too much craziness here. [Wait, am I ranting on my rant within my rant? {And if, following the order of proper algebraic notation but not following the order of operations, {because it’s not like this isn’t already really confusing,} would this question be a question about a question questioning a rant within a rant? {And what would this be?? What am I doing right now?}}]”)

Wow, and I thought my tea wasn’t caffeinated. This isn’t even a music of the day anymore.

Wish me luck for my test tomorrow. I have to memorize soooo much music by tomorrow morning!

For examples to my rant above, here are some pieces I might have referenced.

^This is a great performance of a French onomatopoeia, or programmatic chanson, where the music scoring is designed to reenact the text, in this case the 1515 Battle of Marignano. There was a lyric sheet provided so you could see just what they were saying so it made more sense (it’s kind of a mess if you don’t have the music in front of you,) but it got taken down. soooo yeah.

Ciao for now.


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