MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 6

(This is the twenty-third part of my dissertation series. Previous: MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 5)

(c. 1562-68, Germany) Embroidered tablecloth with Count Poppo of Henneberg and wife Sophie of Brunswick, musicians and dancers (now lost). Among musicians are one curved cornett player (bottom right of middle square) and one straight cornett (top right of middle square).

(c. 1562-68, Germany) Embroidered tablecloth with Count Poppo of Henneberg and wife Sophie of Brunswick, musicians and dancers (now lost). Among musicians are one curved cornett player (bottom right of middle square) and one straight cornett (top right of middle square).

The Cornett as a Symbol of the

The loud, rustic, obstreperous associations of the cornett undoubtedly made the cornett one of the most approprate dance instruments in the Renaissance and early Baroque. A couple of lines from Henry Fitzgeffrey’s Satyres and Satyricall Epigrams illustrates how immediate the association between the cornett and dancing was: “Yet marke! No sooner shall the Cornets blow, / But ye shall haue him skipping too and fro.”[1] H. Colin Slim, in his analysis of Philippo Oriolo da Bassano’s poem Monte Parnasso, summarizes a part of the poem in which cornetts, among other wind players, are specifically identified with the heavenly dance music:

[The musicians] are presented according to their instrument. Players of wind instruments arrive first: bagpipes, cornetti, pifferi . . . , and trombones. With the wind players providing, as was customary, the music, a ball takes place with legendary and historical lovers as dance partners. Canto XX opens with these wind players, exhausted from accompanying the ball, giving way to players of keyboard instruments.[2]


Of the musical records affiliated with dance in my database, a wide range of dance types are found: allemands, ballets, courantes, galliards, passamezzos, pavanes, sarabandes, and intradas. The intrada and galliard are the most frequently encountered. Because the cornett is also prominently associated with announcing entrances, the intrada is particularly interesting.

There is an interesting example in Richard Brome’s drama The English Moor. In the scene of interest, a dance of costumed masquers (a stag, a ram, a goat, and an ox, all with horns on their heads) is put on to teach one of the characters a negative lesson. Interesting is the specificity of horns being on top of the masquer’s heads.[3] “Mercury” introduces the dance music:

Now by this dance let husband that doth wed
Bride from her proper love to loathed bed
Observe his fortune. Musick strike aloud
The cuckolds joy, with merry pipe & crowd.

They dance to musick of Cornet; & Violins.

The Daunce.

Exit. Masquers.[4]


The first line of Brome’s rubric after the introduction has a semi-colon after “musick of Cornet,” then follows “& Violins.” This detail of punctuation implies that the cornetts play a section of music first, as a way of playing an attention-getting introductory dance, followed by a section played by the violins (or violins and cornetts together). Another illustration of an opening dance played by cornetts, less ambiguous than Brome’s, is from Ben Jonson’s account of a masque at Whitehall Palace (a large indoor hall) on February 9, 1609:

Here they lighted from their Chariots, and danc’d forth their first dance; then a second, immediately following it: both right curious, and full of subtile and excellent changes, and seem’d perform’d with no lesse spirits, then of those they personated. The first was to the Cornets, the second to the Vyolines. After which, they tooke out the men, and danc’d the measures; entertaining the time, almost to the space of an houre, with singular varietie: when, to giue them rest, from the Musique which attended the Chariots, by that most excellent tenor voyce, and exact singer (her Maiesties seruant, M r. Io. Allin) this Dittie was sung.[5]


Still another instance of cornetts playing first is found in the English novel, Clidamas (1639):

The masquers prepared themselves for the first measure, which was performed in most exquisite maner to the sound of cornets, that being done certaine loose dances passed betweene the masquers and the gentlewomen, and they being finished, they addrest themselves to the second measures, at the end whereof, sorting themselves as they were at their entrance, Triton spake in this manner.[6]


Perhaps it is the cornett’s role as a fanfaring instrument which best explains the sequence of dances, in which the cornetts play the introductory signal or dance and then the other instruments follow with the rest of the dances.[7] A good visual example is found in an early sixteenth-century print by Hans Schäufelein (1480-1540) entitled “The Princess’s Dance: Audience and Musicians.” In this depiction of nobility, the princess and her companions, tired of traveling, are seated next to an open-air shelter, in which a flutist, a slide trumpeter, a drummer and a cornettist are playing. One of the verses reads as follows:

Blow loud and clear on the zinken [cornetts], we will be soon given a drink. There, the cadence is being played with great reverence. Go find the pipes and the flutes, the kettledrums and the trumpets. Let’s get our dancing rightly organized when the refreshments are brought.[8]

In this depiction the cornettist (there is only one depicted in the band—despite the plural used in the verse caption) is asked to signal the beginning of the dance (or perhaps in this example the cornett signals that the drinks are to be brought in and when this happens, the dance can begin). A dramatic example from Fletcher’s The Little French Lawyer, first performed around 1620, also illustrates this type of fanfare where the cornet does not actually play the dance music (“Cornet.” and “Musicke within.” are rubrics between lines of dialogue):

I am glad, I yield you

Such ample scope of mirth.

Musicke within.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I say, if you are noble, be’t who will;
Goe presently and thanke ’em: I can jump yet,
Or tread a measure.[9]


The following excerpt from Sylvester’s Du Bartas (1621) shows Musica (in this case, “Musick”) dancing.


     [The description of Musick.]
That grace-full posture, and those pretty feet
Which seem still Dancing: all those Harps and Lutes,
Shawms, Sag-buts, Citrons, Viols, Cornets, Flutes,
Plaç’t round about her; prove in every part
This is the noble, sweet, Voice-ord’ring Art . . .[10]


The cornetts are playing in a large, mixed ensemble, which would be appropriate for Musica, who represents all types of musical instruments.

(c. 1500) Israhel van Meckenem, The Dance at the Court of Herod (musician on left plays a cornett-like instrument, possibly a fingerhole horn)

(c. 1500) Israhel van Meckenem, The Dance at the Court of Herod (musician on left plays a cornett-like instrument, possibly a fingerhole horn; the middle musician plays a “pipe and tabor” and the musician on the right plays an early trombone)

Although the cornett as a symbol juxtaposed with dancing angels is a fairly common theme in general, the use of the cornett as a symbol of sinful dancing figures even more prominently in my research.[11] Israhel van Meckenem’s copperplate engraving “The Dance of Herodias” of 1475 depicts a small music ensemble of three wind players in the center of a large hall accompanying dancers who are elegantly dressed (in fifteenth-century garb) and are circling around the hall. The three basse danse wind instruments are a pipe-and-tabor, a slide trumpet, and a fingerhole horn, an animal horn with what appears to be seven finger holes and certainly the precursor to the sixteenth-century cornett. Symbolically, the most important aspects of this scene are the evil and  lewd overtones implicit in the subject matter: the head of John the baptist is presented to Salome in the left corner of the engraving; then the head is served up to Salome’s father in the right corner; in the foreground, Salome dances with the courtiers in celebration of her evil deeds. The idea here is that the instruments provide an unwholesome and frantic type of entertainment, appropriate only for the likes of Salome, noble though she is.[12]

Another example of the cornett as an unseemly dance instrument is from John Davies of Hereford’s poem Wittes Pilgrimage [1605?]:

My Lady shee will laugh as madd shee were
(Lord! why should Mirth make sober Ladies madd?)
If shee but see Him, like an Asse, to fleere;
So shee (kind Mule) to see an Asse is gladd.
And when such Buffons ball, and Cornetts sound
(The Ghests loud-Laughing) Who can then bee heard
That speakes like Phillpps Page, as shrill, as sound,
That Voice hath then no grace and lesse regard?[13]

In conclusion, one can see that the transitory and unwholesome connotations of the dance, held by many in the Renaissance, transfer to instruments used for the dance. Monteverdi effectively and ironically sets off the humble pleas to the Virgin Mary with instrumental dance passages idiomatically scored for violins, trombones, violas, and especially cornetts, which were known at this time to be particularly suitable for dances.

(Next: the cornett in “Deposuit potentes de sede”)

[1]. Henry Fitzgeffrey, “The Third Booke of Humours: Intituled Notes from Black-Fryers,” in Satyres and Satyricall Epigrams, originally published as Satyres and Satyricall Epigrams: With Certaine Observations at Black-Fryers: By H: F:  in London by Edw: Allde, for Miles Patrich [etc.] in 1617, The English Poetry Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1994), lines 117–18.

[2]. H. Colin Slim, “Musicians on Parnassus,” Studies in the Renaissance 12 (1965): 139.

[3]. See chapter 2,  p. 58, for more on wearing horns as symbol of totemistic god.

[4]. Richard Brome, The English Moor, originally published as Five nevv Playes, Viz. The English Moor, or The Mock-Marriage. The Love-Sick Court, or The Ambitious Politique. Covent Garden Weeded. The Nevv Academy, or The Nevv Exchange. The Queen and Concubine. By Richard Brome in London by A. Crook… and H. Brome [etc.] in 1659, English Verse Drama Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1994), 1.3.169–72 (and following rubric).

[5]. Ben Jonson, The Masqve of Queenes, originally published in the source text The Workes of Beniamin Jonson in London by Will. Stansby in 1616, English Verse Drama Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1994), rubric after line 381.

[6]. J. S., Clidamas, originally published as Clidamas, or the Sicilian Tale in London by Thomas Payne in 1639, Early English Prose Fiction Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1997), 153. Italics original.

[7]. The cornett is associated with fanfares in 88 records of my database (3.4% of all records).

[8]. Naylor, The Trumpet & Trombone in Graphic Arts, 1500–1800, 194 (notes to plate 33).

[9]. John Fletcher, The Little French Lawyer, originally published as an anthology of three authors (John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, and Francis Beaumont) entitled Comedies and Tragedies Written by Francis Beaumont and Iohn Fletcher.. Never printed before, And now published by the Authours Originall Copies in London by Humphrey Robinson.. and for Humphrey Moseley [etc.] in 1647, English Verse Drama Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey), 4.1.251–2, 267–9.

[10]. Joshua Sylvester, “Noah. The Second Day of the Second Week,” in Du Bartas: His Divine Weekes And Workes, originally published as Du Bartas: His Divine Weekes And Workes with A Compleate Collectio[n] of all the other most delight-full Workes: Translated and written by yt famous Philomusus: Iosvah Sylvester in London by Humphrey Lownes in 1621, The English Poetry Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1994), lines 710–14. Italics original.

[11]. An angelic example may be found in an anonymous Italian painting from the middle of the seventeenth-century entitled L’Annunciazione della Vergine; in alto il Padre Eterno, con concerto e danza di angeli which depicts a small ensemble with a cornett playing for dancing angels [observed in Luigi Parigi, I disegni musicali del Gabinetto degli Uffizi e delle minori (Firenze: L.S. Olschki, 1951), 84].

[12]. Beck and Roth, Music in Prints, Plate 1.


[13]. John Davies, “I said unto Laughter,” in Wittes Pilgrimage, originally published as Wittes Pilgrimage (by Poeticall Essaies): Through a a VVorld of amorous Sonnets, Soule-passions, and other Passages, Diuine, Philosophicall, morall, Poeticall, and Politicall. By Iohn Davies, in  London by Iohn Browne in 1605 [?], English Poetry Full-Text Database (Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1992), lines 37–44.

MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 5

(This is the twenty-second part of my dissertation series. Previous: MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 4)

Stylistic Precedents and Parodies of Monteverdi’s Sonata

There are a few precedents for Monteverdi’s Sonata. Denis Arnold maintains that Monteverdi based his Sonata sopra on a similar piece by the Ferrarese monk, Arcangelo Crotti.[1] Crotti’s work pre-dates Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 by two years, according to dates of  publication.[2] Both works—in G major—repeat a chant set against the dactyllic rhythms common to the canzona francese. Instrumentation and formal subtlety, however, are greatly expanded in the Monteverdi version.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 3.18.58 PMExample 12. Arcangelo Crotti, Sonata sopra Sancta Maria (opening excerpt). Source: Arcangelo Crotti, “Sonata Sopra Sancta Maria,” in Il primo libro de concerti ecclesiastici (Venice: Giacomo Vincenti, 1608).

Monteverdi also may have been looking over Giovanni Gabrieli’s shoulder when he wrote his Sonata. Christiane Engelbrecht points out that the Dulcis Jesu, sonata con voce à 20 by Gabrieli “repeats a short vocal phrase against elaborate instrumental writing that might almost exist without it,”[3] which describes the same technique Monteverdi brings to bear on his Sancta Maria. Skillful handling of large instrumental forces is the distinguishing feature which Monteverdi might have learned from Gabrieli. In both the Gabrieli and the Monteverdi settings, for instance, the cornett is given faster rhythms and a more extended range than in the Crotti piece. In addition, Kurtzman discusses several other pieces stylistically similar to Monteverdi’s Sonata that either influenced or were influenced by his striking work.[4]

In comparing Monteverdi’s Sonata to Gabrieli’s instrumental Canzoni e Sonate of 1615, Kurtzman notes the multi-sectional structure and extravagant scale common to both composers. Yet, according to Kurtzman, the conjunct and smooth melodic motion, the uncomplicated rhythmic patterns, and the high degree of motivic consistency of Monteverdi is unmatched by the elder Gabrieli. Perhaps even more important for a study of symbolism are the Sonata’s “ rhythms, particularly notable in the triple meter sections, but not entirely absent from some of the duple meter passages as well. Gabrieli, on the other hand, uses too much rhythmic differentiation within motives and between separate motives to create such effects.”[5] Indeed, the cornett’s strong symbolic connection to dance is borne out in my general research, and is probably due to its loud tone, necessary for projecting across a large dance hall.[6]

(Next: the cornett as a symbol of the dance)

[1]. Denis Arnold, “Notes on Two Movements of the Monteverdi ‘Vespers,’” The Monthly Musical Record 84 (1954): 60. See example 12 for my own realization of Crotti’s Sonata.

[2]. It is possible that Monteverdi’s Sonata predate’s Crotti’s. Dixon summarizes and proposes several theories of initial performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers in his “Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610: ‘Della Beata Vergine?’” Because most scholars have assumed that it was originally intended as a Marian vespers, they have proposed dates corresponding with that assumption: Tagmann proposed a first performance on a Marian feast following the birth of Duke Vincenzo’s grandchild, Maria, on 29 July 1609; and Fenlon proposed 25 May 1609 for a Vespers service corresponding with the inception of an order of knighthood in Sant’Andrea, Mantua. In contrast, because of his theory that the original collection was performed not for a Marian feast, but a feast in honor of Santa Barbara (patron saint of the Ducal basilica), Dixon himself proposes 4 December 1607 or 1609 as the likeliest dates for the first performance.

[3]. Giovanni Gabrieli, Dulcis Jesu: Sonata con voce a 20, ed. Clifford Bartlett (Huntingdon: King’s Music, 1990), introduction; Christiane Engelbrecht, “Eine Sonata con Voce von Giovanni Gabrieli,” in Bericht Über Den Internationalen Musiwissenschaftlichen Kongress Hamburg 1956 (Kassel: Bärenreiter Verlag, 1957), 88–89; cited in Kurtzman, “The Monteverdi Vespers,” 366.

[4]. Ibid., 366–76. Apart from the Crotti and pieces by Gabrieli, the other pieces mentioned by Kurtzman do not specify cornett.

[5]. Ibid., 375.

[6]. Of the 108 records in my cornett database with some symbolic association to dance, 12 are iconographic, 19 are from written documents and 77 are musical. Many geographic regions are represented with German (55), English (28) and Italian (14) sources predominating.

Happy Birthday to “Trumpet Journey!”

(apologies to the great Louis Armstrong!)

(apologies to the great Louis Armstrong!)

Trumpet Journey is now one year old!!!!

Both it, and I, have done some growing in that year. On August 2, I made a commitment to post an article everyday until this birthday. I almost made it (but there are a few days missing).

I have reached out to thousands more since that article. In total this past year, nearly 16,000 unique visitors have come to my blog to find out something new about the trumpet. Here’s a map and a top-twenty list of the visitors, by country.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 6.06.24 AMGlobal Map of visitors to Trumpet Journey



Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 6.05.13 AMAll Visitors to Trumpet Journey by country, top twenty

By far, the most popular article has been by satirical take on How not to get a trumpet job, which was written at about 1:00 am on September 1 and viewed by around 12,000 visitors. I didn’t have a good image to go with the article, so I just drew the donkey playing the trumpet myself. Also popular were a report I did with trumpet job numbers and trumpet degrees and statistics on studying the trumpet at institutions of higher learning. I was really proud to be able to report these statistics, because it now means that trumpeters wanting to get a performing job have just a little better idea how difficult it is to get one. This hopefully will lead to better job preparation and/or creative entrepreneurship as a trumpeter.

Also popular were my top ten list of jazz players today and my plea for baroque trumpet playing without the use of fingerholes. There were two posts updating the research done on a 1995 ITG Journal article about early cornopean literature which lead to my theory that one of the pieces looked at may have been actually composed by Wagner. I will probably work to get this new research published in the ITG Journal soon.

Of course I am thrilled at the people who come to read my Trumpet Building Blocks PDFs to get practice ideas. Also popular is my Trumpet History Timeline.

Two big projects that I hope to get going in the next year. One is an enlargement of my “This Day in Trumpet History”. This is a little widget that you will sometimes see on my sidebar if there is an entry for that calendar day. It has little tidbits of trumpet history, especially birthdays and death anniversaries. I hope to add more dates to this for a little better sense of our trumpet heritage.

The other really big news is that I have been working with some college students on a new trumpet literature database that will eventually go online. It may not be able to go on the Trumpet Journey site (compatibility with WordPress may be an issue), but it will be a trumpet literature tool that is accessible and “contributable” by anyone with an internet connection. More on this later.

I am looking forward to many new interviews with interesting trumpeters. In November, I will publish a fantastic interview with Latin jazz specialist Brant Tilds, an American who now lives in Great Britain. I hope that reading about his unique career path will inspire many.

I will continue my serialization of my dissertation on Monteverdi’s Symbolic Use of the Cornett, which I think will take me well into October. I just love that any interested scholars will be able to access this in the future.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to another year. Keep journeying.



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MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 4

(This is the twenty-first part of my dissertation series. Previous: MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 3)

Sonata sopra

Title page to Adriano Banchieri's L'Organo suonarino

Title page to Adriano Banchieri’s L’Organo suonarino

The next place in the 1610 collection which specifies cornett is the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria. The text, addressed to the Virgin Mary, fits thematically with the rest of the collection.[1] Stephen Bonta notes that the motets Nigra sum, Pulchra es, Duo Seraphim, and Audi coelum and the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria ora pro nobis function as antiphon-substitutes in place of the Proper items.[2] Bonta bases his argument mainly on Adriano Banchieri’s L’Organo suonarino of 1605, and notes that Banchieri appended five sonatas in score in his handbook for organists “for use at the five psalms that are normally sung at Vespers.” It is significant, Bonta points out, that Monteverdi also used the title “sonata,” for his instrumental piece with the text Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.[3] The piece begins right away with cornetts playing the typical dactylic figuration as is shown in example 11.

Jeffrey Kurtzman, in his 1972 dissertation, wrote the following analytical discription of Monteverdi’s Sonata sopra Sancta Maria as an example of a composition which employs a repeated cantus firmus in long note values:

the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria, which borrows the opening phrase from the Litany of the Saints . . . , reiterates it in the soprano voice eleven times over a sonata for eight instruments. The cantus firmus does not begin until well into the piece, and the separate statements are separated by rests of varying durations.  The chant itself is varied rhythmically in each statement.  Underneath the cantus firmus, the instrumental sonata unfolds in several large sections with the first one restated at the end.  As in the Magnificats [small and large, in the same collection], the separate sections of the Sonata are written for different textures and styles, often in differing meters.  Contrary to the Magnificats, the changes from one section to another do not correspond with each restatement of the cantus firmus. This time a single section may support several intonations of the chant melody.[4]

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 9.37.00 PMExample 11. Sonata sopra Sancta Maria (opening excerpt)


At the end of the Sonata, the introductory instrumental material is brought back and combined with the penultimate cantus firmus entry, creating a powerful climax by clashing sacred with secular. Since the cantus firmus is so different in style from the instrumental parts, the question arises as to which one of these elements was more important to Monteverdi. Kurtzman takes the position that “the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria is certainly first and foremost an instrumental piece.”[5] Indeed, Stephen Bonta dismisses the idea that Monteverdi set the cantus firmus of the Sonata to a less-important instrumental accompaniment. On the contrary, he writes that “Monteverdi used elements of the litany as an embellishment of a sonata.”[6]

After the introductory section in duple, a triple meter section follows, in the manner of a pavane/galliard pair, according to Denis Arnold. The form which emerges from this instrumental introduction is, he proposes, the canzona francese.[7] Of course, this is not music actually intended for dance, although the style of the instrumental ensemble is certainly secular and dance-like. Kurtzman explains the similarities between the Sonata and other contemporaneous, or near-contemporeaneous, instrumental pieces:

the metamorphosis of one motive out of another by means of lengthening or shortening, inversion of intervals, reversal of melodic direction, and alteration of rhythmic values is the same process used by innumerable composers of ricercare and canzone in the second half of the sixteenth century.[8]


Kurtzman then points to the fundamental difference (apart from the addition of a vocal line) between Monteverdi’s Sonata and these sixteenth-century instrumental canzonas. “It is only in those passages where greater identity is maintained . . . that one is not speaking of thematic development, but rather variation of the same material.”[9] This variation technique becomes a defining and future-looking compositional approach in the 1610 Vespers for Monteverdi, according to Kurtzman.

Thus we have a small dilemma of nomenclature. Although Monteverdi called this piece a “sonata,” it is not a real sonata (or any other instrumental genre), because it has a vocal part. Nevertheless, by discounting this vocal part and considering only the instrumental parts, how close does it come to other instrumental genres? It is like an instrumental canzona in the motivic development of most passages, in the idiomatic dactylic figuration, and imitative counterpoint, but it is much longer than a typical canzona, relies more on the use of pairs of instruments, and uses the process of seventeenth-century variation procedures. It is, furthermore, dance-like, although it is not a dance.

[1]. Bonta, “Liturgical Problems,” 93.

[2]. Ibid.,  94.

[3]. Ibid., 102.


[4]. Kurtzman, “The Monteverdi Vespers,” 111.

[5]. Ibid., 57–58.

[6]. Bonta, “Liturgical Problems,” 94.

[7]. Denis Arnold, Monteverdi, rev. Tim Carter, Master Musicians Series (London: J. M. Dent, 1990), 129.

[8]. Kurtzman, “The Monteverdi Vespers,” 119.

[9]. Ibid.

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MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 3

(This is the twentieth part of my dissertation series. Previous: MSUC: Chapter 3, Part 2)

16th-century shofar. Light colored horn, engraved and carved with Hebrew inscriptions

16th-century shofar. Light colored horn, engraved and carved with Hebrew inscriptions.

The Cornett in as a Substitute for the Shofar

Although Smithers established that stylistic and thematic elements of the Domine ad adiuvandum and the Orfeo Toccata derive from trumpet fanfares of the early seventeenth century, another possibility deserves some exploration. We have seen in Chapter 2 that the cornett was an instrumental descendant of the shofar, based on its physical appearance, method of tone production, use in various social and religious functions, and its symbolism relating to death and the death/rebirth cycle. Keeping this in mind and noting the peculiar ways Monteverdi altered motivic material from his Toccata, I believe that he may have been trying to evoke the liturgical calls of the shofar in his Domine. These calls, according to Theodore Reik, are the Teki’ah, Shebarim, Teru’ah and an elongation of the Teki’ah called Teki’ah Gedolah (see example 4). [1]


Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 5.57.00 PMExample 4. The four basic forms of shofar calls

In the opening of Monteverdi’s Domine, only the first five notes of his Toccata melody are played at first. Then they are repeated with the rest of the theme in canon (see examples 5 and 6). Monteverdi changed the opening in order to bring attention to this melodic gesture by isolating these first five notes.


Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.00.07 PMExample 5. Opening theme of the Orfeo Toccata as played on trumpet (clarino)


Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.00.56 PMExample 6. Opening of Domine ad adiuvandum (first cornett part)


These five notes fill in an upward-moving perfect fifth, which is the same gesture of the first shofar call, the Teki’ah.

 Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.01.58 PMExample 7. Teki’ah (shofar call)


The dotted rhythmic figuration of the opening theme (mm. 2-3—see figure 11 above) then mirrors the second call, the shebarim (example 8), which is a repeated perfect fifth played iambically (short-long short-long short-long). In the Domine and Toccata, this figure also outlines a fifth (inverted).


Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 6.02.43 PMExample 8. Shebarim shofar call


If we compare the ornamental tag in measures seven and eight in the Toccata to the corresponding place (measures twenty and twenty-one) in the Domine, we find an interesting change, which is difficult to justify solely through music explanations (see example 9).



Example 9. Monteverdi’s Toccata, compared to corresponding place in his Domine ad adiuvandum

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 10.02.08 PMToccata, Clarino part, mm. 7-8

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 10.02.54 PMDomine, Cornetts 1 and 2, mm. 20-21

We see here that the second cornett part has crossed over the first part, and now it is not just filling in harmony below the first cornett part (as was the case in measure five), but it is playing the melodic theme—mirroring the Clarino part of the Toccata. It preserves all of the notes of the original with some rhythmic adjustments, whereas the first part is now the filler: it plays a third below the second part until the last few notes, the antepenultimate and penultimate of which outline a perfect fifth. By putting this interval in the first cornett, Monteverdi emphasized its importance.  The resulting figure in the first cornett part—outlining the perfect fifth and preceded by rapidly repeated notes, alternating back and forth—is similar to the third shofar call—the Teru’ah, which is executed on the shofar by either rapid note repititions at the tr signs and/or by a kind of wavering tone.[2]

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 10.03.59 PMExample 10. Teru’ah shofar call


How well Monteverdi could have known about the tradition of the shofar to infer its effect through the cornett is speculative. Nevertheless, Monteverdi was not isolated from Jewish culture, as Mantua had an active Jewish community with many musicians, some of whom worked with Monteverdi, such as his colleague Salomone Rossi. In addition, one will recall that the Bassano family, some of whom were still in Italy, such as the famous cornettist Giovanni, who was the concert master of the orchestra at San Marco in Venice, were probably Jewish. Thus, not only can the cornett’s symbolic heritage of the shofar be demonstrated in general terms, as was shown in chapter 2, but also Monteverdi’s personal use of the cornett shows a possible connection to the actual musical calls of the shofar.

[1]. Reik, “The Shofar,” 238. Performance of these shofar calls vary widely. In his Music in Ancient Israel (1969), Alred Sendrey notes that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, these calls were notated with special types of neumes. Sendrey includes Ashkenazi and Sephardic examples. Most relevant to the present discussion of Monteverdi’s possible borrowing of shofar calls is the so-called Parma notation represented in the Codex Shem “Simani Noti” and the Codex Adler, which in Sendrey is shown as interpreted by Solomon Sulzer (Schir Zion Vienna, 1938, 1865) and Abraham Beer (Baal Tefillah Gothenburg, 1877) on pages 355 and 356. These are essentially the same as Reik’s example as shown in example 4.



[2]. Smithers, telephone conversation. Possible ways of execution as described by Smithers to me. These possibilities are also illustrated in Sendrey. The parallel between the teru’ah and this passage in Domine is even closer in Sendrey’s sources than in example 10 (which is from Reik), because in Sendrey, most examples of the teru’ah are illustrated without the second trill sign.