(Note: this is a re-posting of this article. The previous posting was deleted because of “spam” problems)
Yesterday, I briefly generalized about phrasing Renaissance music. Today, I wanted to provide some specific applications by looking at Cipriano da Rore’s famous madrigal, “Ancor che col partire” first printed in 1547 and reprinted many times thereafter. Like some of the well-known opera and folk tunes that J. B. Arban wrote fantasies (e.g., “Carnival of Venice”), Rore’s madrigal became the basis for countless 16th-century decorated versions for solo voice and lute, or “viola bastarda” settings, or unspecified instruments (but very appropriately played on the cornett). But for this post, I just want to play the original top line and, hopefully, show how some general ideas of Renaissance phrasing might help, one idea at a time. You have to have Adobe Flashplayer and Java installed to play these audio clips.
Here is a perfunctory, modern reading of this excerpt.
Now, in this audio clip, I will emphasize the long notes (in this clip this is just barely noticeable).
To help with the long notes, in this clip, I “swell” them. The correct name for this type of devise is the “messa di voce”.
Further helping the emphasis, I add a little space BEFORE the long note (taking away from the duration of the preceding note). These are called agogic accents.
Finally, to add a little more polish, I connect more smoothly with stepwise (conjunct) motion and more separately with disjunct motion.
Hopefully, these ideas will give you a STARTING place to make good phrasing decisions while you play music from the 16th Century (and, to a certain extent, from the early 17th Century).
Here’s a FABULOUS version of Ancor by Doron David Sherwin that I just had to share!