Cornett Phrasing on “Ancor che col partire”

(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 ’s famous madrigal, “” 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. 

Facsimile of top voice of "Ancor che col partire"
Facsimile of top voice of “Ancor che col partire”


Here is a perfunctory, modern reading of this excerpt.

[audio:|titles=perfunctory reading]

Now, in this audio clip, I will emphasize the long notes (in this clip this is just barely noticeable).

[audio:|titles=long notes louder]

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”.

[audio:|titles=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.

[audio:|titles=conjunct vs. disjunct]

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!

What I’ve learned from Tom Clancy

Author Tom Clancy (1947-2013)

Author Tom Clancy (1947-2013)    

I don’t have a whole lot of time to read books–I’m busy with jobs, family, recitals, practice and, well, blogging! But I have read a few Tom Clancy novels. He died yesterday at the relatively young age of 66. I was always impressed with the flow of plot in his books. And his masterful knowledge of military weapons and tactics (especially the Navy stuff, since I am actually in the Navy).

But the quote that I read today by the late Mr. Clancy hit squarely home with my overall philosophy of learning and improvement on the trumpet, in music and pretty much anything in life:

“You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf… You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired – it’s hard work.”

Please keep this in mind with trumpet playing. Of course, it is possible to spend lots of un-mindful time playing the trumpet and NOT get better. But for most of us, when we start spending lots of time on our instrument, we naturally become more efficient and more mindful. And we get better. The trick is to find out if you really enjoy spending lots of time on the trumpet. If you do, then the trumpet world is yours.

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