Adrian Willaert and the Theory of Interval Affect: The by Timothy R. McKinney

By Timothy R. McKinney

Within the writings of Nicola Vicentino (1555) and Gioseffo Zarlino (1558) is located, for the 1st time, a scientific technique of explaining music's expressive strength established upon the explicit melodic and harmonic periods from which it truly is built. yet this 'theory of period affect' originates now not with those theorists, yet with their instructor, influential Venetian composer Adrian Willaert (1490-1562). simply because Willaert left no theoretical writings of his personal, Timothy McKinney makes use of Willaert's track to reconstruct his leading edge theories touching on how song may speak extramusical rules. For Willaert, the appellations 'major' and 'minor' not signified in simple terms the bigger and smaller of a couple of like-numbered periods; quite, they grew to become different types of sonic personality, the individuals of that are comparable by means of a shared sounding estate of 'majorness' or 'minorness' which may be manipulated for expressive reasons. This e-book engages with the madrigals of Willaert's landmark song nova assortment and demonstrates that they articulate a idea of musical impact extra advanced and forward-looking than famous presently. The e-book additionally lines the origins of 1 of the main frequent musical institutions in Western tradition: the inspiration that significant durations, chords and scales are appropriate for the expression of chuffed affections, and minor for unhappy ones. McKinney concludes via discussing the impression of Willaert's concept at the madrigals of composers corresponding to Vicentino, Zarlino, Cipriano de Rore, Girolamo Parabosco, Perissone Cambio, Francesco dalla Viola, and Baldassare Donato, and describes the eventual transformation of the speculation of period have an effect on from the Renaissance view dependent upon person durations measured from the bass, to the Baroque view established upon invertible triadic entities.

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Extra info for Adrian Willaert and the Theory of Interval Affect: The Musica nova Madrigals and the Novel Theories of Zarlino and Vicentino

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This older expressive association accounts for the added “soft” flats at Dufay’s pleas for mercy in the Ave Regina caelorum passages discussed above. What is new about Willaert’s affective practice and the theories of interval affect based upon it is that the expressive categories of hard and soft become associated with “major” and “minor” in addition to hard and soft B, and that the terms “major” and “minor” no longer signified merely the larger and smaller of a pair of like-numbered intervals; rather, they became categories of sonic character, the members of which are related by a shared sounding property of “majorness” or “minorness” that could be manipulated for expressive purposes.

McClary includes Verdelot, Arcadelt, and Rore along with Willaert in this regard. ”94 Recently Michèle Fromson referred to “perplexing questions about the aesthetic quality of his music that still await satisfactory answers,” and summarized the issue as follows: From a modern perspective, however, the most notable feature of these late madrigals is their unusually dense and continuous contrapuntal idiom, which largely eschews imitative textures, clear cadential articulations, distinctive rhythmic patterns and tuneful melodic ideas (soggetti), which are no longer restricted to their conventional positions in the soprano and tenor parts but now roam freely and unpredictably among diverse vocal combinations.

To illustrate this development, there is no better example than the famous opening of Willaert’s Musica nova setting of Aspro core e selvaggio e cruda voglia. Aspro core is among Willaert’s best-known compositions today, largely because of the attention its expressive exordium has garnered in musicological writings. Received wisdom indicates that Willaert employed contrasting musical intervals to reflect the vivid antithesis and contrasting word-sounds of the opening lines of Petrarch’s sonnet,70 which can be appreciated best by reading the lines aloud: Aspro core, e selvaggio, e cruda voglia In dolce, humile, angelica figura Harsh heart and savage, and a cruel will In a sweet, humble, angelic figure The foundation for this belief concerning Willaert’s setting of the text rests primarily on the superficial observation that certain intervals cluster in the vicinity of certain words: major intervals are frequent in the setting of the “harsh” first line, and minor intervals in the “sweet” second line.

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