Listening Assignment, MU111: CD#7, Part 3
Renaissance Sensuality and Seduction: The Madrigal

Prof. Saunders

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mu111 CD7, pt. 3

   Before listening, read the assignment, Wright, Listening to Music
III. Jacques Arcadelt, "Il bianco e dolce cigno" (The White and Sweet Swan)

The third and final piece in this assignment on Renaissance secular music is the Italian madrigal "Il bianco e dolce cigno" (The White and Sweet Swan) by Jacques Arcadelt (ca. 1505-1567). It was one of the most popular Italian madrigals of the Renaissance. Note that the text, as is typical of madrigals consists of lines of 7 and 11 syllables.

Practice listening to the madrigal by pausing the recording after you've heard each line of poetry and jotting down a brief description of the music. Concentrate on three features:

  • The texture: Is it homophonic or imitative?
  • The declamation: Is it generally syllabic (one note for each syllable of the poem) or melismatic (more than one note per syllable)?
  • What is the form?

The text and translation follow.

Il bianco e dolce cigno
Cantando more ed io
Piangendo giung' al fin del viver mio,
Stran' e diversa sorte!
Ch'ei more sconsolato,
Ed io moro beato,
Morte che nel morire
M'empie di gioia tutto e di desire.
Se nel morir, altro dolor non sento,
Di mille mort'il di, sarei contento.
The white and sweet swan,
singing, dies; and I
crying approach the end of my life
Such a strange and divergent fate!
For he dies in despair
and I die content
The very thought of dying
fills me with all joy and desire.
If by dying I feel no other sadness
I'll be content to die a thousand times a day.

Listen to Arcadelt, "Il bianco e dolce cigno"

*End of Listening WebCD 7*

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