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Book Review, Part One

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  • ChrisM
    Okay. I ve finished reading a pretty recently-published book on a Renaissance composer, and I thought I would try to write a review about it. But the book
    Message 1 of 2 , May 3 7:44 PM
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      Okay. I've finished reading a pretty recently-published book on a Renaissance composer, and I thought I would try to write a review about it. But the book makes a lot of presumptions about its audience, so reviewing the book is to be hard without getting a running start.

      So, this is kind of a prelude to a book report on "The Gesualdo Hex," by this dude named Glenn Watkins. I'm hoping to start a discussion about some music, and then the most infamous murders in the history of music.

      First, I'd ask those among us who think this sounds intriguing to listen to a composition called "Ecco, moriro dunque"

      The sheet music is at http://icking-music-archive.org/scores/gesualdo/QuartoLibro/ges-4-16.pdf

      A fantastic performance (by JovenCaFi, a string quintet): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoxlKdV-iQI

      In particular, I'd ask you to listen for the chromaticism (the artful use of accidentals). There are other Renaissance compositions that use chromatic runs (the English Composer Simpson has a passage in his "Chromatic Pavane and Galliard" where at least one instrument or another is always moving half-step-wise downward. But that's a kind of stunt. It's "a thing to do with chromatics!")

      Gesualdo, the composer of the piece, uses chromatics in a much more mature way. The most severe comes in the first dozen or so measures of the Second Pars (which starts about 1:27 in the video performance. It's right there, in our face, but it's not a stunt. Those weird dissonances are there because they're the tools he needs to get the job done.

      Less intrusively, he uses all sorts of accidentals in the first phrases of the piece.

      I think it gives the piece a much more modern feeling, like program music of the 19th or 20th Century, rather than the 16th.

      Your thoughts?

      --Christian
    • Carol O'Connell
      Hi Christian, Thanks for posting this and sharing with the music community. It s very interesting, but, well, I m sorry to say my brain is a little too much of
      Message 2 of 2 , May 10 7:38 PM
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        Hi Christian,

        Thanks for posting this and sharing with the music community.

        It's very interesting, but, well, I'm sorry to say my brain is a little too
        much of a simpleton's to really appreciate it. Not really my cup of tea, in
        terms of what I prefer to listen to.

        That said... how very fascinating! He definitely doesn't sound like a
        composer of his time, that's for sure.

        What is it about his music that attracts you to him? Or is it more of a kind
        of eerie fascination more than admiration?

        Tell us more!
        Conna

        On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 9:44 PM, ChrisM <c.mortika@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        > Okay. I've finished reading a pretty recently-published book on a
        > Renaissance composer, and I thought I would try to write a review about it.
        > But the book makes a lot of presumptions about its audience, so reviewing
        > the book is to be hard without getting a running start.
        >
        > So, this is kind of a prelude to a book report on "The Gesualdo Hex," by
        > this dude named Glenn Watkins. I'm hoping to start a discussion about some
        > music, and then the most infamous murders in the history of music.
        >
        > First, I'd ask those among us who think this sounds intriguing to listen to
        > a composition called "Ecco, moriro dunque"
        >
        > The sheet music is at
        > http://icking-music-archive.org/scores/gesualdo/QuartoLibro/ges-4-16.pdf
        >
        > A fantastic performance (by JovenCaFi, a string quintet):
        > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoxlKdV-iQI
        >
        > In particular, I'd ask you to listen for the chromaticism (the artful use
        > of accidentals). There are other Renaissance compositions that use chromatic
        > runs (the English Composer Simpson has a passage in his "Chromatic Pavane
        > and Galliard" where at least one instrument or another is always moving
        > half-step-wise downward. But that's a kind of stunt. It's "a thing to do
        > with chromatics!")
        >
        > Gesualdo, the composer of the piece, uses chromatics in a much more mature
        > way. The most severe comes in the first dozen or so measures of the Second
        > Pars (which starts about 1:27 in the video performance. It's right there, in
        > our face, but it's not a stunt. Those weird dissonances are there because
        > they're the tools he needs to get the job done.
        >
        > Less intrusively, he uses all sorts of accidentals in the first phrases of
        > the piece.
        >
        > I think it gives the piece a much more modern feeling, like program music
        > of the 19th or 20th Century, rather than the 16th.
        >
        > Your thoughts?
        >
        > --Christian
        >
        >
        >


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