Monteverdi's Lamento Della Ninfa - Compositional Techniques to Express Emotion

Topics: Ottavio Rinuccini, Music, Claudio Monteverdi Pages: 4 (1149 words) Published: October 25, 2011
Monteverdi's Lamento della ninfa is an excellent example of what a lament should be. A lament is always an expression of grief or sorrow and usually over a loss of love. This loss of love may be due to the death of the loved one or betrayal (such is this case). The lament is not a complaint about unhappy or unrequited love, but it is a manifestation of sadness. In most cases, Lamento della ninfa included, the lamenter is tormented simultaneously by the past, present, and future: the memories of what once was, the current pain of loss, and grievances for the future. Monteverdi masterfully manipulates the poetry of Ottavio Rinuccini with music that expresses the emotion of the text. In order to do so, he utilizes compositional techniques both old and new in relation to his time period.

There exist many examples of madrigalisms throughout the piece. Dissonance is used to call attention to sections of text. For example, at measure 11 in part 1 of Non havea Febo ancora, the opening choral section, harsh half step dissonance is implemented upon the text "suo dolor" (English translation - "her sorrow" or "her grief"). The tension of the dissonance mirrors the tension of the description of emotional pain. Without knowledge of the translation of the text, this instance may feel unnaturally abrasive. However, with familiarity of the translation, the method as it is composed can be artistically enjoyed and appreciated.

Another example of madrigalism is at the beginning at measure 8 of part 2 of Non havea Febo ancora. The text depicts: treading aimlessly on flowers and wandering here and there while lamenting on lost love. Monteverdi reinforces this text by having the singers tightly stagger their entrances on fairly disjunct melodies, thus creating a more confused or dazed sound in comparison to the music previously presented. His manner of madrigalism is a bit more complex than most of those introduced during the Renaissance.

Probably the most...
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