Development of the Madrigal Essay
The madrigal became popular and started developing effectively by Pieto Bembo, an influential Italian poet, because he was striving for a different and more heartfelt way of singing poetry. His idea was that the text should reflect in the music on a deeper level, hence the concept of “word-painting” and also madrigalism. Madrigals were often written about pastoral or mythological ideas. Also, they were mostly homophonic, with a common 4 voice texture. A valid example of this first generation madrigal is “O bianco e dolce cigno” by Arcadely because of it's use of word-painting, also known as double-entendre. Double entendre was a common concept used in the 16th and early 17th centuries...even though the text may be portraying one idea, there may be, and often is an underlying meaning that is easily understood.
Progressing onward, 2nd generation madrigals started using 5 voice texture and more chromaticism, and continued using even more word-painting. “Da la belle contrade d'oriente” by Cipriano de Rore is a prime example because it's clearly heartfelt, making the word-painting more obvious and making it easier to express emotion. Often, the subject matter of these madrigals were pastoral themes or courtly love in general.
In sequence, 3rd generation madrigals continued to associate extreme chromaticism. Also, mannerism came into play, which in definition is to distort something for the sake of artistic expression. “Morro, lasso” by Gesualdo exemplifies the characteristics of 3rd generation madrigals because of the chromaticism, and also the use of dissonance to express emotion into the text.
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