Consider the Madrigal
Keywords:renaissance madrigal, neoplatonism and musical rhetoric
The huge proliferation of the polyphonic madrigal around 1600 raises basic questions that have not been effectively posed, let alone answered, in the scholarly literature. This essay presents these questions and suggests provisional answers for them. In doing so, it describes several dynamics in the development of the madrigal that seem to oppose the close relation between language and music previously noticed by all commentators. These dynamics create a kind of musical formalism at times, even an anti-linguistic one, where we would least expect it. They point up the opening of a space between sung words and the musical means of their singing that is certainly new in western musical experience.
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