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Early notation group - second session

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on August 18, 2019 - 6:25pm

Thanks to everyone who came this time (Saturday August 17th), or expressed interest in coming a long in future. 

Below are some notes on what we did and what we learned in this session. Next session, we'll work on similar material. See my first post for the pieces we'll be working on, links to music, and links to more resources. 

Played: Questa e mia, then A dio signora

Source: Petrucci's first book of frottole, Venice (1504), pp86-87

Questa e mia is a good starting piece because

  • it's relatively simple music
  • it's quite repetitive (but not boring)
  • it sounds good played slowly or quickly
  • only one line (tenor) has 'ficta' - unwritten accidentals
  • the clefs chosen are easy for some instruments (e.g. recorder)

A dio signora is similar. It's a little harder because the sections aren't marked off with lines, and there a (probably) two sharpened Cs in cadences.

Today's instruments: 

  • harp
  • voices
  • bass recorder (in F)
  • alto recorder (in F)
  • 2 treble viols

What we did

  1. we all played the cantus (tune, top line) together, slowly (several times)
  2. some of us split onto the other lines, while most of us stayed on the top line
  3. same again, on the second piece

Things to know for this session

Same as last week, plus:


A dio signora: instead of finishing with a double line, or a repeat sign, it finishes with a custus (normally used to tell you the first note on the next line). Since the the custos is the same as the first note, it's a pretty good sign that you repeat the whole piece. 

Ficta ('accidentals') 

  Cantus Altus Tenor Bassus
Questa e mia no no c# at cadences on
A dio signora c# at cadences ?  no no


We talked a bit about what 'cadence' means in this time-period: not just the big, final chord, but also all of the smaller cadences at the end of phrases, and even the 'false' or 'evaded' cadences, where one or more parts starts something really cadence-y, but doesn't complelte it. 

Renaissance theory has lots of types and lots of discussions of this. 

The music seems has a progression from "kind of a hinting at a cadence" to "very final cadence". My impression is that the more emphatic the cadence is the more likely you are to add all the cadence stuff to it.

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