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Contrapunto Bestiale

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on August 12, 2012 - 6:51pm

Contrapunto Bestiale alla Mente
(the Animal Noise Song)

By Adriano Banchieri, for five voices (2 sopranos, alto, tenor, bass). The first and last sections are "falala"s, and in the middle each line imitates a different animal.

Sheet Music

We're using the sheet-music in the Big Lochac Snogbook (page 22).

Sound Files

There are numerous recordings online. Some performances are faithful to the music as written, some ham it up a great deal.

Computer-generated sound files to help learn parts:

The bass line, but an octave higher than normal, and an octave lower than normal.

The same, but at half speed:

See note below about S1 and S2 swapping parts on the final line.


  1. soprano - cuckoo - "cucu" - Caterine, Katherina (flute)
  2. soprano - owl - "chiu" - Eleanor (flute or voice), Anna
  3. alto - cat - "gnau"- Katherina, Catalina, Amalie
  4. tenor - dog - "babau"- William de Cameron
  5. bass - drunken bass - Emrys, William de Wyke

Note: in the original, the two "falala" sections are identical except that the first and second sopranos swap parts. We've been making them completely identical (i.e. on the last page, the soprano 1s move to the second line, and soprano 2s to the first, so that each is singing exactly what she sang on the first page).

St Johns, October 2012

We were lucky enough to have instruments as well as voices: thanks Elizabeth, Eszter and Julie.


August 26, 2012

Parts: 1 Caterine, 2 Eleanor (voice, this time), 3 Catalina, 4 William de Cameron, 5 William de Wyke / Katherina Weyssin

Just the first page (the falalas), but with three new singers: Catalina, Eleanor, and William de Wyke. Once again we were shaky at first, but solid and harmonious by the end of the session.

August 12, 2012

Parts: 1 Katherina (flute), 2 Eleanor (flute) and Anna, 3 Amalie, 4, William, 5 Emrys

The whole piece, all the way through, with all the parts, at last! As we'd predicted, it's much easier to keep time in the animal-noise section now that we have a bass (thanks, Emrys).

Our two soprano parts swap lines on the last fa-la-la section, so that each sings the same music as on the first page.

August 5, 2012

Parts: 1 -, 2 Eleanor (flute) and Anna, 3 Katherina, 4 William de Cameron, 5 ?

Anna, Katherina, William and Eleanor practiced this again the following Sunday. It's much improved, and we can now sing it all the way through - not perfectly, but better each time.

July 29, 2012

Parts: 1 Caterine, 2 Eleanor (flute), 3 Katherina, 4 William de Cameron, 5 ?

We got the first page of the animal noises working consistently and well, and tried the second page with some success. William, Eleanor and Katherina have learned the falalas (though we could use practice). We're still looking for a bass.

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