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Falsobordone is a style of recitation
Reciting tone
In chant, a reciting tone is a repeated musical pitch around which the other pitches of the chant gravitate, or by extension, the entire melodic formula that centers on one or two such pitches. In Gregorian chant, reciting tones are used for a number of contexts, including the chanting of psalm...

 found in music from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Most often associated with the harmonization of Gregorian
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

 psalm tones, it is based on root position triads
Triad (music)
In music and music theory, a triad is a three-note chord that can be stacked in thirds. Its members, when actually stacked in thirds, from lowest pitched tone to highest, are called:* the Root...

 and is first known to have appeared in southern Europe in the 1480s.

Falsobordoni are made up of two sections, each containing a recitation on one chord
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

, followed by a cadence
Cadence (music)
In Western musical theory, a cadence is, "a melodic or harmonic configuration that creates a sense of repose or resolution [finality or pause]." A harmonic cadence is a progression of two chords that concludes a phrase, section, or piece of music...

. Their usage was mostly intended for the singing of vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

 psalms, but falsobordone can also be found in Passions, Lamentations, reproaches
The Improperia are a series of antiphons and responses, expressing the remonstrance of Jesus Christ with His people.They are also known as the "Reproaches"....

, litanies
A litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Jewish worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions...

, psalms, responses
Response (liturgy)
A response is the second half of one of a set of preces, the said or sung answer by the congregation or choir to a versicle said or sung by an officiant or cantor...

, and settings of the Magnificat
The Magnificat — also known as the Song of Mary or the Canticle of Mary — is a canticle frequently sung liturgically in Christian church services. It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn...


Unlike the etymologically related but largely dissimilar fauxbourdon
Fauxbourdon – French for false bass – is a technique of musical harmonisation used in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, particularly by composers of the Burgundian School. Guillaume Dufay was a prominent practitioner of the form, and may have been its inventor...

, falsobordoni have all four vocal parts written out and chiefly use root position triads as opposed to first inversion triads.

Further reading

  • Bradshaw, Murray C. "The Falsobordone: a Study in Renaissance and Baroque Music", Musicological Studies and Documents, (1978).
  • Bradshaw, Murray C. The History of the Falsobordone from its Origins to 1750 (diss., U. of Chicago, 1969)