Monody

Monody

Overview

In poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death. (In the context of ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language until the 4th century.- Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity :...

, monody, could simply refer to lyric poetry sung by a single performer, rather than by a chorus
Greek chorus
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

.)

In music, monody has two meanings: 1) it is sometimes used as a synonym for monophony
Monophony
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...

, a single solo line, in opposition to homophony
Homophony
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...

 and polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

; and 2) in music history, it is a solo vocal style distinguished by having a single melodic
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 line and instrumental accompaniment.
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In poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, the term monody has become specialized to refer to a poem in which one person laments another's death. (In the context of ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature
Ancient Greek literature refers to literature written in the Ancient Greek language until the 4th century.- Classical and Pre-Classical Antiquity :...

, monody, could simply refer to lyric poetry sung by a single performer, rather than by a chorus
Greek chorus
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

.)

In music, monody has two meanings: 1) it is sometimes used as a synonym for monophony
Monophony
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...

, a single solo line, in opposition to homophony
Homophony
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...

 and polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

; and 2) in music history, it is a solo vocal style distinguished by having a single melodic
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 line and instrumental accompaniment. Although such music is found in various cultures throughout history, the term is specifically applied to Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 song of the early 17th century, particularly the period from about 1600 to 1640. The term is used both for the style and for individual songs (so one can speak both of monody as a whole as well as a particular monody). The term itself is a recent invention of scholars: no composer of the 17th century ever called a piece a monody. Compositions in monodic form might be called madrigals
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

, motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s, or even concerto
Concerto
A concerto is a musical work usually composed in three parts or movements, in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have originated from the conjunction of the two Latin words...

s (in the earlier sense of "concertato
Concertato
Concertato is a term in early Baroque music referring to either a genre or a style of music in which groups of instruments or voices share a melody, usually in alternation, and almost always over a basso continuo...

", meaning "with instruments").

In monody, which developed out of an attempt by the Florentine Camerata
Florentine Camerata
The Florentine Camerata was a group of humanists, musicians, poets and intellectuals in late Renaissance Florence who gathered under the patronage of Count Giovanni de' Bardi to discuss and guide trends in the arts, especially music and drama...

 in the 1580s to restore ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 ideas of melody and declamation (probably with little historical accuracy), one solo voice sings a melodic part, usually with considerable ornamentation
Ornament (music)
In music, ornaments or embellishments are musical flourishes that are not necessary to carry the overall line of the melody , but serve instead to decorate or "ornament" that line. Many ornaments are performed as "fast notes" around a central note...

, over a rhythmically independent bass line. Accompanying instruments could be lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

, chitarrone, theorbo
Theorbo
A theorbo is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second pegboxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the French théorbe des pièces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angélique or angelica. The etymology of the name...

, harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

, organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

, and even on occasion guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

. While some monodies were arrangements for smaller forces of the music for large ensembles which was common at the end of the 16th century, especially in the Venetian School, most monodies were composed independently. The development of monody was one of the defining characteristics of early Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 practice, as opposed to late Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 style, in which groups of voices sang independently and with a greater balance between parts.

Other musical streams which came together in the monody were the madrigal and the motet, both of which developed into solo forms after 1600 and borrowed ideas from the monody.

Contrasting passages in monodies could be more melodic or more declamatory: these two styles of presentation eventually developed into the aria
Aria
An aria in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. The term is now used almost exclusively to describe a self-contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment...

 and the recitative
Recitative
Recitative , also known by its Italian name "recitativo" , is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech...

, and the overall form merged with the cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

 by about 1635.

The parallel development of solo song with accompaniment in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 was called the air de cour
Air de cour
The Air de cour was a popular type of secular vocal music in France in the very late Renaissance and early Baroque period, from about 1570 until around 1650...

: the term monody is not normally applied to these more conservative songs, however, which retained many musical characteristics of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

.

An important early treatise on monody is contained in Giulio Caccini
Giulio Caccini
Giulio Caccini , also known as Giulio Romano, was an Italian composer, teacher, singer, instrumentalist and writer of the very late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was one of the founders of the genre of opera, and one of the single most influential creators of the new Baroque style...

's song collection, Le nuove musiche
Le nuove musiche
Le nuove musiche is a collection of monodies and songs for solo voice and basso continuo by the composer Giulio Caccini, published in Florence in July 1602. It is one of the earliest and most significant examples of music written in the early baroque style of the seconda pratica...

(Florence, 1601).

Main composers of monody

  • Vincenzo Galilei
    Vincenzo Galilei
    Vincenzo Galilei was an Italian lutenist, composer, and music theorist, and the father of the famous astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei and of the lute virtuoso and composer Michelagnolo Galilei...

     (1520–1591)
  • Giulio Caccini
    Giulio Caccini
    Giulio Caccini , also known as Giulio Romano, was an Italian composer, teacher, singer, instrumentalist and writer of the very late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was one of the founders of the genre of opera, and one of the single most influential creators of the new Baroque style...

     (c.1545 - 1618)
  • Emilio de' Cavalieri
    Emilio de' Cavalieri
    Emilio de' Cavalieri was an Italian composer, producer, organist, diplomat, choreographer and dancer at the end of the Renaissance era. His work, along with that of other composers active in Rome, Florence and Venice, was critical in defining the beginning of the musical Baroque era...

     (c.1550 - 1602)
  • Bartolomeo Barbarino
    Bartolomeo Barbarino
    Bartolomeo Barbarino was an Italian composer and singer of the early Baroque era. He was a virtuoso falsettist, and one of the most enthusiastic composers of the new style of monody.-Life:...

     (? - c.1617)
  • Jacopo Peri
    Jacopo Peri
    Jacopo Peri was an Italian composer and singer of the transitional period between the Renaissance and Baroque styles, and is often called the inventor of opera...

     (1561–1633)
  • Claudio Monteverdi
    Claudio Monteverdi
    Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi – 29 November 1643) was an Italian composer, gambist, and singer.Monteverdi's work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the transition from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period. He developed two individual styles of composition – the...

     (1567–1643)
  • Alessandro Grandi
    Alessandro Grandi
    Alessandro Grandi was a northern Italian composer of the early Baroque era, writing in the new concertato style...

     (c.1575 - 1630)
  • Giovanni Pietro Berti (d. 1638)
  • Sigismondo d'India
    Sigismondo d'India
    Sigismondo d'India was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was one of the most accomplished contemporaries of Monteverdi, and wrote music in many of the same forms as the more famous composer.-Life:D'India was probably born in Palermo, Sicily in 1582, though...

     (c.1582 - 1629)
  • Claudio Saracini
    Claudio Saracini
    Claudio Saracini was an Italian composer, lutenist, and singer of the early Baroque era. He was one of the most famous and distinguished composers of monody.-Life:Saracini was born to a noble family, probably in Siena...

     (1586 - c.1649)
  • Benedetto Ferrari
    Benedetto Ferrari
    Benedetto Ferrari was an Italian composer, particularly of opera, librettist and theorbo player.Ferrari was born in Reggio nell'Emilia. He worked in Rome , Parma , and possibly in Modena at some time between 1623 and 1637. He created music and libretti in Venice and Bologna, 1637-44...

     (c.1603 - 1681)


See Texture (music)
Texture (music)
In music, texture is the way the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition , thus determining the overall quality of sound of a piece...