By Susan McClary

During this e-book, Susan McClary examines the mechanisms by which seventeenth-century musicians simulated severe affective states—desire, divine rapture, and ecstatic excitement. She demonstrates how each significant style of the interval, from opera to non secular tune to instrumental items in line with dances, used to be a part of this striving for heightened passions via performers and listeners. whereas she analyzes the social and historic purposes for the excessive price put on expressive depth in either secular and sacred track, and he or she additionally hyperlinks hope and enjoyment to the numerous technical recommendations of the interval. McClary exhibits how musicians—whether operating in the contexts of the Reformation or Counter-Reformation, Absolutists courts or advertisement organizations in Venice—were capable of control identified methods to supply extensively new methods of experiencing time and the Self.

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Sample text

5). When the voice enters, the bass tries to repeat its easy confirmation of tonic, and at m. 8 both parts appear poised for cadence; one has only to allow the voice to descend to B and we’d be off and running toward the next goal. But instead the bass veers off to Dá (leading tone to an implied E), driving the voice up to cry out “proud Love” in its high register. With the reappearance of Aá in the voice and Fá in the bass in m. 12, we seem once again on the brink of closure on B. This time, however, the melody refuses to comply with the powerful arrival in the continuo.

But it all starts here—with the pitting of cadential harmonies against their own fundamental tendencies. A pattern that arouses the expectation for immediate closure produces a spark of energy that a composer can harness for ever-greater extension. That desire for closure—indeed, the assumption that it always lies nearly within our grasp—cannot be allowed to dissipate; it has to be channeled by means of middle-level tactics such as the ones just discussed until closure is truly granted. Note that the cadential premise always announces itself with the appearance of the leading tone, signaling the arrival on melodic 2 that is poised to descend to 1.

I have trudged laboriously through these few bars in order to tease out how Caccini wields the leading tone—and, more important, his other harmonic options—for the purpose of inflecting his melody, most of which remains identical with the generating modal line. He did not write “Amarilli, mia bella” as a theory exercise, however. His melody line flirts and teases, always stopping short just before divulging its secret, each time starting all over again at D but shading its approach differently.

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Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music by Susan McClary
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