02 March 2023

Novelty in late C16th

There's a reason why pop songs have vocals and a reason why we mix to make the vocals work above all else.  Because the voice is the core means of human expression in music.  It's pretty obvious but it hit me yesterday again when I heard AJ America sing Giulio Cassini with accompaniment from Arian Odermatt.  So beautiful and so touching.  It helped also that we had lyrics, in the original sung Italian and the English translation.  I understand Italian but probably wouldn't have followed the renaissance/baroque era lyrics.  Caccini is famous for his developments including monody (a term later applied) which featured a melody line with choral accompaniment (vs. earlier polyphony) and for early work leading to the recitative.  Perhaps for more.  It was enough that we got a string of love and other songs from Caccini and a few from Monteverdi.  Also a premiere Wesley performance of an Amarillo by Peter Philips on their virginal.  Very beautiful tones all around.  I asked Ariana about improvisation.  Again, yes all around.  If I understood correctly, Ariana played a chart with a figured bass with indicated harmony (the little numbers below the stave in this era of music) and AJ sang various embellishments on top of a melody and some written embellishments.  Whatever, there was variation and richness and context here.  But just the sheer beauty of the voice and those delicate instruments had it for me.  Such a lovely outing.

AJ America (mezzo-soprano) sang with accompaniment from Ariana Odermatt (harpsichord, virginal) at Wesley.

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