JOHN DOWLAND AND THE ELIZABETHANS
IT HAS ALREADY BEEN pointed out that a cause of the sudden decline of polyphonic music in Italy was the search for a more dramatic mode of expression, which was discovered in the declamatory style of Monteverdi, and we have traced the gradual crystallization of diatonic harmony, which gave to Monteverdi's declamation its distinctive character, in spite of lingering traces of the modes. Yet another influence towards the change that occurred at the beginning of the seventeenth century was the improvement of musical instruments. Although it is quite clear that both sacred and secular music had for a long time been accompanied by instruments of various kinds, these accompaniments were in no way independent. They merely supported the voices and may be described, in modern terminology, as being ad libitum. Towards the end of the sixteenth century we find an increasing tendency to use viols to support the voices in madrigal-singing, and it is quite clear that madrigals were sometimes sung by a solo voice accompanied by viols, which played the remaining parts. Byrd's third set of madrigals, published in 1611, is described on the title-page as being "fit for voyces or viols," from which one may infer that they could be treated as instrumental pieces.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find developing concurrently with the madrigal in England what we must call, in default of a better name, the art-song. Solo songs--folk-songs, ballads, and so on--had, of course, been in existence all along, and had, as we have had occasion to observe, supplied composers with material for Masses as well as for madrigals. Indeed, if the latest researches of Mr. Arnold Dolmetsch are to be credited, we must antedate the conscious com
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Publication information: Book title: A Musical Companion:A Guide to the Understanding and Enjoyment of Music. Contributors: John Erskine - Editor. Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1935. Page number: 284.
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