CHAPTER VII
BIRTH OF DRAMATIC RECITATIVE

AT the moment when the young Florentines began their experiments in the field of simplified solo song, which led them to the creation of the modern opera, the musical wealth of Italy possessed a value and an extent too easily underestimated. The music of the church was chiefly ornate polyphony; the chant was decorated with prolonged vocal flourishes, in which the form and spirit of the ancient jubili were preserved. This species of chant was not without its effect on the young explorers of the dramatic world, and their operas contain many pages of recitative constructed upon precisely the same musical lines as those found in these solemn intonations of the sanctuary.

Side by side with this ecclesiastic music flourished the secular song, which was written in the madrigal and allied forms, sung sometimes by four or five voices, sometimes by only one, with the other parts played on instruments. This

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