False relations in the late Renaissance


1 [01:43] Gioseffo Zarlino, Le Istitutioni Harmoniche (Venice, 1558), part III, Cap 30-31 [imslp].

2 [03:00] Philippe Verdelot, “Con soave parlar”, Il secondo libro de madrigali (Venice, 1536). Modern edition by Jessie Ann Owens, vol. 28, no. 9 (Garland, 1989).

3 [03:30] Anon., "Barafostus' Dreame", Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (MS, ca. 1562-1612), vol. 1, p. 72 in modern edition [imslp]. Note: the F-sharp on the second bar is editorial; it was included to demonstrate the very common case of a phrase ending in major and then a new phrase starting in minor and thus creating a false relation. Moreover, in other variations (both in this piece and in Thomas Tomkins’ version) the F-sharp is explicitly written.

4 [06:00] William Byrd, "Ave verum corpus", Gradualia ac cantiones sacrae Liber 1 (1605 or before, London). Various modern editions on imslp.

5 [07:38] Thomas Tallis, "O nata lux", Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (Tallis/Byrd) (London, 1575). Various editions on cpdl.

6 [09:55] Thomas Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practical Musicke (London, 1597) [imslp], p. 96 [first ed.].

7 [10:35] “I haue set downe a kinde of closing (because of your selfe you coulde not haue discerned it) from which I would haue you aItogether abstaine,for it is an vnpleasant and harsh musicke. And though it hath much pleased divers of our descanters in times paft, and beene received as currant amongst others of latter time : yet hath it euer beene condemned of the moft skilfull here in England, and fcoffed at amongft strangers.” Morley, p. 96 [first ed.] [imslp].

8 [10:50] Morley, p. 156 [first ed.] [imslp].

9 [11:45] Morley, p. 156 [first ed.] [imslp]. Notice that Morley does not write explicitly that “in such cadences the voice that contradicts the cantizans with its unaltered note is often the fifth voice added in addition to the standard cadential components”, but according to my understanding it is implied.

10 [12:00] The two excerpts are shown in the video: Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations, part I, and Nicolas Gombert’s Haec Dies. Taken from Peter Urquhart, "Cross-Relations by Franco-Flemish Composers after Josquin", in Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, Deel 43, No. 1(1993), pp. 3-41.

11 [12:15] See for example Vincent Arlettaz, Musica ficta: une histoire des sensibles du XIIIe au XVIe siècle (2000) [English summary here], who suggests that in the Franco-Flemish repertoire the use of ficta in cadences was much less than we nowadays think.

12 [13:20] See our episode about Artusi and Monteverdi.

13 [14:00] Claudio Monteverdi, “Lamento d’Arianna” (part II), 6th book of Madrigals (Venice, 1616) [imslp].

14 [14:56] Although there very few basso continuo figures in Monteverdi’s Orfeo, it is mostly unfigured. Read more about it in Elam Rotem, Early Basso Continuo Practice: Implicit Evidence in the Music of Emilio de' Cavalieri, PhD (University of Würzburg, 2017) [link], 64.

15 [15:07] Claudio Monteverdi, L’Orfeo (Venice, 1609), second act [imslp].

16 [15:15] See our episode Durum & Molle in the Renaissance.

17 [16:30] [UPDATE 12/09/2019:] Only the performance by Garrido (1996) had a sharp sixth played on that moment. None of the other public recordings that we examined (24 in number) had a sharp sixth played on that moment; Recordings that had a natural sixth played on that moment includes Hindemith (1954), Wenzinger (1955), Rogers (1984), Corboz (1986), Gardiner (1987), Pickett (1992), Jugens (1995), Vartolo (1997), Savall (2002), Haim (2004), Tucker (2005), Cavina (2007), Gini (2007), Alessandrini (2007), Parrott (2013), Agnew (2017), Gosta (2017), Florio (2018); Recordings that had a tasto solo played on that moment (that is, only the bass is played), or that the 6 was avoided includes Koch (1949), Harnoncourt (1978), Toth (1993), Malgoire (2005), Stepner (2008); The only recording that had a 3/5 chord is Jacobs (1995). Comments: This list includes CD recordings as well as live recordings (youtube), and was compiled with the help of Danur Kvilhaug (thank you!). The years of the recordings sometimes refer to the publishing or republishing of the recording, so it is not always the actual recording date.

Extra note: Probably the only basso continuo treatise that mentions the phenomenon is Mr. Blow's "Rules for playing a Thorough Bass" (Ms British Museum Add. 34072; Arnold. p. 163 - 172) .


Created by Elam Rotem.

Special thanks to Anne Smith, Alon Schab, and Danur Kvilhaug.