The Cambridge Companion to Monteverdi - edited by John Whenham December Psalm Laetatus sum ( Vespers). Claudio Monteverdi. Show performers. COMPOSER: Claudio Monteverdi. More from this artist. Claudio Monteverdi. For Laetatus sum (“I was glad”), Psalm , Monteverdi scores a remarkable bass–line that skips along during the declamation of the first part of each.


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Song of the steps of David.

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: In domum Domini ibimus. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into laetatus sum monteverdi house of the Lord.

Laetatus sum, SV 199 (Monteverdi, Claudio)

Stantes erant pedes nostri: Our feet were standing within thy gates, O Jerusalem Coming home to Jerusalem means coming home to the very center of faith—in the original Jewish sense, to the Temple and in the Christian exegesis of the psalms, coming home to God.

Laetatus sum I was glad is the very motto of the psalm, and Monteverdi turns it into a cue word for his entire concertato composition. From then on, it was no longer the traditional bass melodies, but extremely short formulas that laetatus sum monteverdi fashionable as ostinato patterns in concertato composition.

Laetatus sum monteverdi new models partly arise from the rhythmic walking bass, appearing as extremely short and oft-repeated reductions of the lengthier early patterns.

Laetatus sum I (Monteverdi) - from CDA - Hyperion Records - MP3 and Lossless downloads

But they also can be traced back to the sixteenth-century dance patterns and bass melodies, which, on the one hand, could be broken down into a combination of tetrachords and cadential formulas, and on the other, offered rudimentary chord models that crystallized into melodically and harmonically fixed formulas in the course of the s.

The Laetatus sum a 5 istrumenti, et 6 voci is a large-scale psalm setting in which three vocal duets alternate in concertato interplay with five instruments over repetitions of an ultra-short ostinato, which is no more than a simple I-IV-V-I cadence Example 3.

The four notes of the ostinato correspond exactly to the beginning of the bass melody see Example 2 ; Monteverdi simply extracted the opening cadence for his later psalm setting and repeated it in a veritable tour de force.

Thus, both the four-note ostinato formula and the affect of the entire psalm setting appear as a concentration of the version, epitomized by the compression of the long bass melody into four notes.

The almost obsessive reiteration of the simple cadential formula illustrates the compositional challenge that a reduction of earlier, lengthy bass melodies laetatus sum monteverdi In Laetatus laetatus sum monteverdi a 5 istrumenti, et 6 voci Monteverdi met this self-imposed challenge by varying the vocal-instrumental combinations from verse to verse including introducing the bassoon as a concertizing instrumentby changing the meter for verses 8 and 9, by abruptly interrupting the ostinato at the Gloria Patri, and by constantly varying the rhythmic values of the declamation, the textures, and the interplay of voices and instruments.


Thus, the danger of monotony is overcome, despite the endless reiteration of the cadential formula and the concomitant harmonic uniformity. But compositional technique is only one aspect of these compositions; working with ostinato laetatus sum monteverdi in vocal music is first and foremost a question of affect translated into music.

In many instances, there appears to be a clear link between the choice of a certain ostinato formula and the affect the musical section in question represents.

The most significant, laetatus sum monteverdi affective, feature of the pattern is its strong harmonic direction, reinforced by stepwise melody, steady, unarticulated rhythm, and brevity.

Claudio Monteverdi: Laetatus Sum | Kurt Nemes' Classical Music Almanac

Harmonically, it suggests one of two possible realizations, either a modal sequence of root position triads or a more tonal succession involving two first-inversion triads: I, v6, iv6, V.

Denial of these tonal implications creates a frustration of expectation and results in a heightening of tension. Its strongly laetatus sum monteverdi configuration, emphasizing two of the most crucial degrees of the mode, invokes the full range laetatus sum monteverdi somber affects traditionally associated with minor since the Renaissance, and, in its unremitting descent, its gravity, the pattern offers an analogue of obsession, perceptible as an expression of hopeless suffering.


Ellen Rosand and Thomas Walker show that originally composers made little distinction between the major and minor forms of the descending fourth. Their systematic use laetatus sum monteverdi combination with certain textual affects in the early seventeenth century inscribed the cadence formulas with specific emotional associations.

They became a compositional tradition that remained valid far into the eighteenth century and is still and quite frequently found in contemporary film music, a musical genre that relies strongly on the explicit signification of certain emotions.

In addition, an intermediate stage between the second and third categories 2b comprises ostinato patterns that result as by-products of the concertato interplay between short phrases in the upper voices and instruments.


This intermediate form is a primarily structural phenomenon that nevertheless has expressive implications. There are a considerable number of both vocal and instrumental compositions built on the ciaccona bass in the s through the s, but compositions built on other short ostinato formulas are rarer.

This composition has an English counterpart, the anonymous O Death, Rock Me Asleep, using a three-note ostinato redolent of a death knell, made up of laetatus sum monteverdi ascending minor third and a descending minor second.

His Lamento della ninfa, however, illustrates the kind of inventio needed in the art of ostinato composition when the bass formula consists of two, three, or four notes.

As shown with Laetatus sum a 5 istrumenti, et 6 voci above, a composition with short laetatus sum monteverdi formulas challenges the composer to overcome the problem of the square-cut harmonic frame of the ostinato pattern in order to create a convincing setting laetatus sum monteverdi the literary affect represented by the bass formula.

Its frame is a madrigalistic structure with two tenors and a bass voice setting the scene.