kitty Brazelton writing music NYU, History of Music Humanities, Columbia hit the books

Listening Assignment - Late Renaissance Text-Painting
English Madrigal by Thomas Weelkes

"As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending"

(published 1601 in The Triumphs of Oriana, madrigal anthology for Elizabeth I)

by Thomas Weelkes (c. 1575-1623)

As Vesta was from Latmos Hill descending,

She spied a maiden Queen the same ascending,

Attended on by all the shepherd's swain;

To whom Diana's darlings came running down amain

First two by two, then three by three together

Leaving their Goddess all alone, hasted thither;

And mingling with the shepherds of her train,

With mirthful tunes her presence did entertain.

Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana:

Long live fair Oriana!

  1. TEXT: Who is Vesta? Who is the Queen? Who is Diana? Who is "the Goddess"? What exactly is going on in the above text?! Why is it the subject of such a song? Where would this piece have been heard and by whom?

  2. RHYTHM: What is the meter? the subdivision? Does the tempo remain the same throughout? Are there any noticeable rhythmic surprises (syncopation, hockets, etc.)?

  3. HARMONY: Where are the cadences? The harmony is generally pretty modern and tonal in this madrigal–is there anything that sticks out as strange to you? (Maybe not.)

  4. Can you assess an identifiable FORM–in the sense of repetition of musical materials? Or would you have to say the madrigal is unique and "through-composed"?

  5. MORE TEXT: Please mark in your text above, all the instances you can find, of TEXT-PAINTING or MADRIGALISM (= when the music deliberately illustrates the text). Please note how MELODY, TEXTURE, HARMONY, TIMBRE, DYNAMICS/EXPRESSION (and any other parameters you can muster) are all put into the service of the extramusical illustration.