Front cover image for Monteverdi's tonal language

Monteverdi's tonal language

Claudio Monteverdi's sixty-year compositional career spans one of the most crucial junctures in Western music. Laying the groundwork for harmonic tonality - the pervasive musical language of Western culture until the twentieth century - Monteverdi's break with the self-contained harmonic world of the Renaissance and his confident assertion of human rationality and order through music was a crucial contribution to the emergence of the Baroque style. Monteverdi's Tonal Language is a provocative new examination of the theoretical issues surrounding the emergence of early seventeenth-century tonality combined with systematic analysis of a wide range of Monteverdi's secular works. Eric Chafe argues that the composer's music was rooted in a strong sense of musical logic and a secure grasp of tonality combined with Monteverdi's assertion that music should be dominated by allegory. Chafe offers a new framework for understanding the complex historical style and systematic features of the tonal language of Monteverdi's time and the composer's particular version of it. Building on Carl Dahlhaus's analysis of emerging tonality in Monteverdi's madrigals, Chafe expands the scope of the "modal-hexachordal" system rooted in the composer's work at the time of his fourth and fifth madrigal books. In addition to covering text-music relationships of a large and representative amount of Monteverdi's music, Chafe discusses several unexplored areas crucial to any understanding of the composer's tonal language. The two madrigals "Cor mio, mentre vi miro" (from Book Four) and "O Mirtillo" (from Book Five) illustrate the theoretical features of early seventeenth-century tonality. Chafe examines the pronounced sense of tonal clarity that distinguishes the Fourth Book of Madrigals, and he articulates the tonal styles Monteverdi used as organizing criteria in the Fifth Book. In subsequent chapters he demonstrates how the characteristic devices of Orfeo emerge as basic properties of the "modal-hexachordal" system, and discusses Monteverdi's creation of ordered reality in Il Ballo delle in grate and the "Lamento d'Arianna." He further argues that the Sixth Book symbolized the interaction of polyphonic madrigal and monody, and demonstrates convincingly that the Seventh Book was a milestone in Monteverdi's creative development, assuming the characteristics that marked his later tonal style. In the Eighth Book the composer set forth a manifesto for the allegorical nature of Baroque music; Il ritorno d'Ulisse un patria is a mature working out of the potential of tonal allegory. Finally in the last three chapters, Chafe discusses the tonal-allegorical framework, aspects of musical characterization, and questions of authenticity in Monteverdi's last opera, L'incoronazione di Poppea
Print Book, English, ©1992
Schirmer Books, New York, ©1992
Criticism, interpretation, etc
xviii, 442 pages : tables, music ; 25 cm
9780028704951, 0028704959
Introduction: tonality and "word"
Mode and system
Analytical questions: two madrigals compared
The fourth book of madrigals (1603)
The fifth book of madrigals (1605)
The tonal structure of Orfeo (1607)
Il Ballo delle ingrate and the "Lamento d'Arianna" (1608)
The sixth book of madrigals (1614)
Concerto: the seventh book of madrigals (1619)
The eighth book: Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi (1638)
Tonal allegory in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (1640)
Tonal allegory and the authenticity question in L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642)
L'incoronazione di Poppea: the tonal-allegorical framework
L'incoronazione di Poppea: aspects of musical characterization
The quadro sign in seventeenth-century music
A madrigal by Pietro Eredia and Giovanni Battista Doni