O Vos Omnes Gesualdo

O Vos Omnes Gesualdo

O Vos Omnes

O Vos Omnes, written in 1603 with revisions until 1611, is a 5/6-voice motet by Carlo Gesualdo. The piece abounds with the stark and seemingly unprepared dissonance that Gesualdo employed throughout his life. While Gesualdo is most known for his 6 books of Italian madrigals, he also wrote serveral sets of responsories and two sets of Sacrae Cantiones.  

Analysis Edit

The piece begins with a subdued lengthy C major chord, but the overall tone of the piece is set very quickly, as the second chord is an unexpected A major. The work then begins to move in fairly homophonic motion. The first section of the piece (O vos omnes qui transitis attendite per viam) remains homophonic with generally long rhythms. The texture of the piece becomes more polyphonic and increasingly more chromatic at the text si est dolor sicut dolor meus which translates, If there be any sorrow like my sorrow. The pain of the text is clearly heard as the voices begin to intermingle in what becomes highly chromatic movements. This can clearly be seen in measures 21-25. Measures 26-30 increase in chromatic activity, becoming even more torrid. This is most prevalent in the alto line in measures 28-30. 


Itene o miei sospiri is a five voice madrigal from Gesualdo’s fifth book of madrigals published in 1611. The work is typical of Gesualdo’s madrigal style. It differs from his sacred compositions such as the O Vos Omnes in several ways. While the overal chromatic language is very similar across all of Gesualdo’s compositions, the heavy use of text painting found is the madrigal is not so prevalent in the O Vos Omnes

Observations Edit

I chose this piece because it features Gesualdo’s signature dissonant and chromatic style with a sacred and meaningful text. Each of Gesualdo’s sacred responses seem to spring from a place of piety and devotion. They carry a weight and heaviness that is not heard as powerfully in the secular madrigals. 

Works Cited Edit

Lorenzo Bianconi. "Gesualdo, Carlo, Prince of Venosa, Count of Conza." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 24, 2014,

Clough, John. "The Leading Tone in Direct Chromaticism: From Renaissance to Baroque ." Journal of Music Theory . no. 1 (1957): 2-21. (accessed February 22, 2014).

Link to Score

“O Vos Omens Gesualdo.” YouTube Video. 3:31. Posted by MrGrazy74. Uploaded on June 12, 2012.