Carlo Gesualdo was one of the main composers of the late Renaissance period. Many of his madrigals show his preference of modern poems used as the lyrics as well as his use of musical textures to show emotions, images, etc. His madrigal Quel “no” crudel que la mia speme ancise embodies pretty much all of Gesualdo’s musical traits as well musical traits seen throughout the late Renaissance.
In Quel “no” crudel que la mia speme ancise, Gesualdo’s musical traits are very present. The piece has sudden contrasts between slow rhythms and fast rhythms. For example the beginning starts off very slow (half-notes and quarter notes not moving at a fast tempo at all) and then suddenly brakes into eighth notes at a much quicker tempo. He used this technique to isolate striking words in the poem to create a “musical image” for the listener (History of Western Music page 255). There are also contrasts between diatonic and chromatic passages and dissonance and consonance within the work, which are both traits of Gesualdo and of the late Renaissance.
Compared to Gesualdo’s other piece “Io parto” e non piu dissi, there are many similarities and differences between the two pieces. “Io parto” e non piu dissi exhibits contrast between dissonances, harmonies, and rhythm, while Quel “no” crudel que la mia speme ancise only touches on rhythm and dissonances. There are many similarities though. Both have sharp contrasts of rhythm throughout as well as Gesualdo’s use of text painting.
I wanted to do a piece by Gesualdo because I find him so interesting as a composer. He an oddity among composers because he was an aristocrat and he also was a murderer! I also like Gesualdo’s use of text painting in his compositions and I came across this piece while looking up pieces by him. I enjoyed this piece especially because you never knew what was going to happen next with the rhythms.
Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, New York). 2010.
“Carlo Gesualdo - Sesto libro di madrigali: XVI. Quel "No" crudel que la mia speme ancise.” Youtube video. Posted by “EtaCarinae2010.” Uploaded April 13, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6l4_TVGGoQ