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Madrigal, Italian Madrigal, Madrigal Proper


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Italian Verse

The Madrigal, sometimes called the Italian Madrigal, began as both a poetic and musical form in 14th century Italy, love poems set to music. As a verse form it has evolved, the shape of the frame changing from the 14th to the 16th centuries. As a "musical form" it selects various verse forms such as the sonnet, balatta or the canzone to frame its lyrics. This is probably why the definition of the frame can vary from source to source. Also see the English Madrigal.

The elements of the earliest Madrigals as framed by Petrarch and others of his time were:

  1. stanzaic, written in any number of couplets or tercets (Petrarch wrote his Madrigals in octaves.) and ending with a rhymed ritornello couplet. The ritornello is written with rhyme and rhythm in contrast to the rest of the piece and is similar to a congregation responding in verse to a recitation by a priest.
  2. syllabic, Itallianate lines (random 7-11 syllable lines)
  3. rhymed with no set rhyme scheme.

    Madrigal I by Francesco Petrarch (frame is a bit skewed, the translator wrote this in iambic pentameter rather than Italianate lines and the rhyme scheme could also be the choice of the translator)

    Non al suo amante piu Diana piacque.
    Not Dian to her lover was more dear,
    When fortune 'mid the waters cold and clear,
    Gave him her naked beauties all to see,
    Than seem'd the rustic ruddy nymph to me,
    Who, in yon flashing stream, the light veil laved,
    Whence Laura's lovely tresses lately waved;
    I saw, and through me felt an amorous chill,
    Though summer burn, to tremble and to thrill.

  • Madrigal Proper of the 16th century is also known an Italian Madrigal. The elements of the Madrigal Proper are:
    1. a single strophe of approximately 12 lines, give or take a line or two.
    2. syllabic, Italianate lines (random 7-11 syllable lines)
    3. rhymed in no set pattern although "feminine rhyme is a consistent feature". NPEOPP
    4. usually ended in a rhymed couplet.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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