In Libro III (book 3) of Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela (1546), Alonso Mudarra (ca 1510 – 1580) presents a series of pieces with separate but aligned vocal and vihuela parts. To celebrate my experience with reading Mensural notation (see more detail in “Music with vocal and instrumental parts”), I am making two of the versos and two of the psalms available for free. The scores are available here.
A verso is simply a verse set to music.
“Regia qui mesto” is a lament for the death of Princess Mary Manuela of Portugal. View/listen to it on YouTube. In this recording, a clarinet is chosen to represent the vocal line and the vocal/instrumental phrasing matches the text in the first verse only (the phrasing should be changed based on the text in the next two verses).
“Beatus ille” is my favorite verso. It’s marked in his book to be played/sung at a moderate tempo. However, that sounded too much like a dirge so I listened to some recordings and found one at at quite a fast pace. Here it is at 200 bbm, more than twice as fast as Mudarra intended. I like it as the rhythms really stand out and are kind of off-kilter (i.e. short notes when you expect long notes, lots of notes on the off beats). A clarinet simulates playing the vocal part. Have fun listening to it on YouTube. Sorry, this one is not free and you’ll have to wait until I publish the book “Mudarra Favorites on the Ukulele (Books 4 and 5)” in about 10 days time.
“Dulces exuviae” is a setting of Dido’s final monologue from Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid. View/listen to it on YouTube. In this recording, a clarinet is chosen to represent the vocal line and the vocal/instrumental phrasing is the arranger’s interpretation (the phrasing should be changed based on the text). NOTE that this verse has been set to music by many composers, including Josquin des Prez, so when searching for other performances, make sure to include “Mudarra” in your search criteria, otherwise all the results will be the music of Josquin.
The Mudarra psalms are the first instrumental fabordones, or for voice and instrument. A fabordone or fauxbourdon is a musical technique of harmonization, or chant, used in the music of the end of the Moyen Age and the debut of the Renaissance. The monotony of parallel cords favors the understanding of the text in Latin.
“Nisi Dominus” is a setting of Psalm 126. View/listen to it on YouTube. A clarinet is used to simulate the vocal part.
“Exurge, quare obdormis” is a setting of Psalm 43, verses 23-24. View/listen to it on YouTube. A clarinet is used to simulate the vocal part.