Singing Books: Words Or Music

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 19:30
Contact person
Dr Cristina Neagu
01865 276265
Concert / Performance

The second in a series of four concert-talks hosted by Christ Church Library,”Words Or Music” presents forty minutes of madrigals and discussion exposing the complex relationship between text and harmony in the history of the madrigal. 

Over the course of the sixteenth century, the madrigal was a bellwether for changing approaches in Italian and English composers’ use of harmony and text-setting. Contemporary critics such as Artusi argued that these changes were driven by the relationship between text and music, later composers focusing on words leading music as opposed to a perceived earlier trend of composers writing with the music in charge of the text.

In practice, both of these relationships are interrupted when words are removed or changed, as is the case for many of the works in the Christ Church collection. To what extent, then, is a work still a madrigal when its words are removed? What is more important, a work’s text or its music? These questions will be asked, and a variety of ways of answering them will be approached, along with the premiere of a new madrigal composed on Wendy Cope’s “The Orange”.

The talk and concert, delivered by Chris Cottell (Graduate Trainee Librarian) and friends, will take place on the 19th March at 19:30. It complements the exhibition Singing Books: Text, Object and Song in the International Madrigal open in the Upper Library from 8th March to 22nd June 2018.


Attendence at previous events is not necessary to enjoy this talk.