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Saturday, February 21, 2004
  Ballata: Non avra ma pieta
Francesco Landini (ca. 1325-1397)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 2 Tracks 8 and 9

Mr. Landini's cadence is as much a beginning as it is an ending. A listener of this chronology may be relieved to move away from the modest instrumentation, the parallel fifths, and tangles of voice crossings so frequent thus far. With the harmonic language evident in his ballata, Francesco encourages us to look forward to a music organized with as much attention to chords as to lines and a more complete segregation of consonance and dissonance.

The clarity of this petition to love is helped by the instrumentation. The voice crossings, kept to a minimum, do not confuse the listener because each voice has a unique timbre. More than that, the bowed string instrument provides not only a bass line but also a background. The plucked string instrument not only fills out the harmony but provides a middle ground. So the voice is then distinctly in the foreground. The elegant rises in melodic line are then in a good position to work their magic on love.

What I like about this tune is the moment the bass line and melodic line start a phrase on the same pitch. Because the two parts are kept well apart throughout, this moment comes across as a concentration of the pain our narrator is hoping to dispel. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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