What I Like About...
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
  Can vei la lauzeta mover (When I see the lark beating)
Bernart de Ventadorn (ca. 1150 - ca. 1180)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 1 Track 22

If this tune had a Latin text and were performed with a calm attitude it could easily fit into the Mass for Christmas Day. But, chant being an art of detail that ornaments words, the vernacular language and decidedly secular topic of the text here creates a sound clearly distinct from chant.

I would not describe Ventadorn's effort in this song as through-composed. The piece has a clear architecture that encourages the performer to imitate the sighs of those unlucky in love. Each musical line covers two lines of text. The first musical line goes up and holds as one would breath in and wait. But no, it is not to be, we let go and descend but hold on the fifth scale degree. Maybe it is possible, we assert the seventh and highest pitch of this song at the beginning of the next musical line. But no, it is not going to work, we are not optimistic and descend but not able to stop, we hold on the second scale degree. Perhaps if we return to that highest note...but there it is too much and we drop a fifth. ("...that I am astonished...") And still, unable to let go entirely, we hold on the second scale degree yet again. We start again but this time we are fatigued. We turn and descend to stop on the first scale degree.

What I like about this song is how well that formula works for different verses. The recording here presents only two verses, there are six more to go. I wonder what improvisations the early performers of this song may have indulged. 

<< Home
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

Read Also...
Music Reference Links
Links to Composers and Collaborations
Miscellaneous Links
What I Said About...