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Meaning of: Madrigal texts

The question was:
So many madrigals have numerous double entendre, a variety of
interpretations, and of course, language issues- Italian, French etc.
Has anyone done, or know of, a publication that offers at least one
persons interpretations and insights to some of the more familiar
madrigals? Would think it would be a popular resource if not- good
project for someone.

The actual responses are below but... quite a few people expressed
interest but as you can see there were few with input. I hope someone
will undertake this as a research task and publish it.

My own input is: In addition to the introductions in some madrigal texts
(Kings Singers is good) the LP version of their "Madrigal History Tour"
is also good.

Also- Research Memorandum Series #141, May 1986 is "Who's Who in
Arcadia" is a glossary of names and terms. Published by The American
Choral Foundation I believe now available through Chorus America.

Also... I went to to look up "Shakespeare Bawdy" as
recommended by Josh Jacobson and saw listed- "Renaissance Dramatic Bawdy
(Exclusive of Shakespeare an Annotated Glossary and Critical
Essays, 2 Vols)" James T. Henke, James Hogg (Editor); Paperback; price
currently unknown
(Usually ships in 4-6 weeks (but may not be available at all))
Anyone know it?

These are the responses- Thank you!

Bob Eaton
The books that go with the King's Singers' "Madrigal History Tour"
recordings have a brief summary of each piece in the front of the books.

It offers performance insights, translations, hidden meanings, etc. I
think that would be a good place to start.
There's a good book called, "Shakespeare's Bawdy" that will clue you in
some of the English-language puns.
You probably know this series already, but the eight volumes of The
Chester Book of Madrigals (Anthony Petti, editor) have good translations

and program notes for many madrigals. They are organized by topic (e.g.,

Animals, Love and Marriage, Drinking and Smoking, War, Dancing and
Singing, Place Names, etc.). They are paperbound, about $10-12 per copy,

and are published by Chester Music (agent: Music Sales). I believe they
were published in 1982, and they should still be in print.

You might also look at madrigal texts by Kerman, Roche, and others, as
well as the two volumes of King's Singers Madrigals published by Faber.
There is an older book on madrigals by Fellowes, but I believe it only
deals with English music. The three-volume edition of Alfred Einstein's
The Italian Madrigal may be out of print but is very helpful.

The Oxford Books of French Chansons and Italian Madrigals have excellent


Finally, compact disc recordings of madrigals often have informative
(e.g., Hilliard Ensemble, Cambridge Singers, King's Singers, I
Rooley's Consort of Musicke, etc.).

"The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that
sing the best." Henry David Thoreau

Dr. Robert P. Eaton....eatonrp(a)

Algonquin Regional High School, Northborough, MA

Assabet Valley Mastersingers