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Monday, October 17, 2016

How to sing Ariosto's poetry


Reading Ariosto -- as well as "other" Renaissance authors -- is a charming experience, and even more charming is having an opportunity to listen to his verses sung as they were in his own times. These street performances were so important that, at least on one occasion, Ariosto himself changed the text in order to have it match the way it had become popular. In fact, the very first line in canto 25 of Orlando Furioso had been written as: È gran contrasto in giovenil pensiero, but people, especially kids, tended to sing it modified into a better cantabile: Oh gran contrasto in giovenil pensiero, and this became the definitive version.

Thanks to a dear cyberfriend, the great expert and performer of Medieval & Renaissance music Matteo Zenatti (see his G+ profile) it has been possible to retrieve some passages of the poem sung as they used to be in the 16th century, plus a selected bibliography on this subject.
The passages can be listened to here and here. 

Balsamo, Maria Antonietta, L'Ariosto, la musica e i musicisti, Florence: Olschki, 1981.
Bronzini, Giovanni Battista, Tradizioni di stile aedico dai cantari al "Furioso," Florence: Olschki, 1956.
Cardona, Giorgio Raimondo, "Culture dell'oralità e culture della scrittura," in the Einaudi collection Letteratura italiana.