Musica reservata
In music history
Music history
Music history, sometimes called historical musicology, is the highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies the composition, performance, reception, and criticism of music over time...

, musica reservata (also musica secreta) is either a style or a performance practice in a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

vocal music of the latter half of the 16th century, mainly in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and southern Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, involving refinement, exclusivity, and intense emotional expression of sung text.

The exact meaning, which appears in scattered contemporary sources, is a matter of debate among musicologists
Musicology is the scholarly study of music. The word is used in narrow, broad and intermediate senses. In the narrow sense, musicology is confined to the music history of Western culture...

. While some of the sources are contradictory, four aspects seem clear:
  1. musica reservata involved use of chromatic
    Chromaticism is a compositional technique interspersing the primary diatonic pitches and chords with other pitches of the chromatic scale. Chromaticism is in contrast or addition to tonality or diatonicism...

     progressions and voice-leading, a manner of composing which became fashionable in the 1550s, both in madrigal
    Madrigal (music)
    A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

    s and motet
    In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

  2. it involved a style of performance, perhaps with extra ornamentation or other emotive methods; la concha
  3. it used word-painting, i.e. use of specific and recognizable musical figures to illuminate specific words in the text; and
  4. the music was designed to be performed by, and appreciated by, small groups of connoisseurs.

Composers in the style of musica reservata included Nicola Vicentino
Nicola Vicentino
Nicola Vicentino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most visionary musicians of the age, inventing, among other things, a microtonal keyboard, and devising a practical system of chromatic writing two hundred years before the rise of equal...

, who wrote about it in his L'antica musica ridotta alla moderna prattica (1555); Philippe de Monte
Philippe de Monte
Philippe de Monte , sometimes known as Philippus de Monte, was a Flemish composer of the late Renaissance. He was a member of the 3rd generation madrigalists and wrote more madrigals than any other composer of the time...

, the prolific composer of madrigals who mainly worked in Vienna; and above all, Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...

, the renowned and versatile composer working in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 whose Prophetiae Sibyllarum, probably written in the 1560s, may represent the peak of development of the style. The chord
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

 progression which begins the Prophetiae Sibyllarum is jarring even to ears accustomed to 20th century music: the opening chords are C major - G major - B major - C# minor - E major - F# minor, all in root position, sung to the text: "Carmina chromatico, quae audis modulata tenore" -- "chromatic songs, which you hear to be gracefully performed" or "chromatic songs, which you hear to have a modulating tenor" (a pun in Latin).

The style of musica reservata, with its implication of a highly refined, perhaps manneristic
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

 style of composition and performance along with a very small audience, is reminiscent both of the ars subtilior
Ars subtilior
Ars subtilior is a musical style characterized by rhythmic and notational complexity, centered around Paris, Avignon in southern France, also in northern Spain at the end of the fourteenth century. The style also is found in the French Cypriot repertory...

 of the Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 group of composers of the late 14th century, and also perhaps some of the contemporary avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 classical music of the late 20th century. The style can also be compared to the Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo
Carlo Gesualdo
Carlo Gesualdo, known as Gesualdo di Venosa or Gesualdo da Venosa , Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, was an Italian nobleman, lutenist, composer, and murderer....

's chromatic madrigals and motets a few decades later.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.