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Article

Isabel Pope and Paul R. Laird

(Sp., diminutive of villano: ‘peasant’)

A term first applied in the late 15th century to a Spanish vernacular musical and poetic form consisting of several stanzas (coplas) framed by a refrain (estribillo) at the beginning and end, giving an overall ABA structure. The number of stanzas varied, as did the number of times the estribillo was repeated between stanzas in performance. Originally derived from a medieval dance lyric of the virelai or ballata type and associated with rustic or popular themes, the villancico was extensively cultivated in secular polyphonic music of the late 15th century and the 16th. In the second half of the 16th century devotional and religious themes gained in importance and the form became used increasingly for sacred compositions in the vernacular which were introduced into the liturgy on feast days. In the 17th century it became more important than the Latin motet, and although its artistic quality rapidly declined in the 18th and 19th centuries it remained popular in both Spain and Latin America. Since then ‘villancico’ has come to mean simply ‘Christmas carol’....

Article

Donna G. Cardamone

[villanesca, canzone villanesca alla napolitana, aria napolitana, canzone napolitana, villanella alla napolitana] (It.)

A generic term applied at various times to popular songs that originated in Naples and flourished from about 1537 to about 1650.

The generic designation canzone villanesca alla napolitana (‘rustic song in the Neapolitan style’) was coined in Naples to mark the début in print of a local genre (RISM 15375). It was used consistently until 1565 to describe strophic songs for three or four voices in Neapolitan dialect that consciously imitated (or borrowed from) lyric traditions of the street and countryside. Venetian printers sometimes used the local equivalent, villotte alla napolitana, as a title or subtitle for their editions of villanesche. The term ‘villanella’ first appeared in the title of a Roman anthology (1555³0), but it was not applied regularly until the villanesca had been transformed by north Italian composers, who preferred the topos of pastoral life and a more refined diction. The terms ‘villanesca’, ‘villanella’ and ‘villotta’ were often used synonymously because of their similar etymological derivation from the Latin ...

Article

Frank Dobbins

(Fr., from It. villanella)

Rustic song. Cotgrave’s Dictionarie (1611) defines the word as ‘a country dance, round or song’. Like ‘villanesque’ it was transliterated from the Italian during the literary invasion of France around the middle of the 16th century to describe stanzaic verses in a pastoral vein, using simple language and refrains. An important link was provided by Ferrante Sanseverino, Princo of Salerno, who in 1544 captivated the ladies at the court of François I at Fontainebleau by singing canzoni napolitani with the guitar. On his return to Naples Sanseverino sponsored the falsettist Luigi Dentice and the poet-composers Vincenzo Fontana and G.B. da Nola who, along with Lassus, followed him to Rome. Exiled in France, Sanseverino served Henri II in various military adventures between 1552 and 1554, during which time the villanella became more fashionable in France. The first examples to appear in Parisian musical publications were Arcadelt’s three-voice La pastorella mia...

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Article

Villano  

Richard Hudson

(Sp.: ‘villain’, ‘peasant’; It. villan di Spagna)

A sung dance popular in Spain and Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries. Diego Sánchez de Badajoz mentioned it with the canary in the Farsa de Sancta Bárbara (in his Recopilación en metro, Seville, 1554), and Francisco de Salinas gave its melody in De musica libri septem (1577/R, p.296). There are numerous literary references from the 17th century, in works of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón and others. Its choreography was described by Esquivel in Discursos sobre el arte del dançado (1642/R); Briçeño, in his Método mui facilissimo (1626), provided guitar music and text for two examples, each with a two-line refrain and two four-line strophes. A manuscript in the Biblioteca Riccardiana ( I-Fr 2973 [III]) gives guitar chords for what appears to be a four-line refrain, but most refrain texts are similar to Briçeño’s first example:

Al villano que le dan...

Article

Donna G. Cardamone

(It.)

A type of polyphonic song based on a popular tune (or tunes) that originated in the Veneto in about 1520. A substantial repertory spread quickly to Lombardy, Tuscany and Rome, flourishing for about ten years in manuscript and in print. Thereafter villottas were usually published in small quantities within collections. The term is derived from the north Italian dialect word vilòte (‘peasant’), (see Italy, §II, 3). Printers sometimes used the terms ‘villotta’, ‘villanesca’ and ‘villanella’ interchangeably, although linguistic and musical distinctions can be drawn between them (see Villanella).

The earliest four-part arrangements of Italian tunes (‘proto-villottas’) were produced by Franco-Netherlanders active in Italy during the late 15th century (e.g. Obrecht's La tortorella and Compère's Che fa la ramacina). These composers and some Italians of the next generation developed styles of text-setting that have strong affinities with the ‘new’ chanson and chanson rustique, such as points of imitation on declamatory themes, rapid alternation of voice pairs and homorhythmic, chordal textures. Michele Pesenti established a model for the contrapuntal villotta in which fragments of the tune, normally placed intact in the tenor, permeate the other voices (e.g. in ...

Article

Virelai  

Nigel Wilkins

One of the three formes fixes (the others are the ballade and the rondeau) that dominated French song and poetry in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its musical structure is essentially ABBA, regardless of subtleties of rhythm and metre in the superimposed text. The virelai form has a long and complex history, closely interwoven with the general history of early song and dance.

Convincing studies suggest a line of descent from 11th-century Arabic song forms in north Africa and Spain, the ‘mūwashshah–zajal’ types. They would in turn have influenced Provençal troubadour song structures and by the 12th century also Old French song forms further north. These would then have persisted in France and also have been a dominant influence on the compositions in the large late 13th-century Spanish religious song collection compiled at the request of King Alfonso el Sabio (1221–84) and known as the Cantigas de Santa María...

Article

John Stevens

(Lat.: ‘visit to the sepulchre’)

The name given by modern scholars and many medieval scribes to the largest single category of medieval Latin church plays. The Visitatio takes as its nucleus the dialogue known as the Quem queritis (originally an introit trope from the Easter Mass), but is distinguished from it in a number of ways: first, by being placed at the end of Easter Matins, after the third responsory (commonly Dum transisset Sabbatum); second, by numerous accretions of liturgical chants, antiphons in particular, and laments of non-liturgical origin; third, by dramatic amplification as an acted representation of the events of the Resurrection story with impersonation and (sometimes) non-liturgical costuming. Some 400 texts of the Visitatio were described, printed or mentioned by Young, who, following earlier scholars, arranged the texts in three categories (his own word ‘stages’ is better avoided because of its overtones of steady chronological development); over 200 texts are listed by Lipphardt, not all with music....

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

A term for the practice of jazz singing in which texts (newly invented) are set to recorded jazz improvisations. The word is a pun on the term ‘vocalise’, combining the ideas of a jazz ‘vocal’ and a private language (indicated by the suffix ‘-ese’). Eddie Jefferson performed vocalese from the 1940s, but the best-known early recordings were made by King Pleasure, including his version of Jefferson’s Moody’s Mood for Love (1952, Prst.), based on a saxophone solo by James Moody, and his own setting of Parker’s Mood (1953, Prst.), using Charlie Parker’s blues improvisation of that title. Other important practitioners of vocalese were Dave Lambert, Annie Ross and, above all, Jon Hendricks, who was extremely inventive in creating texts to capture the feeling of the original solos. In 1957 Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (later Yolande Bavan) formed a vocal trio which attained some commercial success with their vocalese; it disbanded in ...

Article

Owen Jander

(Fr.)

A textless vocal exercise or concert piece to be sung to one or more vowels. The vocalise derives from two traditions. One dates from the early 19th century, when it became customary to perform and publish solfeggi and essercizi with piano accompaniment (e.g. Domenico Corri, The Singer's Preceptor, 1810; Manuel García, Traité complet de l’art du chant, 1840–47/R); by the middle of the century there were numerous publications of this kind. The singing instructor Heinrich Panofka, for example, published during his years in Paris five volumes of vocalises. The idea was that with a piano accompaniment even the most mechanical exercises would be performed in a more artistic manner. The other tradition was that of using existing compositions as vocal exercises without words. In 1755 Jean-Antoine Bérard provided, as a supplement to his L’art du chant, 20 compositions by Lully, Rameau and others, selected for the technical problems they offered (‘pour les sons tendres, légers, maniérés, majestueux’ etc.), and he added specific instructions as to how these problems were to be solved. In the 19th century most instruction manuals for the voice included original compositions specially composed for the same purpose: ‘melodies without words, offering the pupil a union of all the difficulties of song’ (García). Unlike the accompanied ...

Article

(Ger.: ‘vocal in-building’)

A term used for a device often found in Bach's music (and, less often, in that of his contemporaries) whereby the opening ritornello, or part of it, is repeated during the course of an aria while the singer incorporates new material into it. When the technique is employed in a chorus – as, for example, in bars 98–114 of the opening chorus of Bach's Cantata no.72 – it is usually referred to as ‘Choreinbau’. An analogous procedure is also found in arias and choruses by Classical and pre-Classical composers in which a secondary theme, presented in the tonic as part of the opening ritornello, returns in the dominant or relative key as accompaniment to new material for the singers....

Article

James Parsons

(Ger.)

The name frequently given to the 18th-century lied before Schubert, yet erroneously applied to the genre before the last quarter of that century. Indeed, to associate the rise of the 18th-century lied in the 1740s with the interest shown during the latter part of the century with either real or pseudo-folk poetry and music is to obscure the genre’s allegiance to the burgeoning neo-classical aesthetic that in time would lead to a rejection of the Baroque in favour of musical classicism. As commentators from the 1740s onwards agreed, composers of the lied were to strive toward all things ‘natürlich’ and ‘einfältig’ (natural and artless). Only later, following James Macpherson’s 1760 Ossian ‘translations’ and Bishop Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), did Johann Gottfried Herder issue his poetry collection Volkslieder (1778–9). Inspired by the latter, the true moving forces of ‘folklike’ songs would appear to be ...

Article

Robert Donington

[lavolta, levolto] (It.: ‘turn’; Fr., Ger. Volte)

A dance of Provençal origin popular at court from about 1550 to 1650. It was unique among court dances of the period in that the couples danced in close embrace, and it was known in France from at least the time of Henri II (1547–59). From the memoirs of Marguerite de Valois (see Michaud and Poujoilat) it is known that ‘les Provençales’ danced ‘la volte avec les timballes [cymbals]’. Arbeau provided the only written description of the dance (Orchésographie, 1588) and spoke of it as ‘coming into fashion’. It reached its peak of popularity during the reign of Henri IV (1589–1610), but his prudish son Louis XIII (1610–13) banned it from court, probably because of its suggestive movements (Arbeau left it to others to judge ‘whether in the Volte both honour and health are not concerned and threatened’). This may have precipitated its decline and it was last mentioned as a contemporary dance by Mersenne in ...

Article

(It.)

In the Italian poetic forms of the 13th–15th-century Ballata and the 16th-century Barzelletta, a couplet or quatrain at the end of the stanza similar in structure to the ripresa; the last line of the volta always rhymes with the first line of the ripresa, so that it acts as a bridge to the return of the refrain....

Article

John Caldwell

A freely composed or improvised piece, usually for the organ in the context of a church service. The term is occasionally met with outside the church, as for example when Burney extemporized at the harpsichord before a distinguished audience in Venice: ‘I played a Voluntary, for I could neither see, nor remember anything, I was so frightened’ (Dr Burney's Musical Tours in Europe, ed. P.A. Scholes, London, 1959, i, p.135). In his remarks about improvisation Roger North discussed the aptitudes necessary in an organist who would create such a piece and the chief characteristics of the style. In the Anglican church the voluntary has been played at the Offertory (at which point before the Commonwealth the choral part of the Communion service often ended) and after the psalms or the second lesson at Matins and Evensong, as well as before and after the service, as is usual today.

As a musical term the word ‘voluntary’ is imprecise. At various times it has overlapped with ‘verse’, ‘fancy’ and ‘fugue’ as well as with less frequently used terms. The word ‘verse’, indicating a short organ piece, is derived from the custom whereby the organ provided a substitute for the chant in the Latin rite, playing the odd-numbered verses of a hymn or other item in alternation with the choir (...

Article

Michael Tilmouth

(Ger.)

Prelude. The term appears frequently in German operatic scores from Wagner’s Lohengrin (1846–8) onwards. Following Wagner’s prescriptions in Oper und Drama, the Vorspiel was invariably linked closely with the musical and dramatic events of the opera. The two that function as symphonic prologues to the first and third acts of ...

Article

Andrew Lamb

(Fr. valse; Ger. Walzer)

A dance in triple time which became the most popular ballroom dance of the 19th century. Not only has it proved the most celebrated and enduring of dance forms, but its influence on musical history has probably been greater than that of any other (with the possible exception of the minuet). It attracted the attention of major composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and was accepted into all forms of musical composition. As a dance form its musical quality was developed to an unusual extent.

The actual origins of the waltz are somewhat obscure, but it is clear that its evolution as a separate dance form was gradual. The name can be seen to be derived from the German verb walzen, which in turn is connected with the Latin verb volvere denoting a turning or rotating. French writers, starting with Castil-Blaze, have found an ancestor of the waltz in the 16th-century ...

Article

Wayes  

Warwick Edwards

An English term in use around 1600. ‘Wayes’ is the title normally given to a series of short contrapuntal compositions in two or three parts (often in canon) on a cantus firmus, apparently intended for practice in polyphonic writing. Examples of its use are in John Farmer’s Divers and Sundrie Waies of Two Parts in One, to the Number of Fortie, uppon One Playn Song (1591); William Bathe’s A Briefe Introduction to the Skill of Song … in Which Work is Set Downe X. Sundry Wayes of 2. Parts in One upon the Plaine Song (1600); Forty Wayes of 2. Parts in One (on Miserere) by Thomas Woodson in GB-Lbl Add.29996, ff.184v–9 (only 20 given); Pretty Wayes: for Young Beginners to Looke on in the same manuscript, ff.192v–193, 195v–196 (16 anonymous compositions on the plainchant ‘Iam lucis orto sidere’); Thomas Robinson's ‘Twenty Waies upon the Bels’, the second of two lute duets that open his ...

Article

Geoffrey Chew

[Weihnachtlied, Weihnachtsgesang] (Ger.: ‘Christmas song’)

In a general sense, any song for Christmas (similarly, Weihnachtskonzert means ‘Christmas concerto’, Weihnachtsmusik ‘Christmas music’ or ‘Christmas piece’, etc.). It is often used in the same loose sense as ‘Christmas carol’ is in English.

The term was applied particularly to the simplest type of 18th-century Pastorella: a simple song, often strophic, often for one or two voices accompanied by two violins and continuo (or by the organ alone), sung in central European rural churches at Christmas, often at Midnight Mass. Other more or less equivalent terms, which probably cannot be precisely differentiated, are aria de Nativitate; aria pastoralis or aria pastoritia (possibly translations of Hirtenlied, ‘shepherd song’); Krippellied, Krippenlied or Krippelgesang (‘crib song’); and Weihnacht Aria and so on. Some Weihnachtslieder, noted down in 1819 when their popularity had already declined, are in the folksong collection of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna; an informant from Maria-Taferl gave some details of their use (reproduced in Klier, i, 45–7; Klier also printed many of the songs), though these do not apply to all Weihnachtslieder. Many survive in manuscript in, for example, local parish churches and others were printed as broadsides at Vienna, Steyr, Linz, Innsbruck and elsewhere....

Article

Barry Kernfeld

A substyle of Bop, serving as a continuation of the preceding Cool jazz substyle among predominantly white musicians based in the Los Angeles area in the mid-1950s. Miles Davis’s nonet recordings of 1949–50, collected together under the rubric of the ‘Birth of the Cool’, were particularly influential on the West Coast players. These were less distinguished improvisers than Davis, with the notable exception of Art Pepper, and therefore came to rely on a formulaic approach in which group arrangements tended to be more interesting than individual solos. The style also suffered from its reliance on a small circle of studio musicians (headed by Shorty Rogers), whose appearance in various combinations gave the music a certain sameness. Perhaps its most innovative contributions came in the small group performances involving Shelly Manne (on his album The Three, 1954, Cont.) and Jimmy Guiffre, who while working essentially in a bop-derived idiom, also explored ideas that prefigured some of the more delicate qualities of free jazz. Despite the fact that a few important black-American players, most notably Hampton Hawes, were deeply involved in the style, its consideration raises politically charged issues: it is difficult to disentangle West Coast jazz from the notoriously racist policies of the Hollywood studios, in which environment many of its practitioners worked....