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The early development of the Italian madrigal was fostered as much by foreigners as by natives, and the remarkable contributions made by the 16th-century Flemish composers such as Jacques Arcadelt, Philippe Verdelot, and Adriaan Willaert who settled in Western Europe carrying their own musical idioms…
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It was a through-composed setting of a short poem. It also recalls a strophic song with a ritornello (refrain)- the trecento madrigal.
Madrigals of the early 16th-century had no refrains or any other features of the old formes fixes, having sequential repetitions of musical and textual phrases. The original music is suited to the rhythm and sense of the words accompanied each line of poetry.
Four-voice settings of the madrigals were a trend approximately during 1520 to 1550 but eventually a five-vocal sets became a rule after the middle of the century and settings for six or more parts were not unusual. The word "voices" is to be taken literally: the madrigal was a piece of vocal chamber music intended performance with one singer to a part. As a style of the 16th century, however, instruments often took their part or simply doubled the voices.
In the early madrigal period the major, Italian composers who were active in Florence were the Franco-Fleming Philippe Verdelot and the Italians Bernardo Pisano and Francesco de Layolle and Verdelot, Pisano and Constanzo Festa, active in Rome. Adrian Willaert and Jacquez Arcadelt also became popular in Venice which is another early center. Frottola-like textures of the earliest madrigals were embodied in the works of Pisano and Festa and the four-voice pieces by Verdelot. ...
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