Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A song for two or three unaccompanied voices, developed in Italy in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
  • n. A short poem, often about love, suitable for being set to music.
  • n. A polyphonic song using a vernacular text and written for four to six voices, developed in Italy in the 16th century and popular in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries.
  • n. A part song.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a song for a small number of unaccompanied voices; from 13th century Italy
  • n. a polyphonic song for about six voices, from 16th century Italy
  • n. a short poem, often pastoral, and suitable to be set to music

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A little amorous poem, sometimes called a pastoral poem, containing some tender and delicate, though simple, thought.
  • n. An unaccompanied polyphonic song, in four, five, or more parts, set to secular words, but full of counterpoint and imitation, and adhering to the old church modes. Unlike the freer glee, it is best sung with several voices on a part. See Glee.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A medieval poem or song, amorous, pastoral, or descriptive. The distinguishing characteristics of the madrigal are now hard to determine.
  • n. In music
  • n. A musical setting of such a poem.
  • n. A glee or partsong in general, irrespective of contrapuntal qualities.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an unaccompanied partsong for 2 or 3 voices; follows a strict poetic form
  • v. sing madrigals

Etymologies

Italian madrigale, probably from dialectal madregal, simple, from Late Latin mātrīcālis, invented, original, from Latin, of the womb, from mātrīx, mātrīc-, womb, from māter, mātr-, mother; see mater.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian madrigale, from Latin mātrīcālis. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The madrigal is a piece of vocal music adapted to words of an amorous or cheerful cast, composed for four, five, or six voices, and intended for performance in convivial parties or private musical societies.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 539, March 24, 1832

  • A madrigal was a secular composition, generally devoted to love, but in polyphonic style, and in one of the ecclesiastical modes.

    A Popular History of the Art of Music From the Earliest Times Until the Present

  • Although the madrigal was a highly sophisticated musico-poetic form featuring advanced harmonies and subtle texts of great literary value, it was, after all, a choral form meant for unstaged performance.

    Opera Today

  • The popularity of such song-forms as the "madrigal," which was sung without musical accompaniment, made it easy for the public stage to cater to the prevalent taste.

    A Study of Poetry

  • I folded this kind of madrigal in prose, and sent it by Joseph, who handed it to Marguerite herself; she replied that she would send the answer later.

    Camille

  • She has also featured in a "madrigal" show at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival with local children performing a collection of poetry and plays.

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  • Though Claudio Cavina's fine group are best known for their recordings of the two greatest late-renaissance madrigal composers, Gesualdo and Monteverdi, they have not neglected the works of less celebrated 16th-century composers.

    Luzzaschi: Concerto della Dame: La Venexiana/Cavina – review

  • "I heard some of the people in my college sing Monteverdi's madrigal 'Lamento della Ninfa,' and I was moved to tears by it," he recalled.

    When Sheer Power Is Not Enough

  • The various Herzogian heroes are all avatars of a romantic subjectivity: the megalomaniac Kinski, the abused but powerfully dignified Bruno S, the murderous madrigal composer Gesualdo, Dieter Dengler who wants to fly but is shot down, revolutionary dwarves, child soldiers, hypnotised villagers . . .

    Werner Herzog, the adventurous spirit

  • Mr. Davis brings out all the wit and detail in Sullivan's orchestration, and he shapes the singing so that everything — from the delicate madrigal "Brightly dawns our wedding day" to the speedy ensemble patter that ends "I am so proud" to Katisha's grand opera arias — sounds authentic but new.

    Taking Gilbert

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