Monday, 17 October 2011

Book of the Week (17th October 2011)

Thomas Morley, Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke Set Downe in Forme of a Dialogue (Second Edition, London, 1608)

Thomas Morley (1557/8 – 1602) was a choir-master, organist, composer and scholar.  A pupil of the great Elizabethan composer, William Byrd, Morley is most famous for his madrigals (unaccompanied secular songs).  He also composed music for keyboard and broken consort.  It has long been suggested – but never quite proven – that he was acquainted with Shakespeare and his circle, and that his work may have been used in some of the Bard’s plays.

Morley was as interested in theory and teaching as composition.  In 1597 he published his Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke.  The book takes the form of a conversation between a pupil and master, which was a popular contrivance in both the medieval and early modern periods.  Such was the interest in this work that a second edition was produced in 1608, from which the following images are taken.  In them Morley describes discords and concords, and provides a list of useful chords for compositions of four or more parts.

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