Listening Log – [Pt. I- Proj.1]- Thomas Morley’s ‘Now is the month of Maying’ in ‘First Book of Ballets to Five Voyces’ in 1595.

Listening Log – [Pt. I- Proj.1]- Research Point: 1.0 Thomas Morley’s ‘Now is the month of Maying’ in ‘First Book of Ballets to Five Voyces’ in 1595.

Thomas Morley (1157-1602) was born in Norwich, where he began his career as a chorister at the local Cathedral. He left to study for a bachelor’s degree in music at Oxford. Once completed he moved to London and became the organist at St Paul’s. He studied under William Byrd and considered him somewhat of a mentor. Byrd’s influence is scarcely noticeable in Morley’s music who is primarily known for his 11 collections of ’catchy’ singable Italian influenced madrigals. He also wrote some sacred music and instrumental music for keyboards and for the English type of ensemble called ‘broken consort.

Thomas Morley published ’Now is the month of Maying’ in ‘First Book of Ballets to Five Voyces’ in 1595. It is in fact a ‘ballett’ designed to dance to, with a stereotypical ‘fa-la-la’ chorus and a strophic structure (rather than through-composed like a madrigal). It has a chordal/homophonic texture rather than favouring imitational polyphony. Although Morley uses some word painting techniques, the piece is pretty much ‘music driven’. The ‘dancey’ nature also makes it quick and light and the textual subject matter is cheery, celebrating spring and frolicking, with very English ‘tongue in cheek’ sexual innuendoes.



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