A Lamento [It. lament]. (from The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, Randel, 1986) is a song of mourning or great sadness and an important element in Italian opera of the 17th century.
The "lamento" arose to prominence along with monody.
Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna of 1608 was the first celebrated example and was published separately in its monodic version and in Monteverdi's arrangement of it as a madrigal.
The lamento was prominent in mid-17th century Venetian operas, e.g., those of Cavalli, and was often treated as variations on an "ostinato" bass of a descending tetrachord.
Dido's lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas belongs to this tradition.
Music Analysis Program Sheet
Full title of composition ___Dido and Aeneas____________ Era___Baroque______
Date composed ___1689_____ Movement? or part? _____Aria excerpt from opera____
B. Composer's first and last name __Henry Purcell____ Composer’s dates:__ 1659-1695_
D. Composer's nationality _____English_____________________ Genre___Opera_____
E. Important characteristics and distinctive techniques (always fill in medium)
1. dynamics : not notated, constant
2. tempi: slow, constant
3. metre: simple triple
4. rhythm patterned:
5. texture: homophonic constant; bass doubled in octaves
6. medium: voice and orchestra, transcribed for voice and keyboard accompaniment
7. timbre: not exploratory?
8. thematic structure: theme in bass chromatically descends from tonic to dominant
9. thematic development: none; it is simply constantly repeated literally in the bass
10. melodic/rhythmic cadences: vocal cadences two measures before the harmonic cadences/bass; cadences on whole notes
11. harmony: exclusively tertian trichords and seventh chords (tetrachords); some borrowed chords
12. harmonic cadences: tertian authentics at the end of five-measure theme, and half cadences after three measures in the vocal part.
13. harmonic motion: root movements mostly by seconds and fourths, with occasional thirds; fast harmonic rhythm with chords changing on almost every beat
14. tonality: constant: G minor; no modulations
15. pitch range: D1 to G5; 4.5 octave large range
16. form: normal passacaglia – minor key, slow, theme repeats in bass, simple triple meter
17. Music and Text:
a. Minor key – traditionally associated with darker moods than major
b. Slow tempo – traditionally associated with darker moods than fast tempi
c. relentlessly repeating bass – create a sense of doom or fate
d. chromatic notes – create greater tension and stress
e. Third omitted in final cadence – creates sense of emptiness
f. tritones and other large leaps in the vocal line – create a sense of drama and stress