Thomas Morley's Canzonets for Two Voices are among my favorite pieces
for introducing Renaissance polyphony. As a performer and teacher, I enjoy
them frequently both as concert pieces and as musical practice for
We know that the 16th century was a wonderful period of humanism in which
language was held in high esteem. We should also know that one the greatest
goals of this very artistic age was to capture in music the imagined art of
the ancient world in which the greatest poetry (e.g.the Iliad and the
Odyssey) was typically sung.
This ideal of "heightened speech" created a brilliant union of words and
music quite different from many of our modern habits. In the 16th century,
there is often no real difference between beautiful speaking and singing and
herein lies one of the keys to appreciating the deceptive simplicity of much
of this music.
The beauty of reading the music laid out like the original is that we
begin to appreciate the fact that we are dealing with language (which is
after all horizontal, unbarred, and full of rhythmic freedom!). Putting the
parts together then becomes not an exercise in vertical alignment
but rather of a musical understanding of the imitation and cadences of
Using this clearly printed and well-thought-out new edition will make it
easier for all musicians to better understand these musical treasures.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
October 7, 1999