Secular Italian Vocal Music
For all the stir it caused during the decades surrounding the beginning of the seventeenth century,
monody remained most popular in its home town of Florence, and
began otherwise to decline elsewhere after about 1620. In its original, idealistic form as affective ‘speech–song,’
it was destined to survive as recitative — the vehicle used to move the story along in opera, oratorio and cantata. Otherwise
(Wikimedia Commons) its flaws were obvious. Prolonged peroration via monody, however sincere the composer or the singer, could very quickly become boring.
In published songbooks of the time, the lighter canzonetta began to gain favour, along with the strophic aria or quick triple–meter song, even though still classified as a kind of monody. The canzonetta itself, formerly a cheery, often facetious little piece, became more serious and of extended length. And as it became more popular, the classical madrigal began to decline, or rather to evolve into a fleshier affair involving instruments.
The madrigale concertato — concerted madrigal — like many Baroque technical terms, is a difficult one to pin down. Obviously it stemmed from the concertato technique whereby instruments either doubled or replaced voices, but it too soon came to mean a madrigal with independent parts for specified instruments, all supported by the continuo. Indeed, the term ‘madrigal’ itself had taken on new meaning, as in Caccini’s characterization of the numbers of his Nuove musiche as madrigals and arias.