Odi, Euterpe

Giulio Caccini

The works that Caccini calls arie (“airs”) in the latter half of his Musiche are not to be burdened with a preponderance of ornamentation. Indeed, anything but the simplest ornamentation would be out of place in the canzonetta–like arias. Their dance–like nature is especially clear in numbers like Odi, Euterpe (“Hear, Euterpe”), whose appeal lies less in its melody than in its sensual hemiola — a constantly shifting stress between triple and compound–duple. Listening to Euterpe without tapping a foot is very difficult.

Dances and canzonette were not new; as in his monodies, Caccini was pushing for a specifically solo singing in the new style, and this is what he was aiming for in the latter half of his book. The song is strophic in structure — there are over a dozen “verses” in Le Nuove Musiche — each repeated to the same melody and bass line. The singer was expected to improvise somewhat during the course of so many repetitions, but of course within Caccini’s guidelines. It was originally written alla breve, but when re–scored in compound duple time, the hemiola becomes obvious. It tells the story of a shepherd’s evening encounter with his love Lydia.

Amarilli, mia bella

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