Magnificat, Primi Toni.
Sometimes, the Plain Chaunt was contrasted with an original Faux Bourdon, written in the required Mode, but not, like the former example, on the actual melody of the Psalm-Tone. Dr. Burney, during his visit to Rome, met with an exceedingly interesting MS. collection of Faux Bourdons, of this description, by some of the greatest Masters of the 16th century. From his autograph transcription of this volume—now preserved, under the name of Studij di Palestrina, in the Library of the British Museum—we extract the following beautiful example by Giovanni Maria Nanini/
These two methods of singing Magnificat are so wonderfully effective, that it is difficult to choose between them: and, happily, they are both so easy, that no Choir need fear to attempt them. But, the development of the idea did not rest here. It is scarcely possible to name any great Church Composer who has not illustrated the text of the Canticle with original music, over and over again. Josquin des Prés, Morales, Goudimel, Animuccia, Vittoria, Orlando di Lasso, and a host of authors, representing every School, and every well-marked Period, have left us innumerable examples. Palestrina published a volume, in 1591, containing two settings in each of the first eight Modes; and has left nearly as many more in MS. His favorite plan was, to treat the alternate Verses, only, in complex imitation, and closely-interwoven fugal points; leaving, sometimes the even, and sometimes the odd Verses, to be sung in unisonous Plain Chaunt, in the manner already described. The following extract from one of the finest compositions in the series will serve to exemplify his usual mode of treatment.
Magnificat, Octavi Toni.
This method was also adopted by Francesco Suriano, Orlando di Lasso, and many other writers; but Felice Anerio, Luca Marenzio, Giovanni Gabrieli, and some of the most noted of their contemporaries, treated the Canticle in Polyphone, throughout, frequently disposing their Voices in two or more antiphonal Choirs. A fine example of this later style is preserved in Gabrieli's eight-part Magnificat in the First Mode.
Magnificat Primi Toni.
- It will be seen that Nanini has ended his Chaunt with the harmony of the Dominant, instead of that proper to the Final of the Mode. A similar peculiarity is observable in many other Faux Bourdons adapted, by the Old Masters, to alternate Verses of Canticles and Psalms. The reason of this is self-evident. One or other of the Subsidiary Cadences of the Mode is employed, in order that its true Final Cadence may be reserved for the conclusion of the Antlphon which is to follow. The Sistine Miserere may be cited as the exception which proves the rule. It ends with the proper Final Cadence, because, in the Office of Tenebra, it is always sung without an Antiphon. [See Antiphon.]