sung in three divisions, but, under a single Antiphon; the Capitulum, and Responsorium for the Season; and the Prayer, or Collect, for the Day. The Plain Chaunt Music for None will be found in the 'Antiphonarium Romanum,' and the 'Directorium Chori.'
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NONET (Ital. Nonetto). A Composition, written for nine Voices, or Instruments.
A Vocal Nonet is rarely called into existence, without some special raison d'être. For instance, in the Polyphonic Schools, it not unfrequently results from the union of two Choirs, one for five, and the other for four Voices, as in the case of Allegri's celebrated Miserere: while, in Operatic Music, it becomes a self-evident necessity, whenever nine Characters are brought upon the Stage, either together, or in succession, during the course of a continuous series of movements, as in the Finale to the first Act of 'Die Zauberflöte.'
Among the few Instrumental Nonets, produced since the time of Mozart, the first place must unquestionably be accorded to Spohr's delightful Op. 31, for Stringed and Wind Instruments combined.
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NON NOBIS DOMTNE. A celebrated Canon, generally sung, in England, as a substitute for 'Grace after meat,' at public dinners, and on other festive occasions.
English historians are unanimous in describing 'Non nobis Domine' as the composition of William Byrd: but it is not to be found in any volume of his published works, though the subject appears in one of the 'Cantiones sacrse,' printed by Byrd and Tallis in 1575. Burney tells us that the earliest copy to which Byrd's name is appended is that inserted in Hilton's 'Catch that Catch can.' It is undoubtedly to be found in that curious work; but, neither in the edition of 1652, nor that of 1658, is the author's name mentioned; and the existence of an earlier edition, printed in 1651, though strongly suspected, has never been satisfactorily proved. Dr. Pepusch, in his 'Treatise on Harmony' (1730–1731), distinctly calls it 'the famous Canon by William Byrd,' and no doubt seems to have been felt on the subject until about the middle of the 18th century, when Carlo Ricciotti published, at Amsterdam, a Concerto, founded on the well-known theme, which he attributed to Palestrina. Palestrina has, indeed, used its opening clause more than once; notably in his Madrigal, 'When flowery meadows deck the year'—one of the loveliest that ever was written. This, however, proves nothing. He has not treated it as a Canon in which form it bears far less resemblance to his peculiar style than to that of Josquin des Prés. The Subject, moreover, is by no means an unusual one; and has even been called, by Morley, ' a most common point.' Handel has used it, in his 'Hallelujah Chorus,' in 'I will sing unto the Lord' (Israel), and in other places too numerous to mention. Bach has employed it as the subject of an 'Allabreve per Organo pleno,' in D (Dörffel, No. 1053). Mendelssohn has also used the few opening notes in 'Not only unto him'—the last chorus in S. Paul; and these notes, phrased exactly as in the Canon, will be found among the works of so many composers, that it is clear they are looked upon as common property. But, the Subject is not the Canon. It is in the ingenuity of that that the true merit lies. We claim that merit for Byrd. Ricciotti may possibly have been tempted to accord it to Palestrina, on the authority of a very antient copy, said to be preserved in the Vatican, engraved upon a plate of gold. But it does not appear that Palestrina's name is appended to this copy; and it is worthy of remark, that, in the Introduction to Dr. Blow's 'Amphion Anglicus,' printed in 1700, special mention is made of 'Bird's Anthem in golden notes,' 'Preserv'd intire in the Vatican.'
The Canon—a perpetual one, in the Mixolydian Mode—is capable of many solutions, all exhibiting a freedom of treatment not quite consistent with the strict laws of Counterpoint. The most noticeable deviations from rule, are, some Hidden Octaves, which seem to form an essential element in the construction of the second clause; and a certain Changing-Note, in the form of an ascending Seventh—which last fault, however, would not appear, were the parts made to leave off, in the old-fashioned way, one at a time, as they began. The leading part technically termed the Guida,—taken at its true pitch, is as follows:—
The simplest solution of which it seems capable is in two parts; of which the first leads, with the Guida, while the second follows, after a Breve rest, in the Fifth below, singing the B flat, in order to preserve the tonality. The chief demerit of this lies in the prominence which it gives to the Hidden Octaves already mentioned.
In another two -part solution, the upper Voice, leading with the Guida, is followed, after a Semibreve rest, by the lower one, in the Fourth below; all the Fs in the second Voice being made sharp.
In a third, the Guida leads, as before, and the lower Voice follows, after three Semibreve rests, in the Octave below.
These three solutions—in so far as they are complete in two parts—seem, hitherto, to have escaped notice: but they form the basis of all solutions for a greater number of Voices.
The solution usually sung is in three parts. The Treble leads. The Alto follows, after a Semibreve Rest, in the Fourth below, singing all the Fs sharp. And the Tenor enters, three Semibreve rests after the Guida, in the Octave below it.
Another three-part solution may be formed, as
- See Burney's 'Commemoration of Handel,' p. 39.
- We are here assuming that the Canon is sung at its true pitch. It is more frequently transposed at least a Fifth lower; aud sung by an Alto, a Tenor, and a Bass.