Setting out to write in the style of a 5-voice madrigal, I was surprised to discover that they write themselves. I simply determined a harmonic progression for each phrase, decided on some motivic materials, and the individual lines fit together like a jigsaw puzzle - a most pleasureable form in which to work. As I am a modern composer, the form is stretched somewhat. For example, in #3 the harmonic progression goes from F+ to B+, a distance of a tritone, and back again to F in first eight bars, all the while maintaining smooth voice leading! I set myself similar challenges throughout the work.
In style, these pieces are strictly tonal and traditional within the constraints described above, that is to say they have unusual progressions at times but are not dissonant. Good amateur choirs will enjoy this set; it rewards the work needed, and the last one, Jenny Kissed Me, is especially delightful. This movement was performed at Expo '86 in Vancouver by the Da Camera Singers, and that group also sang the first and last movements at the incredible Powell River Kathaumixw Festival in 1996. The middle movement has not been done, so the complete set awaits a full performance...
Click on the buttons below to read the charming poems that gave rise to these madrigals, and to hear the first and third of them. Scores are available (free of charge) by sending me an email, or may be obtained through the Canadian Music Centre.