Madrigal: A short, polyphonic lyric that is written in everyday speech, commonly treats a pastoral or amatory theme, and is usually sung a cappella (without musical accompaniment). The madrigal first arose in medieval Italy, in the fourteenth century, as a poetic and musical form; it typically featured hendecasyllabic (eleven-syllable) and sometimes heptasyllabic (seven-syllable) lines, two or three tercets followed by a couplet, and music composed for two or three voices. Subsequently, in the sixteenth century, a new form of madrigal arose in Italy that became the main form of Renaissance secular music, spreading to England, France, Germany, and Spain. Unlike its predecessor, the Renaissance madrigal was composed as vocal chamber music, typically for four to six voices; addressed a wider range of themes; and showed greater structural freedom, particularly in overall length, line length, and rhyme, though it still tended to end with a couplet. In the early seventeenth century, the madrigal began to decline and soon nearly disappeared.
EXAMPLES: Petrarch’s (Francesco Petrarca) Il canzoniere, or Rime Sparse (Scattered Rhymes), (c. 1336) contains four madrigals, including “Non al suo amante più Dianä piacque” (“Diana was not more pleasing to her lover”), which Jacopo da Bologna set to music (c. 1350). Thomas Morley’s The Triumphes of Oriana (1601) is a collection of twenty-five madrigals by twenty-three composers in honor of Elizabeth I; each ends with the refrain “Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana: / Long live fair Oriana.”