Describe a social singing and how it defined choral music making in the Renaissance era. Summarize the text of John Farmer’s Fair Phyllis, describe how the music reflects the text, and recompose the text to reflect a personal experience. Compose a text that you think would also fit with the music. Use a similar rhyming scheme as the original text (ABABCC).
With masses, motets and madrigals aplenty, the development of choral music was thriving during the Renaissance period. But, despite the sheer volume of music written during this time, we often only hear the works of a few well-known composers today.
Upon my first listen of John Farmer’s Fair Phyllis, I was immediately refreshed by how light and different it was from all of the other pieces we had studied in class. This particular piece is a beautiful example regarding the art of word painting. Not all poetry is set to music that embodies the words themselves, but Fair Phyllis is definitely an exception.
It is a madrigal that was published in 1599 during the Renaissance. It ranges from short sections of homophony to playful sections of polyphony accompanied by the text “up and down he wandered.” John Farmer really takes advantage of that text and uses a descending melodic line to accentuate the words and further use the technique of word painting.
Fair Phyllis is a through-composed piece that is mostly syllabic in the treatment of its’ text. It is quick moving and it even fosters a change in meter a few times towards the end of the piece that gives it an even more playful and flirty feel.
The composer John Farmer was known for his madrigals. This piece was included in a volume of madrigals that he released during the year 1599.
I think at times I tend to take music from this time period a little too seriously. It almost came as a shock to me when I heard this song. It just gives a little insight to the fact that we have more in common with the people from this time period than we think. To hear a song from the 1500s that is borderline silly, but still beautiful and fresh, was quite an experience.