Advent Calendar Day 3 – Angelus ad Virginem, Trad.

We’re still going with the whole Annunciation theme around here, and there’s more where that came from, I assure you…

Today’s piece is a traditional medieval carol, performed by the King’s Singers, of whom I am very fond, due to their habit of singing the most preposterous pieces of music absolutely sweetly and perfectly.  This carol feels like a dance to me – it’s the hollowness of the drum and the 6/8 time signature, I think.  I’d dance to it, anyway.

Medieval people had not studied Grade 4 music theory, and therefore they didn’t know you aren’t supposed to put parallel fourths and fifths anywhere (they probably also didn’t know that the tenor and alto lines are supposed to be boring.  No, I still haven’t forgiven my theory textbook for stating this so blithely).  So this piece has open fourths and fifths (these are the ones that sound like a chord with the middle missing out of it – you can’t tell if its major or minor) all over the place, which sounds funky and bare and, as it happens, very quintessentially medieval to the modern ear.

I love it – I love its liveliness, and those bare, unfinished-sounding fifths and disconcerting harmonies, and I love the voices singing it.  You can read the lyrics here, if you’re interested.

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