Claudio Monteverdi: Si chio vorrei morire

Monteverdi more than any other composer was responsible for taking the more popular genre of the madrigal and raising it to an art form far greater than anyone could imagine. This madrigal, Si Ch'io vorrei morire, from his Fourth book of Madrigals, is filled with the sorts of "chimeras" and "imperfections" that Artusi objected to.

Things to Note
Si chio vorrei morire takes the renaissance notion of representation, of which word painting is but one example, to a high level; many parts of the text are alluded to musically. Note the subtle, or none too subtle word paintings thoughout. See how many you can come up with. On a textural level try to determine the differences between polyphonic sections (when each musical line is equal in importance) and more homophonic sections (when one melody predominates). Usually at this point in musical history homophony occurs in homorhythmic writing. Learn more about homophony in the Sonic Glossary.
The source of the poetry is unknown.

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)

Listening Chart

Claudio Monteverdi: Si chio vorrei morire (1603)

Si chio vorrei morire... 0:00 More or less homophonic opening.
Ahi, care dolce lingua... 0:38 Dissonant imitation, ascending with ever more tension then descending at "estingua"
Ahi... vita mia 1:16 Sharp outbursts in imitation between men's and women's voices.
Deh stringetemi... 1:40 Close descending canon between female voices, and later ascending canon with men's voices.
Ahi bocca... 2:18 "deh stringetemi" motive mixes with "ahi bocca" in bass
Si chio vorrei morire 2:35 Return of opening material

Si chio vorrei morire

Si ch'io vorrei morire
Hora ch'io bacio amore
La bella bocca del mio amato core.
Ahi car'e dolce lingua,
Datemi tant'humore
Che di dollcezz'in questo sen m'estingua.
Ahi vita mia, a questo bianco seno
Deh stringetemi finch'io venga meno.
Ahi bocca, ahi baci, ahi lingua!
Ahi lingua torn'a dire
Si ch'io voreei morire

Si chio vorrei morire

How I could wish for death to come,
now, as I kiss with love
the soft lips of my beloved!
Oh dear sweet tongue,
give me excess of honey
that on this breast I may drown in sweetness
Ah, beloved, to your white breast
strangle me until I faint
Ah lips, ah kisses, ah tongue!
Ah my tongue repeat
How I could wish for death to come!


All text © Todd Tarantino 2002-2012.
Not to be reprinted without permission.