Music / Singing

Song of the day: O quam tu pulchra es

Today’s song is very close to my heart. I’ve always loved singing early music. I pondered studying it when choosing my major at the conservatory, but you needed a bachelor in classical solo singing before you could even start. So I chose classical solo singing instead, and tried to get some early music education on the side by taking singing lessons with Marius van Altena and visiting masterclasses by Jill Feldman. After I got my bachelor, I had to make a choice: go for a classical solo singing master, or start again in the first year and study early music. That choice was easy because of my financial situation at the time. But I did try and slip early music into my master’s project too.

When I was still singing in my trio with two recorder players, we focused on playing contemporary classical music at first, but later we started combining that with medieval and renaissance music. I always so enjoyed singing those pieces. And lately, I’ve been playing with the settings of my digital piano, and it includes a harpsichord. So I just had to go sing some old favourites.

This motet was written by Alessandro Grandi somewhere in the early 17th century, just as the baroque era was starting. Back in the day, he apparently was as famous as Claudio Monteverdi. He wrote music that was not as polyphonic as the renaissance music that was common then, but instead opted for having a vocal melody, accompanied by continuo (the bass section, basically) with colourful and daring harmonies. This motet really showcases that new baroque style, which also includes many tempo and time changes and interesting harmonic exploration. It is a love song, and the text comes from the Song of songs.


O how beautiful you are,
My girlfriend, my dove,
My beautiful one,
Your eyes are those of doves
Your hair is like flocks of goats,
Your teeth are like rows of oars.
Come from Lebanon, come and you will be crowned.
Arise quickly, arise my bride
Arise my precious, my spotless one,
Arise, come, because I languish in love.

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