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Category: Music

Swan

Madrigal of the Week – Jacques Arcadelt – Il bianco e dolce cigno

Jacques Arcadelt’s ‘Il bianco e dolce cigno’ is a suitable place to start a series such as ‘Madrigal of the Week’. Published in 1539, it is not an early madrigal by any means, but it is (possibly) the first explicit/erotic madrigal in a tradition that would continue for the next century. Using the euphemism of death for orgasm, the speaker of the text compares the swans actual death against his euphemistic one. Although the expression ‘Swansong’ only came into being in the eighteenth century, the legend of the mute swan dates back to antiquity. Silent throughout its life, the mute swan…