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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Rhetoric and Expression in Lully's French Song

NOTE: I do not consider this material to be copyrighted.
You are free to reproduce it for students if you wish.

Jérôme de La Gorce kindly sent me a copy of his Lully (Paris: Fayard, 2002). I am not a Lully scholar, and therefore will not comment upon his magisterial presentation of the composer and his works, nor review the book here. Nor would I presume to make any statements about what is "Italian" in Lully's compositions, or what the Florentine may have adopted/adapted from existing French practices. Not only do I lack the necessary training in musical analysis, I do not possess the requisite familiarity with the works of French composers of the 1640s, 1650s and 1660s, with Lully's corpus as a whole, and with the works of Italian masters whose music the Florentine can be presumed to have known.

Nonetheless, I immediately said to myself, "I want to do something to acknowledge and celebrate the completion of this important book. But what?"

So I cast about for some useful way not only to call English-speaking musicians' attention to Jérôme de La Gorce's work but also attempt to contribute, in my own way, to Lully scholarship. I have decided to investigate just how Lully's settings of French texts fit into the poetic rhetoric I lay out in my Harmonic Orator (which covers the period roughly from 1665 to 1735). My Harmonic Orator was, of course, not yet available when Jérôme de La Gorce was writing the second section of his book, L'Œuvre. Even if it had been, the constraints of an already big book would have prevented for him from discussing Lully's rhetoric.

The numerous examples in his book are, in a sense, a gift to me from Jérôme de La Gorce: they offer me a chance to look beyond the Harmonic Orator, to concentrate on Lully — specifically, to investigate the extent to which his works reveal that he was, as so many sources assert, doing a wonderful job of 1) "translating" Quinault's poetic rhythms into musical notation, 2) mimicking the speech melodies he heard in the theater and in salons, and 3) adding to these melodies the expressive accents of his adopted country.

My discussions of each example from Jérôme de La Gorce's book (and of the rhetoric they do or do not incorporate) will be modeled after my work with singers, especially my coaching during the eighteen consecutive 9-hour days that I served as "rhetorician" for the Arts Florissants-Festival of Ambronnay's recreation of Lully's Thésée in 1998, and during an equally intense eight-day stint teaching rhetoric to the Oberlin students preparing Pancrace Royer's Pouvoir de l'Amour (1743) in January 2002. During those coaching sessions the singers often asked for advice about how to deduce the fluctuating emotions they were supposed to convey in a given scene. Scrutinizing only the melody, we would look closely at poetic rhythms, melodies, dotted notation, accidentals, dissonances, and so forth; and slowly we would deduce the poet's intentions as translated into musical notation by the composer. I like to think that my work was not all that far-removed from Quinault's own coaching when he "instructed the actors and actresses [read, "singers"] during rehearsals" of a Lully opera in the 1670s (J. de La Gorce, p. 212).

Several questions kept nagging me during my preparation for the Thésée project, and above all during the rehearsals themselves. To what extent did Lully, a foreigner, adhere to the rhetorical principles I describe in my Harmonic Orator? And supposing he did follow them closely, how early did he do so? By the end of the rehearsals I had an answer to the first question: every practice I describe in the book is present in Thésée, first performed early in 1675. In fact, it turned out that virtually every line of recitative is based upon one of the cliché melodies I describe in the final two chapters of the Harmonic Orator: for example, an assertive statement is inevitably set to the melody of Assertion that rises and falls like an inverted V; a line containing the word "follow" or "continue" is set to the sagging curve that expresses Continuity; a statement about love is set to the undulating melody of Love, with its slurred notes or ornaments; and so forth. I wanted to investigate all of this after the completion of the Thésée project, but I lacked the time — especially the time needed to pursue an answer to the second question: this Musing permits me to take a first step toward determining how early he adopted French rhetorical principles.

*     *     *

Jérôme de La Gorce's examples show strikingly just how early the bulk of the rhetorical effects I describe in my book found their way into Lully's music. As the earliest of the examples discussed below will show, many of these elements were already present in the 1650s and early 1660s. Although my Harmonic Orator did not delve deeply into pre-Lullian French song, it did scrutinize the lyrics, melodies, and notation of quite a few French songs written between 1635 and 1660. I came away with the distinct impression that many of the devices described in my book were being used during the first half of the seventeenth century, and perhaps even earlier.  

Jérôme de La Gorce suggests that repeating words or word groups is an Italianism, and I do not doubt that Italians wove the rhetorical figure called Repetition into their songs. But Repetition is also one of the figures routinely discussed in French rhetoric handbooks of the seventeenth century.

For example, Corneille uses expressive Repetitions in his plays. Take the Alexandrine poetic line from Polyeucte (1642) in which "oyez" is repeated three times: "Oyez, dit-il ensuite,// oyez, peuple, oyez tous.///" Or take a song by Moulinié published by Mersenne ("Des Chants," p. 413). It suggests that repetitions were an integral part of French song before Lully arrived in France: "N'esperez plus mes yeux/// De revoir en ces lieux// la beauté, la beauté que j'adore///" In another setting of these same lyrics, p. 412 of Mersenne, the word group "la beauté" in this Alexandrine line is not repeated. (Incidentally, the dotted notation used for syllables where the initial consonant would be "doubled" in recitation — for example, "jaloux," jealous — can be seen in both settings of the line about Jealousy.) Similar Repetitions can be found in airs de cour of the late sixteenth century. See, for example, Baïf's lyrics in Jeanice Brooks' Courtly Song in Late Sixteenth-Century France (Chicago, 2000): the poem's "Accourez à la garde de mon cœur," (p. 156) becomes "Accourrez, accourez à la garde," when set to music (p. 170).

In other words, these Repetitions appear to be rather well-established French usages in oratory, theater, and song. When words or word groups are repeated in Lully's works (causing the syllable count of the poetry to be distorted by this Repetition), was Lully mimicking French rhetorical practices? Or was he foisting an unfamiliar Italian device upon the Sun King's subjects?

J. de La Gorce frequently presents notations and harmonies that he identifies as Italian — and they doubtlessly are. This raises a question for further investigation by musicologists: If Lully's harmonies, his notational rhythms, and his melodies were so Italian, why were the French captivated by his settings of French texts? Even more revealing: Why did the French perceive of Lully's settings of French texts as capturing "natural" French speech so effectively? I suspect that the answer runs more or less like this: Early on, Lully became a master at making Italianate devices serve French poetic recitation to music; and he did it so cleverly that the French were convinced that the Florentine had invented these techniques in order to capture the nuances of French theatrical declamation.

That is, at any rate, the tentative answer I propose. I base it on the fact that the melody and/or rhythmic notation of passages that J. de La Gorce describes as being Italianate mesh beautifully with the musical declamation found in French composers, from Michel Lambert (and even earlier), through the decade when Lully created French opera, and all the way to Rameau and his contemporaries.

*     *     *

What follows is a presentation of two separate facets of roughly 90 percent of the French- language examples cited in Lully. Each example is cited in a green bold-face statement that suggests J. de La Gorce's reason for selecting it for his book. After that, I either summarize or translate within quotations his observations about the melody or the harmony. I did not quote the original French for two compelling reasons: 1) the French are quite sensitive about intellectual theft, so I did not want to risk quoting too many words from a given page (for the same reason I did not reproduce the examples); 2) having the English readily available will facilitate reference to the examples for musicians whose French may be more rudimentary than they would wish. J. de La Gorce's observations are shown in smaller type in an indented block. They are followed by my observations (PMR) about the words, the melody, the rhythmic notation, set in larger type. Concepts discussed in my Harmonic Orator are shown in bold type, and at the end of each discussion, the principal pages from the Harmonic Orator {HO} are cited, to suggest a broader context into which readers can place my comments about each example.

p. 398: a comparison of Lully and Mollier, where the melodies by Mollier and Lully are almost identical but are set to different cut-C rhythms and barring

J. de La Gorce: "Here, in an almost identical melodic line, the rhythm seems to have been displaced, and it is this that creates the principal difference between the two examples."

PMR: The differences in rhythm give rise to very different declamatory patterns in the melody. That is to say, the barlines fall in very different places in the two melodies. Lully begins hismelody on a downbeat. The first repose in this 9-syllable/note masculine line does not come until the 5th note (it is, of course, possible to treat the 3rd note as a very weak repose); and the rhyme (a stronger repose) comes four notes later. Mollier, by contrast, creates a 10-syllable feminine line with obligatory reposes on the 2nd, 6th, and 10th notes. In other words, Lully's line could be described as being "front-heavy," because it begins with a long 5-syllable/note unit that give the ear the feeling that a repose will never come, and it concludes with a 4-syllable/note unit. Mollier's line, by contrast, begins snappily with a 2-syllable/note unit (most likely either an Exclamation such as "Hélas," a Command such as "Venez," or the name of the person being addressed, for example "Tircis"). Then it moves ahead via 4-syllable/note groups. Another interesting difference is that the different positioning of the barlines in the two melodies gives rise to very different oratorical accents within the phrase. In Lully's melody the eighth notes tend to create raised "oratorical accents" (these accents are not pathetic, they are merely gentle, because they do not exceed a musical third); but in the second measure the leap from D to G creates a languid oratorical accent. Thus the overall ambience here is assertive, rather than languid. By contrast, save for the final pre-bar A, the oratorical accents in Mollier's line are languid accents (one of them is a passionate musical 4th, another is a musical 5th), which cause the ear to perceive of the melody as expressing a languid state of mind.

{In HO, for reposes and poetic lines, p. 44 ff; pathetic and languid oratorical accents, pp. 220-29; 2-syllable feet, pp. 183-84}

p. 407: a song from L'Amour malade of 1657

J. de La Gorce: "Lully tends to give the priority to the music rather than to the words" and in so doing "follows the example of the cantatas and operas of his native land." In this excerpt, "the melody and rhythmic unity is privileged, and to achieve this Lully, while introducing frequent modulations, does not hesitate to repeat words in the same poetic line."

PMR: "Privileged" the music may be here, but Lully's treatment of the words corresponds wonderfully not only to the dictates of French rhetoric and declamation but to the emotions being expressed in the text. Above all, many of the rhetorical practices found in Lully's operas already appear in this early work of 1657. The French text takes the form of an 8-syllable line, broken 4 + 4 not only by a rest but by a drop of a musical 4th: "Que les jaloux / [drop] sont importuns///." The melody rises in the first half, then drops in the second, a melody that is typical of an Assertion (which is exactly what this statement is.) In French song all the way to the Revolution, a drop of this sort between the two segments of an Assertion expresses Opposition, that is, contrast. In other words, Lully uses this melodic drop to contrast "jealous" and "importunate." (The accidental sharp on "importunate" reveals just how painful that trait is.) Repeating "Et quel malheur" is, of course, a rhetorical device — Repetition — that was described in French rhetoric treatises from the earliest decades of the seventeenth century and that can be found in French airs of the 1580s. Throughout this example, dotted notes suggest to singers that they "double" the initial consonants of expressive words: "jaloux," "importuns" (where emphasis on the p is essential to distinguish the latter word from a similar word, "importans"), "malheurs" and "réduite." The length and/or ornamentation given here to the atonic ("mute") syllables of "être" and "réduite" — and their position on strong beats — is very interesting and expressive: Henri Morier has pointed out that placing a mute e on a strong beat is a sign of emotional "disarray," which leaves the speaker's mouth agape when it would normally close (as it does on "jaloux," "malheur" or "importuns").

{In HO, see Assertion, pp. 376-79; Opposition, pp. 381-84; accidentals, pp. 342-45; and accentuated final mute e, p. 283, n6.}

p. 441: a bit of recitative dated 1665, "one of the composer's first successful attempts at fine French declamation"

J. de La Gorce: Lully "offers what appears to be recitative, so well adapted is the music to the words. ... After an interval of a musical fourth in the word ‘voyez,' ... [the singer's voice] ‘rises' rather ‘high' to a D, in order to match the meaning of the sung text," which reads, "Voyez comme elle brille en s'élevant si haut," See how it shines as it rises so high.

PMR: This snippet does indeed foreshadow the recitative in Lully's operas, especially in its use of dotted notation to suggest the end of word groups, the long-shorts of feminine rhythms, and/or the technique of doubling a consonant at the beginning of key words. (The line would be declaimed: voyez: / comme eeel-/ le briiille/ en s'élllevant/ sssi haut.)

{In HO, see dotted notes, pp. 249-53; doubling, 203-15; feminine rhythms, pp. 237-46}

p. 442: the nymph of Fontainebleau speaks to nature in 1661

J. de La Gorce: "to ... make the song more intense, the first words are interrupted by silences, and the second of these words is emphasized by a strong dissonance of a 2nd." Bois, Ruisseaux  (Woods, Streams). "Are these devices perhaps modeled after Cavalli's Xerxes?"

PMR: This clearly is the Exordium of the song, and the singer is addressing inanimate objects. According to rhetorical practices, after naming the person or thing to whom one is speaking, one pauses on the comma. In the repeat, the pause after the first note serves as a sigh: "The [sigh] sighs, [sigh] the laments, the tears. ..." The slurred syllable of "verdures" in one strophe (slurred eighth notes often express bucolic things, here "greenery") becomes, in the other, an Imitation of "tears" (slurred eighths also tend to imitate tears or flowing water).

{In HO, Exordium, pp. 87-91; commas, p. 70; slurred eighth notes, p. 229}

p. 446: a passage from Les Amours déguisés (1664) that imitates Italian laments

J. de La Gorce: "The first of its kind in Lully's works," the "douleur" of the singer is expressed by this rising chromatic line.

PMR: In the first strophe, the words state an Exclamation, which over the decades is often set to a rising line (but not necessarily a chromatic one). In the repeat, the lyrics take the form of a question: in other words, here the rising melody is an Interrogation, which also generally adopts a rising line. This melody is, however, not generally employed to express Sadness. In fact, Lully's melody conforms to the basic speech melody appropriate for the content of the statements being made. In both strophes, the final measure brings the open-mouth, strong and long accentuated atonic e.

{See HO, Exclamation and Interrogation, pp. 379-80, 410; accentuated atonic e, p. 406, n4}

p. 448: an expression of anguish about "cruelty" from 1669

J. de La Gorce: "The techniques used to describe Venus's suffering are ... audacious" and Lully uses them here. "After chromatic motion in the bass, the voice, broken with emotion-charged silences, performs a port de voix ... before moving to a diminished 4th that emphasizes all the 'cruelty' Venus is experiencing."

PMR: Bacilly advises singers to leave plenty of space after an Exclamation such as "Ah!" and Lully writes these pauses into his music. As Bacilly pointed out (the very year this piece was written), and as treatises would continue to point out for decades, the accidental sharp on "cruelty" reveals to the singer, at a glance, that this particular concept is very harsh and his tone of voice should therefore harden.

{See HO, Punctuation, pp. 69-70; accidentals, pp. 342-45}

p. 488: a passage of 1670 influenced by both Italian music and chansonnettes

J. de La Gorce: From the outset of this allegory, "Lully distances himself from the traditional French récit. ... There is no change in meter. The manifest Italian influence is perceptible not only in several chromatic steps that stress the words 'since one must die,' but also, from the beginning of the récit, where the melody moves with a great regularity in a harmonic march. By its long notes that move imperturbably downward, the instrumental part recalls the obstinate bass of Rossi or Cavalli."

PMR: Both lines from this récit are Alexandrines formed of calm 3-syllable groups. In the first Alexandrine, "Si l'amour/ vous soumet// à ses lois/ inhumaines///," "inhuman" comes as a sort of Parenthesis: that is to say, the meaning of the text could move on from "à ses lois/" to "choisissez ..." at the start of the next line. So could the melody: G, A, Bb, D, Eb .... That would, of course, topple both the poetic structure and the harmonic movement; so the singer cannot omit the word. But he can treat "inhumaines" as an aside sung with a sort of sotto voce. The accidental flat on "inhumaines" confirms that this is the interpretation being suggested, for it reveals to the singer that it would be more appropriate to give this word a tender tone of voice, rather than a harsh one. In the second Alexandrine, "Choisissez/ en aimant// un objet/ plein d'appas///," Lully gives "en aimant" (by loving) the tender slurs and curving melody that he would later use in his operas and that were already in use in French love songs. The final word group, "full of charms," drops a musical 5th. This suggests to the singer two possible interpretations of these words, neither of which excludes the other: "Full of charms" can be treated as a P.S.; and because it is set to the vocalist's lowest tones, it should be given a dark, intimate tone — but the accidental sharps suggest a pained tone of voice that contrasts with the tender one at the previous rhyme.

{See HO, Alexandrine, 139-39; accidentals, pp. 342-45; melody of Love, pp. 405-7; low notes, pp. 390-91; post-scriptum clausula, pp. 290-91}

p. 491: "Repose" as imitated in 1670

J. de La Gorce: "The idea of repose is expressed just as efficiently here as it is in Rossi's Orfeo. ... In both cases, the upper voice seems to gently hesitate between the leading tone (B natural) and its resolution (C), as if cradling someone who is already dozing. The better to prolong this impression, Lully prefers a perfect cadence to a half cadence, which permits him to use a longer note in the bass. ... Like his predecessor [Rossi], he gives special importance to these measures by repeating them."

PMR: The long notes and the static, frozen melody, are the standard way of imitating Repose in French baroque music — at least that is the case after the invention of the French opera. I didn't try to trace this Imitation back to pre-Lullian days, but I should think that doing so would be worth a musicologist's time and effort, because it would open the way to a deeper understanding of Lully's contribution to French music in general. As for the Repetition of "dormez": reasoning on the basis of this brief snippet of text, it can be argued that the Repetition was the poet's intention, rather than the composer's, because the Repetition is an integral part of the 6-syllable poetic line (just as it was an integral part of the Alexandrine by Corneille, cited in the introduction, above).

{See HO, Repose, p. 369}

p. 511: "Sadness" as imitated in 1664

J. de La Gorce: "La Princesse d'Élide ... inaugurates, in Lully's works, transpositions of ultramontane models into the French language..."Tircis sings a "new lament" in which he "associates his feelings with nature. ... From the very first measures, his sadness is revealed. An impressive descending chromatic movement in the bass, a procedure generally used to express pain, manages here, very effectively, to translate the sought-after ambiance."

PMR: The lyrics take the form of a 10-syllable line that breaks 4 + 6: Ar/bres épais//, et vous,/ prés/ émaillés///" The two 1-syllable feet ("Ar-" and "prés") are given the notation length demanded by French speech patterns. That is to say, in a 1-syllable foot, the syllable-word is long by position; and in addition, the poet made sure that these 1-syllable feet would be long by using an r in each syllable. That the melodic line begins in the singer's lowest range and moves to his higher notes is no coincidence: Low notes generally are texted with evocations of dark, hidden places; and high notes usually evoke bright ("enameled"!) spaces ("prés") where things are visible to the public. The accidental sharp on "émaillés" suggests that the singer's voice should be brilliant, or to borrow the term in many treatises, "éclatante." Actually, this bright tone of voice begins with the dissonance on "prés." Here I don't find a trace of the melody of Lament, or Sadness, with its raised sob-like oratorical accents. Rather, this excerpt — it seems to constitute the Exordium of Tircis's lament — is addressed to the Woods and the Meadows, both of which it imitates with the appropriate vocal color: low and dark versus high and bright.

{See HO, ten-syllable line, especially pp. 48, 137; length by position, p. 113; low and high notes, pp. 390-92; accidentals, pp. 342-45; Sadness, pp. 412-16; Exordium, pp. 87-91; Imitation, pp. 362-71}

p. 512: a lamenting phrase from 1664

J. de La Gorce: With its "march of the harmony through a series of major sevenths and the dominant... with the exclamation 'Ah!,' followed by an expressive silence, this pathetic declamation does not lack emotion."

PMR: Here again, Lully specifies the pause, the repose after an Exclamation, that was de rigueur in French declamation, be it sung or spoken. (Note the descending melody typically associated with Exclamation throughout the period.) Here the melody does indeed "sob" in Sadness — via the rhythmical oratorical accents of a musical third on "mor-" and "dou-": "Ah! mortelles douleurs!" Ah! mortal sorrows! The accidental on "douleurs" (a natural, but the original probably used a sharp) raises the pitch, thereby telling the singer to give an anguished tone of voice to this particular word.

{See HO, punctuation, 67-70; Exclamation, pp. 379-80; Sadness, pp. 412-16; accidentals, pp. 342-45}

p. 514: a rising chromatic line of 1664 that expresses "cruel pain"

J. de La Gorce: "The ascending chromatic movement reserved for the first of the two shepherdesses is identical to one of the rare ones found in Lambert's collection, where he uses similar chords and harmonic sequences. ... Does this analogy not put in doubt the attribution of this dialogue to Lully?"

PMR: The similarity is indeed striking! In both cases, the words move from low-pitched intimate expressions ("secret" and "one suffers") to higher-pitched expressions of anguish about pain that the public can witness ("cruel pain" and "I feel consumed"). In both passages, each successive accidental in the rising melody causes the tone of voice to become more strident as it finds its way to "cruel" and "consume." In addition, although the melody rises, it does so statically, by tiny half-tone steps. In other words, the singer is emotionally frozen from secret suffering. Both passages already embody a musical rhetoric that will grace opera after opera and air after air for many decades.

{In HO, see low and high notes, pp. 390-92; accidentals, pp. 342-45; static melodies (stasis), pp. 412-22}

p. 515: an "attempt at recitative" from 1668

J. de La Gorce: In Georges Dandin the "dialogues are entirely sung. ... Not very well- developed, they serve to introduce galant little duos ... During one exchange,... one can nonetheless recognize an attempt at French recitative. Over an instrumental bass generally written in long notes, the two vocal lines emphasize the words rather than the melody, over which they rapidly move."

PMR: The two lines are Alexandrines. In the first line, as in later French recitative, the mid-line repose (caesura) and the final repose (rhyme) fall on the strong beats at the start of a measure: "Soit sensible/ à l'amour// que te por-/te Filène///. But in the second Alexandrine, "Soit sensible/ à l'ardeur// dont Tircis/ est épris///," Lully emphasizes reposes of lesser importance by placing them on the strong beat: "sensible" and "Tircis." Did he do this from ignorance? Or was he deliberately down-playing "ardor" and "infatuated" in favor of "sensitive" and "Tircis"? As for the melody: There is a leap of Opposition at the caesura of each Alexandrine: potentially insensitive Cloris is contrasted with amorous Filène, whose love, judging from the high pitches of "porte Filène," is quite public and perhaps rather superficial. In the second Alexandrine, the structure of the verse is similar but the melody tells a different tale: potentially insensitive Climène is contrasted with infatuated Tircis, whose love is so deep that it is expressed with very low notes. In short, it is difficult to argue that the melody plays second fiddle to the words; rather, it is an equal partner in showing emotional nuances and underlying motivations.

{See HO, Alexandrine, pp. 138-39; caesura, pp. 48-49; Opposition, pp. 381-84; high and low notes, pp. 390-92}

p. 555: the "dynamism" of a descending melodic line

J. de La Gorce: In Psyché (1671), "the composer created the impression of haste, impatience, by the dynamism of a descending phrase announced in the bass continuo."

PMR: The first 8-syllable poetic line is a Command: "Hurry, prepare the room." Commands to which no reply is expected generally adopt a descending melodic line. By contrast, the second line — "For the most amiable of gods" — rapidly abandons this descending pattern and turns it into the undulating melody associated with Love.

{See HO, Commands (Exclamatory Assertions), pp. 379-80; Love, pp. 405-07}

pp. 578-79: Quinault and Lully's way of mixing Alexandrines and shorter lines

J. de La Gorce: In Psyché (1671) "the poet already knew how to use changing meters capable of making lyrics more fluid. For operas, he liked to alternate, with suppleness, lines with eight or nine feet [PMR: the proper term is "syllables"] and noble Alexandrines. This can be observed as early as the Fêtes de l'Amour et de Bacchus [1672], where Lully revealed qualities that he later would develop with success."

PMR: Here — as in the example cited on page 515 — Lully places the caesura and rhyme of the first Alexandrine on the strong musical beats at the start of a measure: "Il faut/ entre mes soeurs// que mon soin/ se partage///" This line is an Assertion, and it has the rising and descending inverted V-shape that Lully would give to Assertions throughout Thésée (and probably earlier, it's just that I don't know every detail of the earlier operas as I do for Thésée). Then the descending part of the Assertion changes to a Command — which is typically set to a descending melody: "Preparez/ tour à tour// vos plus aimables jeux///." As on page 515, he displaces the reposes so that lesser words —"préparez" and "plus"— are emphasized. The reason for this displacement is clear: the word "plus" is a delaying word, a word that causes the mind to move beyond the expected repose on the strong beat and that, in this particular line, carries the mind all the way to the rhyme via a 6-syllable foot: "vos plus aimables jeux." In short, as early as 1672, Lully was not only familiar with the rhetorical device called Rejection, he realized that Rejection requires a melody that either rises or descends stepwise, carrying the ear beyond the chord on the strong beat. It is also interesting to note that here the poet gave a front-heavy phrasing to his little 8-syllable lines (one of the lines is feminine and therefore has an uncounted ninth syllable). That is to say, the two lines are phrased 5 + 3, which causes the front half to drag and the ear to wait until the key notion (which almost always comes in the shortest unit of the line) finally appears: "Je m'engage," and "toutes deux." Together, the two little lines form an Assertion — "To bring concord, I promise to help you both." And indeed, the melody rises, then falls, in the typical inverted V of an Assertion.

{See HO, Alexandrine, pp. 138-39; caesura, pp. 48-49; reposes, pp. 53-54; Assertion, pp. 376-79; Commands (Exclamatory Assertions), pp. 379-80; plus (in Rejection), pp. 277-79; 5-syllable feet, p. 187; 6-syllable feet, p. 188; the expressive rhythmic structures of French poetic lines, pp. 133-67}

p. 595: Lully's use of dissonances and repetitions in 1674

J. de La Gorce: The Shade intervenes to "express insistently, with the help of a strong dissonance, whose regrets Charon makes fun of by repeating the words to the same sort of harmony. This subtle game of repeating words was favored by the important place henceforth given to recitative."

PMR: First of all, the Shade. Like numerous other ghosts, spirits, denizens of Hell or frozen people, he speaks in a monotone, stasis. This means that the lamenting sighs, "Alas!," do not receive the usual pathetic oratorical accents of a musical third or fourth. Instead, the dissonances on "Alas!" — a common musical practice in French baroque song — have to suffice. The three-fold Repetition of "Hélas" in this example may well be the poet's decision, for this snippet of text shown in this example has all the marks of an 8-syllable poetic line broken into emphatic 2-syllable groups: 2 + 2 + 2 + 2//.

{See HO, stasis, 412-22; pathetic accents, 220-24; dissonances, 348-53; 2-syllable feet, pp. 183- 84}

p. 596: major versus minor show changes in mood in 1673

J. de La Gorce: "When Arbas reproaches Charite for not returning his love, one passes abruptly from a minor key, in which he expresses his pain, to a major one, when he evokes the laughter of Hermione's indifferent companion."

PMR: The words sung in minor are strangely frozen, static, melodically. In other words, if Arbas says "I can no longer say anything," it is because his throat is so tight that he literally is having difficulty speaking, and his words come out as a monotone, rather than a lament with its sobbing oratorical accents expressing Sadness. "Sigh" is given an accidental sharp, making the voice appear more strident. "Tu ris," you laugh, receives the only oratorical accent in the example. After that, although Arbas continues on in a major key, his throat remains constricted and his speech melody returns to a monotone. This bit of recitative does not appear to be an imitation of laughter, because Joy/ Laughter is not expressed by a sequence of quick notes on a static pitch (a sort of Ha-ha-ha-ha) but rather by leaping notes on syllables that normally are not accentuated.

{See HO, stasis, 412-22; Sadness, pp. 412-16; accidentals, pp. 342-45; oratorical accent, pp. 215-29; Joy, pp. 407-10}

pp. 596-97: a question that "rips apart," wrenches, the speaker of 1673

J. de La Gorce: "... the wrenching question that the heroine twice asks her lover ... These few measures are the only ones in which the text is repeated during this long exchange between the two principal actors in the opera. It is not an accident, but a decision by the composer and poet to emphasize the most significant words."

PMR: I wonder whether the pitch intervals between one syllable and another are the same in the version of the question that J. de La Gorce does not quote here? I ask that, because singers often assume that repeated words are simply repeated words, and they don't usually think about the emotional nuances contributed by different notational rhythms or even by slightly different melodies. For example, in this excerpt, where Hermione says, "Ah, Cadmus, why do you love me?" the Exclamation, "Ah!," is on a high pitch, and she starts her lover's name, "Cadmus," with a pathetic oratorical accent on that same pitch, then drops a 5th, after which her voice remains frozen, static around C, as if her throat were so tight that her voice cannot rise as it usually does in a question. The best she can do, expression-wise, is to "sharpen" (via accidental naturals) her tone of voice on "Cadmus" and "love me." When these same words are repeated (outside this example), does the voice follow exactly these melodic and harmonic nuances? I doubt it, because it is quite rare to find a composer simultaneously repeating words and melody/harmony. In short, it is not enough for singers to observe that a word or a group of words is repeated: it is the emotional nuances that make one repeat different from the next that count.

{See HO, accidentals, pp, 342-45; stasis, pp, 412-22; repeated words or groups of words, exx. 6.13, 7.6}

p. 614: a drop of a musical seventh in a recitative of 1677

J. de La Gorce: "Disjunct melodic intervals henceforth often exceed 4ths and 5ths and ... become minor 6ths on the words 'enfers,' 'froid,' 'inhumaine,' 'affreux.' Still more audacious, in Isis there is an impressive drop of a 7th before the final cadence, to mark the moment when Io ... asks for death."

PMR: The melody itself rises by conjunct steps from A to F. (I wonder if Io is stating one of those long Assertions that require two inverted V's rather than a single one?) Then the melody drops to a trilled G followed by two low Fs. In other words, the melody is imitating a move from the public gesture of a deity to the most private thing that can happen to an individual, his death. To be precise, the shiftsbetween high notes and low notes here is very important. While speaking assertively and giving the impression that the speaker is going to state a complete Assertion, the voice moves up into its high, public range ("to force her to give me") but then aborts the Assertion and collapses into its darkest range ("death").

{See HO, Assertion, pp. 376-79; high and low notes, pp. 390-92}

p. 614: stepwise motion up and down through an octave, 1676

J. de La Gorce: "The composer's intentions can also be expressed less brutally, with the help of conjunct steps. ... The rising motion of  'suprême grandeur' is followed by descending motion, which, throughout almost a full octave, evokes both the trajectory of the proud goddess from heaven to earth, and the humiliation she feels at having lowered herself to come and seek out a human heart."

PMR: The rising and descending melodic line of this Alexandrine is a perfect example of an Assertion. That is, the first six syllables of the Alexandrine — "Des suprêmes grandeurs//" — rise, and after the caesura (//) the final six syllables descend: "vous m'avez fait descendre.///" The melody is, of course, also an Imitation, or rather two Imitations glued together: the rising half- line imitates "supreme grandeur" while the descending half-line imitates the "descent" of this grandeur. With the rise and fall in pitch, the voice, of course, changes its tone, moving slowly to something brilliant and public, then returning to a more intimate tone at the end of the Alexandrine.

{See HO, Alexandrine, pp. 138-39; caesura, pp. 48-49; Assertion, pp. 376-79; high and low notes, pp. 390-92}

p. 615: chromatics and "figuralism" evoke death in 1676

J. de La Gorce: When Atys commits suicide, in order to join his beloved, "the figuralism suggesting his imminent arrival into ‘the night of death' is reinforced in the bass by a fine chromatic structure. ... Among the recipes borrowed from Italian laments, dissonances play a considerable role ...."

PMR: Approaching death has caused Atys's throat to tighten, and his voice becomes lower, ending on a dark, intimate low pitch. When he says "death," his throat tightens, causing the voice to rise slightly in pitch — hence the accidental sharp on "trépas." The final two key words, "la nuit," and "trépas" (night and death) receive oratorical accents of a musical 3rd — not very pathetic in most contexts (a truly pathetic accent requires a musical 5th or more), but quite pathetic in this context, coming as they do after the static pitches at the beginning of the line.

{See HO, stasis, pp, 412-22; high and low notes, pp. 390-92; oratorical accents, pp. 215-29; accidentals, pp. 342-45}

p. 643: two similar musical rhythms, one the possible springboard for the other

J. de La Gorce: "The melody of this chorus [from Phaéton, 1683] ... performed with a dance, was all the easier to remember because it recalls the rhythm" of a song from Cadmus (1673). "These analogies show Lully's astonishing aptitude at assimilating all the music he heard." But here he did not use a familiar tune, he did something better: he used a popular tune as the point of departure for a new tune.

PMR: The menuet-like rhythms of the two songs are indeed similar: in each case the first poetic line has four syllables, set to three quarter notes, plus a dotted half; and the second line also has four counted syllables (plus the uncounted "atonic" or "mute" syllable of the feminine rhyme) set to three quarter notes plus a half note-and-quarter note. However, aside from these rhythmic similarities, the ambiance of the songs is quite different. The older song from Cadmus has a joyous, leaping, modestly exuberant melody. The lyrics evoke starting a fight: that is, they tell of "braving envy" within the confines of this "palace." In the later song, which "strives for peace," there is only one leap, a gentle oratorical accent of a musical 3rd on "asylum." In addition, the key signatures are different: the overall "energy" of each song is therefore different.

{See HO, Joy, pp. 407-10; Peace, Calm, pp. 417-19; energies, pp. 318-26; and my discussion of the menuet from Phaéton — my Air 5 —, pp. 146-47, 160-62}

p. 650: an imitation of sleep

J. de La Gorce: "The beginning of the first [imitation of sleep] is especially remarkable. The musical phrase, repeated at the end of the peace, seduces by its refined harmony, with its retard on the 3rd under ‘tranquille,' followed by a subdominant that stresses, this time, the importance of the ‘sleep.' Finally, there is a melodic interval of a diminished 4th that brings to a delicate end the first sung line of this statement by Mercury."

PMR: In French baroque song, Repose (in this case "sleep") is inevitably imitated by a static melody set to long notes. The chord on the subdominant to which J. de La Gorce refers, marks the caesura of this Alexandrine: "O tranquille sommeil// que vous êtes charmant.///" The drop of a diminished 4th at the rhyme creates a pathetic oratorical accent on the first syllable of this key word.

{See HO, Repose, p. 369; stasis, pp, 412-22; pathetic oratorical accent, pp. 220-24; Alexandrine, pp. 138-39; caesura, pp. 48-49}

p. 656: an especially expressive passage, 1682

J. de La Gorce: The rondeau for Mérope "is one of the most moving composed by Lully. It begins with an impressive melodic interval of a minor 6th, which serves to emphasize the word ‘death,' which is in addition emphasized by a tritone."

PMR: An interval of a musical 5th or more, especially within a poetic foot, constitutes a "great pathetic accent." The remainder of the Alexandrine adopts the melody of an Assertion — but in this case the descending part of the statement is perceived as a Command, which is generally set to a descending melody and which is clearly stated in this poetic line: "Come put an end to my deplorable destiny."

{See HO, pathetic oratorical accent, pp. 220-24; Assertion, pp. 376-79}

p. 666: a march set to an unusual 4/8 meter

J. de La Gorce: "The 4/8 meter, adopted ... to add more diversity to the repeated brief melodic formulae, is rather unusual in Lully's corpus."

PMR: The text is entirely made up of 2-syllable poetic feet. As a result, the overall speech- rhythmic effect is extremely intense (and rhythmically dense because both syllables in a 2- syllable foot are long in pronunciation): "Vi-vez/ en paix// (repeated), a-mants,/ so-yez/ fi- del(les)///." To set this to music, Lully had to find a way to place the underlined syllables — all of which are reposes — on a strong beat of the musical measure. The obvious, and perhaps the only viable solution was 4/8 meter. The repeat that I mention in parentheses, which is an exact copy of the first "vivez en paix," comes as a sort of echo, a loud rumination.

{See HO, 2-syllable feet, pp. 183-84; rhythmic density, pp. 171-74; reposes, pp. 53-54; strong beats, ppp. 56-69}

p. 669: "admirable lines by Quinault" and an expressive setting by Lully, 1686

J. de La Gorce: "When, to Quinault's admirable lines, emphasized by expressive chromaticisms, the same musical phrase is repeated four times in a row, it was difficult for the audience not to be caught up in this magnificent divertissement."

PMR: The poetic structure of these lines is irregular. That is to say, the first line has 9 syllables (plus an uncounted feminine one at the rhyme) composed of 3-syllable feet: "Si l'a-mour/ ne cau- sait/ que des pein(es)///." It is followed by a 12-syllable Alexandrine that continues the 3-syllable poetic rhythm but concludes with a very long 6-syllable foot that seems to go on forever: "Les oi- seaux/ a-mou-reux// ne chan-te-raient pas tant.///" The overall ambiance created by a succession of 3-syllable feet is one of calm: so the "pains" caused by Love are not actually troubling the singers at all! In other words, the accidental sharp and the dissonances in these lines suggest that the singer should feign an anguished tone of voice that contrasts with the calm rhythms of the words. Indeed, the first word, "If" (a verbal Anacrusis that expresses doubt) makes it very clear that Love causes more pleasure than pain. Note the accidental flat on "amoureux," which suggests that the singer should use an especially tender tone of voice for this word.

{See HO, irregular poetic meter, pp. 148-52; 3-syllable feet, pp. 184-86; accidentals, pp. 342-45; dissonances, pp. 348-53; Anacrusis, pp. 272-76}

p. 671: "the last bit of Italian inspiration in Lully," 1684

J. de La Gorce: In a duet from Amadis (1684) — which "contains, and for the last time in Lully's operatic corpus, choruses written in the style of the Lament"— there are "other effects, such as these disjunct steps that for a diminished 7th chord during the poetic line."

PMR: This is, of course, an Imitation of being carried down some steps into a tomb: F, F, D, B, B, G#. (Note that a similar descent into the tomb can be found of p. 681.)

{See HO, Imitations, pp. 362-73}

p. 672: another "last bit of Italian inspiration," 1684

J. de La Gorce: "Recalling, perhaps, the Shade's intervention in Cavalli's Ercole amante, Lully accompanies this voice from beyond the grave with repeated pitches set to the same rhythm within each musical measure and played in a very low register by the entire orchestra ... In a striking manner, Lully describes the Shade's return to the grave by a series of descending melodic lines with a majestic cadence whose sonority evokes both obscurity and depth."

PMR: If I'm not mistaken, this evocation of "obscurity" — "C'est aux Enfers que je t'attends" — is set to C minor, a mode whose energy is "obscure and sad" ("obscure," that is, dark — like a tomb). For decades this energy was used for evocations of darkness. As for the text itself, two consecutive 8-syllable poetic lines are constructed of only two poetic feet each, one of which serves as the "question" and the other the "answer" ("To reproach you...for what?... for your weakness, It's in hell ... what will happen there? ... that I await you") This structure is rather unusual. In other words, the Shade no longer speaks like a human: instead, he expresses himself in blocks of syllables, each of them coming to a repose (underlined) on the strong beat at the start of a measure: "Pour te reprocher/ ta faiblesse/// C'est aux Enfers/ que je t'attends.///"

{See HO, energies, pp. 318-26; strong beats, pp. 56-69; reposes, pp. 53-54}

pp. 676-77: "a remarkable adequation of words and music," 1684

J. de La Gorce: "The melody seduces at once by its remarkable adequation to the words. It replies with spontaneity and naturelness to the inflections of the two poetic lines, one of them a question, the other a reply. Each note, each silence, each rhythm and harmony serves the expression in Quinault's text: the melodic intervals of a 4th on the words ‘que veux-tu' and ‘mon cœur,' the use of a dominant under the latter words, which are also emphasized by a G above the staff, and, at the end, the perfect fall of the phrase on the tonic, the better to affirm the sorceress's refusal to yield to love."

PMR: These lines apparently come at the beginning of an Exordium where the singer speaks to Love. As she should, she pauses for the comma after Love's name. What can be said about the melody here, and how does it fit the words? First the sorceress asks a question ("What do you want?"), and to do so, she lifts her final syllable in an exaggerated Interrogation — after which she adds an afterthought, on a lowered tone that conforms to Lully's use of the Parenthesis elsewhere in his operas: "of me." She resumes the oration by telling Love, on high notes, on a very public tone of voice: "My heart is not made for you." Then she repeats this on a lower pitch: in other words, she is ruminating on what she has just said, and she literally is taking into her own heart the things she has just asserted about her heart. Thoughts of the heart are generally expressed on the lowest notes of a singer's range. The repeat is, of course, not exactly identical to the first statement, which has no dotted notes. There are other tiny nuances involving eighth notes versus quarter notes and which reveal that the first time she lingers on "heart," "made," and "for you," while in the repeat she lingers on "my heart" then declaims "made for you" with doubled consonants. Nor are the oratorical accents similar: in her first statement of this line, there is a languid accent of a 4th on "my heart," and a pathetic oratorical accent of a 5th on "for you"; but in the repeat it is "my heart" that receives the pathetic oratorical accent, and "for you" receives only a gentle and not very passionate oratorical accent of a 3rd. This is indeed a very expressive passage.

{See HO, Exordium, pp. 87-91; punctuation, 67-70; Interrogation, p. 379; Parenthesis, pp. 386- 88; high and low notes, pp. 390-92; dotted notes, pp. 249-53; oratorical accents, pp. 125-29}

p. 679: "anxiety and stupor," 1685

J. de La Gorce: "Judging from a strong dissonance, a major 7th, that emphasizes ‘apprend,' and from the chromatic movement in the bass, the discovery of the romance [between Angélique and Médor] does not leave [Roland] unmoved."

PMR: The unusual languid accents on "je lis" (a 5th) and "m'apprend" (a 4th) appear to be an Expression of Surprise, which causes the voice to leap and to give words unusual accents. Roland is indeed moved  by Surprise. After this Expression of Surprise, Roland speaks in a static monotone, as if he were frozen by the shock. It is a truly wonderful passage!

{See HO, languid accent, pp. 227-29; Surprise, pp. 410-11; stasis, pp. 412-22}

p. 683: some very passionate "figuralisms," 1686

J. de La Gorce: "To comment upon each intention in Quinault's text, Lully uses harmony, a tritone chord to translate 'trouble' ... He doesn't only use "a leap of an Italian-inspired diminished fifth on ‘vengeance.' The upward leap of a just 4th and a downward leap of a just 5th that he uses, from his first operas on, as figuralisms or to match the accents of the words being set to music, can be seen very effectively in the most pathetic moments. The questions, the exclamations are broken by silences, charged with emotion, and all the expressive possibilities of the voice's tessitura seem to have been exploited to increase the dramatic character of the situation. The highest notes, a G or an A above the staff, not only evoke ‘heaven' or ‘day,' they also are found when Armide becomes furious, wants to get revenge, doubts and amorous feelings being set to the lowest notes, which are more appropriate for making confidences."

PMR: Yes, the high G of "ciel" is an Imitation. This example has full-blown pathetic oratorical accents (5ths) and big languid ones (4ths). I don't think it would be wise to pay too much attention, in this example, to which accents are languid and which are pathetic, for the simple reason that she is so angry that her pitches are leaping erratically, as they would in the expression of surprised Anger. Note the dot in "je frémis": it tells the singer to "shiver" via a doubling of the fr.

{See HO, surprised Anger, p. 411; Imitations, pp. 362-73; pathetic and languid accents, pp. 220-29}

p. 697: a "seductive" melody sung by Venus, 1681

J. de La Gorce: Venus sings a song that "from its very first measures seduces the public. This beautiful melody, which gave rise to so many parodies ... is ably emphasized. Two ritournelles surround it."

PMR: Why might this melody be perceived as "seductive"? I'm not quite sure. The first two measures are an Imitation of Tranquillity, with the typical static melody generally used to express Tranquillity: "tranquil hearts," A, A, A, Bb, with no oratorical accents. Then comes the second half of the line, "prepare yourselves," which concludes with a gentle oratorical accent of a 3rd. Note that — as in the example on p. 672, discussed above — this tranquil, quite lifeless Command is grouped 4 + 4, with the reposes ("hearts" and "selves") creating a literal "equilibrium," that is, a balanced structure that is appropriate for Expressions of Tranquillity. Although there is no capital letter to show the start of a new poetic line, the line that forms the second segment of the example —" À mille secrètes alarmes" — receives a very different phrasing: the poetic line and the poetic foot are one and the same, for no syntactical pause is possible within these eight syllables! It is interesting that Lully gave the "mute" or atonic syllable of "secrètes" a note all of its own, rather than eliding the e with the vowel of "alarmes": "secrètezalarmes" rather than "secrètzalarmes." Did the poet find the first pronunciation preferable? Especially since it heightens the feminine rhythm of this line, where one word flows into the next in a wavelike way, via the atonic e‘s of "mille," "secrètes," and "alarmes." In short, the equlibrium of the first line, with its firm "masculine" rhythms that tell of "hearts and "preparedness," yields to a "feminine," flowing rhythm that talks of "secrets" and "alarms." Note that "secret" drops to a low note, to evoke the intimacy frequently conveyed by low notes. (Owing to this drop of a musical 5th, the first syllable of "secrètes" becomes a pathetic oratorical accent.)

{See HO, Tranquillity, pp. 369, 376; oratorical accents, pp. 215-29; stasis, pp. 412-22; feminine rhythms, pp. 237-46; low notes, pp. 390-92; balanced poetic lines, pp. 191-93}

p. 699: "emotion expressed by drops of a diminished 5th, 1685

J. de La Gorce: "At the end of the Idylle sur la Paix, Lully also gives exceptional breadth to the ‘grand recitation' of Flore: ‘O ciel! O saintes destines!' ... The long ‘prelude' ... in which the initial theme is exposed ... is followed by three sung interventions using the same words," each accompanied in a different way. "The melodic plan does not fail to be moving, notably when it makes these successive leaps of a diminished 5th on the opening words."

PMR: The diminished 5ths constitute a "great pathetic accent" on the Exclamation "O!" The accidental sharps on "holy destinies" suggest that the singer should make her tone of voice somewhat more brilliant once it reaches "saintes." I wonder whether the other two appearances of these words are set to an identical melody. I doubt it, for I should think the importance given to Variety would have compelled Lully to be more inventive and to vary the melodic accents, the intervals and the harmonies each time these words return.

{See HO, pathetic accent, pp. 220-24; accidentals, pp. 342-45; Variety, pp. 189-90, 284-86}

p. 700: "Silence, Night, and Mystery"

J. de La Gorce: In a symphony related to Night, and to "hidden secrets," Lully uses "Italian procedures, harmonic movement, and chromaticisms, and although he moves from the major mode when he evokes ‘the charming nights that are worth more than the finest days,' he does not change the triple-meter and the long notes that Rossi and Cavalli used to express the idea of repose. He also knew how to use repeated notes to create an impression of immobility, and rests to increase the dramatic intensity."

PMR: I don't happen to have copied down an example of Tranquillity — set to long notes and a static melody — in a composition that predates Lully, but that surely doesn't mean they do not exist. This example is patently an Imitation; and it is hard to imagine that the French didn't get the idea of imitating Tranquillity in this way until Lully borrowed the device from Cavalli and Rossi. If musicologists should discover that was indeed the case, their finding would be very important for word-music relations in seventeenth and eighteenth-century French as a whole. Note that triple meter is generally reserved for expressions of Calm.

{See HO, Tranquillity, pp. 369, 376; Imitations, pp. 362-73; triple meter, pp. 313-16}

p. 713: one of Lully's last monologues

J. de La Gorce: Acis "laments that he cannot see ‘the beauty' that he ‘adores,'" then sings this passage. "One admires here the manner in which the final cadence is prepared: after a subdominant in the bass, the vocal melody moves to its highest notes via the altered sixth and seventh degrees of G minor. All of this is not lacking in panache and must have earned applause."

PMR: Here Acis sings in Alexandrines, which by their length and their formality imply that he is saying something Sublime, something magnificent. What he is saying is: "Far from me, however, too long held back, She alone, here, seems not to recognize my voice." If not exactly Sublime, his observation is, at the least, momentous. The high note on "loin" is an Imitation, as are the repeated pitches of "arrêtée," "stopped." In some contexts, Lully might have treated "cependant" as an unambiguous Parenthesis set to lower pitches than the rest of the line, but here he does not make clear what the singer should do with these three syllables that, owing to their position at the caesura of the link, should be metrically important but in reality are tucked away into the middle of a C-meter measure. (It is "longtemps" that receives the emphasis in its place.) At the end of this first Alexandrine comes an upward leap of a 4th, which is suggestive of Contrast, Opposition. And indeed, the second Alexandrine makes it clear that Galatée is the "only" one not to recognize Acis' voice. In other words, this leap serves to set her apart, to contrast her with everyone else. The Alexandrine ends on a raised pitch akin to Interrogation, which implies that Acis expects or hopes for some sort of answer or contradiction to his lament about her not recognizing his voice. The accidental flat on "moi" warns the singer to give a tender tone of voice to the words "de moi," and the accidental sharp on "méconnaître" indicates that a more anguished tone of voice should be used.

{See HO, Sublime, pp. 79-81; Imitations, pp. 362-73; accidentals, pp. 342-45; Interrogation, p. 379; Parenthesis, pp. 386-88; high and low notes, pp. 390-92; caesura, pp. 48-49}

p. 716: "eternal night" in a monologue of 1687

J. de La Gorce: "When Achilles, having learned of Patrocles's death, speaks to the ‘Manes of this warrior,' ... the bass seems to express its pain by a descending chromatic movement that reappears at the end of his statement, when the ‘eternal night' where ghosts dwell is evoked. These measures, which end the first act of the opera with an impressive leap of a 7th in the vocal melody, are probably some of the last ones composed by Lully. Written with incursions into exotic keys such as F sharp major and B minor, they reveal the care he took to the end of his life to increase the expressive possibilities of his operas."

PMR: This text is formed of three consecutive Alexandrine lines that, by their length alone, suggest that the singer is saying something momentous, perhaps even Sublime. But although these Alexandrines all have a midline break after the sixth syllable (caesura), the internal rhythms differ markedly from one line to another. The first Alexandrine is set to 2-syllable feet whose intense rhythm beats upon the ear like an insistent drumbeat: "Je cours/ cher-cher/ Hec-tor,// je cours/ hâ-ter/ sa mort///" The singer's intense, almost strident tone of voice is suggested by two accidental sharps. There is an interesting languid accent of a musical 4th on "Hector," which — related to the concept of length and languor as it is — creates the impression that the search is taking a long while. The oratorical accents on "je" (a 3rd) and "sa" (a 5th) highlight the seeker and the person being sought. With the second Alexandrine, the poetic rhythms change markedly: The first half-line takes the form of a single 6-syllable foot that imitates "eternity," while the second half returns to an intense 2 + 2 + 2 rhythm: "Dans l'é-ter-nel-le nuit// son om-/bre va/ vous sui(vre).///" "Eternal" night is further imitated by a static run of eighth notes (one of them dotted, to ensure that the singer lengthens the penultimate syllable of the feminine word, "éternelle"); and "night" is imitated by a drop to a low, dark pitch. In imitation of the fact that "his shade is going to follow you," the melody dips in the sagging curve of Continuity so commonly used for the concept "follow": B-G#, G#, G#, A, B ... — the accidental sharp suggesting, of course, an anguished tone of voice. The final Alexandrine begins with a pair of 3-syllable feet that suggest that the singer's excitement has momentarily calmed: "Où moi-même/ au-jour-d'hui// ...," "where I, today, ..."; but the second half of the line closes the example with a neutral 4-syllable foot that rises inexorably, via an accidental sharp, to the top of the singer's range — only to be followed by an intense 2-syllable foot that refers to death and that plunges the voice a full 7th, to its lowest and darkest register: "je ces-se-rai/ de vi(vre)///." This is a wonderful example of how masterfully poetic rhythms can ebb and flow within the rigid structure of classical Alexandrines! In the music, the fixed reposes in this structure — the caesura and the rhyme — come to rest regularly on the strong beats at the start of a measure. Save, that is, for the final measure, where the rapid approach of death is suggested by a premature positioning of the final repose: "vi-" comes a note too early, and its normally "mute" and unaccentuated e ("-vre") falls on the beat and dies out slowly in a expression of disarray that leaves the singer's mouth agape.

{See HO, dotted notes, pp. 249-53; high and low notes, pp. 390-92; caesura, pp. 48-49; 3-syllable feet, pp. 184-86; 2-syllable feet, pp. 183-84, 6-syllable feet, pp. 188-89; Continuity, pp. 417-19; oratorical accents and languid accents, pp. 215-29; accidentals, pp. 342-45; accentuated atonic e, p. 406,
*     *     *

In guise of a conclusion, I want to reiterate the point I made at the beginning of this Musing: I am using the examples in Lully as a springboard for deepening our understanding of Lully. To this end, I am raising several questions that Lully scholars may wish to address:

— What, in French music of the mid- and late-seventeenth century is "Italianate"?
— How immediate was the acceptance of "Italianate" musical practices by the French?
— How did the French reconcile these "Italianisms" with their own national word-driven style?