Unlocking the Music in Caravaggio’s The Lute Player Paintings

Caravaggio painted The Lute Player for his patron Cardinal Francesco Del Monte.  There are three variations of the painting, located in the Hermitage Museum in Russia, Badminton House in the UK, and in the Wildenstein collection on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  

The Lute Player – Hermitage Museum

 

The Lute Player – Badminton House

The Lute Player – Wildenstein Collection

The Hermitage and Badminton versions collectively show a set of four madrigals by Jaques Archadelt:

  • Chi potrà dir quanta dolcezza provo
  • Se la dura durezza in la mia donna
  • Voi sapete ch’io v’amo anzi v’adoro
  • Vostra fui e sarò mentre ch’io viva

I took on a research project which was first displayed at the Atlantian Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival in March 2020.  The goal of the project was to identify two of the madrigals 

  • Chi potrà dir quanta dolcezza provo
  • Se la dura durezza in la mia donna

from the Hermitage and Badminton house versions, and transcribe all parts into modern notation.  

Each of the madrigals were written for four parts:  cantus, alto, tenor, and bass, and were published in a corresponding part book.  Depending on which version you sang, you would have received an appropriate book.

 

 

I transcribed each of the parts into a modern arrangement of Chi Porta Dir and Se La Dura.    I also created a single page arrangement of Chi Porta Dir and Se La Dura.  The original music can be found in Arcadelt’s 1544 book  Il Primo Libro Di Madrigali D’Archadelt which has the original notation.

For more details on the project, I encourage you to see the two accompanying research papers:  Unlocking the Music in The Lute Player, and What is Music Transcription? And Why Does It Matter?

 

 

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