From the beginning of the 17th century, composers in Italy and far beyond its borders discovered the dramatic power of small ensembles, for the most part abandoning the traditional a cappella polyphonic style. The richness of verbal language pointed the way to new modes of expression. Monody played a central role in this development: in essence, it consisted of a single singing voice accompanied by the new style of ‘basso continuo’. The text was supported and followed word by word, making use of the ‘affetti’, a new freedom in the treatment of dissonance as well as sharply contrasting melodic and rhythmic treatments. Of course, any number of new musical forms and genres also developed, one of which was the dialogue – a genre which has repeatedly been given attention by Cappella Figuralis in recent years – and its more expansive version, the oratorio. A dialogue can best be described as a sung conversation, in which each of the persons taking part is represented by a single voice, and a group by a vocal ensemble. In addition, the ‘cast’ sometimes includes a narrator, whose part can be either single-voiced or many-voiced. (…)
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