chapter  2
15 Pages

Fa mi la mi so la: The Erotic Implications of Solmization Syllables

WithLeofranc Holford-Strevens

The erotic implications of square and soft B, mined for the Middle Ages by Bonnie Blackburn in Chapter 1, are a seam by no means exhausted in the sixteenth century; but it becomes increasingly blended with solmization syllables. There is, for instance, a villanesca by Perissone Cambio, Madonne, l’arte nostra è di cantare:1

Madonne, l’arte nostra è di cantare Ladies, our art is to sing Le villanell’, e dar la letione. Villanelle, and to give lessons. Manco d’un’ hora t’imparò la mano In under an hour I shall teach you the hand Con quelle note: la sol far a mi, With the notes la sol far a mi Ch’io saccio molto bene l’arte fare. For I know very well how to perform the art.