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Madrigals: “Fine Knacks for Ladies” and “Madrigal de Nîmes”

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It all leads–at least to this point–to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Alabama Shakes, with stops at Fats Waller, Tony Bennett and all the others along the way.

But it has to start somewhere. Madrigals were not at the very start, of course, but close enough to it. The above clip from The King’s Singers — which starts out like a Monty Python skit — offers some background on this type of music and then presents Fine Knacks for Ladies, which was written by John Dowland in about 1600. Below is a beautiful performance by students at California State University at Long Beach. I believe that the choir is singing Gabriel Fauré’s Madrigal de Nîmes. Please let me know if I have it wrong.

Here is a succinct definition of madrigals from Last.fm:

A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six. (Continue Reading…)

It’s certainly not every day music today, but it’s important and some of it–particularly pieces such as the one below–still is quite enjoyable.

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The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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