Sacred Madrigals and Secular Masses

Every once in a while we come across a piece of music that is categorized in a way that makes us ask why. I’m talking about secular masses and sacred madrigals. I am looking into writing about pieces which exist in a genre which seems questionable. I have found multiple articles on how church music and madrigals are related which is a start. Epstein suggested that I focus on one piece that is in a genre that it wouldn’t normally be in and look into why. I haven’t decided on the exact piece, but I have found some ideas when researching.

One of the hardest things about working with this topic is that I haven’t found a specific piece yet because I needed to find works that are in this category. Searching for those pieces was difficult because of the language used; like how do I put “music categorized in a genre that we wouldn’t expect” into a couple words. I found that a common term used for some pieces is spiritual madrigal. So I was searching for madrigal AND church or madrigal and relig* and there was virtually nothing. Once I figured out the language that writers use, it was easier to navigate the databassi.

I’m thinking I’ll use a madrigal that has to do with the happier parts of a church holiday (I found one about rejoicing in the joys of Lent) so that I can focus on the intent of the composer. There is no way that a madrigal of this kind would be sung in a church, however a secular mass could definitely be sung is a church depending on the text. So I want to look at the intersections (not sucking up) of sacred/secular and come back to our question about if the categorization is really necessary.

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