Passamezzo moderno

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The Gregory Walker or passamezzo moderno ("modern half step"; also quadran, quadrant, or quadro pavan) was "one of the most popular harmonic formulae in the Renaissance period, divid[ing] into two complementary strains thus:"

 1)   I   IV   I   V 
 2)   I   IV   I-V   I 
(Middleton 1990, 117).

For example, in C major the progression is as follows:

C F C G C F C-G C
Gregory Walker root progression About this sound Play .[a]

The progression or ground bass, the major mode variation of the passamezzo antico, originated in Italian and French dance music during the first half of the 16th century, where it was often used with a contrasting progression or section known as ripresi. Though one of Thomas Morley's characters in Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke denigrates the Gregory Walker, comparing unskilled singing to its sound (Morley 1597, 120), it was popular in both pop/popular/folk and classical musics through 1700. Its popularity was revived in the mid 19th century, and the American variant (below) evolved into the twelve bar blues (van der Merwe 1989, 198–201).

Examples[edit]

"Darling Nelly Gray", page one About this sound Play .

Listed in van der Merwe (1989, 198–201):

Listed in Helms, Ilmbrecht, and Dieckelmann (1954,[page needed]):

  • Hans Neusidler's "Gassenhawer" (Nuremberg, 1536)
  • "Oxstedter Mühle" (folk dance from Lower Saxony) (B section)
  • Diego Ortiz' Recercada Prima / Segunda / Tercera sobre el Passamezzo Moderno (three-part didactic composition in Tratado de Glosas sobre cláusulas y Otros Generos de Puntos en la Música de Violones, 1553). (Readers of Spanish may benefit from the Spanish-language Wikipedia's more extensive treatment of Diego Ortiz and of the Tratado de Glosas.)

Others:

  • Iron & Wine's "A History of Lovers" (Iron e Wine 2005,[page needed]) (verses; chorus and interludes follow ripresi IV-I-IV-V progression)

American Gregory Walker[edit]

The American Gregory Walker, popular in parlour music, is a variation in which the subdominant (IV) chords become the progression IV-I (van der Merwe 1989, 201-202).

 1)   I   IV-I   I   V 
 2)   I   IV-I   I-V   I 
(Middleton 1990, 117).

For example, in C major this variation is as follows:

C F-C C G C F-C C-G C
American Gregory Walker root progression About this sound Play .

Examples[edit]

Listed in van der Merwe (1989, 201–202):

Other variations[edit]

On original progression[edit]

  • Second strain's first I becomes I-I7 (for a stronger "lead-in" to the upcoming IV):
  • Second strain progresses from IV directly to a full measure of V, displacing its second (half-measure) I:
  • Bluegrass variation: First strain's change from I to IV and back is omitted:
The Bluegrass variation frequently occurs in conjunction with the I-I7 "lead-in" and/or the direct IV-to-V transition listed above.
The resulting progression is  ||| I | I | I | V || I(-I7) | IV | (I-)V | I ||| ; examples include:
  • "Mbube" (Solomon Linda, 1939), imported into English as "Wimoweh [uyimbube]"/"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

On American variant[edit]

  • IV-I is reversed, becoming I-IV or I7-IV:
  • Second I in second strain becomes II7, yielding second-strain progression of  || I | IV-II7 | I-V | I ||| :

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Caution: Keeping all chords in root position produces parallel fifths (see parallel harmony), which are prohibited by traditional voice-leading rules. The following files may be more suitable for use in strict counterpoint: About this sound progression with tonic (I) chord in root position , About this sound tonic in first inversion , About this sound tonic in second inversion ; though they lack the ground bass.

References[edit]

External links[edit]