Tag Archives: Salve Regina

… naming of parts . . .

. . . naming of parts . . .

Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass (and Mezzo-soprano and Baritone), aka SATB (Ms, Bar). Isn’t that how it’s always been? Well, actually, no! Or, at least, only with any consistency since the Baroque period. By then the various labels brought with them notions of range and tone colour but in the earliest days of multi-part vocal music the part designations had more to do with musical function. We might describe Robert Wylkynson’s Salve Regina (from the Eton Choirbook c.1510) as SSATTBarBarBB, but he wrote Quatruplex, Triplex, Medius, Primus Contratenor, Secundus Contratenor, Tenor, Inferior(!) Contratenor, Secundus Bassus and Primus Bassus. So what did he mean?

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