Publication Date

April 2014


Neely Bruce




English (United States)


This paper examines the process by which the theoretical model of modal music, in its Renaissance form, evolved and, to some extent, dissolved into the modern system of tonality. The musical examples illustrating this shift are drawn from Monteverdi's work in the first two decades of the seventeenth century, when some of the most significant changes in technique and thinking were occurring. Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo (1607) serves as a pivot, since it is firmly modal yet exhibits key elements of tonal thinking. The analysis of the musical examples attempts to trace how and why fragments of modal technique were transmitted into tonal music, despite the fact that the basic building blocks of modality and tonality are fundamentally different. The paper aims to elucidate what happened to European art music in the seventeenth century by presenting the theoretical models that came before and after Monteverdi, and then delving into his music itself to find the cords that bind it all together.



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