A villanella is a form of light secular vocal music which originated in Italy just before the middle of the 16th century. It first appeared in Naples, and influenced the later canzonetta, and from there also influenced the madrigal.
The subject matter is generally rustic, comic, and often satirical; frequently the mannerisms of art music, such as the madrigal, are a subject of parody. The villanella became one of the most popular forms of song in Italy around mid-century.
The music of the early villanella (known as the canzone villanesca) is invariably for three unaccompanied voices. The first composers of villanellas were the Neapolitans Giovanni Domenico da Nola and Giovan Tomaso di Maio; later composers of villanellas, no longer from Naples, included Adrian Willaert, Luca Marenzio, Adriano Banchieri, Orlando di Lasso and others.
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