Ricercar sopra ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la (Costanzo Porta)

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  • (Posted 2015-06-18)  CPDL #35803:       
Editor: John Hetland (submitted 2015-06-18).   Score information: Letter, 7 pages, 798 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Source: Costanzo Porta: Keyboard Compositions, ed. Bernhard Billeter, A.I.M., 1977. Text from Liber Usualis, page 1504. Notation here is a tone higher than original with time values halved. Translation is by John Hetland. Prepared for the Renaissance Street Singers. 7 Sep 2012

General Information

Title: Ricercar sopra ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la
Composer: Costanzo Porta
Lyricist: Guidocreate page

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published:
Description: Guido of Arezzo, in the 11th century, wrote about the hexachord and his mnemonic for naming its notes, a poem "Ut queant laxis" from c.800 that he may have set to music himself. Each successive half-line of the poem begins on the next step of the hexachord, and the syllable there becomes the name of the step. Porta's riff on those notes, though written for keyboard, is clearly written in four voices which correspond nicely to SATB ranges. Thus we have chosen to add the text of that very hymn, to adapt this ricercar for choral performance. 7 Sep 2012

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Ut quéant làxis resonáre fíbris
ra gestórum muli tuórum,
Sólve pollúti bii reátum,
Sáncte Joánnes.

Núntius célso véniens Olýmpo,
Te pátri mágnum fóre nascitúrum,
Nómen, et vítae sériem geréndae
Ordine prómit.

Ille promíssi dúbius supérni,
Pérdidit prómptae módulos loquélae:
Sed reformásti génitus perémptae
Organa vócis.

Véntris obstrúso récubans cubíli
Sénseras Régem thálamo manéntem:
Hinc párens náti méritis utérque
Abdita pándit.

Sit décus Pátri, genitaéque Próli,
Et tíbi cómpar utriúsque vírtus,
Spíritus sémper, Déus únus, ómni
Témporis aévo. Amen.

English.png English translation

So that they may sing with relaxed cords,
Your servants, of your wondrous feats,
Release the offense of a polluted lip,
O holy John.

An angel, coming from high heaven,
To your father, your great future birth,
Name, and course of life
He discloses in order.

He, doubtful of the promise from above,
Lost the ability to speak,
But at your birth you recovered the lost
Vocal organs.

Reclining trapped in the bed of the womb,
You felt the King staying in inner chamber;
Henceforth each parent of the worthy son
Revealed what was hidden.

Glory be to the Father, the begotten Son,
And to you, the power equal to both,
Spirit eternal, one God, at every
Time for eternity. Amen.