The Monkees and the 16th century “villancico”
The villancico developed from medieval dance into a Spanish folk song in the Renaissance, then evolved into an art song form. The form is alternating refrains and stanzas: A-B-A. The stanza text has two parts: the second part rhymes with the last line of the first, but is sung to the refrain’s melody, intertwining the music and the lyrics. The text was a love poem or a devotional religious poem.
“Ríu Ríu Chíu” is a 16th century villancico that is still sung at Christmas. The Monkees (yes, you read that correctly) even made an a capella recording of it.
Here’s a traditional choral rendition for you to compare.
From that “simple” beginning, the form developed into an elaborate art form, with instrumental introductions, the stanza a single voice, the refrain in polyphony, and alternating instrumental interludes. Here’s a stirring rendition of “Villancico de Kalenda” performed by none other than Ars Longa de la Habana.
Now that you’ve learned a little about the villancico, we hope you’ll enjoy the concert even more! We’ll see you Saturday night!