Greensleeve's 5th Note
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,409
    Sharp or not sharp? Any strong opinions?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    NOT sharp. Strong opinion.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 873
    But what about What Child is this? ;)
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,257
    My go-to (or at least first thought) lyric and music for Greensleeves is the version Debbie Reynolds sang in “How the West Was Won.” It definitely needs the sharp.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,181
    NOT! (Also strong.)
    It's a modal melody and the sharp is to 'modernise' it - just like what was visited upon plain chant in the baroque and classical eras - even Palestrina got caught up in this decadent practice. According the The Hymnal Companion (1940) it had its origins as a street cry in seventeenth century London.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw PaxTecum
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 999
    It's a modal melody and the sharp is to 'modernise' it - just like what was visited upon plain chant in the baroque and classical eras - even Palestrina got caught up in this decadent practice.
    An interesting observation, seeing as I hear it as more modal with the raised sixth than without.
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz MarkS
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,903
    ... I hear it as more modal with the raised sixth than without.
    Indeed, keeping the raised sixth puts the melody in the Dorian mode.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw Liam MarkS
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,562
    What Mode Is This?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,633
    That sharped 5th note sounds strange to me and goes against what I learned years ago. I don't know what mode it is but suspect it belongs in the com-mode.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,020
    It depends on what theory you subscribe to:

    Some would say (and this used to be me) that it is in the First Mode (Dorian), which naturally runs from D-D and does not use the b-flat (except it often does, cf. most Mode I chants in the Graduale); therefore, when transposed to the usual key of E minor, the C should be sharpened.

    Others would say (and this is my opinion now) that the b should be supplied with musica ficta, and a flat added (which would be c-natural in the usual transposition), to follow the Fa super La rule, since the opening phrase only touches the b before descending again: so the La of the natural hexachord (C-A) needs to be supplied with the Fa from the soft hexachord (F-d, with the b-flat). This matches with Kyrie Orbis factor.

    NB: this is entirely about the possibility of using or not using ficta in the first and second lines; it should, IMO always be sharp in the third and fourth lines (the Refrain in What child is this), since the mode seems to briefly change from the Dorian to Ionian (or transposed Lydian) at that point.
  • Temporarily skipping the question as posed, when I first encountered it, I was quite sure that it was a good-music/bad-music issue: people who like the swooning tune of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and the Waltz/Schmaltz of "Bring Flowers of the Fairest" clearly sharpen the C. Since I do none of those things willingly, the c must be natural, not sharp.

    I don't know enough of the validity of the arguments (and, clearly, intelligent people can disagree). Although I've abandoned the prejudicial reasoning, I think the conclusion is valid: Natural.

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,799
    I hear it as thus:

    melodic minor for the first half... it then switches to the key of D Major for the refrain, but begins on the IV chord (of D Major) for the first two measures then returns to E Minor for the last two measures of the refrain. You can call it 'modernization' if you want, but I like this approach.

    (In the melodic minor, the sixth is natural when descending and sharped when ascending.)

    e,g,a,b,c,b,a,f#,d,e,f#,g,e,e,d#,e,f#,d#,b (melodic minor)
    e,g,a,b,c,b,a,f#,d,e,f#,g,f#,e,d#,c#,d#,e,e (melodic minor)
    d,d,c#,b,a,f#,d,e,f# (D Major, beginning on IV)
    g,e,e,d#,e,f#,d#,b (melodic minor)
    d,d,c#,b,a,f#,d,e,f# (D Major, beginning on IV)
    g,f#,e,d#,c#,d#,e,e (melodic minor)

    (It actually reflects a 'mixolydian schizophrenic complex' traveling from E to a lowered seventh (D) in its harmonic progression)
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,181
    An interesting analysis, Francis, and maybe not far from the mark. (I was beginning to ponder something similar myself. I think that Schenker would be pleased... or amused.)
    Thanked by 1francis
  • tandrews
    Posts: 125
    Split the difference! (purple)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,903
    With Greensleeves originating as a broadside ballad (registered in 1580), more or less to the tune we now associate with that name, it's worthwhile pointing out that such ballads were sung/performed to a "ground" (a repeated pattern of notes/chords). In the case of Greensleeves, the ground for the verses is known as passamezzo antico and the ground for the reprise (chorus) as romanesca.

    Here are two lute renditions of the tune, one from the William Ballet lute book (c. 1590) with a middle version by Francis Cutting (c. 1605), and the other from Het Luitboek van Thysius (c. 1595-1620).

    (William Ballet lute book/Francis Cutting):

    (Het Luitboek van Thysius):

  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 873
    My only strong opinion on this is that it should match what is printed in the music. A certain Cathedral would print the music with the sharp and then play it without which was very difficult for those who actually read.