William Cornysh (1468-1523) composed motets, a Magnificat, and many sacred and secular song. Little is known about Cornysh's early life. He might have been the son of William Cornysh (death in 1502) who was he first master of the choristers at Westminster Cornysh (the son) also has a connection to the Chapel Royal
This piece begins with one solo voice until mn. 5 where the second ground voice enters. The two ground voices continue to repeat through their eight measure part as the upper solo voice comes in at mn. 9.
As each voice enters the harmonies expand. Interesting enough the opening sonority begins on a G, adds a B-flat with the other ground voice, and finally an octave G in the soloist. This causes one of the significant part of the piece, the entrance of the third voice, to have a G minor harmony without the fifth of the chord.
This piece is still modal despite the use of F naturals, however, the d minor harmony begins to act as a resting point for phrases. The use of a picardy third appears numerous times through the work at the end of phrases, but not at the end as each voice begins to drop out, eventually making the music monophonic.
Since this is a secular work, a fair comparison will be to another work for three voices, Chanson la Belle se siet by Josquin des Prez.
The first thing about Cornysh work is how the voices enter. One ground voice, another ground, and then the soloist. The two ground voices cadence on perfect intervals, the unison and fifth. The addition of the third voice adds the third of most of the harmonies.
In Josquin des Prez's work, the voices all enter around the same time at the beginning. The way each voice interacts with one another is texturally different the Cornysh's work.
I found this piece interesting and it seemed to be one easily overlooked. The idea of a canonic ground as an accompaniment seemed cool and I decided to look at the work closer. I've always admired the harmonic planning that goes into canons (as well as puzzle canons)
Cornish. William. Ah Robin, Gentle Robin. Edited by Alberto Gomez Gomez: 2012.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "William Cornysh," accessed February 10, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/138138/William-Cornysh.
" In dulci Jubilo ensamble. Ah Robin. William Cornysh " YouTube video, 2:56. Posted by "Mario Martinez," upload March 21, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClmdqpssJqw