Carlo Gesualdo (c1561 - 1613) was an Italian noble who was known as a writer of many expressive madrigals and a murderer. His six books of madrigals were published shortly after his death, becoming one of the earliest collections of printed music.
Moro, lasso, al mio duolo is one of the madrigals found in his sixth book. Throughout the song, there are many instances of chromatic harmony. This is highly unusual, and wouldn't be seen until much later in time. It starts very solemn with a few voices singing a descending chromatic scale in unison. After the female voice enters, the rhythms become more active. Through the piece, there are very sharp dissonances, particularly on iterations of "ahi" in order to express grief.
I die! Languishing, of grief,
and the person who can give me life,
alas, kills me and does not want to give me aid.
O woeful fate!
That the one who can give me life, alas, gives me death!
Moro, lasso, al mio duolo
E chi mi può dar vita,
Ahi, che m'ancide e non vuol darmi aita!
O dolorosa sorte,
Chi dar vita i può, ahi, mi dà morte!
Gesualdo's works are rather easy to identify due to the liberal use of dissonance and chromaticism. For example, against John Dowland's Flow My Tears, one can easily see the difference. Dowland may also use a little bit of chromaticism, but it is used in such a way that the melody is very smooth. Gesualdo takes grief and makes it a shared experience through dissonance. Clearly, there are many more harmonic colors in Gesualdo's madrigal partially due to the use of several voices rather than just solo with lute.
I enjoyed this work quite a bit. Gesualdo's songs are much different than many of the composers before him. Much of what he did was pretty far from the norm from the music to his murder. I think he makes it into our history books mostly because of these.
Craig Wright and Bryan Simms. "Music in Western Civilization." (Schirmer, Boston, 2010). pp. 238-239
Lorenzo Bianconi. "Gesualdo, Carlo, Prince of Venosa, Count of Conza." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed April 27, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/10994 .
Moro, lasso: http://youtu.be/s_q3EJNUKis
Flow my tears: http://youtu.be/Y9HKl8H0PWg