Nicholas Lanier

Though Lanier was indentured to the Earl of Salisbury until 1607 he received paymnets for some of his services from the Cecil family and Hatfield House before that date. In 1616 he became a member of the King's Musick, playing the lute. He had previously performed before the court in Campion's masque for the Earl of Somerset. The piece which he composed and performed was "Bring away this scred tree" which was one of England's earliest declamatory ayres. Lanier, Wilson, Lawes and Coleman developed this style betwen 1620 and 1660. The textual material and the music were related so that the rhythm of the music would be consistent with the emphases of the speaking voice and its inflections gven the same material. In this song, Lanier's accompaniment was chordal foreshadowing the continuo style. The "melodic" line was monotonous at best but qualitatively tonal and declamatory. After a visit to Italy, for which he was appointed to purchase paintings for the court, Lanier composed his extensive recitative "Hero and Leander." Truly Lanier was influenced by the Italian visit for the composition approximates the Italian recitative and includes expressive moods heretofore unheard in his music. With the exception of the works mentioned, Lanier was known for his compositions of masques the texts of which were written by Ben Jonson, Robert Johnson and Alfono Ferrabosco. He was appointed as the Master of Music for Prince Charles in 1618 and became a Master of the King's Musick in 1625. Lanier was the first to acceede to this position. ~ Keith Johnson

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