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April 2014
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Bella Voce: Better Wear Chain Mail

Bella Voce

Bella Voce

Friday at 2:00 pm


It’s a funny tune, at least to 21st century ears, but the Renaissance guys loved it: L’homme armé (The Armed Man). If you can imagine a scene out of the Renaissance Fair or The Game of Thrones—those people—having a hit song that no festive gathering could be without, it was L’homme armé. So infectious was it, church composers lifted the tune for their own Godly purposes. Both Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410-1497) and Josquin des Prez (c.1450-1521) turned the tune into an entire mass, as did a composer named Morales (1500-1553). It may be apocryphal, but it’s been said that Martin Luther once quipped, “Why should the devil get all the good tunes?”.

In a stroke of clever programming, Bella Voce music director Andrew Lewis constructed an entire concert around music based on L’homme armé. The concerts are April 26 and 27. Bella Voce comes to WFMT for an Impromptu on Friday, April 25 at 2:00 pm.

Here’s the tune:

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The man, the man, the armed man,
The armed man
The armed man should be feared, should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail.

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