I often wonder if the musicians of today think that they are being very risque and modern about sex. I wonder if they have any idea that in the 16th century the songs and madrigals of the day were very naughty indeed. Most of it was tongue in cheek, but when you think about it, not a lot was hidden in the lyrics.
“Fair Phyllis I saw sitting all alone, feeding her flock upon the mountainside, the shepherds knew not whither she had gone, but after her lover Amyntas hied, and he wandered up and down, whilst she was missing, and when he found her, then they fell a kissing,” *1
Now this may not seem to be as naughty as all that when it is put to you straight like that, but when in a 4 part madrigal with lines being repeated it ends up that:
“Then they fell a kissing and he wandered up and down, up and down he wandered, Kissing up and down . . .”
Have you ever wondered why all the men and women in these songs are always dying? They are not literally dying, they are just having sex and climaxing.
Dainty fine bird that art encaged there, Alas how like thine and my fortunes are. Both prisoners be, and both singing thus strive to please her that hath imprisoned us. Only thus we differ, thou and I, Thou liv’st singing, but I sing and die.” *2
Or they are just more that frolic in the meadows.
“Flora gave me fairest flowers, none so fair in Flora’s treasure, These I placed on Phyllis’ bowers, she was pleased and she my pleasure, Smiling meadows seem to say, Come ye wantons here to play.” *3
More sex and pleasure. It seems that those Phyllises in the 16th century were getting very busy in the outdoors.
I am now thinking that I have my sex talks already planned when Aidan is a teenager. I will use madrigals and Shakespeare to illustrate, hum, well maybe not. This may need a little more time to germinate. At least Aidan asked Anthony all about the box of tampons he read while in the bathroom the other day. I am not sure there are any appropriate madrigals to answer that one.
*1 John Farmer, “Fair Phyllis I Saw”
*2 Orlando Gibbons, “Dainty Fine Bird”
*3 John Wilbye, Flora Gave Me Fairest Flowers”