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Canzon per Sonar Primi Toni, no. 1

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Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli (arr. Timothy Higgins)

General Info

Year: 1597 / 2014
Duration: c. 3:25
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: 415 Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $14.95


Full Score
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Canzon per sonar primi toni is in the Dorian mode, which comprises a set of intervals and melodies that do not correspond neatly with either the major or minor harmonies that would become standard by the end of the Baroque era. It was composed for two ensembles, each with four parts. These ensembles would be seated across from each other in the choir lofts at St. Mark, creating a marvelous “stereo” effect.

The piece begins with a rhythmic theme common in its time, the “dactyl foot” which consists of one long note followed by two shorter notes. The choirs engage in a call-and-response with each other, and sometimes play together. Most of the phrases are begun with the dactyl pattern, sometimes in diminution.

The most complete compilation of Gabrieli's choral and instrumental works is the Sacrae Symphoniae of 1597. The instrumental pieces in the Sacrae Symphoniae are either titled canzonas or sonatas. The canzonas originated as arrangements of chansons -- a type of French polyphonic songs. Gradually the canzonas became independent of their chanson models, and those published by Giovanni were all original compositions. These pieces were played during the epistle and post-Communion of a church service. Sacrae Symphonia was such a popular publication that many young composers from the North came to Venice to study and brought Italian Baroque style back with them to Germany and other important centers of music.

- Program Note adapted from University of Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 5 May 2019

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Dallas (Tx.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) - 24 April 2021
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Matthew Sedatole, conductor) - 5 May 2019

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Gabrieli, G.; Higgins, T. (2015). Canzon per sonar primi toni, no. I [score]. 415 Music: San Francisco.