Thomas Morley – Fyer, fyer

This piece mostly (there are a few exceptions) creates a feeling of hectic, but it also gives away a rather positive mood in most sections. “Fyre, fyre” is written for five voices of a mixed choir ( Soprano 1&2, Tenor 1&2, Bass) in f-major and one thing which is really distinctive, is that has quite abrupt tempo changes, whilst the modifications on dynamics work more fluently.

The whole piece is divided into 2 stanzas, whereas, at the end of the piece, the melody is repeated from the beginning, but the text changes. Both of those stanzas can each be parted in another 9 parts, which I labeled from a to e (some parts are repeating themselves). The entries from the different voices singing the same text is almost always at the same time, which makes it easier to understand the plot of the piece. The whole form of one stanza would be a, b, c, d, e, b, c, d, e. In the following paragraphs I’ll try to explain those parts further.


Goes from bar 1 to 12, but is being repeated and therefore ends at bar 24.Due to the often changing dynamics (ff, mf, p) and the text, it seems to be giving a hints of what else lies ahead. As already mentioned, the piece creates a feeling of hectic, which has an even stronger effect in this part due to it creating an abrupt start.


From bar 24 to 27 Morley creates a short bridge between part a and a very contrasing c-part. The pace and colour of sound is the same as in the previous section


This is the only part that makes a major contrast to the others, it lasts for 6 bars (28 – 34). The key changes to d – minor (which is the relative to f major and therefore has the same key-signautre). The notes are held much longer, which makes this part of the piece sound slow and melancholic. The segue between b and c as well as c and d both come rather unexpected, but part c therefore creates a nice change compared to the fast moving rest of the piece.


Making another abrupt change, which leads the melody back to the first parts, the unusual thing about part d is, that the entries of the voices are more shifted than in the other parts. Its lasts from bar 34 to 43.


Until the melody comes back to part b, this part is filled in with notes sung as “fa” and “la”, that makes the audience more aware of the melody, which even seems a little cheery due to the text and melody.


For me it isn’t a piece that I would add to my personal music collection, but I nevertheless enjoyed listening to it. I was quite surprised at the contrast in part c. Otherwise, I generally felt it was a bit to fast. Due to those few cheery sounding parts the piece actually sounded a bit absurd the me, because the text actually gave away a rather serious plot. One thing I liked though, was the fact, that the choir sung the same text either simultaneously or only with a little delay, which made it easy to follow the melody and text of the piece.

The score of the piece, provided by James Gibb can be found under the following link :