Monteverdi’s “Amor, dicea” (Lamento della ninfa), appearing in his Eighth Book of Madrigals published in 1638, is regarded as among his most emotionally moving works, Denis Arnold (for one) calling it “unforgettable” and “almost unbearably intense.” Nonetheless, our full sense of it and of its expressive potential, remains uncertain in that its accompaniment has come down to us in incomplete form, consisting of but a single bass line on a descending fourth, A – G – F – E, repeated throughout. How this line is to be interpreted has not been agreed upon among scholars or performers, despite its critical bearing on the effect of the piece—especially in respect to the kinds of dissonances Monteverdi would have intended to be heard as a result of it...
"Realizing the Continuo in Monteverdi's Lamento della ninfa and Its Implications for Early-Seventeenth-Century Italian Continuo Practice,"
Performance Practice Review:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/ppr/vol14/iss1/4