Studies in Historical Improvisation: From Cantare super Librum to Partimenti (Hardback) book cover

Studies in Historical Improvisation

From Cantare super Librum to Partimenti

Edited by Massimiliano Guido

© 2017 – Routledge

220 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Description

In recent years, scholars and musicians have become increasingly interested in the revival of musical improvisation as it was known in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. This historically informed practice is now supplanting the late Romantic view of improvised music as a rhapsodic endeavour—a musical blossoming out of the capricious genius of the player—that dominated throughout the twentieth century. In the Renaissance and Baroque eras, composing in the mind (alla mente) had an important didactic function. For several categories of musicians, the teaching of counterpoint happened almost entirely through practice on their own instruments. This volume offers the first systematic exploration of the close relationship among improvisation, music theory, and practical musicianship from late Renaissance into the Baroque era. It is not a historical survey per se, but rather aims to re-establish the importance of such a combination as a pedagogical tool for a better understanding of the musical idioms of these periods. The authors are concerned with the transferral of historical practices to the modern classroom, discussing new ways of revitalising the study and appreciation of early music. The relevance and utility of such an improvisation-based approach also changes our understanding of the balance between theoretical and practical sources in the primary literature, as well as the concept of music theory itself. Alongside a word-centred theoretical tradition, in which rules are described in verbiage and enriched by musical examples, we are rediscovering the importance of a music-centred tradition, especially in Spain and Italy, where the music stands alone and the learner must distil the rules by learning and playing the music. Throughout its various sections, the volume explores the path of improvisation from theory to practice and back again.

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

part I ‘con la mente e con le mani’: Music and the art of memory

1 The Improvisatory Moment

Thomas Christensen

2 Musical Inventio, Rhetorical Loci,and the Art of Memory

Stefano Lorenzetti

3 Climbing the Stairs of the Memory Palace: Gestures at the Keyboard for a Flexible Mind

Massimiliano Guido

 

part II Improvising vocal Music

4 Towards a Stylistic History of ‘Cantare super Librum’

Philippe Canguilhem

5 Contrapunto and Fabordón: Practices of Extempore Polyphony in Renaissance Spain

Giuseppe Fiorentino

6 Discovering the Practice of Improvised Counterpoint

Jean-Yves Haymoz

 

part III Improvising Keyboard Music

7 Composing at the Keyboard: Banchieri and Spiridion, Two Complementary Methods

Edoardo Bellotti

8 Partimento Teaching According to Francesco Durante, Investigated Through the Earliest Manuscript Sources

Peter van Tour

9 Partimento and Incomplete Notations in Eighteenth-Century Keyboard Music

Giorgio Sanguinetti

 

part IV Nova et vetera: Pedagogy

10 Teaching Theory Through Improvisation

Peter Schubert

11 Learning Tonal Counterpoint Through Keyboard Improvisation in the Twenty-First Century

Michael R. Callahan

 

Bibliography

Index

About the Editor

Massimiliano Guido is a Senior Researcher at the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage of Pavia University, Italy, where he teaches courses in history of music theory and history of musical instruments. Previously he served as a Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Canada, working with Peter Schubert on a project about the art of memory at the keyboard as a tool for teaching counterpoint (2012–14). He was the principal investigator of the research project Improvisation in Classical Music Education: Rethinking our Future by Learning our Past, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2013–14). He holds degrees in musicology (Pavia Univ. Doctorate and Laurea, Göteborg Univ. Master of Music Research), organ (Parma Conservatory, Italy), and harpsichord (Como Conservatory, Italy). He combines musicological research with organ teaching and performance.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUS020000
MUSIC / History & Criticism