Partimento and Continuo Playing in Theory and in Practice

Partimento and Continuo Playing in Theory and in Practice

Thomas Christensen
Robert Gjerdingen
Giorgio Sanguinetti
Rudolf Lutz
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 136
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdxdv
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  • Book Info
    Partimento and Continuo Playing in Theory and in Practice
    Book Description:

    This volume is a collection of essays based on lectures given at the International Orpheus Academy for Music Theory on ‘Music and Theory: Thoroughbass in Practice, Theory, and Improvisation'. Hence the point of departure was not ‘Music Theory' as such, but the interaction between music theory, music history, performance practice, aesthetics, and related sciences. This multidisciplinary approach, with the accent on the interplay between music performance and music theory, is reflected in the contributions to this book. Thomas Christensen, in his contribution, shows how the development of tonal harmonic theory went hand in hand with the practice of thoroughbass. Both Robert Gjerdingen and Giorgio Sanguinetti focus on the Neapolitan tradition of partimento. Gjerdingen addresses the relation between the realization of partimenti and contrapuntal thinking, illustrated by examples of contrapuntal imitation and combination in partimenti, leading to the ‘partimentofugue'. Sanguinetti elaborates on the history of this partimentofugue from the early 18th until the late 19th century. Rudolf Lutz, finally, presents his use of partimenti in educational practice, giving examples of how reviving this old practice can give new insights to composers, conductors and musicians.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-094-7
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. 7-8)
    Dirk Moelants
  4. THOROUGHBASS AS MUSIC THEORY
    (pp. 9-42)
    Thomas Christensen

    Thoroughbass is typically understood today as a largely practical discipline of music, one in which the keyboardist learns to play (or “realize”) the chords encoded in figured-bass notation in some stylistically-appropriate manner.¹ It is not surprising, then, that the vast majority of didactic literature used to teach thoroughbass in the 17th and 18th centuries emphasizes this mechanical aspect of chord realization. It is true that this practice is one that may at times blur the boundaries of compositional creativity, or musicalpoesis. (The skills needed for the realization of the thoroughbass and those for compositions were closely related in the...

  5. PARTIMENTI WRITTEN TO IMPART A KNOWLEDGE OF COUNTERPOINT AND COMPOSITION
    (pp. 43-70)
    Robert Gjerdingen

    Today the word “conservatory” connotes, as it has since Victorian times, an institution dedicated to conserving one of the classical performing traditions of European culture. Originally, however, aconservatoriowas a Catholic charitable institution dedicated to conserving orphans, foundlings, and other destitute children.I Poveri di Gesù Cristo(The Poor Ones of Jesus Christ), the name of one of the early Neapolitan conservatories, was not just a religious metaphor. It summed up the plight and social standing of many of the students. In a world where family connections were paramount, a child without an intact family needed special assistance. If...

  6. PARTIMENTO-FUGUE: THE NEAPOLITAN ANGLE
    (pp. 71-112)
    Giorgio Sanguinetti

    After a long period of oblivion, thepartimentotradition seems now to have awakened the attention of the musical community. After a century-long hiatus between composition and performance, and — more generally — between theory and practice, many musicians are now fascinated by a mode of transmission of knowledge that aimed at a non-mediated, unreflected musical competence through what Robert Gjerdingen has called “ritual model of shared symbolic practices”.¹ In fact, the practice ofpartimentoallowed a global composition training — thoroughbass, harmony, counterpoint, form, texture, motivic coherence — through improvisation. As a reward for a long and difficult practice, the student attained the...

  7. THE PLAYING OF PARTIMENTO COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING FOR THE COMPOSING AND IMPROVISING INTERPRETER
    (pp. 113-127)
    Rudolf Lutz

    Thanks to detailed studies of thepartimentoas a training method in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Italy, in recent years much light has been shed on, and many discoveries made about this widespread teaching method. First and foremost I would like to mention the work of Robert Gjerdingen. He has made a large number of suchpartimentiaccessible in the worldwide web.¹ The comments about the phenomenon in his treatment of the “Galant Style” — an essay that is most welcome for me as an improviser — demonstrate the importance of this training for buddingmaestri di capellaand keyboardists.²

    Thus, I would like...

  8. Personalia
    (pp. 128-130)
  9. COLOPHON
    (pp. 131-131)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 132-136)