Cadenze per Finali e Finali Diversi

Josué Mélendez

Exuberant, elaborate, and extended cadences are integral to the historically informed performance of Late- Renaissance and Early-Baroque music, but modern performers have been reticent to adopt the advanced ornaments disseminated in diminutions treatises. Alfred Einstein’s 1949 dismissal of these embellishments as “monstrosities” that would never have been performed has not yet been adequately challenged: while the aesthetics of ornamentation has been debated in writing (Brown 1976, Collins 2002), ultimately it is up to the performer to demonstrate that they are a necessary part of performance practice.

In order to approach the level of improvisational ability suggested by treatises, performers should follow the advice of Ludovico Zacconi (1596) and Pedro Cerone (1613) to memorize the diminutions of masters. Luca Conforto (1593) suggests that to ensure the quality and beauty of an ornament, students should supplement learning by ear (which, he writes, is superior to using his book!), with pigliarne copia, that is, “copying and pasting” from treatises into their own ornamentations.


In recent work, I have shown how the practice of adding extra beats to final cadences (Bovicelli 1594; Zacconi 1596) allows performers to cut and paste the extended cadences found in treatises such as Francesco Rognoni's Selva di varii passaggi (1620). I elaborate on this work, demonstrating how the final cadences of early baroque sonate and canzoni can enhance our understanding of how performers applied extended ornamentation. In addition, using the recently discovered sacred monodies of “Carlo G.” (1600–1620), I show how elaborate ornaments are also applicable to internal cadences.