‘Del sonare sopra ‘l basso’: The Theory and Practice of Basso Continuo Accompaniment in the Seventeenth-century

Numerous studies on the subject of basso continuo have been published since the early twentieth century. Yet many questions remained unanswered, in particular those surrounding the realization of early seventeenth-century unfigured basses. The present study is the first to define a set of principles and rules for this type of accompaniment.

While a number of approaches for the realization of unfigured basses are described in eighteenth-century treatises, such as the application of the Rule of the Octave, for example by Campion (1715) and Heinichen (1719), very few directions are given in the textbooks of the early seventeenth-century. With this study I present the results of the examination of three different groups of sources: (1) Counterpoint treatises; (2) Basso continuo treatises; (3) Compositions. My aim has been to show that these sources are closely related, and that each of them is essential for the process of designing a workable method for the realization of unfigured basses.

This study also addresses questions of performance practice. Most present-day performers aiming at a historically informed continuo style base their choices on certain assumptions of historical practice. I have located references in the primary literature, which are supplemented with musical examples, in order to provide a more solid basis for these practices. This was not done with the intention that such references should become prescriptive, but rather in the hope that the results of this study may provide as much information as possible for those who seek it.

Thérèse de Goede-Klinkhamer

From 2005 - 2014 Thérèse de Goede was Head of Early Music of the CvA. During that period she co-developed the programme for the Early Music Department with additional Ba/Ma courses on Gesture, Rhetoric, Historical Treatises, History of Early Music in the 20th Century, Improvisation, Historical harmony and Baroque Dance. 
She organized projects on subjects such as English 17th-Century Vocal Solo repertoire; Keyboard Music of the 14h and 15th Centuries; French Airs de cour & Solo Cantatas; Rameau’s Orchestral Music; Improvisation; Spanish Renaissance Music. In 2006 she initiated The Early Music Summer School of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. This annual event now attracts many students from all over the world.

Thérèse de Goede gives master classes and seminars at various universities and summer courses, and is a regular visiting teacher at the Universities of Berlin and Krakow. She has presented/will be presenting papers at many conferences, including the Holland Festival Early Music International Symposia in Utrecht, 1998, 2006, 2012 and 2014; Tonality in Perspective in King’s College, (London, 2008); Re-examining the Transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque (Oxford, 2010); International Conference on Historical Keyboard Music in Edinburgh, July 2011 and 2013; Society for Seventeenth-Century Music (Columbus, 2013), and 16th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music at University Mozarteum (Salzburg, July 2014).

Projectinformatie

2006–2009

15 januari 2015

Prof. dr. Peter Holman, University of Leeds

1996 ‘“Del sonare sopra il basso”: over het uitwerken van vroeg zeventiende-eeuwse bassen’, Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie 1/3 (1996), pp. 123-141

1996 ‘Die Entwicklung von General-Baß und Harmonie im Zeitalter Henry Purcells, Teil 1’, Concerto, Das Magazin für Alte Musik 13/2, pp. 33–36, en 13/3, pp. 19-23.

2005 ‘From Dissonance to Note-cluster: The Application of Musical-rhetorical Figures and Dissonances to Thoroughbass Accompaniment of Early 17th-century Italian Vocal Solo Music,’ Early Music 33, pp. 233-250.

2008 ‘Thoroughbass Figures and Harmony in Lucy Robinsons Article on Forqueray’s Pièces de Viole of 1747’, Early Music 36 (2008), pp. 168-72

2013 [Review] ‘Giorgio Sanguinetti, The Art of Partimento’, Dutch Journal of Music Theory 18, pp. 194-202

Forthcoming ‘Basso continuo’, in Oxford Bibliographies in Music

I designed a Basso Continuo major for bachelor and master students, and two supplementary courses that combine theory and practice; the Conservatorium van Amsterdam was the first institute to offer this program.


The Basso Continuo major includes playing in different styles; for example in that of a solo motet, a solo song, an air de cour, a recitative, or a solo sonata; playing in full-voiced (five-to-eight-parts) texture, or with regularly ‘broken’ intervals or chords; the application of Italian, French, English, German ornamentation and diminution. Other courses in the curriculum include ‘maestro al cembalo’, partimento playing and improvisation.

Historical Harmony in Performance Practice (bachelor minor course). I teach this course in two versions: for continuo players and for singers. Subjects are: hexachord, modes, and cadences; the development from modal to tonal harmony; harmonic languages of the key figures of the Baroque, such as Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, Bononcini, L. and F. Couperin, Rameau, J.S. Bach; the relation between harmony and dynamics and accentuation. The course duration is two years of weekly classes. All information is taken from 16th, 17th, and 18th-century treatises.

Playing With Treatises
In this course students are trained to actively research and study historical sources. They will form ensembles or take the course as a soloist. Each ensemble or soloist will select a composition. Research subjects are: tempo, dynamics, ornamentation, harmonic language, theory of affects, rhetoric, French versus Italian style etc. The students will collect information and examine the relevant sources in order to apply this information to the performance of their chosen composition.

Delen