Improvising early-nineteenth century guitar music: the application of partimento rules with realizations informed by the music of Mauro Giuliani and Fernando Sor

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Culler, Austin
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Music
In the eighteenth century, partimento was an important part of music pedagogy, and was a primary mechanism by which apprentice musicians learned to improvise. Partimenti utilize pattern recognition, repetition, and variation in order to engrain stylistic features and compositional tools of the time. In this manner, apprentices would eventually become “native speakers” in the eighteenth-century style. Yet, today both partimento and improvisation are niche, specialist skills and are largely unfamiliar to most classical-music performers, even though eighteenth-century music plays a key role in today’s pedagogy and public concerts. This paper aims to lay the groundwork for adapting partimento practice for the guitar. Therefore, it is intended for both partimento scholars and advanced guitarists with a background in eighteenth-century compositional procedures. To this end, procedures from the Neapolitan regole, in particular Fedele Fenaroli’s “Regole musicali per i principianti di cembalo”, are discussed in terms of guitar performance. Examples from Mauro Giuliani, Fernando Sor, and other early-nineteenth century guitarists are selected in order to examine how they solved the compositional problems laid out in the regole for the guitar. This paper does not necessarily seek to develop a strict eighteenth-century style, but rather filter these procedures through the music of the guitarists who wrestled with them in the first part of the nineteenth century.
Partimento , Partimenti , Guitar , Improvisation , Music , 18th century , Solfeggio , Solfege , Fenaroli , Durante , Giuliani , Sor , Aguado , Legnani , Fughetta , Op. 113 , Schema , Basso continuo , Figured bass