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The Renaissance Attitude Toward Interpretation in Instrumental Performance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Imogene Horsley
Affiliation:
Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota
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Extract

Most of our performances of Renaissance ensemble music mirror only too exactly the blank appearance of the original parts. The normal reaction of the conscientious instrumentalist who has been brought up on scores sprinkled with signs indicating just how each note is to be played—as well as what tone is be to sounded and for how long—is to conclude that, if no ‘expression’ signs are present, then the composer was concerned only with pitch and duration, and that to produce anything more would be to mispresent his intentions. The resulting ‘abstract’ performance is inadvertently encouraged by those musical scholars who stress the new emphasis on expression of emotion found in the Baroque period (always in contrast to the music of earlier periods) and by the many musicologists who look at early instrumental music primarily to search for traces of its liberation from the tyranny of vocal style.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1957

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References

1 Giovanni de’ Bardi, Discourse on ancient musk and good singing (ca. 1580), English translation in Strunk, Oliver, Source Readings in Music History (New York: Norton, 1950), pp. 290301.Google Scholar Also, Galilei, Vinccnzo, Dialogo della musica antica e della moderna (Venice, 1581 Google Scholar; facsimile reprint, Rome, 1934, and Milan, 1946); short excerpts of relevant material are found in Strunk, pp. 302-324.

2 Peri, Jacopo, Euridice (Florence, 1601 Google Scholar, facsimile reprint, Rome, 1934), Foreword. The Foreword appears in translation in Strunk, pp. 373-376.

3 Vincentino, Nicolo, L'Antica musica ridotta alla moderna prattica (Rome, 1555), f. 43 ff.Google Scholar

4 Monteverdi, Claudio, Il quinto libro de madrigali (Venice, 1605)Google Scholar, Foreword. Facsimile reprint of Foreword in Monteverdi, Opere, ed. Malipiero, G. Francesco (Asolo, 1926)Google Scholar, Vol. v. Also, Giulio Cesare Monteverdi, Dichiaratione della Lettera Stampata nel Quinto Libro suoi madrigali published at end of Monteverdi, Claudio, Scherzi Musicali (Venice, 1607).Google Scholar Facsimile reprint in Malipiero edition, Vol. x, pp. 69-72. Both appear in translation in Strunk, pp. 405-412.

5 Monteverdi, Claudio, Madrigali guerrieri ed amorosi (Venice, 1638)Google Scholar, Foreword. Facsimile reprint in Malipiero edition, Vol. viii. In translation in Strunk, pp. 413-415.

6 Opera intitulata Fontegara La quale insegna a sonare di flauto … (Venice, 1535; facsimile reprint, Milan, 1934). Regola Rubertina. Regola che insegna sonar de viola darcho tasta (Venice, 1542). Lettione Secondapur delta prattica di sonare il violone d'arco tasti… (Venice, 1543). Regola Rubertina and Lettione Seconda appear in facsimile reprint with German translation and notes edited by Max Schneider (Leipzig, 1924), 2 vols.

7 ‘ … se ditte parole sono di natura alegra lui [the singer] [sings] con il suo modo & voce alegra over vivace & se sono lamentevole & placabile alora lui tal pronuntia rimove in suave & lamentevole si che procederai sele parole sarāno suave & lamentevole con il tuo sonar anchora lamentevole se alegre con il sonar alegro & vivace…’

8 ‘… però il movere suo sera proportionate alia musica ben composta su le parole, dove se la musica sera mistevole per parole tal ancora gli membri fara la sua moventia cōforme, e l'ochio come principal in giustificar la conforme moventia sera compagnato dal peio e bocca, e mēto della faccia & il collo appressatti alia spalla piu e manco secondo il bisogno a simile suggieto formata a tal parole.’

9 Maurice W. Riley, The Teaching of Bowed Instruments from 1511-1756 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1954; microfilm 1832), pp. 84-85.

10 I use here the translation into modem terms of Ganassi's descriptions by Riley, pp. 33-36.

11 Ortiz, Diego, Tratado de glosas sobre clausula; y ottos generos de puntos en la musica de violones (Rome, 1553 Google Scholar; reprint edition, edited by Max Schneider, 2nd ed., Kassel, 1936), p. (5).

12 Mersenne, Marin, L'Harmonic Universelle (Paris, 1637), P. 195.Google Scholar

13 Ibid., p. 195.

14 Opera Intitulata Fontegara, Cap. 5-Cap. 8.

15 dalla Casa, Girolamo, Il veto modo di diminuir, con tutte le sorte di stromenti di fiato e corde e di voce humana (Venice, 1584). 2 vols, Foreword to Vol. I.Google Scholar

16 Opera Intitulata Fontegara, Cap. 24.

17 Ibid., Cap. 2.

18 Ibid., Cap. 24, 25.

19 Ibid., Cap. 25.

20 Palisca, Claude V., The Beginnings of Baroque Music, Its Roots in Sixteenth Century Theory and Polemics (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard, 1953), pp. 6263.Google Scholar

21 Bardi, in Strunk, p . 294.

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