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A Performer's Guide to Seventeenth-Century Music, Second Edition

Edited by Stewart Carter. Revised and Expanded by Jeffery Kite-Powell

Publication Year: 2012

Revised and expanded, A Performer's Guide to Seventeenth Century Music is a comprehensive reference guide for students and professional musicians. The book contains useful material on vocal and choral music and style; instrumentation; performance practice; ornamentation, tuning, temperament; meter and tempo; basso continuo; dance; theatrical production; and much more. The volume includes new chapters on the violin, the violoncello and violone, and the trombone—as well as updated and expanded reference materials, internet resources, and other newly available material. This highly accessible handbook will prove a welcome reference for any musician or singer interested in historically informed performance.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Publications of the Early Music Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

Octave Designation Chart

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pp. x

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Preface to the Second Edition

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pp. xi-xiv

The first edition of this book was published by Schirmer Books in 1997, with the submission date for articles dating back to 1995. So a second edition is certainly called for, if for no other reason than the ensuing fifteen-plus years since its inception. But there are other reasons for wanting to produce a second edition, ...

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Preface to the First Edition

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pp. xv-xviii

It is trite, but nonetheless accurate, to say that the seventeenth century was an age of transition between the High Renaissance and the High Baroque. This era was in fact long ignored by music historians. An earlier age, which liked to think of musical periods as dominated by great men, dubbed the “Renaissance” the Age of Palestrina and Lasso, ...

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pp. xix-xx

In acknowledgment I would like to thank Jane Behnken and the very competent editorial staff and production team at Indiana University Press for their continued support and hard work throughout this project. My gratitude also goes to my friend and colleague Stewart Carter, editor of the first edition of this book, ...

Part 1. Vocal/Choral Issues

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1. National Singing Styles

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pp. 3-30

Although one might assume that the human voice has not changed over the centuries, many elements of seventeenth-century vocal performance practice differed considerably from modern singing. There was no single method of singing seventeenth-century music; indeed, there were several distinct national schools, ...

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2. The Bel Canto Singing Style

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pp. 31-43

Of the various national styles of singing in the Baroque era, the Italian style was the mainstream. There has been a more or less unbroken tradition of bel canto singing ever since Giulio Caccini wrote about it in his Le nuove musiche (1602). The classical bel canto style crystallized in the late seventeenth century, when musical considerations triumphed ...

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3. Choral Music in France and England

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pp. 44-54

The primary focus of this chapter is the performance of sung ensemble music, that is, music with several texted parts. Today the term “choral music” commonly implies that there is more than one performer on each part, while “ensemble music” commonly implies only one performer to a part. ...

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4. Choral Music in Italy and the Germanic Lands

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pp. 55-68

Music was constantly changing in the seventeenth century. Yet even those who acknowledge this evolutionary condition often overlook the sources and inspirations for Baroque musical style. There is little that is unprecedented: practically every feature of the style evolved directly from some sixteenth-century musical practice. ...

Part 2. Wind, String, and Percussion Instruments

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5. Woodwinds

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pp. 71-99

Of all the centuries in the recorded history of Western music, the seventeenth witnessed the most thoroughgoing and decisive changes in the nature of woodwind instruments. While the sixteenth century had produced some remarkable developments, resulting in the rich and varied instrumentarium of the late Renaissance, ...

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6. Cornett and Sackbut

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pp. 100-118

The cornett is a lip-vibrated, wooden, fingerhole horn, usually curved and of octagonal cross section, which went out of use in the early nineteenth century. The sackbut is the ancestor of the modern trombone, made of thinner brass and with a narrower bore and bell than its descendant. The histories of these two instruments, differing so greatly in physical characteristics, ...

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7. Trombone

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pp. 119-132

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the trombone consolidated the gains it had made over the course of the previous century. By this time the cornett had generally replaced the shawm in the standard wind ensemble, thus making it more flexible and more suitable for indoor as well as outdoor events. ...

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8. Trumpet and Horn

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pp. 133-149

In writing about seventeenth-century music, commentators have often underscored its foundations in the idea of affective response. This central goal of arousing the passions of the soul brought into play a large vocabulary of musical figures, keys, and instrumental timbres, each powerfully evocative of particular emotional concepts. ...

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9. Percussion Instruments and Their Usage

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pp. 150-167

The seventeenth century marks a curious period in the history of percussion instruments. On the one hand, the usage and performance techniques of most percussion instruments apparently remained quite stable during these years. By contrast, the kettledrums or timpani, virulently condemned by Sebastian Virdung in 1511 ...

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10. The Violin: Technique and Style

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pp. 168-183

The seventeenth century was a period in which profound changes in style bridged the musical aesthetics of the Renaissance and the Baroque. As a result, seventeenth-century styles include elements of both periods. The complex nature of seventeenth-century music offers a wealth of musical expression to violinists who attempt to understand it. ...

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11. Historical Approaches to Playing the Violin

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pp. 184-209

The seventeenth century was an astonishingly rich and creative era for the development of the violin. During this time, the violin came of age and established itself as one of the most popular and versatile instruments, adept at accompanying dance, displaying virtuosic fireworks, and soulfully imitating vocalists. ...

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12. The Viola da Gamba Family

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pp. 210-230

In many ways, the seventeenth century marked the zenith of the viol in Europe; the several hundred surviving instruments and tens of thousands of compositions suggest that the instrument may truly have been one of Europe’s most popular art instruments.1 While both the physical construction and repertory of the viol in the seventeenth century ...

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13. Violoncello and Violone

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pp. 231-247

As bass instruments of the violin family (bass violins), violoncellos and violoni have been the object of much discussion and confusion in recent years, particularly since Stephen Bonta’s two articles in 1977 and 1978.1 The latter, on the terminology of bass violins in seventeenth-century Italy, showed the enormous name diversity bass violins were given; ...

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14. Keyboard Instruments

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pp. 248-271

Solo keyboard music first became an independent and important genre during the seventeenth century. Keyboard instruments were used prior to 1600, of course, but the emphasis on vocal genres during the medieval and Renaissance eras, as well as the limited capabilities of the instruments themselves, consigned the keyboard to a secondary role in the musical activities of church and court. ...

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15. Plucked String Instruments

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pp. 272-290

During the sixteenth century, the tuning, stringing, and construction of the lute remained remarkably consistent from one country to the next, with the exception of the vihuela in Spain, with its waisted design. The basic six-course instrument, tuned fourth-fourth-third-fourth-fourth, was played all over Europe for most of the century, ...

Part 3. Performance Practice and Practical Considerations

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16. Ornamentation in Early Seventeenth-Century Italian Music

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pp. 293-316

The seventeenth century was a period of Italian dominance in musical matters over much of Europe. Italian singers and instrumentalists were in great demand in Germany, Austria, Eastern Europe, and in England, and they brought with them their styles of ornamented singing and playing. ...

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17. Basso Continuo

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pp. 317-346

The term basso continuo designates a mode of accompaniment in use primarily between 1600 and 1750. Continuo practice embraces a wide spectrum of activities and styles, but all such accompaniment includes one thing in common: at least one player of any continuo part produces harmony, the choice of which the composer has designated or the music suggests, ...

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18. Meter and Tempo

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pp. 347-367

We call the musical style of the seventeenth century “Baroque” in order to acknowledge the extravagant, glorious, sometimes even bizarre quality of this brilliant and emotional music. Innovations in the notation of seventeenth-century music gradually changed Renaissance mensural notation to accommodate this expressive and dramatic style. ...

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19. Tuning and Temperament

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pp. 368-374

Imagine a world in which the units used for linear measurement were not quite commensurate—one in which, by some quirky royal decree, let us say, twelve official inches did not quite make an official foot, or three feet exactly a yard. Most citizens, presumably, would be aware of a problem only rarely, ...

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20. Pitch and Transposition

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pp. 375-394

Interest in performing at historical pitches is a comparatively recent phenomenon. The acceptance of a' = 415 as a standard for Baroque ensembles is not yet forty years old,1 and of a' = 430 for Classical players, even younger. So well have these standards become established, however, we easily forget the resistance they once met; ...

Part 4. The Seventeenth-Century Stage

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21. Dance

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pp. 397-432

François de Lauze enlightens us on the geographic diversity of dance styles, and his statement can also be applied chronologically, for this era saw exciting changes in dance technique, underscored by remarkable rediscoveries of dance sources (discussed below) in the last two decades. Based on surviving documents, two distinct periods present themselves, ...

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22. Theatrical Productions

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pp. 433-446

To many well-informed people in the English-speaking world, the phrase “seventeenth-century opera” means Dido and Æneas, the much-produced opera by Henry Purcell.1 We do not realize that the “spicy bed” harbors literally hundreds of little-known masterworks. Dido has become the “typical” Baroque opera for many people, when in fact no opera could be less so! ...

Appendix A. List of Names and Dates

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pp. 447-456

Appendix B. A Performer’s Guide to Medieval Music: Contents

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pp. 457-460

Appendix C. A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music: Contents

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pp. 461-462


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pp. 463-506

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List of Contributors

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pp. 507-510

Julie Andrijeski, full-time lecturer at Case Western Reserve University, is among the leading Baroque violinists and early-music pedagogues in the United States. She holds principal positions with several diverse Baroque and Renaissance groups, including Cleveland’s Apollo’s Fire, New York State Baroque (concertmaster), ...


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pp. 511-536

E-ISBN-13: 9780253005281
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253357069

Page Count: 560
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Second Edition
Series Title: Publications of the Early Music Institute

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Subject Headings

  • Performance practice (Music) -- History -- 17th century.
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