Early keyboard music

Music 593
Independent Study: Early Keyboard Music

Students in this course learn about the repertory, technique, and performance practices of early keyboard instruments, especially the harpsichord.
Work for the course includes:
study of music, comprising analysis of scores
listening to recordings of the same, or of similar repertoire
practicing the same
learning to play continuo parts (figured bass)
reading relevant selections on historical performance practice, including continuo realization, and on historical instruments (organology) and repertory
attending weekly meetings with the instructor. These will include:
–playing repertory practiced during the previous week
–discussing reading and listening
–discussing scores (analysis of music and of continuo parts)
performance of selections as part of a public recital, including:
–at least one each of a substantial harpsichord composition, performed complete on harpsichord
–a continuo part performed on harpsichord in a substantial chamber work
a final examination, which may be comprised in whole or in part of the performance listed above
Grades and attendance. The final grade is based on attendance and accomplishment at weekly meetings, each worth 5% of the total grade, up to 60% for 12 weekly meetings. The remainder of the grade is based on the quality of the performance(s) and final exam.
Repertory studied during the semester provides a survey of the most important harpsichord music of the late sixteenth through the early eighteenth centuries. Each student studies at least one of each of the following:
a French Baroque work: prelude, dance movement, or character piece
an English work from the Elizabethan period: prelude, dance movement, or set of variations
an Italian work: a toccata or similar piece from around the late Renaissance or early Baroque; or an eighteenth-century sonata
a prelude, invention, fugue, or dance movement by J. S. Bach
In addition, students receive an introduction to continuo realization, accompanying one another’s performances as singers or players of other instruments (repertory is selected based on the vocal or instrumental skills of students in the class). Each student studies at least one of the following:
a continuo part for an instrumental or vocal chamber work, the latter including recitative as well as aria
Repertory studied in the last time the course was offered:
John Bull (1562/3–1628): Prelude in G, BuK 121
William Byrd (1543–1623): Callino casturame, BK 35
Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (1601/2–1672): Sarabande in D (Livre 2)
François Couperin (1668–1733): Les canaries in d (Livre 1, Ordre 1)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750): Prelude in G minor, BWV 930
———: Invention in D, BWV 774
Andrea Gabrieli (ca. 1510–1686): Intonazione del secondo tono
Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757): Sonata in A, K. 65
Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani (1638–after 1692): Sonata I for trumpet and basso continuo
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725): recitatives and arias for voice and continuo from Griselda
Reading includes selections from the following:
François Couperin, L’art de toucher le clavecin (Paris, 1717), translated by Mevanwy Roberts (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1933
Ann Bond, A Guide to the Harpsichord (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1997)
Semester plan. Study of repertory proceeds simultaneously with reading in the above books and study (analysis) of the music. Students are expected to practice at least five times a week during blocks of studio time assigned for that purpose. Assignments listed below are due at the first class meeting of the week indicated; thus a piece listed for week 2 must be learned and practiced before week 2.
week   play                       read*               topic
1                                        1–2                  introduction
3                      historical harpsichords
10                    basic issues of historical performance practice
2          Bull                       5; FC 10–13    keyboard action and basic technique
Byrd                      12                    the English “virginalists”
4          Gabrieli                 6                      articulation
Scarlatti                13, 17              Italian style
6          Chambonnières    8                      techniques for expression
Couperin               9; FC 17–21    fingering
18; FC 14–17  ornaments
14–15              French style
8          Viviani                  19                    continuo playing
Handel                  20                    pitch and tuning
10        Bach                     16                    German music

*FC followed by numbers = pages in Couperin; otherwise these are chapter numbers in Bond