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A Newly Discovered Annotated Partimento Manuscript : "Rudimenti di Musica per Accompagnare del Sig. r Maestro Vignali" (1789)

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The partimento tradition of eighteenth-century Italy developed within a musical culture that prioritized oral pedagogy. While these teaching methods were successful in producing generations of great composers, they have left scholars with vexing questions concerning the precise manner in which partimenti should be realized. The recent appearance of a remarkable and previously unknown manuscript—"Rudimenti di Musica per Accompagnare del Sig. Maestro Vignali," dated 1789—promises to shed invaluable new light on the oral tradition of partimento instruction. The manuscript's likely author is Gabriele Vignali (c. 1736– 1799), a maestro di cappella active in Bologna; it is unique in the presently known canon owing to the detailed footnotes that accompany each of its twenty-four Bassi (one in each major and minor key). Vignali's annotations provide precisely the sort of commentary that was ordinarily restricted to real-time explanation, teaching the student to recognize keys, scale degrees, modulations, cadences, typical bass progressions, and significant motives. The present article and accompanying English-language edition examine this exceptional partimento collection in detail, offering modern partimentisti the opportunity for the first time to listen in, as it were, on a series of lessons between an eighteenth-century maestro and his student.

Keywords: BASSO CONTINUO; BOLOGNA; EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY PEDAGOGY; KEYBOARD IMPROVISATION; PARTIMENTO

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2021

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  • Music Theory and Analysis (MTA) International Journal of the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory

    Music Theory and Analysis (MTA) is a peer-reviewed international journal focusing on recent developments in music theory and analysis. It has a special interest in the interplay between theory and analysis, as well as in the interaction between European and North-American scholarship. Open to a wide variety of repertoires, approaches, and methodologies, the journal aims to stimulate dialogue between diverse traditions within the field.

    Each issue of the journal will contain five sections: (1) an invited keynote article, (2) a selection of peer-reviewed articles, colloquies and short analytical vignettes, (4) contributions to the pedagogy of music theory and analysis, and (5) book reviews, with a focus on transatlantic exchange.

    MTA is the official journal of the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory (Vereniging voor Muziektheorie). It is the successor to the Dutch Journal of Music Theory (Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie).
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