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The Italian school of the first half of the seventeenth century offers one of the most virtuosic and innovative repertoires for organ and harpsichord. Besides well-known printed compositions, approximately eighty manuscripts, mostly of Roman provenance and containing music of Girolamo Frescobaldi and his pupils, are dispersed throughout European libraries. Composers’ sketches, accurate copies, and didactic material represent precious testimonies of the daily practice of the time and allow a re-examination of the nature of a musical object as a work in progress between orality and literacy.
In this study, selected sources will be used as the basis for composing and reconstructing fluent improvisational practice in this style. This will necessitate an investigation of keyboard idioms, compositional processes, counterpoint alla mente and alla cartella techniques as well as the history of music teaching practices. Elements of rhetoric, poetics and philosophy will also be considered, which will provide an understanding of the social and aesthetic roles of music in the early modern age. In order to discern which concepts can be transposed into today’s context, sources will be selected and approached critically.
Furthermore, a focus on the processes of oral music transmission and a comparative approach with other musical traditions in and beyond Europe could provide further research directions.