Two-part didactic music in printed Italian collections of the Renaissance and Baroque (1521-1744)

Two-part compositions were one of the main means through which music was taught during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and they therefore played an important role in preparing both professional and amateur musicians. The main focus of my work is formed by the published volumes of duos ranging in date from 1521, the year when the first collection was issued, to 1744, the date of publication of Angelo Bertalotti’s Solfeggi, though I also take into account duos published in musical treatises. The importance of duos during this period is evidenced by the number of extant collections – more than sixty in Italy alone – and these publications reveal an essential continuity in the teaching of music theory and practice over a period of 250 years. So far, only a fraction of the music used for this purpose has been studied by other scholars.

During this period all two-part didactic music served consistent and well-defined functions: the teaching of note-values and solmization; the teaching of modality and composition; as the basis for practising both vocal and instrumental music. My thesis traces the history of the genre, analyses aspects of the compositional structure of duos and examines the detail the various functions of duos. It also considers the intended readership of volumes of duos, through study of the publishers, composers and dedicates involved.

Bornstein, Andrea (2001)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.


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