This exercise is about reflecting on my experience with the figured bass in around 300 words.
While I was familiar with most chord symbols, having extensively studied harmony and counterpoint in my prior training, I still found the first exercise, 3.1, somewhat challlenging. First of all, the harmony I studied was the four-part vocal harmony, which really helped me with identifying the figured bass for the second exercise, 3.2. However, there are multiple strict rules regarding things such as the successive and hidden octaves and fifths due to different concerns for the singers, and so, when I started solving the first exercise, I found it quite frustrating, because I couldn’t really completely control where the ‘parts’ were going. In this sense, I don’t think the four-part strict vocal harmony is the best blueprint for figure bass, although some of its elements did help me approach the task. I also found myself repeating a lot of progressions and really wanted to break away from that. I did manage to achieve some interesting results – such as in the second bar that contains the imitation of the F# and A in a lower voice.
Although quite challenging, I would love to invest some more time on the figured bass in the future and see how it can be done practically. Being largely improvised on spot – I wonder what type of strategies I could develop from this fluid form. In any case, solving the figured bass was also an important point for me to consider how the strict vocal four-part harmony differs from the flexible, improvised baroque instrumental harmony, which I am yet to properly explore.
This research point is about different tuning systems used throughout history and in different parts of the world. The task is to write about 400 words on the topic, but as I have once again delved quite deeply into the subject, I decided to do a much longer four-part series of posts. I will talk about ancient tuning systems in the first two, while the third will cover the period between Gothic music and Romanticism in order to reach the modern systems in the final post.
Out of an infinite continuum of pitch, the idea of tuning systems developed in music as an organizational tool that serves to define particular pitches that will be used in performance in relation to one another, providing neutral models of interval size for the hierarchical distribution of tones in scales. The early tuning systems had no fixed pitch reference, and as such, represent relative-pitched quantifications or calculations of mathematic ratios. Tuning systems around the world and in different historical periods emerged for the musical needs of their culture, as well as to meet the special requirement of specific instruments, which comparing to the voice, necessitate the determination of precise pitches in order to be played. (Britanica) In this way, the earliest pitch-related concepts formed in relation to the construction of instruments and their tuning processes, preserved not only orally and in notation, but also in the traditional practice of building instruments to the certain traditional specifications. (music and memory)
This exercise is about marking specific instances on a score of Handel’s Dixit Dominus, which are provided in the project description.
I’ve used the blue color to denote the textual instances, combined with the yellow highlighter for ‘The Lord says to my lord’ and the orange highlighter for the long melismas. For the points regarding the voices and instruments, I’ve used the green color. As my annotated score is quite big, I’ve ordered it into a slideshow:
Generally, I noted all the instances through the whole movement, rather than select just a single moment of their appearances, since I thought it was important to train my eye to spot the details in order to learn to visualize the score when I listen to the piece without notation.
All in all, it was an interesting exercise, which showed me how the annotation method is an important tool to assimilate into my analytical sphere of musical understanding.