NEUMANN, Frederick

Performance Practices of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Cengage Gale, 1993.

605 pp.

"Music written before 1800 is performed today in the context of an ever-intensifying concern with historical sound and style, a concern that has led to an explosion of research on the performance practices of various periods. This encyclopedic study presents a synthesis of current knowledge about what Frederick Neumann calls the "tactical issues of interpretation" - tempo, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, phrasing, ornamentation - as applied to the music of the Baroque and Classical periods. Taking a descriptive rather than a prescriptive approach, Neumann provides a systematic account of what is known about performance practices during those times, indicates areas of controversy, and suggests possible solutions. His purpose is to provide today's performer with a foundation of historical insights as the basis for artistic decisions." "Performance Practices of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries is divided into six parts. Part I, "Tempo," examines the roots of tempo in mensural notation and during the transition to modern notation; flexible tempo after 1600; tempo words; and the tempo of dances. Part II, "Rhythm," discusses the controversial areas of rhythmic alteration: the author argues against the international currency of notes inegales and questions the significance generally attributed to the "French Overture Style." Part III, "Dynamics," explores "terraced" and transitional dynamics and the reconstruction of dynamics from notation. Part IV, "Articulation," treats vocal articulation, instrumental legato and detachment, and special problems of articulation. Part V, "Phrasing," separately discusses the theory and practice of phrasing. Part VI, "Ornamentation," examines graces, trills, and other ornaments as well as improvisation, with an emphasis on the diversity of practices from place to place as well as over time." "Throughout the book, Neumann persistently advocates a scrupulous approach to the use of such sources as contemporary treatises on questions of performance, warning against the temptation to assume that books as important as those of Quantz, C.P.E. Bach, or Leopold Mozart can safely be applied not only to all contemporaries but also backward and forward in time. And, side by side with the results of historical research, Neumann urges that musicians keep in mind the ideals of expression and taste - the "strategic" dimensions of performance that can never be completely determined by the study of rules." "Includes notes, bibliography, and more than 300 musical examples and fascimiles."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Item #32810

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