Book Series Musica Incarnata, vol. 1

Basso Continuo in Italy

Sources, Pedagogy and Performance

Marcello Mazzetti (ed)

  • Pages: xxx + 345 p.
  • Size:210 x 270 mm
  • Illustrations:30 b/w, 70 musical examples
  • Language(s):English, Italian
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60850-1
  • Hardback
  • Available

The volume explores the long-lasting phenomenon of basso continuo in the Italian peninsula


Marcello Mazzetti is both a scholar and performer specialised in Italian Renaissance and Early Baroque Music. He is co-chair of the Istituto Italiano di Musica Antica, where he teaches Solmisation, Renaissance contrappunto alla mente and Ensemble Music, and lecturer at the University of Padua. He serves several international boards such as the "Tasso in Music Project" (UMass and Stanford University), and "Musica Incarnata" (Brepols) as a general editor.


The volume explores the long-lasting phenomenon of basso continuo in the Italian peninsula, from its origins — i.e. from the «regole per suonare sopra il basso» which collects and develops the contrappunto alla mente’s legacy — up to the late partimento pedagogy. In addition to a bibliographic update, the volume presents case studies providing the reader with new information on performative contexts and performance practice between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, and shedding new lights on sacred and secular genres and repertoires cultivated in churches, theatres, academies, noble chambers and domestic environments. Particular attention is given to the relationship between counterpoint, improvisation and instrumentation, to the analysis of primary sources in relation to book formats and the type of notation chosen to convey the accompaniment. Furthermore, a few chapters focus on peculiar issues of accompaniment pedagogy according to unpublished or neglected sources.


Marcello Mazzetti, Introduction

Performance Practice Issues: Stylistic Features and Historical Contexts
1. Naomi Matsumoto, Realising Arianna: The Problematic Accompaniments of Claudio Monteverdi’s «Lamento d’Arianna»
2. Galliano Ciliberti, La pratica del basso continuo a S. Luigi dei Francesi a Roma nel Seicento
3. Giulia Nuti, Antonio Vivaldi’s Use of Figures: «Per li coglioni» and Other Examples

Sources, Formats, and Accompaniment Layout: Stylistic Features and Historical Contexts
4. Augusta Campagne, Basso Continuo: The Beginnings in Italy
5. Thomas Neal, Between Practice and Print: Performing Palestrina’s «Missarum liber quartus» (1582) with Alessandro Nuvoloni’s «basso prencipale co’l soprano» (1610)
6. Marina Toffetti, Fossil Traces of Vanished Voices: The Basso Continuo Part and the Reconstruction of Incomplete Polyphony
7. Marcos Krieger, Figured Bass and Figured Melody: Printed Figures in Italian Continuo Sources and Idiosyncratic Continuo Notation Practices as Found in Three 17th Century Italian Prints

The Accompaniment between Pedagogy and Performance
8. Catherine Bahn – Giovanna Barbati, The Partimenti of Rocco Greco: Reconstructing the Pedagogical Tradition for the Early Violoncello
9. Peter van Tour, The Teaching of Counterpoint and Partimento in the School of Francesco Feo
10. Eric Boaro, Partimento Teaching at the Convent of Santi Marcellino e Festo in Naples: New Early Eighteenth-Century Sources of Realisations of Partimenti by Francesco Durante (c. 1707-1715) 
11. Marco Pollaci, Vincenzo Bellini’s «Studio del Contrappunto» Notebook: An Investigation of a New Source of Partimento and Counterpoint in Early Nineteenth-Century Italy

Fundamental Issues: Counterpoint, Improvisation and Instrumentation
12. Edoardo Bellotti, Basso continuo e contrappunto nelle fonti seicentesche: un moderno approccio alla didattica musicale
13. Livio Ticli, «Contrapunto alla mente» or Basso Continuo? Agostino Agazzari and His «Sonare sopra'l Basso»

Abstracts and Biographies

Index of Names