Baroque but Beautiful

• Sep 11, 2020 - 17:56

I am wondering if someone who understands Baroque engraving methods can help me understand some unique Baroque notation. I am trying to notate some music looking at the original Baroque manuscripts. I am noticing that sometimes, but not always, I see accidentals written above the note between the staff. There are also accidentals in the traditional place (beside the note). What are these "above the note" accidentals used for? They are not bracketed, which would indicate some kind of ossia notation. I am seeing natural accidentals above notes that are sharped (ie key of D major) and sharp accidentals above notes that are already sharped ( "F" in key of D Major). I am also seeing what looks like fingering notations above notes. Is that what they are?
Thanks


Comments

In reply to by BSG

Thank you. Yes, it is only on the bass clef. Googled "figured bass" so YES this must be figured bass. I read your treatise (part 1) on Continuo. Very brilliant. Now for the BIG question: How do I get Musescore to PLAY figured bass, or do I have to manually "realize" the figured bass on another staff as your treatise seems to imply.

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In reply to by odelphi231

That's REALLY EASY figured bass in your example. You would do well to begin study by realizing it. While, in principle, the realization task is "mechanical", in practice, it is not -- see some of my complex examples cited at the end of Chapter 2. A competent realization is more similar to a skilled backup rock guitarist than chord buttons -- the good backup (lead) guitarist will incorporate riffs from the song itself, be responsive to the texture, and so forth, so "real" realization involves a considerable dollop of art. Do PM me with questions if needed.

In reply to by BSG

Thank you. I may very well PM you with questions. My heart sunk when you said it involves a dollop of art. So I can't be lazy and just push a chord button on my zither. I thought of one question off the bat. The continuo in this piece is Bassoon, Cello and Contrabass, which my reading indicates is a popular combination. Does that mean for a three chord figured bass realization, the Bassoon takes the highest note in the chord, the Cello and middle chord and the double bass the lowest chord? Is that what the composer is telling me? In reading your treatise, you seems to imply I need a 4th instrument (maybe a harpichord or organ) to play the "realized" figured bass chords, while the three instruments in the continuo just play the single note bass line.

In reply to by odelphi231

The latter. A fourth instrument, harpsichord, portatif organ, archlute, etc (guitar?) plays the chords, and if possible, the bass line, too. The bassoon, cello, and contrabass (at the octave) all play the bass line only. The whole bunch of them is the "continuo".

In reply to by BSG

Of course, it can be more artful or less artful, more interesting or less interesting. Note also that sometimes figures err, or are omitted where "it's just so obvious!" (perhaps by repetition of an earlier pattern) or other divergences from the kind of accuracy you would need for mechanical realization. There's even a couple in my BWV 140 example -- I discuss them.

In reply to by odelphi231

If you actually had a zither and did push a chord button, I tend to think it might actually work passably in some ensembles, but the real thing is to create a web of 4-voice counterpoint whose analysis, like the work itself, is those figures.

OP: Here is a (beautiful) Bach score I just completed with a particularly difficult continuo part, but not atypical for Bach (who stretched this system as far as it can go) https://musescore.com/bsg/ich-lasse-dich-nicht . This is what stylistically, artistically-realized competent continuo looks/sounds like (although there are far greater/better than myself afoot). Your piece and its figures are much simpler. Pay attention, too, to all the figures in parentheses, which 19th century Bachgesellschaft editor Ernst Naumann felt to be lacking, and others that I felt to be lacking, without which the continuo cannot be properly realized in the context of the movement. That is part of the argument why automatic realization is hopeless. Do watch and listen!

In reply to by BSG

Beautiful. I can listen to Bach all day. I noticed the realization is treble clef only. Is that typical, or it just depends on what instruments you wanna use for the realization. BTW: What instrument are you using for the sound of the realization.
Also, I tried my hand at realization of the Baroque piece I showed you. Right now, I am only doing triad chords on pipe organ. Sounds pretty good, but I know I could make it realization more, ahem, real, if I worked at it. Looks like your realization follows the Oboe part closely. Is that typical also - that is follows one of the lead parts.
I see what you mean by it would be very difficult to have automatic realization of the continuo unless you are happy with just simple triad chords or 7th chords.
BTW: I when I upload my piece to the Musescore site (any day now), it is a public domain piece, so by all means I would appreciate it if you downloaded it and put your spin on the continuo.

In reply to by odelphi231

Glad you like it.

Treble clef only, no lower than G3 or F3 worst, no higher than B5. I'm using "Pan Flute", my standard for cantata realizations, mixed down appropriately. MuseScore Pipe Organ is singularly inappropriate for continuo, by the way (it is not smooth because of deep problems that pipe organs solve but soundfonts can't). "Just plain chords" is not counterpoint and not continuo.I'm not following any part closely -- that it matches the oboe a lot is an accident. I'm coding from the "figures", not the obbligati (but in m 31 I had to look at the obbligato to avoid a nasty conflict -- theoretically, that shouldn't happen). Continuo is allowed to duplicate gestures in obbligato parts, because, theoretically, the figuring describes all those gestures.

It delights me that I've got you interested in this subject.

PM me and I'll look at your work.

In reply to by BSG

Thank you. The J.J. Mouret piece I transcribed you may be familiar with. I love this piece so when I saw that it had figured-bass (you told me that) it made me very interested to learn figured bass. It seems like a very interesting musical "art". However, this piece is a Fanfare, so VERY Forte. I don't think Pan flute would do. That is why I used pipe organ. I know what you mean by the soundfont not being the best. Any other suggested instruments that would work with a Fanfare-type piece? The continuo has Bassoon, Cello and Cb already. Could the Bassoon be used for the realized part? Hmmmm

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