• EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE: TOWARD A PERFORMANCE-ORIENTED SYNTHESIS OF SOURCES ON MUSICAL IMPROVISATION, 1600–1800

      Lindorff, Joyce, 1950-; Abramovic, Charles; Zohn, Steven David, 1966-; Folio, Cynthia (Temple University. Libraries, 2021)
      This dissertation investigates how historical musicians’ relationships to harmonic or contrapuntal rules intersected with their individual and collective experiences of fully improvised or improvisatory music. Within the realm of interpersonal relationships, musicians experience and develop powerful mental and artistic bonds through improvisation. Deep levels of sympathy and communication were documented in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, within the cultural contexts of Bernardo Pasquini (1637–1710), Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788), and Christopher Simpson (1602–1669), the three musicians I focus on in this study. In the arena of harmonic rules and parameters, I contend that what appears to be “rule-breaking,” when it shows up on paper can instead be viewed as a frozen-in-time representation of the type of liberties that may have been commonplace in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century improvisation. Improvisers in this era seem to have been more concerned imparting a large-scale sense of harmony and producing engaging melodic variety than with compliance to the most formal rules of counterpoint. Through studying surviving documentation of historical improvisation, I show how its spirit can suffuse formal composition. By shifting focus from fine points of historical musical style to a discussion of generalized artistic and conceptual concerns around improvisation, I suggest that modern day musicians can discover how they themselves relate to baroque works that demand performers’ agency and creativity. My approach aims to suggest ways in which performers today can apply lessons from the past in modern interpretations of improvisation-based baroque music.