A partimento is a linear guide for the improvisation of a keyboard piece. Partimenti were developed for the training of composers in the conservatories of Naples during the eighteenth century. They contain all the information needed for the realization of complete pieces of music, and their practice bestowed on practitioners a fluency in composition unparalleled since then. The Neapolitan masters usually recommended different stages of realization, from the simplest (con le sole consonanze) to highly elaborate textures. The rules for the realization of partimenti have survived in many sources, but they cover only the first stage of realization because the techniques for more advanced realizations were transmitted orally. With the decadence and extinction of the living tradition, the realization of partimenti became a lost art. However, some principles for advanced realization may be inferred from the surviving written realizations, and from the analysis of the partimento in question. Relying on the foundation formed by the rules, and integrating them with these principles, the present article shows some examples of how a present-day musician can create a satisfying realization.
Giorgio Sanguinetti; The Realization of Partimenti: An Introduction. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2007; 51 (1): 51–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-2008-023
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