[Smt-talk] Realizing a figured bass in the curriculum

Daniel Wolf djwolf at snafu.de
Mon Dec 15 07:15:04 PST 2014

I find it a bit curious that the utility of figured bass realization is  
questioned here. Unlike species counterpoint, school fugue, four voice  
Lutheran chorale realization or other forms of model composition,  
realizing a figured bass has an immediate application in actual  
performance repertoire, the basso continuo, which is useful in Baroque  
repertoire, much Classical repertoire and even through to early 19th  
century recitatives.

Although the center of my musical life is composition, not performance  
(and even there not principally as a keyboardist), I have found myself  
with rather surprising frequency in situations in which being able to  
handle the figured bass spontaneously was more than useful, for example in  
substituting as a church organist (granted, BC realization is still  
central to the training and practice of both Catholic and Lutheran church  
musicians in German-speaking countries), in leading a local amateur  
orchestra with a baroque-dominated repertoire from the keyboard, and in a  
whole range of chamber music and vocal works with BC.

Dr. Daniel James Wolf
Frankfurt am Main

djwolf at snafu.de

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