[Smt-talk] Inversions

Richard Hermann harhar at unm.edu
Wed Mar 19 13:18:54 PDT 2014

Dear SMT-Listers,

I look forward to reading Keiler’s article. Thanks to Prof. Harrison for reminding me of it.

As Sanguinetti’s Art of Partimento points out, Fenaroli (famed Neapolitan teacher of composition) had students practice each bass starting with root (1st position), third (2nd position), and fifth (3rd position) on top. My guess is this Italian tradition likely made its way to Germany. 

As undergraduates at Drake Univ. in the late 1960s, we learned all of our figured bass keyboard progressions in that way. Edward K. West, PhD (Univ. of Rochester-Eastman), was my prof. for sophomore theory or harmony as it was know in those days.


Richard Hermann, PhD, Prof. of Music
Regent's Lecturer
Univ. of New Mexico
harhar at unm.edu

On Mar 19, 2014, at 1:58 31, Daniel Harrison <daniel.harrison at yale.edu> wrote:

> Allan Keiler's recent JMT article, "The Problem of the Retrieval of Musical Knowledge: The Thoroughbass Tradition and Its Relationship to Rameau," touches on the relevant issue from thoroughbass realization. It's a beginner's standard, of course, to realize thoroughbass with a fairly free-ranging left-hand bass with close-positioned chord an octave or so above in the right. Thicker textures call for more left-hand chording.
> As for technical terms for RH voicings, one could do worse than by labeling the soprano position--what the pinky is doing rather than the thumb. Some German authors note this, e.g., Terzlage for a voicing with pinky on the chordal third, Quintlage for fifth, etc. This works well in situations where accompanimental chords "hang" in close position from a melody.
> As for fundamentals-textbook authors, I encourage the use of C-clefs to flush out overqualified students looking for an easy A.
> Daniel Harrison
> Yale University
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