Continuing the Conversation

This idea of music and speech is a very fascinating one. It opens the imagination to possibilities that go far beyond notes on a page. Geminiani’s treatise as a whole gives the musician what he or she needs in order to speak a Baroque language with variety in a manner consistent to the style in which his music was originally intended. There are many specific techniques for which one should go directly to the original document, but for our study I would like to continue the pursuit of this idea of a musical conversation.

Under example XVIII, Geminiani lays out, “(…) all the ornaments of expression, necessary to the playing in a good taste.” His explanation of these examples is particularly fascinating and we will no doubt revisit it. For today, here is his explanation of Forte and Piano: “They are both extremely necessary to express the intention of the melody; and as all good music should be composed in imitation of a discourse, these two ornaments are designed to produce the same effects that an orator does by raising and falling his voice.” In my opinion this quote expands the idea of Baroque dynamics from simple terraced volumes into the ever changing levels of sound to be found in good meaningful speech. Yes, in his compositions Geminiani marks forte and piano but infrequently, however to strictly adhere only to these markings would hardly bring about the effect which he so frequently and specifically makes reference to, namely the effect of musical conversation. We must conclude then that we as good human interpreters are encouraged to vary dynamic levels according to the melodic and harmonic construction of the music in order to bring out it’s emotional content. This leaves glorious room for the imagination.

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