Improvisation on Chordal Instruments in 17th-Century Italy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Languages Cultures Art History & Music

Abstract

Since the 1920s there has been a fascination with pre-classical music; in recent decades 'early music' has become incredibly popular, with historically-informed performances on reconstructed instruments from earlier times. Much pre-classical music left to us is more a sketch than a literal text, not unlike the simple way a jazz tune is written down today; like jazz performers, musicians of old would have been well-versed in improvisational techniques, enabling them to take the sketch and turn it into a personal and inventive performance. While there are 16th- and 17th-century theoretical treatises left to us, there is still much to be understood about extemporization at that time; in comparison with the sophisticated extemporization of musicians in the past, present-day early musicians only scratch the surface.

My research project aims to revive the neglected art of improvising in 17th-century styles and re-establish it as an integral part of performing this music, creating musical experiences which involve the public in the breathtaking excitement generated by the creation of music on the spot. This would add a unique and more informal dimension to classical music concerts, and present new, exhilarating challenges to early musicians.

Various types of early extemporisation, particularly on chordal instruments, will be investigated: basso continuo (a system of accompaniment written in sketch form), ensemble improvisation, and techniques for improvising toccatas and preludes (genres which involved improvisation).

Historical treatises, didactic material and documentary evidence will be reviewed, but I will also examine many of the practical clues in the music itself such as accompanimental fragments, parts used by players in performance, and pieces that imitate improvising techniques. These practical sources, when viewed by an experienced performer like myself, can provide insight into the music not always gleaned through more traditional research.

I shall undertake this fellowship at the University of Birmingham, where I am a part-time Visiting Lute Tutor for its Centre for Early Music Performance and Research. The unique Gloria Rose Collection of important research materials on 17th-century improvising ensembles and basso continuo was bequeathed to the University; my aim is to carry on Rose's unfinished research.

The outcomes of my research will be both practical and scholarly. I will create an innovative ensemble, essentially an 'early music big band' dedicated to experimentation, performance and promotion of the art of historically-informed extemporization. The ensemble will hone its skills through regular rehearsals; performances will be linked to workshops where students will benefit from learning with seasoned professionals.

I shall launch a concert series (linked with workshops) including both instrumental and vocal music, with chordal improvisation in 17th-century Italy as its theme. London's South Bank Centre, amongst others, has already expressed an interest in presenting my improvising ensemble in a space being established there to showcase less formal performance styles of pre-classical music.

I aim to write and publish a much-needed manual for both early music students and professionals; presented in workbook form, it will take a player systematically through 16th- and 17th-century improvisation styles, practical Renaissance theory and group extemporization using graded musical examples from the time. I will use and test the practical educational techniques, exercises and examples I find in my research to provide my students with a broader foundation of knowledge and produce more confident and independent performers and researchers who will see improvisation as an exciting and important part of their music making.

My research findings will be disseminated through the manual, the publication of articles, CDs' and lecture-demonstrations.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description I discovered a significant number of examples from manuscript sources of early 17th-century Italian song which supported my ideas about basso continuo accompaniments for the earliest monody. I found small but significant musical fragments written in basso continuo figures or in regular musical notation which imitate vocal lines, both melodically and rhythmically. Early monody was sometimes created by reducing multi-voiced compositions to the top and bottom voices; the fragments and figures I discovered corroborate my idea that the first basso continuo players used the bass line as the basis from which they created new vocal parts which, in combination with chords, became the accompaniment.

I also discovered numerous examples of the theorbo (long-necked lute) being used as a melodic bass instrument. This function of the instrument has been neglected and has a significant bearing on how the instrument should be used and played in a variety of contexts. I found evidence for this both in music and in contemporary descriptions. I recorded a CD where I demonstrated it is possible to play such virtuosic melodic bass parts, in the music of Dario Castello, Giovanni Battista Fontana, and their contemporaries, on the theorbo. The impact of my findings is that a new dimension has been added to the repertoire which can be played on the theorbo; this creates new chamber music opportunities for theorbo players, as well as redefining its function in relation to other instruments.

My establishment of a 17th-century improvising ensemble, The Division Lobby, was one of the most interesting and challenging outcomes of my fellowship work. The research I did in order to create this ensemble resulted in the discovery and collection of numerous extant improvisation frameworks or sketches from which the ensemble worked; my work on the falsobordone was extensive and uncovered numerous examples from which I drew to create a framework for the group to perform an improvised Magnificat. I learned much more than I had previously known about 17th-century Italian improvisational forms and treatises, and to this day I am still collecting examples of the embellished madrigal for chordal instruments, a rare but important improvisation form which deserves more attention than it has received. It is clear from all the treatises I have read and examples I have seen that improvisation was an essential part of music-making for a professional musician in the 17th-century and yet it is still very much the missing element in many performances of early music. If it is heard at all it is usually in an elementary form in comparison to what the treatises illustrate. The creation of The Division Lobby has helped to raise awareness of this issue and illustrate that it is not only possible but also highly stimulating and enjoyable for audiences to experience concerts which are completely improvised; many audience members felt it brought them closer to the music and the performers.

My personal work and practise on improvisation has led me to understand more about how extant extemporisation treatises can be used to aid the process of learning to improvise and improving ornamentation skills. I have learned and am continually learning more about how to use and adapt information in the treatises practically, and I regularly teach these techniques and skills to students and colleagues. Through my work with The Division Lobby I also understand more about how to facilitate ensemble improvisation, which has helped me to teach the techniques of listening and ensemble playing.

My research for this project into extemporization practices in southern Italy has provided insight into a 17th-century manuscript which came to my attention when it was being sold at Sotheby's soon after the start of my fellowship. I learned how to better understand what the manuscript contained through research and discussions with colleagues and members of academia. This was an invaluable experience for me to learn about how to work with such manuscripts and taught me important skills about music editing for when I came to make my performing editions for The Division Lobby.
Exploitation Route The establishment of my improvising ensemble and the teaching and workshops I did related to this work necessitated the production of various materials: I produced a number of new musical editions of improvising frameworks for the Division Lobby which were used in concert and can now be used by me and the members of the ensemble in future concert programmes, workshops, and for teaching.
I have also produced numerous handouts for the ensemble and students which include:
• a survey of composed variations on the bass line and harmonic formulas for vocal versions of the romanesca ground bass,
• selected improvisation examples from treatises for practical use
• selected incremental exercises from the treatises for practical use

My research into basso continuo style has attracted much attention amongst my professional colleagues, and basso continuo players in particular. Many are not familiar with some of the very earliest evidence of continuo playing and are unaware of the evidence contained in early song manuscripts - this is not necessarily where they would think to look for this information. I have disseminated my ideas and the evidence to support them to my colleagues; many feel in agreement with my findings and have used this information to create their own accompaniments. I use my findings widely when teaching basso continuo style for this period.

The CDs I have recorded, apart from being documentation of my research findings, are also used to illustrate different aspects of improvisation in my lectures and workshops

I have been in discussion with Giulia Nuti, one of the participants in my improvising ensemble and author of the book The Performance of Italian Basso Continuo, (Aldershot, UK, Ashgate, 2007) about embarking on a project to develop a website which contains a collection of written-out continuo accompaniments, which could also be linked to or an extension of a website created by the Schola Cantorum, Basel, Switzerland, on early music sources.

Another member of my improvising ensemble, Josue Melendez, is interested in using the ensemble to test and demonstrate his research findings into different kinds of improvised cadential extemporisation in early 17th-century Italy.

As a result of my fellowship work I often act as consultant for researchers and workshop promoters on a number of projects which include early improvisation. I am advising composer Stevie Wishart on early improvisation techniques, formulas, and frameworks for a new piece where early music practitioners will be presented with a contemporary framework and improvisation formulas in order to extemporise a 21st-century concerto grosso.
Sectors Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description My fellowship research and findings have directly helped me to present complete concerts of improvised music or concerts which contain improvised elements to the general public. Even the addition of one piece of improvised music in a concert makes the audience more aware of the tradition of improvisation in early music. My explanations about early improvisation and its forms in concerts are done in an informal manner, in non-technical language, and are always welcomed by audiences because it helps them to better appreciate what they are about to hear. As a performer who gives concerts, performs in operas, and records for radio, television, and films internationally I have the perfect platform with which to disseminate my research to a wide public outside academia. This is and will remain the most significant way to demonstrate the findings of my research. I have also done workshops on improvisation outside of conservatories and universities, such as the workshop open to the general public during London Southbank Centre's 'Take the Risk' weekend of early improvisation, and for the Midlands Early Music Forum. There is growing interest in the subject of early improvisation and I find that colleagues are recognising my increased knowledge and experience in this area as a result of my fellowship project. Some directors of musical ensembles now are encouraging more improvisation and seeking my advice about how extemporisation can become a more integral part of a performance. There is also more interest in the subject in music conservatories and I am invited more and more often to lecture and give workshops on the subject; this work will of course affect future generations of musicians playing early music and create a culture which includes improvisation as a matter of course in most performances, rather than it being a rare and unusual event - to me this is a significant development and one of the major goals of my project. My work seems to have created more awareness of early improvisation and how it can enhance the experience of both performers and audiences.
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description The establishment of the musical ensemble 'The Division Lobby' 
Organisation The Division Lobby
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution As the musical director of this ensemble, I created and booked the collaborative team, dealt with all aspects of promotion including acquiring concerts and creating concerts, researched, discovered, edited, and adapted the musical materials used in the concert, and created and disseminated publicity materials about the performances. I instructed the members of the ensemble in various aspects of the forms used for improvisation, the historical background of the music, and the materials which could be used to prepare for the concerts we undertook. I also planned and directed workshops and rehearsals and created an atmosphere in which it was possible for nine talented individuals to work together to create entirely improvised concerts of early music.
Collaborator Contribution My partners in this ensemble each approached their tasks in a highly individual and inventive manner - exactly what was hoped for in this situation. They were eager to learn about some of the less familiar forms their improvisations could take, and each member undertook a course of individual work on the tasks assigned using the materials and methods I had suggested would be beneficial. They also brought to the project many of their own thoughts about the techniques of improvisation, made observations about the process and progress of the ensemble, and initiated thought-provoking discussions about all aspects of the project. Most importantly, they applied imagination and spirit to the tasks given in order to attain the goals I envisaged for the ensemble, and did so with excellence.
Impact Outputs and outcomes include concerts, workshops, open rehearsals, discussion forums, radio broadcasts, CD recording, lecture/demonstrations, tuition, newspaper articles, conference papers, and chairing of conference papers. A further outcome, collaboration with other musicians on improvisation projects, has included combining early and contemporary musical improvisation and improvisational techniques.
Start Year 2009
 
Description Chair for the session 'The Lost Art of Ornamentation' at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I introduced the speakers and the importance of their research and papers. I chaired the post-paper questions and after the completion of all three papers led a discussion on various aspects of early improvisation and ornamentation.

Dr Peter Argondizza, Acting Head of Department of Creative and Contextual Studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, asked me to do a lecture/workshop on early improvisation for the Conservatoire in the next academic year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Concert at Club Inégales, a London venue featuring evenings of musical improvisation, 11/2/16 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I participated in this concert of extemporised music with an early music colleague and the ensemble of contemporary improvisors Notes Inégales, directed by Peter Weigold. This took place at Club Inégales, which provides a platform for improvised music in an informal atmosphere more akin to a jazz club than a concert hall. Notes Inégales did a 20-min set of their own contemporary extemporisations, followed by a set by my early music colleague and me of improvisation in 17th-century Italian style, using the traditional method of creating structures for improvisation derived from pre-composed madrigals. For a final set all the musicians joined forces to create further contemporary improvised pieces; for one of these pieces we used a 17th-century structure composed specifically as a basis for creating an extemporised piece. For a large percentage of this audience it was the first time they'd ever heard improvised music in 17th-century style, and their enthusiasm and interest was enormous. We provided explanations of the style and structures used and discussed the 17th-century materials we used to learn to improvise in this style. Many attendees were interested in finding out more about this type of improvisation and how they could learn to do it themselves. An arts journalist who attended the concert expressed an interest in writing an article about early improvisation in the near future, and asked to interview me on the subject. One of the most interesting aspects of this evening for me was the bringing together of musicians from diverse musical disciplines; added to this was the profound impact the 17th-century style improvisation had on an audience more used to listening to contemporary extemporisation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Concerts with the City of London Sinfonia featuring early improvisation: 21, 24 and 25 Jan, 11 and 17 Feb 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I participated in concerts which featured a good deal of improvisation and/or compositions which were influenced by improvisation. I was one of the featured players and demonstrated much early improvisation in my performances.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Conference paper: 'The Establishment of an Italian 17th-century Style Improvising Ensemble' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented this paper for the Two Thousand and TEN Symposium (on improvisation) for the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University, Belfast. There were questions and discussions afterwards, as well as email contact with people who wanted to learn more about my research.

The theme of this year's Two Thousand and TEN Symposium was improvisation. My paper covered different aspects of musical improvisation in the 16th and 17th centuries, its importance to music-making then and now, and how my project has brought knowledge about early improvisation to a wider audience, as well as stimulating interest in both students and professional practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Establishment of a basso continuo class for lute players at the Royal Northern College of Music 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I was invited by the Royal Northern College of Music to establish a practical class to teach basso continuo to lute players. I gave an introductory class about the lute and its repertoire and technique which was open to all the classical guitarists, in the hope of interesting them in the art of basso continuo playing. This is such an important skill for a chordal instrument player to acquire and really broadens the horizons of guitarists: it expands their repertoire, provides the opportunity for them to play major works of mainstream composers, and teaches them important ensemble skills. It also is a platform for exploring improvisation of all sorts, and I have been disseminating my research findings to this class. The students are beginning to participate in chamber music with other departments in the College and are working towards doing performance platforms and hopefully, next year, playing in an opera.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lecture/demonstration on for a meeting of The Lute Society 19/11/16: The Noodle Factory: how to create ornamentation and divisions in the manner of the great Improvisation Masters of the lute and other instruments 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In this lecture/demonstration I discussed extant improvisation manuals from the 17th-century for instruments of the lute family, what is contained in manuals on extemporization for other instruments and how to use that material, and the many correlations between written-out solo music for the lute and the material found in those treatises. I gave a very practical demonstration of how one can 'cut and paste' exercises and other material from the treatises to fashion one's own improvisation or create ornamentation for solo pieces.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Paper for a Baroque symposium at the Academy of Music in Kraków: 'Between the Lines': clues towards a continuo style for early 17th-century Italian monody 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This paper pulled together many aspects of my research into basso continuo playing for the earliest monody. It included examples from extant sources as well as live and audio demonstrations. There were many questions and much discussion afterwards, and the evidence I outlined in my paper was corroborated in the following paper on a related subject.

For my continuing research into early basso continuo playing I will be in further discussion with the author of the paper following mine regarding keyboard intabulations for continuo players. Also. I was able to refer to the information in another paper when chairing a session for the MedRen Conference 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Paper for the RMA study day: Musicology in Action: the Establishment of an Italian 17th-century Style Improvising Ensemble 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I presented a paper/performance for the 'Performing Musicology' conference of the Royal Musical Association on 17 June 2011. In my paper/performance I covered the research I did on performance practice of the falsobordone in early 17th-century Italy and the practical application of this research in developing the programme for my 17th-century improvising ensemble, The Division Lobby. This sparked many questions and discussions with students, researchers, and professional musicians. Some of the original musical material I presented in my paper was used for an experiment in the paper following mine.

I learned some new information from the discussions which was useful to my research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Participation in a programme of early 17th-century Italian chamber music entitled 'Italian Revolutionaries' with players from the Irish Baroque Orchestra in which I improvised a toccata in 17th-century style: three concerts between 5 - 7 February 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact For this programme of early 17th-century Italian music I used my research findings into methods and techniques for improvising toccatas, preludios, and similar pieces to create my own improvised toccata for these concerts. I developed a preparation 'scheme' for this undertaking which was based in part on past work in this area and also included new ideas derived from past improvised performances; in particular I endeavoured to use many more techniques for extemporisation practise from extant improvisation treatises from 17th-century Italy. This scheme instilled me with much more confidence and helped me to further hone my improvisation skills; I passed many of my findings and observations on to students and colleagues about how to prepare to improvise in public, which had a positive impact on their own learning and practise. It was also extremely beneficial to have three opportunities in quick succession to practise improvising this sort of piece for live audiences. Judging by the audiences' reactions to the improvised pieces and those of my colleagues, and comments from the audience after the concert, the extemporised elements of this programme were enthusiastically received and made a profound impact on the general atmosphere of the concerts: the public felt much more involved in the experience and very much enjoyed the more informal tone of the concert in general.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Participation in seminar for CMPCP/IMR Performance Research Seminars (AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice and the Institute of Musical Research) Senate House, London, 13/10/14 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Participated in explanation and demonstration of a new composition (in progress) by Stevie Wishart for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (London) and the Handel and Haydn Society (Boston, MA, USA) which will involve contemporary extemporization using early techniques and with frameworks developed from early improvisation frameworks. I was there to participate in the paper, discussion, and demonstration of musical examples. I have been advising Stevie on forms and techniques of early improvisation for her preparation for this piece.

Further consultation sessions for Stevie.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Performance Practice classes on 17th-century performance practice and improvisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I have been invited by the Royal Academy of Music, University of Birmingham Centre for Early Music Performance and Research, and the Welsh College of Music and Drama to give a number of lectures, demonstrations and workshops on 17th-century performance practice and improvisation.

Directly as a result of my various projects for my AHRC Fellowship, The Royal Academy of Music, University of Birmingham Centre for Early Music Performance and Research, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama have invited me to give lectures, demonstrations and workshops on 17th-century performance practice and improvisation. I helped students to learn the 'language' of improvisation, how to apply the 'formulas' learned to their improvisations, and how to practise this art effectively for more fluency and excellence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity Pre-2006,2006,2007,2008,
 
Description Performance Practice seminar on early 17th-century improvisation for the Historical Performance Dept. of the Royal Academy of Music, 20/10/16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I gave a lecture on the subject of early 17th-century musical improvisation followed by a practical session where all the students participated. In this practical session extant materials from early 17th-century improvisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Performance Practice seminar on early 17th-century improvisation for the Historical Performance Dept. of the Royal Academy of Music, 22/10/15 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this Performance Practice seminar, with about 30 attendees, I gave a lecture on the subject of early 17th-century musical improvisation followed by a practical session where all the students participated. In this practical session extant materials from early 17th-century improvisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Performance Practice seminar on early 17th-century improvisation for the Historical Performance Dept. of the Royal Academy of Music, 26/2/15 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this Performance Practice seminar, with about 25 attendees, I gave a lecture on the subject of early 17th-century musical improvisation followed by a practical session where all the students participated. In this practical session extant materials from early 17th-century improvisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style. A few of the students were required to give a short lecture/demonstration on a specific topic related to early improvisation which sparked discussion and further demonstrations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Post-concert talk for concert by The Division Lobby 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A post-concert talk was given by me and members of my 17th-century style improvising ensemble, The Division Lobby, for an audience of the general public. This was conducted as a question and answer session so audience members could gain incite into the information used and methods employed to create and perform the concert we had presented.

This was an engaging discussion between the concert audience and the musicians about how the evidence regarding musical improvisation in early 17th-century Italy was used to create an improvised programme. Much information was imparted about the process of how one creates such an ensemble and programme. There was much interest in and information imparted about what material was used as 'framework' for the improvisations, and also about the musical instruments used.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.thedivisionlobby.co.uk
 
Description Practical class for the Historical Performance department of the Royal Academy of Music, 25/6/15 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this Performance Practice seminar, with about 8 attendees, I conducted a practical session on early improvisation using extant materials from early 17th-century extemporisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Practical class on early 17th-century improvisation for the Historical Performance Dept. of the Royal Academy of Music, 27/10/16 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this Performance Practice seminar, I conducted a practical session on early improvisation using extant materials from early 17th-century extemporisation treatises, which were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Practical class on early 17th-century improvisation for the Historical Performance Dept. of the Royal Academy of Music, 29/10/15 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this practical seminar, with about 20 attendees, extant materials from early 17th-century improvisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style. This included advise on practising techniques for improvisation with demonstrations, which sparked discussion and questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Solo lute recitals of 17th-century repertoire which was inspired and influenced by improvisation: 23/10/16, 21/11/16, 19/11/16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I presented three recitals of solo lute music which was inspired by improvisation - one in Lewes and two in London, one of the latter for The Lute Society. There are often a number of variant versions of the same piece, which often evolved over time and became more and more ornate, reflecting performance practice tendencies. For these recitals I chose the most ornate versions of the pieces in order to demonstrate how experimentation, dissemination between players, and the popular art of extemporization influenced the development of musical composition and contributed to a style where the personal expression of the composer was more paramount. I also added my own improvisation to the pieces.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Workshop with Collegium Musicum (early music ensemble) from the University of Cambridge for the Academy of Ancient Music's education programme AAMplify. 28/1/2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact For this workshop, with about 25 attendees, I lectured on the subject of early 17th-century musical improvisation followed by a practical session where all the students participated. In this practical session extant materials from early 17th-century improvisation treatises were used by the students as practical study aids to inform and inspire their own improvisations in 17th-century style. This was followed by two sessions where the students experimented with their new-found practical knowledge and worked on adding their own ornamentation to precomposed music. The students were interested and inspired by the work they did, and I was immediately asked to do a follow-up workshop for them sometime in the next few months.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016