The Universal Instrument: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on “Applied Piano”

My article “Integrating Aural and Keyboard Skills in Today’s Classroom” (pp. 217–240) highlights the importance of integrative approaches to music theory with the help of historical examples found in eighteenth-century Neapolitan conservatories. In these renowned institutions, aural skills, singing, counterpoint and composition at the keyboard, and improvisation were intertwined in a wide range of practical activities. The Neapolitan partimento tradition here exemplifies how harmonic or contrapuntal elements, such as cadences, scales, imitations, or musical phrases were endlessly repeated and varied, allowing students to become fluent in their own compositions or improvisations. The final section of this article presents for the first time some of the strategies in improvisation by the Bolognese maestro Luigi Palmerini (1768–1842).

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