Chapter

The pedagogy of improvisation I: Improvisation treatises of the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

Aaron L. Berkowitz

in The Improvising Mind

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199590957
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594595 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590957.003.0002
The pedagogy of improvisation I: Improvisation treatises of the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

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This chapter explores what the authors of 18th and 19th century treatises on keyboard improvisation put forth as core elements of the knowledge base in this style. Treatises selected for the present study and relevant background information about them are presented. This is followed by a discussion of the prerequisites necessary for learning to improvise as described by the authors of the treatises. Following this explication of background competence, formulas are explained. Formulas represent the primary means through which the elements of the knowledge base are transmitted. Examples of such formulas in the 18th‐century style (cadences, the rule of the octave, and movimenti) are discussed in the context of how they may serve in the process of learning to improvise. This provides background for the next chapter, in which the pedagogical strategies of the treatises are discussed.

Keywords: improvisation; historical treatises; musical formulas; musical competence; improvisation pedagogy; 18th‐century music; 19th‐century music

Chapter.  9016 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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