Markus Schwenkreis

"In no art rules solely will turn you into doctors"

The rediscovery of the Neapolitan tradition of teaching harmony and its ‘theory’ has had in the recent years a strong influence on the analysis of 18th-century-music, especially in America and German speaking countries. So-called ‘schemata’ have been taken up as analytical tools by many writers. However it is mostly ignored that they were originally conceived as means for teaching composition and improvisation in a highly practical manner.
Especially the collections of ‘partimenti’ were mainly compiled to provide the student with the material, which he could use to enhance his basic skills in composition by applying the rules learned in advance to set out the given basses. During this studies he was usually coached by an experienced maestro or advanced student. The Neapolitan training course follows thus the principle described by Heinichen: "Hand müsset ihr anlegen, wenn ihr was rechtes im General-Bass, in der Composition und in jedweder Wissenschafft profitieren wollet, denn die Regeln alleine können euch in keiner Kunst zu Doctors machen" (Heinichen 1728, S. 767).
This workshop will focus on setting-out a choice collection of partimenti from Fedele Fenarolis Partimenti ossia basso numerato (Reprint Bologna 1975). It will follow the systematic order of this collection by applying a growing corpus of regole (cadences, octave-rule, bass-seqences etc.) to the original basses. Aspects of figuration (motivic coherence, broken harmonies, planning of positions) and variation, which are  – since they were part of the oral tradition – usually not mentioned in the traditional sources, will be discussed and practically put to the test. This work effected by the participants’ team will possibly shed light on the quality of a certain idea of musical ‘knowing’ (in the sense of Michael Polanyi, The tacit dimension, New York 1966) that was imparted by the masters of the Neapolitan conservatories and could be claimed the constructive counterpart to analytical ‘knowledge’