Cover image for Performing baroque music
Performing baroque music
Cyr, Mary.
Personal Author:
paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Amadeus Press, 1998.

Physical Description:
254 pages : illustrations, music ; 27 cm
General Note:
Music facsimiles printed on end papers.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML457 .C9 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This practical guide is devoted to the important issues of baroque performance practice. Listeners and performers will find the analytical tools they need to understand and interpret period works. Scores for 11 works are included.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Cyr (Univ. of Guelph) taught musicology and early music performance for 15 years at McGill. She has put considerable scholarly and experiential wisdom into this somewhat uneven work. Written for college courses in baroque performance, it is also intended for amateur performers and listeners wishing to know why baroque music is performed differently these days. Utilizing many musical and pictorial examples, Cyr's eight chapters deal, in varying detail, with such things as performance and baroque sound; tempo and spirit; tuning and temperament; articulation; ornamentation; and other topics. Each discusses the basic baroque conventions, explores variants (often national), and contains notes on sources and a bibliography of works for further study. Appended are a bibliography of general studies of performance practice and a list of the pre-1800 sources cited throughout. Also appended are 11 works in score (often in facsimile) to enhance a student's appreciation of the performer's task. These pieces are included in the cassette tape, extracted from commercial recordings. Theoretically a would-be student of the complicated art of historically informed baroque performance practice can learn from Cyr's prose expositions (a bit dull, alas), as well as by studying scores while listening to exemplary realizations of their sounds. Although the idea is better than the execution, the package is clearly recommended to all upper-division college and university libraries and to public libraries that serve a musically curious and musically literate audience. W. Metcalfe; University of Vermont

Table of Contents

Performance Practice and Baroque Sound
The role of the performer in baroque music
The sources and tools for studying baroque performance
Baroque Sound
Bibliographical notes
Tempo and Spirit
Tempo mark and meter in baroque music
Determining the appropriate spirit
Affect and the aria
Tempo in 17th century music
The 18th century adagio
Other baroque tempo marks
The dances and their tempos
Bibliographical notes
Written and unwritten dynamic nuances in the 17th century
Written and implied dynamics in 18th century music
The relationship of dynamics to harmony
Bibliographical notes
Pitch, Tuning, and Temperament
The nonstandard nature of baroque pitches and temperaments
Northern Germany, The background to Bach's pitches
J S Bach's pitches
Low pitches used in France
Some high and low pitches in Italy
Choosing a pitch for modern performance
Equal and nonequal temperaments
Bibliographical notes
The Basso Continuo
Use and function of the continuo in the 17th century
The choice of continuo instruments in French music
The continuo instruments in Bach's music
Realizine the continuo part
Summary and modern considerations
Bibliographical notes
Lully and 17th century French orchestral practice
The emergence of solo styles of articulation in the 18th century
Late baroque solo and orchestral playing
Woodwind articulation
Articulation in singing
Keyboard articulation
Summary: Choosing articulation
Bibliographical notes
Rhythm and Notation
The unmeasured prelude
Declamation and recitative
Other rhythmic alterations
Summary and final thoughts
The early baroque period
Italian ornamentation after 1660
French ornamentation after 1660
Vocal ornamentation
J S Bach's ornamentation
Bibliographical notes