I realized I hadn't written a review for the great book, "The Art of Partimento" on Amazon (5 stars!) so I did one last night and here it is:
The Art of Partimento is an essential book if you are interested in the study of Partimento. As it’s title suggests, it provides you not only with the tools to begin practicing but also provides a very detailed, well-researched look at the history of the practice. What is fascinating about the field of partimento research is that it provides music students today with a solid framework to learn music from the beginning. Partimento trains improvisation and composition and leads to more advanced topics like counterpoint and dispositions. Classical music education today deals largely with “interpretation” of music and almost totally omits the vital practice of improvisation, which was common in previous eras of musicians. It’s very saddening that most students that undergo a “classical” music training today are simply unable to improvise or compose simple music. It is so at odds with the training that these Neapolitan students in the 18th century would have had. They could sing in multiple clefs, improvise fugues on the keyboard, and compose operas in weeks. Can our modern students approximate a similar output? The answer is obvious. There is plenty in the book to occupy you with. After detailing the background and history of partimento, it will start explaining how these precocious children were taught. It will begin with the basic axioms and procedures and then move onto cadences (not the way we learned in school) to practice: The Simple, Compound and Double. Then it will teach you the Rule of the Octave and show you all the different variants because it’s such a comprehensive book. Then it explains how the Neapolitans dealt with suspensions and another interesting concept: bass motions. Then you will move on to diminutions (turning slow melodies into florid ones), imitation, motivic coherence and it will even show you some “authentic” realizations. That is plenty of material to study and is replete with great examples. After learning the practice, it will give you many helpful tips to realizing music in a variety of forms such as the prelude, sonata and leading up to the most advanced form: the Fugue. One suggestion, buy this in Hardcopy and not in Kindle format. It’s very good to hold the book in your hand. The book also comes with great audio examples and materials you can download from the Oxford University Press site, adding more value to the price. We are witnessing a revolution in music education that started with the musicologists/scholars, and just a few talented performers. Now it is primed for mass adoption. I highly recommend this book!