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This article presents a pedagogical approach for teaching modern-day students how to improvise in eighteenth-century style based on Gjerdingen’s schemata and the tradition of partimenti. We present results from a pedagogical experiment conducted at the Eastman School of Music, in which students’ improvisations were recorded. We offer a qualitative assessment of selected student improvisations in order to demonstrate the merits of this approach for teaching music theory and historical improvisation. We also address the challenges associated with implementing such a pedagogical approach in modern-day theory curricula. We conclude by reflecting on sonata-form improvisations by the authors and discuss the theoretical implications of attempting to construct complete movements based on Gjerdingen’s schemata and formal considerations.


This item appeared in Music Theory Online in volume 21, issue 3 in September 2015. It was authored by Gilad Rabinovitch and Johnandrew Slominski, with whose written permission it is reprinted here.

rabinovitch_examples.pdf (3409 kB)
PDF version of the examples in the paper.

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