Affect of Tonal Harmony on Embellishment Style

Zach Hanquier Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Nicholas Johnson Butler University
Style guides by C.P.E. Bach, William Long, Robert Donington, Jean-Phillipe Rameau, and others provide insight on improvised musical ornamentation in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. In the Renaissance period, music theory focused on intervals created between voices of the harmony, while in the Baroque, it focused on harmonic progressions establishing a key and creating cadence. As such, Renaissance embellishments were viewed as producing new intervals, and the consonance or dissonance of these intervals added interest to the music. Baroque ornaments retained all of the functions developed in the Renaissance period, but were expected to fit into the underlying harmony or as non-chord tones. The impact of tonality on embellishment, as observed by contrasting ornamentation styles of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, can be seen in the guidelines created for note selection in ornamentation and extended improvisation. In the Renaissance era, added notes were often non-diatonic, implied alternative or chromatic harmonies, and functioned as a leading tone to another note, as discussed by Donington, Duffin, and Kite-Powell. Improvisational guides encouraged preserving written consonances for structure and cadence. In contrast, Baroque ornamentation was often diatonic and emphasized the function of the note embellished within the chord and the key, as discussed by Rameau, Zhang, and Beard; improvisational guides encouraged the expression of the underlying harmony of the work to create consonance and emphasize tonal cadences. An understanding of contemporary ornament style and function is necessary for an authentic modern performance of early music.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

10:30 AM
Lilly Hall 141