The seventeenth-century keyboard player’s workshop: a case study from northern Portugal

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Manuscripts giving insights into working practices of seventeenth-century professional keyboard players are few and far between. While on-the-page corrections may be found in keyboard manuscripts from several national traditions, they tend to be limited in scope: usually they consist of refinements to texture or modifications to ornamentation, but nothing more extensive. This is the case, for example, in the handful of solo keyboard manuscripts from late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century England that include creative emendations. Manuscripts of this kind inevitably give little information about how more fundamental aspects of the music they contain – such as its structure or the organisation of part-writing – would have been worked out by the composers. Simpler keyboard repertory, often but not always copied by professionals for their amateur students and patrons, tended to be copied fluently, and thus required little on-the-page adjustment; where more complex pieces were entered in this type of source these were probably taken from an existing exemplar. A notable exception, however, is a manuscript in the District Archive of Braga, Portugal (Braga, Arquivo Distrital, MS 964) containing a rich and diverse repertoire of liturgical and non-liturgical keyboard pieces as well as vocal music and pedagogical materials. A complex manuscript of over 250 folios, containing 28 types of paper, it is nevertheless mainly in the hand of a single copyist, possibly the organist and composer Pedro de Araújo (fl.1662–1705). The keyboard music in contrapuntal genres, the principal repertory of the source, is notated in the open-score format characteristic of seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Portuguese keyboard sources. It stands out for the extensive on-the-page corrections as well as for the likelihood that it was copied in connection with the training of professional musicians.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventCremona Baroque Music 2018: 18th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music - Musicology and Cultural Heritage Department, Pavia University, Cremona, Italy
Duration: 10 Jul 201815 Jul 2018
Conference number: 18


ConferenceCremona Baroque Music 2018
Internet address


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