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Galant Schemata

Schema Theory


Professor Robert Gjerdingen developed his schema theory from the principles of Neapolitan conservatory training exercises for young maestros called partimenti and solfeggio. The use of colorful names given to the phenomena within those exercises is inspired by the eighteenth-century German theorist and composer Joseph Riepel in his Anfangsgründe zur musicalischen Setzkunst (1752, 1755). 

Riepel identifies three compositional schemata—the Monte, Ponte and Fonte— that suggest eighteenth-century compositional practices descending from the partimenti tradition consisted of stock compositional gestures, called  schemata. These formed the basis of compositional practices and a distinct style. Gjerdingen, through his Music in the Galant Style (2007), advances this unique perspective on western art music. Galant schema theory has become a significant analytical framework that interweaves many important threads that have been treated disparately in modern discourse: theory, history, performance, as well as pedagogy in the past and present day.

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In the past decade several books have been written on and around the topics central to this new brand of historically informed musicology. These include: 

Baragwanath, Nicholas. The Solfeggio Tradition. New York: Oxford  University Press, 2020.

Gjerdingen, Robert O. Music in the Galant Style. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

-- Child Composers in the Old Conservatories. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Heartz, Daniel. Music in European Capitals: The Galant Style, 1720-1780. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

IJzerman, Job. Harmony, Counterpoint, Partimento: A New Method Inspired By Old Masters. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Paraschivescu,​ Nicoleta. The Partimenti of Giovanni Paisiello: Pedagogy and Practice. Rochester: University of Rochester Press

Rice, John A. Music in the Eighteenth Century. 1st ed. Western Music in Context: A Norton History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2013.

Sanguinetti, Giorgio. The Art of Partimento: History, Theory, and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Tour, Peter van. Counterpoint and Partimento: Methods of Teaching Composition in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples. Studia Musicologica Upsaliensia, N.S., 25. Uppsala: Uppsala Univ, 2015.

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Weblinks which explore Galant Schemata Theory:

Galant Schemata in Binary Form: Platti's Keyboard Sonata in C minor:

Ma chère enfant: The Pachelbel Romanesca in a duet by Grétry:

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