Chanter sur le livre – Vokalimprovisation der Renaissance

Hochschule für Musik Würzburg
In the course, Renaissance improvisation techniques along with Hexachord solmisation, information about historic teaching methods, treatises and so on are taught. The course mostly works like a vocal ensemble, all techniques are immediately experienced, combined with others, applied in expanding existing music and so on. It is at the same time a course in counterpoint, ear training and improvisation.
the following are very helpful, but not mandatory:
  • Familiarity with their voice, if possible, even some professional training
  • basic knowledge about counterpoint (consonance and dissonance, imitation, clausulas, …)
  • basic ear training (listening orientation in tonal/modal space)
  • willingness to sing and improvise
  • knowledge about canon techniques (not only on paper, but being able to sing them), e.g. simple canons in the unison, octave, lower or upper fifth and fourth; canons with 2 or 3 consequent voices at the same time (e.g. lower 3 and 5) or after another (e.g. lower 8, upper 5)
  • knowledge about diminution & ability to apply
  • knowledge about & ability in using Hexachord solmisation
  • gymel, fauxbourdon and other interval based composition techniques - …

Further information

  • assessment
    Other (There are seldom formal assessments. Mostly, the outcome of the course is presented in concerts.)
  • level
    Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
  • Completed Semester
    The course can be started in any semester. It is helpful, but not absolutely necessary to have some experience in (written/analysed) counterpoint, ear training and singing.
  • How many semesters does the course last?
    There is no fixed duration, it is rather an eternally ongoing course :-) Most students attend it several semesters or even years. In my opinion, it makes sense to participate at least 2 semesters. The course can be "used" as a class in historic composition techniques, there it lasts for 2 semesters.
  • hours per week
    As we are often preparing concerts, there is usually a combination of 45-60 minutes introduction, learning and training of techniques and 90-120 minutes rehearsal in different settings (tutti, duets or trios, …)
  • Link of the course
  • Target group of course
    Instrumentalists, advanced
    Music theory students, beginner
    Music theory students, advanced
    Other (basically all students. We regularly have many music education students in the course.)
  • credits
  • Type of Course
  • Degree Level
    Bachelor, Master
  • e-learning-elements
    online-compilations of materials and explanations; during Corona we also did synchronous online teaching via Zoom
  • Course
  • students #
    6-15 students
  • Hours per year
    Only I teach the course, it is 2-3 hours per week, we have 31 weeks of teaching per year
    - Banchieri, Adriano, Cartella Musicale, Venedig 1614. - Berentsen, Niels, »From Treatise to Classroom: Teaching Fifteenth-Century Improvised Counterpoint«, in: Journal of the Alamire Foundation 6/2 (2014), S. 221–242. - Blackburn, Bonnie J., »Masses on Popular Songs and on Syllables« in: The Josquin Companion, hg. von Richard Sherr, New York 2000. - Boquet, Pascale / Rebours, Gérard, 50 Renaissance & Baroque Standards. With Variants, Examples & Advice for Playing & Improvising on any Instrument, Bressuire 2007. Bornstein, Andrea, Two-Part Italian Didactic Music. Printed Collections of the Renaissance and Baroque (1521–1744), Bologna 2004. - Erhardt, Martin, Improvisation mit Ostinatobässen aus dem 16. bis 18. Jahrhundert, Magdeburg 2011. - Froebe, Folker, »Satzmodelle des ›Contrapunto alla mente‹ und ihre Bedeutung für den Stilwandel um 1600«, ZGMTH 4/1–2 (2007), S. 13–55. - Janin, Barnabé, Chanter sur le livre. Manuel pratique d’improvisation polyphonique de la Renaissance, Langres 2012. - Jans, Markus, »Ästhetische Implikationen der Satzlehre. In Tönen denken – über Töne nachdenken und reden«, in: Musiktheorie und Vermittlung. Didaktik · Ästhetik · Satzlehre · Analyse · Improvisation, hg. von Ralf Kubicek, Hildesheim, Zürich u. New York 2014, S. 155–166. - Lorenz, Ralph, »Canon as a Pedagogical Tool: Applications from Sixteenth-Century Wittenberg«, in: Indiana Theory Review 16 (1995), S. 83–104. - Rüdiger, Wolfgang, Ensemble und Improvisation. 20 Musiziervorschläge für Laien und Profis von Jung bis Alt, Regensburg 2015. - Schubert, Peter, »Counterpoint pedagogy in the Renaissance«, in: The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, hg. von Thomas Christensen, Cambridge 2002, S. 503–533. - Stighäll, Daniel, »A Study in Early Improvisation. The Use of Renaissance Improvisation to bridge the written and unwritten Practices in Modern Music Education«, in: Journal of the Alamire Foundation 6/1 (2014), S. 221–242. - Wegman, Rob C. / Menke, Johannes / Schubert, Peter, Improvising Early Music. The History of Musical Improvisation from the Late Middle Ages to the Early Baroque, Leuven 2014.
  • evaluation grid
  • evaluation grid
    and document


Almut Gatz

current position

Professor of Music Theory


Hochschule für Musik Würzburg


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