Early Music Sources PIE series - English translations of neglected sources

As musicians and researchers we are very lucky to be in an age where practically all our important sources are available online. But very often, having the sources, does not mean that we have access to them. Even if we know the original language that they were written in, in order to understand them we need the help of experts - both on a linguistic and a musicological level. Early Music Sources PIE aims to take sources and publish them online for free, in English. 

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PIE vol. 5Lorenzo Penna, The Fundaments of Playing the Organ or Harpsichord Upon a Part (1672): English edition

Freddie James

In the corpus of 17th-century basso continuo treatises Lorenzo Penna’s basso continuo treatise is unique in showing not only which figures should be added to a given bass progression, but also providing detailed manners of execution, including special features such as extravagant trills and unexpected harmonies. Most famously, to certain authentic cadences he adds the minor seventh and minor ninth—a harmony that can hardly be found in written compositions of the time, raising the possibility that its use was part of a practice found only in the unwritten art of accompaniment. This new English translation and edition makes this fascinating treatise (with its interesting reprints variants) accessible and easy to use. 

DOWNLOAD PDF HERE!Ver. 1.1 June 2023

English translation by Freddie James

Music examples typeset by Iason Marmaras

Edited by Elam Rotem

Watch a video about this source here

PIE vol. 4 -  Gabriele Vignali, Rudimenti di Musica per Accompagnare (1789): English edition

Sean Curtice

There are hundreds of surviving partimento manuscripts, but few historical examples of how these exercises should be realized. Gabriele Vignali’s Rudimenti di Musica per Accompagnare (1789) sheds valuable light on the subject of partimento realization with its collection of regole (fundamental musical rules) and series of twenty-four partimenti—one in each major and minor key. The unique and remarkable feature of this manuscript is the annotations included with each partimento, teaching the student to recognize keys, scale degrees, modulations, cadences, typical bass progressions, significant motives, and more. This new user-friendly English edition is an excellent resource for those interested in eighteenth-century music in general, and in the realization of basso continuo and partimenti in particular.


English translation and edition by
Sean Curtice and Lydia Carlisi

PIE vol. 3 -  Louis-Joseph Marchand, A treatise on simple counterpoint or singing on the book (1739): Bilingual edition

Tim Braithwaite

Louis-Joseph Marchand’s 1739 Traité du contrepoint simple ou chant sur le livre documents the continuation of a centuries-old tradition of improvised liturgical singing, one which remained part of French choral practice throughout the eighteenth century. An essentially practical work, the treatise aims to provide the reader with the tools required for singing counterpoint extempore, a skill that was claimed to be ‘necessary for all those who aspire to enter into the music of the majority of cathedrals and colleges, both in France, Flanders, and elsewhere.’ The aim of this translation is partly to facilitate academic engagement with this rich tradition of liturgical music-making, but also to aid in the continued practical revival of historical traditions of improvisation in both modern performance and pedagogy.


English translations and summary by Tim Braithwaite.

PIE vol. 2 -  Giulio Caccini's Published Writings: Bilingual edition

Lisandro Abadie

This new bilingual edition intends to collect all the printed writings by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618), published between 1600 and 1614. The aim of the translation, combined with the bilingual layout, is to facilitate direct access to Caccini’s texts. In particular, the division line-by-line of the texts presents each line of the originals next to their self-contained versions in English. Far from any literary ambitions, the intention is to restrict the translation as much as possible to the exact meaning of every line of the text, hopefully helping the reader to navigate Caccini’s challenging prose, as well as providing an immediate possibility to refer to the original Italian.

July 2021 [latest version, November 2023]

English translations and introduction by Lisandro Abadie in collaboration with Tim Braithwaite and Andrés Locatelli

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PIE vol. 1 -  Anonymous (ca. 1670-90), Regole di canto figurato, contrappunto, d'accompagnare:  English edition

Flavio Ferri-Benedetti

This Manuscript [I-Bc Ms. E. 25] is describing and demonstrating a manner of playing accompaniment so extravagant, we wouldn’t have imagined otherwise. Amazingly enough, this treatise was never transcribed, translated, or published in modern times. Parts of the manuscript were mentioned in our episode about Italian Basso Continuo 1650-1700, but now we wish, with the help of specialists, to create a free online edition of it in English. The translation will be made by Dr. Flavio Ferri-Benedetti, a musician and a scholar.

May 2020

English translation by Flavio Ferri Benedetti
Graphics and Layout by Santiago Sebastián Suárez

Watch a video about this source here