THE PASSACAGLIA – A PRIMER FOR TEACHING BAROQUE IMPROVISATION
During the lifetime of Bach such disciplines as harmony and thoroughbass were realized directly at the keyboard by the student, providing a solid foundation for later and more elaborate improvisatory skills – skills which were mandatory for all clavier players of that period. Unfortunately, the great majority of today’s Baroque counterpoint classes rely on the more academic process of committing notes to paper, thereby subjugating aural and performance skills. In this article, I propose amending music theory curricula with topics in baroque improvisation. To that end I will employ one of the most accessible variation forms from common practice music: the passacaglia.