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John Playford's "The Division Violin": Improvisation and Variation Practice in English Violin Music of the Seventeenth Century

Description: English publisher John Playford (1623-1686/1687) first published his "The Division Violin: Containing a Collection of Divisions Upon Several Grounds for the Treble-Violin" in 1684. The first edition of this violin collection contains 26 written-out examples of improvisation, serving as a living snapshot of the performance practice of the time. This research is based on the second edition, which Playford had expanded into 30 pieces for the violin, published in 1685. The purpose of this study is to investigate the art of improvisation in England during the late 17th century, focusing on Playford's "The Division Violin." The dissertation first surveys the development of English violin music in the 17th century. Then, the dissertation traces eight selected 16th-century Italian diminution manuals. This will help readers understand the progression of the Italian diminution and improvisation practice in the 16th century and how it relates to the English division of the 17th century. Finally, based on a thorough research of the 17th-century improvisatory style and rhetorical approach, the author of this study provides performance suggestions on "Mr. Farinell's Ground," No. 5 from "The Division Violin."
Date: August 2017
Creator: Chan, Tzu-Ying
Partner: UNT Libraries