Improvised polyphony played a central role in the education of the musicians of the Renaissance and the Early Baroque eras. It was one of the three “pillars” of the musical curriculum, together with plainchant and cantus figuratus (the performance of written polyphony). In its classical form, called contrapunto alla mente, it consisted in the ability of improvising an additional line of music on top of an existing one, most typically a plainchant melody that functions as cantus firmus.
This course recreates such a skill. Taking the materials gathered from historical sources as starting point, the course presents a practical methodology that allows for internalization of intervals and voice leading patterns. The contents of the course include: classification of harmonic intervals (perfect consonances, imperfect consonances and dissonances) and possible progressions between them, simple contrapuntal models such as gymel and fauxbourdon, free counterpoint on cantus firmus, imitative counterpoint in the form of canon (stretto fuga at the unison, octave, fifth and fourth) and contrapuntal commonplaces such as clausulas and sequences.
After a wide-ranging classical music education, graduating from the Conservatory of
Valencia in 2001/2002 in four majors (piano, cello, chamber music and music theory),
he combined a professional career (playing in the Orchestra of Valencia and teaching
improvisation at the Conservatory) with private studies on composition and conducting.
Motivated by a strong interest towards Early Music he moved to The Netherlands to
study at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 2007, where he further graduated in
harpsichord with Jacques Ogg, while undertaking an independent task of comprehensive
historical research and documentation on which he bases his perspective on musical
praxis. He obtained the degree of Master of Music, specializing in historical conducting
techniques (maestro di cappella / maestro al cembalo) under the guidance of teachers
like Peter van Heyghen, Fabio Bonizzoni and Ton Koopman.
He’s founder and director of La Academia de los Nocturnos (which focuses on Spanish
Renaissance and Baroque music), founding member of Cantores Sancti Gregorii
(medieval and Renaissance sacred repertory), and regular colaborator of the ensembles
Palma Choralis (Italy), Ars Lusitana (Portugal) and La Danserye (Spain). He also
founded The Eroica Project, orchestra with which he performed Beethoven’s
symphonies no. 1-3 on period instruments in 2012-2013.
He teaches at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and has also been invited to teach
and lead projects in other Dutch conservatories (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Tilburg). He uses
historical teaching methods and learning strategies to allow students to acquire a similar
set of skills to that expected from musicians in the past.