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Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era$
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Roger Mathew Grant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367283

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199367283.001.0001

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The Eighteenth-Century Alla Breve

The Eighteenth-Century Alla Breve

(p.147) Chapter Six The Eighteenth-Century Alla Breve
Beating Time and Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era

Roger Mathew Grant

Oxford University Press

Remembered today in association with the musical topic of the stile antico, the alla breve was simultaneously a tempo marker, a stylistic descriptor, and a meter signature in the eighteenth century. Controversies surrounding the tempo intended by this mark are as abundant today as they were then. The alla breve, associated as it was with 'long note music' was itself a historical vessel in the eighteenth century, importing with it rules of harmony, register, voice leading, and pace. This chapter shows how the many possible meanings of the alla breve capture a final moment in the history of the relationships that created tempo giusto. Analyses in the chapter focus on the copying of sixteenth-century music in the eighteenth century, and on the music of Bach, Handel, Quantz, Graun, Mozart, Joseph Haydn, and Michael Haydn.

Keywords:   alla breve, cut time, stile antico, tempo giusto, Bach, Handel, Quantz, Graun, Mozart, Haydn, Michael Haydn

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