The evolution of grace: tracing the development of petite graces ornamentation
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This dissertation examines the evolution of French vocal ornamentation. Ornaments (agrements or petites graces) were often marked by composers with the use of a symbol instead of being fully notated. Prior to the codification of this stenographic system, the gestural shapes they would come to represent were used. The admixture of shorthand agrement signs and full notation for ornamental gestures was due in part to the unwritten tradition of improvisation, transition from Renaissance to Baroque musical styles, and the inchoate state of printing. This dissertation traces the development of the petite grace system: The primary focus is secular vocal music from 1570 to 1702. Particular attention is given to airs de cours, vaudevilles, airs and chansons for boire and danser, and the contrasting airs serieux. To provide a wider overview of contemporary ornamentation and performance practices in France, sacred and secular vocal music 1527-1594, compositions by related foreign composers 1528-1702, general music and vocal treatises 1603-1736, and instrumental treatises and front matter 1583-1720 are surveyed. This chronological examination of the nascent petites graces yields a cursory look over a wide range of material. The first precursor melodic shapes appear in France by 1528, descriptions appear in 1603, and the first signed agrements in 1615. This dissertation provides a compendium of material; pinpoints the emergence of signs, descriptions, and agrement musical appearances outside treatises; and summarizes the trends of each petite grace.
Dissertation (D.M.A.)--Boston University, 2014