Friday, January 30, 2009

Canon over a Handel Bass

When Handel was living in England, he put together a series of lessons in continuo playing and fugal improvisation for Princess Anne, one of the daughters of George II. They are remarkably well-thought out and pedagogically sound. Because the Princess was unusually gifted, Handel took great care in crafting the lessons.

I wrote today’s canon over the bass that was the first of these lessons. I held strictly to the harmonies that Handel calls for -- a series of root position triads.

My choice of canon at the fourth gave me a few challenges but nothing too difficult to overcome. The harmonic progressions are varied, even in this short exercise. In the first two measure the progressions are by fourth or fifth. From the end of measure 2 through measure 4 the progressions are by descending thirds with one interspersed fifth. Starting with the last note of measure 4, the progressions are by mostly ascending seconds with one descending third. The final cadence is, of course, V - I, the reverse of the opening progression.

This simply meant that I had to choose wisely. A little trial and error (or success) and I had it done.

(click on image to enlarge)

I’ll likely use the Handel studies as a resource several more times in this project.

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