Corelli Giga

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    I am trying to bring back the Giga by Corelli transcribed by Salzedo

    and published in “Solos for the Harp Player”.

    J P

    Hey there Elinor!

    I played this piece a few years ago and it’s a lovely pipece to have in your arsenal.


    I don’t think Salzedo was really that up on ornamentation, having found the piano book I think he made his transcriptions from. You might as well play them as written, because putting them on the beat as they should be, throws off the transcription.


    I agree with Saul to put the ornaments ahead of the beat, as written. As for the octave

    stretch going into bars 6, 7 and 8, have her try the third finger instead of the second on

    the last eighth note. That would make less of a stretch. The sliding ornament in bar 12 can

    be made easier by taking that E in the left hand, and does not have to be slid. It could be

    done as 3,1,2. The ornaments on bars 18 and 19 can be made easier by placing fingers 2

    and 3 on E and G at the same time as you place the A before them. The slide works well

    there, but if the student really doesn’t feel comfortable with it, she could come off on the

    2nd finger instead, then hop to the thumb and third finger on the next chord.You could

    also use an E# enharmonic for the second F in that figure, but it means changing the pedal

    back and forth. An E# can be used to make a shorter stretch in the bar with the fermata on

    the bottom line of the same page.


    I assume the Giga was written for harpsichord, but Corelli wrote so much for the violin, was it ever played by strings? From what larger work did Giga come? and was it originally in B flat? I’m doing a lecture concert this week and would love to have a little background information, but can’t find much. Thanks.


    Salzedo was not the only one who was not up on baroque ornamentation.


    It was not written for harpsichord, but for violin. It’s from the sonatas, Op. 9, no. 5. I believe the original key is A major, but I’d have to go dig it out to check. Salzedo’s version is based heavily on the most popular keyboard realization of the accompaniment during his day.


    Faulty or not, it remains a delightful arrangement that is very
    pleasing to the audience. I have noticed that the Saint-Saens edited
    editions of French baroque music print the ornaments before the beat,
    but if you know the most basic rule of ornamentation, which is that
    they take their rhythmic value from the main note, it is perfectly
    clear that they are played on the beat. The problem is lazy musicians
    who think they only have to look at what’s printed on the page and not
    think about it. I am still wishing someone would study harp composers
    including Dussek and Spohr and correct the notation of their ornaments.
    I think they still intended them played classically, on the beat
    beginning on the upper auxiliary, until after 1850 or so. I go by the
    rule of what is more expressive and what function is the ornament
    serving, rhythmic, melodic or decorative? My sources tend to stop
    giving examples in the early 19th century or earlier, and Dussek is
    difficult as he incorporates Italian, French and German as well as
    Bohemian styles, I believe.


    Baroque ornaments are virtually all harmonic suspensions.


    Neumann’s book on Baroque ornamentation mentions that JS Bach didn’t care whether the ornaments started on or before the beat as long as they made musical sense, but his son, CPE Bach, wrote a book stating that the ornaments should start on the beat. But then, after the book was published and widely read, CPE Bach changed his mind and loosened up. There were so many types of ornaments floating around at this time, and so many ways of playing them, that musical performance resembled jazz in its freedom of expression. Finally, composers got tired of hearing their music so covered in ornaments as to be unrecognizable, so the practice began to be discouraged.

    At any rate, I find that listening to recordings of early music specialists is a great help to understanding the style of the period. I recommend Andrew Lawrence King and the Harp Consort.


    I would listen more to flutists, myself. My point was that playing
    appoggiaturas robs them of their harmonic value, and rhythmic strength.
    Think of the Dussek Sonata’s third movement Rondo, and how different
    its character when they are played as flippy, insignificant grace
    notes, and how strong they are when they snap on the beat. Also, Miss
    Lawrence felt that short notes like that should be very very short and
    accented so they are clear.

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