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Bernardo Storace (17th century)
Selva di Varie Compositioni D'Intavolatura per Cimbalo ed Organo (1664)

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See the Table of Contents.
Jump to some editorial comments.
Check out a Toccata and Canzon.

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v+125 pp.


Storace's Table of Contents (Tavola) appears at the end of the volume, and differs somewhat from this one. The Passagagli sopra D has four separate entries, one for each section with a new tonality, and the Passagagli sopra Fe similarly has three. Here each piece is listed only once. In the original the first Toccata and Canzon are listed separately although they are obviously linked like the second pair, and in the source the Canzon immediately follows the Toccata with no decorated title such as heads most other pieces, so here they are listed as a single item.

 Notes from the Editoriii
1.Capriccio Sopra il Passo e Mezzo2
2.Passo e Mezzo9
3.Altro Passo e Mezzo16
5.Aria Sopra La Spagnoletta27
7.Capriccio Sopra Ruggiero38
8.Partite Sopra il Cinque Passi42
10.Passagagli sopra A52
11.Passagagli sopra C61
 Facsimile of p. 50 of the original69
12.Passagagli sopra D70
13.Passagagli sopra Fe81
16.Ballo della Battaglia100
17.Corrente (g)103
18.Corrente (e)104
19.Toccata e Canzon (G)105
20.Toccata e Canzon (F)108
22.Recercar di Legature116



Introduction. This edition is based on a facsimile of the only known surviving copy of Bernardo Storace's only known work, a 100-page copper-plate engraving housed in the library of the Conservatory of Naples. The elegantly decorated cover page of that volume states that he was the "vice chapel-master to the most illustrious senate of the noble and exemplary city of Messina". Beyond that, nothing more is known about him. The only other information on that page, aside from the title and a list of the kinds of pieces, is that the volume was published "In Venetia 1664, Con Licensa di Superiori."

Of the 23 pieces in the work, fully 20 are dancelike, if you include the one march. Fifteen of those take the form of sets of variations, with repetition periods ranging from two measures as in the Passagagli and Ciaccona, to 12 as in Spagnoletta and Monica. Storace demonstrates absolute mastery of this genre, constructing intriguing musical journeys with continually intensifying melodic complexity.

Although the cover says the works are for harspichord or organ, most are more idiomatic for harpsichord. The music itself tells us the about harpsichord Storace had in mind. Its compass would now be designated C/E-c, meaning the four octaves centered at middle C. It has a short octave where the lowest C, D, and E respectively look like E, F-sharp, and G-sharp. We can be certain of this, because there are intervals of 10ths and 12ths that can only be played on this type of short octave. For example, see Ballo de la Battaglia Bar 15, and Passagagli sopra A variation 85.

Editorial matters. The editorial philosophy in preparing this edition represents a compromise between ease of performance by a modern keyboardist, and a desire to retain as much as practical of the original. The rest of these notes describe some details of the approach.

Staves. The lower staff in the original has 7 lines, with middle C the second one down in every piece except the Pastorale, where it is the third line down. The upper staff has six lines, with middle C the lowest. Here these have been changed to conventional 5-line staves with bass and treble clefs. However, the disposition of notes between staves has been retained, as it precisely indicates the division of notes between hands.

Rests. Storace didn't account for all the time in the secondary lines. When he did use rests in secondary lines, they usually served one of two definite purposes, either to provide a bridge between a main beat and a delayed entrance, or to suggest when to get one hand out of the way to make room for the other. Conversely, the absence of a rest prior to an entrance in a secondary voice often indicates that the voice is continued from the other staff. Very few rests have been added or deleted.

Key signatures. In many cases Storace used one fewer sharp or flat than we would today. In addition, in more distant keys he also omitted the b-flat or f-sharp from the signature. The first anachronism has been retained, but not the second.

Ornaments. The only ornament Storace notated is a trill. They are normally denoted with a lower case italic t. In a few cases the trill is written out and there is a redundant lower case italic tr. These notations have been retained. Trills of this period normally start on the main note.

Accidentals in the original may appear above, below or to the left of a note. There is no apparent distinction in meaning among the different positions, except that sometimes when above or below, the mark is horizontally centered between two notes and evidently applies to both. Aside from that curiosity, Storace uses the standard conventions of his time: (a) accidentals are relative, so a flat or sharp means to lower or raise the note by 1/2 step from the pitch it would otherwise have; (b) in most cases accidentals only apply to the note on which they are posted; and (c) some accidentals are simply omitted because they are considered either obvious or perhaps discretionary.

Item (c), and the exceptions to item (b), pose a formidable, two-pronged challenge to the editor: First one must decide what notes are to be recommended to be played, and second, how to communicate that recommendation in a modern edition while at the same time allowing the player to infer what was or wasn't marked in the original. The notation scheme to be outlined here relies on a combination of in-line and editorial (above the staff) marks to convey the recommendation unambiguously, in the modern way. And by understanding the editorial methods described here, it should be possible to determine very accurately (although not absolutely perfectly) what was indicated in the original.

For the purpose of determining what accidentals are to be recommended, it has generally been assumed that the exceptions to item (b) occur when an unmarked note is separated by no more than one note from a marked note at the same pitch in the same measure. But even in these cases, musical judgments must be applied. For example, in the bass line of the Terza Partita of the Passagagli sopra A, the second G must clearly be a natural even though it is never marked as such in the original.

Conversely, if an unmarked note appears in the original after a marked one in the same measure and is separated by two or more notes, it is usually (but again not always) assumed that the accidental no longer applies.

The approach adopted here for notating accidentals begins with the premise that a modern edition should use the modern accidental conventions, where in contrast with Storace's notation, accidentals once posted in a voice apply in that voice until the measure ends; and they are absolute rather than relative, always referring to either ''black keys'' (sharps and flats), or ''white keys'' (naturals) on the keyboard. (When there are two distinct voices in a staff, accidentals in one do not apply to the other). Thus the first occurrence of an accidental in a measure in the original will always be marked here. After that, whenever an accidental here is inherited from a prior note in the measure and not explicitly marked (either in or above the staff), it will have been marked explicitly in the original, except when the unmarked note immediately follows a marked note of the same pitch.

Items (b) and (c) above are handled with ''editorial'' accidentals, placed above or below the staff, with or without a question mark depending on the degree of certainty. Wherever an editorial accidental appears here, there will have been no corresponding accidental in the original. Consideration of these editorial accidentals is essential to a proper performance. The ones without question marks are virtually certain. The ones with question marks represent one of two possibilities which might be nearly equally likely, so the performer is expected to contribute to the decision whether to observe them or not.

Editorial accidentals will sometimes appear to be redundant, namely when applied to a note which according to the modern convention would have inherited the accidental anyway from earlier in the bar. In these cases one purpose of the editorial accidental, whether with or without a question mark, is precisely to indicate that there was no accidental in the original.

Naturals deserve separate mention. Except in two pieces, Storace rarely used naturals. Instead, in keeping with the baroque convention, he would usually use a flat to cancel a sharp and vice versa. This would apply in two situations: first, to cancel an accidental in the key signature, and second, to cancel one on the previous note, such as in chromatic passages.

The two exceptional pieces are Altro Passo e Mezzo (No. 3) and Recercar di Legature (No. 22). Storace peppered the first with C- and F-naturals and the second with F-naturals. Both appear to be in e minor although only the former has F-sharp in the key signature. Many of the naturals would therefore not be required according to the key signature, so we should assume Storace put them there to caution the player not to sharp these notes. And the harmonic context of all these notes, at least according to later harmonic conventions, would argue for sharps in every case. As naturals they create striking dissonances. But there is some precedent for this sort of dissonance in other keyboard music of the time, and there is no strong argument for ignoring Storace's explicit notations. Consequently, here these naturals are reproduced verbatim. Some players may be unable to resist the impulse to ''correct'' these markings, and on first hearing, modern listeners would be none the wiser.

In this edition, naturals beside a note are most commonly used to cancel a prior accidental in the same bar, when the context in the original makes the decision absolutely clear. (If there were doubt, an editorial natural would be used). In these unambiguous cases the naturals are essential in that different pitches would be implied if they were absent. In the exceptional cases just discussed, the naturals are not essential, and in practically all cases can be recognized as examples of Storace's explicit naturals by their very redundancy.

There are also ''cautionary'' accidentals used here, which are placed beside a note but enclosed in parentheses. These have no formal status but are only reminders. In fact these have the same function as the explicit naturals Storace notated in Nos. 3 and 22, but it was decided to retain Storace's notation here for those extraordinary cases.

Added notes. In a very few spots there seemed to be notes missing. Suggested notes have been added in very small print.

Timing. Because it will lead to minimal discomfort while remaining faithful to the original, three anachronistic features of the original that are related to timing have been largely retained: (1) All of these pieces have bar lengths that are long by later standards. Some editors would split bars in half, or change the basic temporal unit, or both. This edition retains the original barring, and with only a few exceptions, the basic temporal unit. (2) In some sections, Storace used only open note heads, so for example what we would call a quarter note looks like an eighth note but with an open head. This notation allows the articulation of consecutive quarter notes to be indicated with beaming, and may imply something about the tempo. (3) Many time signatures would not be correct by modern standards, but again may contain information about tempo.

The exceptions to retaining the basic temporal unit are in Ciaccona (No. 14) and Pastorale (No. 23), where in some sections note values have been halved from the original. In the outer sections of the former the original metrical indication is 3/1 preceded with a circle, (The circle is a reference to the renaissance period's {\twi tempus perfectus}). There are six whole notes to a bar. Here this has been altered to 3/2 with six half notes. The seconda parte of the Pastorale begins in 3/2 with four dotted whole notes to a bar. This has been changed to 3/4 with four dotted halves. Later in the same section the original meter changes to 6/4, still with four dotted wholes, and this has similarly been changed to 6/8 with four dotted halves. One reason for making these changes is to help combat the impulse to play these sections slower than they should be.

Beaming. There are no explicit articulation or phrase marks in the original, but the beaming (or lack thereof where it might otherwise be applied) almost certainly conveys messages about both, so it is reproduced verbatim. An editorial issue arises in the sections just mentioned where note values have been halved. What were formerly quarters have become eighths and as such the editor has been forced to decide whether or not to beam them. Based on the character of both pieces, no portions are left unbeamed, and the lengths of beams have been selected in accord with the musical context.

Page turns. Every effort has been made to provide convenient page turns. In practically all cases, by adjusting numbers of systems per page and horizontal note densities, it has been possible to situate ''one-handed'' segments at page turns.

When all is said and done, the proof is in the playing. Here's hoping you find as much pleasure in playing these gems as I have in working with them.

Don Simons
Redondo Beach, January 2005

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