As a hobbyist composer who composes in "almost" traditional music styles (baroque-like, classical-like etc.), I am at a stage where I would like to compose authentic music in a specific style.

I have studied harmony and voice leading from both Aldwell & Schachter's and Walter Piston's books, and counterpoint from Fux's book (at least some revised version of it) and am at a level that allows me to understand the language spoken in these books. The books, justifiably, don't teach how to write "like" a composer.

I would like to know how to write in the style of mid to late Italian baroque composers, anywhere from Corelli, through Vivaldi, to Pergolesi. I am aware that in theory I should be able to take 30 concertos of aforementioned composers and slice them with a musical scalpel left to right and top to bottom, and learn from what I find. In practice, however, this is not the way to go for many reasons.

I am looking for a serious textbook, or other source, that teaches/explains/helps how to write in this style (I'm sure there is no book exactly on this topic). I have started to do my own research into this and into compositional techniques such as durezze e ligature, but one needs a real guide for it to be done correctly. Can anyone suggest such textbook?

  • I misread your title as "I want to set texts to baroque music, which poems would be a good choice?" It might be better to say you seek literature about this variety of baroque style. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 9:38
  • @KilianFoth Alright, if it causes such confusion. Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 9:51
  • I don't think that a text will get you farther than listening and score study will, frankly, but you might be able to find some dissertations on a stylistic analysis of these specific composers. Searching academic databases would be my recommendation if reading and listening to the composer's pieces that you'd like to emulate doesn't work for you.
    – DallaLiyly
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 7:52
  • @MunchyWilly Dissertations are a good idea. Do you know of good places to start looking? Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 4:29
  • 1
    @user1803551 RILM Abstracts of Music Literature will be your go-to database. You can use EBSCOHost to access it if you have access to a library that subscribes, or The American Musicological Society also hosts an index (ams-net.org/ddm). For journal articles, use JSTOR's database (again, a subscription is required).
    – DallaLiyly
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


Have I got a treat for you. Learn this stuff the way the actual composers did @


The other references given in this thread, while excellent, are counterpoint manuals, and unless you really want to write fugues and inventions, go for this "hands on" historically accurate teaching method. Plus it's free and online.

  • Huh, this project is pretty exciting. Great fined! Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 2:55
  • This is a great site, indeed.
    – user1449
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 21:22

Try using "Tonal counterpoint in the style of 18th Century - Ernst Krenek (1953)" along with your surgical explorations of the Italian masters and write variations on their themes

  • Is it this one? Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 12:20
  • 1
    I also found now "Counterpoint, based on eighteenth century practice / Kent Kennan". Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 13:11

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