I was watching this video about improvisation on partimento.

In the video in the bottom I see terms such as Parstorella, Clausula ottocento, Scalino 7.1, Phantom Lancia, Queiscenza 1.

What are those terms? Are those phrases or something? And what exactly is the girl doing in the video?

  • 2
    Doesn’t count as an answer because it’s just a book recommendation, but *Music in the Galant Style” by Gjerdingen is the ultimate resource for these ideas. Nov 3, 2018 at 3:45
  • @PatMuchmore I found an interview with Gjerdingen as well. really opened my eyes. artofcomposing.com/…
    – user34288
    Nov 5, 2018 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


These are names for formulaic patterns in common-practice music. These patterns can then be used to compose/improvise phrases in the style of this music. These patterns are called schemata by psychologists and in the Gjerdingen book that Pat recommended, and partimenti within the historical Italian style. (It's more nuanced than that, but I'll let you research the distinction!)

The "Scalino 7.1," for instance, will have scale-degrees 7 and 1 in the bass. It's a part of a V6–I progression, and the upper voice is typically the interval of a third (tenth) above the bass on scale-degrees 2 and 3.

For these particular patterns, I recommend Georgio Sanguinetti's The Art of Partimento. Gjerdingen's book is great and discusses several schemata, but it seems that you're looking more for the partimento tradition.

As for the video, it seems that it's just a girl and her teacher trading off as they improvise phrases using these partimenti. But it goes to show you that training in this tradition really pays off in terms of improvisation!

  • 1
    I found the backstory to this girl in an interview with Gjerdingen. see time 51:05s he talks about her for the next 5 minutes artofcomposing.com/…
    – user34288
    Nov 5, 2018 at 16:27
  • just got the book. it always seemed to me that idolization of classical musicians was exaggerated. they followed these bass patterns and improvised on them. much like we improvise on chord progressions today. but I think bass patterns allows one to create richer melodies bc the bass can be more sophisticated and easier to improvise on (since it's just one note) than a chord progression. I always thought canon in d was I V vi iii IV I IV V. but it's not. it's 3-2-1-7-6-5-6-7 (descending bassline).
    – user34288
    Nov 5, 2018 at 19:39
  • err I meant 1-5-6-3-4-1-4-5 (descending bassline). but previous one works alternatively too.
    – user34288
    Nov 5, 2018 at 23:16
  • @foreyez In this case, they're all root-position triads, so the bass scale degrees are the same as the Roman numerals.
    – Richard
    Nov 6, 2018 at 12:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.