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Contexts for Couperin’s L’art de toucher le clavecin

Abstract : One of the best-known texts on 18th-century French harpsichord playing, Couperin’s L’art de toucher le clavecin (1716), has long been considered a valuable source for performers of French Baroque keyboard music. This article investigates the cultural contexts that shaped its text and its aesthetic preoccupations. Various passages dealing with the human body (on seating and position, and on fingering) can be related to the rules of civility and personal control taught by 17th-century etiquette books. Other passages such as the practical exercises show resemblances with vocal pedagogy and graded exercises used in school teaching of the time. Although Couperin claimed that his was the first and only method to deal with good keyboard playing, the book is shaped by a close relationship with other musical treatises (whether for harpsichord or other instruments) published in France during the previous few decades.
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Contributor : Marie Demeilliez <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 11:38:21 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 4:00:18 PM




Marie Demeilliez. Contexts for Couperin’s L’art de toucher le clavecin. Early Music, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020, ⟨10.1093/em/caaa039⟩. ⟨halshs-02935328⟩



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