Volume 2 (1996) No. 1

Alexander Silbiger

Passacaglia and Ciaccona: Genre Pairing and Ambiguity from Frescobaldi to Couperin

Table 1: Frescobaldi's Passacagli and Ciaccone in the 1637 Aggiunta

                             Common elements
                             
triple beat
dance character
cyclic structure (cycles marked by V-I cadences)
linking of cycles
	end of one cycle coincides with beginning of next:
  ________    ________    ________    ________
 /        |  /        |  /        |  /  
         \/ /        \/ /        \/ /
           /           /           /
      V | I       V | I       V | I
	cycle begins on weak beat and ends on strong beat:
  ________       ________      ________      ________
 /        |     /        |    /        |    /  
         \/    /        \/   /        \/   /
              /             /             /
      V | I          V | I         V | I
	cycle begins on tonic and ends on dominant:
  ________       ________       ________       ________
 /        |     /        |     /        |     /  
         \/    /        \/    /        \/    /
              /              /              /
         V | I          V | I          V | I
cross-rhythms:
h. h.  <----->  h q q h  <----->  h h h 
w h | w h  <----->  q h q h | q h q h  ("Zefiro" shift)
[h=half note; h.=dotted half; q=quarter; w=whole; |=bar line]
                  Contrasting elements
                  
PASSACAGLIA                          CIACCONA
rocking, restrained	             stepping, lively
  at beginning of cycle bass moves:
by scale steps	                     by descending fourths
  upper voices:
conjunct and oscillating             disjunct and directed
minor mode                           major mode
frequent dissonances, especially     fewer dissonances
  dissonant suspensions on 
  strong beats
4 groups of 3 beats:                 2 groups of 3 (subdivided) beats:
6/4  h. h. | h. h. |                 3/2  w. | w. | 
or 
3/2  w. | w. | w. | w. |
predominant pattern:
| h w | h w | h w | h w |            | w h | w h |
[h.=dotted half note; w.=dotted whole; h=half; w=whole; |=bar line]

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