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date: 15 December 2019

Bergamasca [bergamasco, bergomask] (It.)locked

  • Richard Hudson
  • , revised by Giuseppe Gerbino
  •  and Alexander Silbiger


[bergamasco, bergomask] (It.)

A tune widely used for instrumental variations and contrapuntal fantasias in the late 16th century and the 17th. It was probably based on a folksong or folkdance, and its name suggests a connection with the district of Bergamo in northern Italy. The tune was usually associated with the recurring harmonic scheme I–IV–V–I (ex.1).

Chordal accompaniments for the bergamasca appear in many Italian tablatures from Montesardo (1606) to G.P. Ricci (1677). Some keyboard variations retain the harmonic scheme in the manner of an ostinato (see Samuel Scheidt’s set in H-Bn 26). Others, however, simply use the melody of the first half of ex.2 without the bass formula, as in Frescobaldi’s bergamasca from Fiori musicali (1635), Giovanni Salvatore’s Canzone francese sopra un ballo detto la Bergamasca (1641) and G.B. Fasolo’s Fuga prima sopra la Bergamasca as well as in some ensemble pieces by Viadana (...

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