Forschungsprojekt / Video

Realising the basso continuo on the Italian “arpa a tre ordini”

02.01.2018 – 04.02.2018

What would the basso continuo on harp have sounded like in Rome at the time of Orazio Michi? How can a harp support the vocal part with an accompaniment in line with the text’s expressive qualities? A performative approach.

Orazio Michi (ca. 1595–1641) was an outstanding harp virtuoso active in Rome at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Nothing of his solo repertoire for harp has come down to us, instead, about 100 vocal compositions, preserved in several music manuscripts. However, in these manuscripts only the bass line is notated. To conceive an appropriate accompaniment, today’s harpists can rely only on theoretical sources and adapt written-out indications for keyboard or plucked fretted instruments for the harp.


In two video recordings, harpist Mara Galassi offers a realisation of the basso continuo for two pieces by Orazio Michi: the lamento “Sola fra’ suoi più cari” and the canzonetta “Alma che ti sollievi”, performed with the soprano María Cristina Kiehr. These recordings are meant as practical and experimental complement to the article by Mara Galassi and Chiara Granata, “‘Tanto che non si potrebbe sentire cosa più bella’. The harp as basso continuo instrument in Rome at the time of Orazio Michi”, published in Basler Beiträge zur Historischen Musikpraxis, vol. 39.


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