Curious Inventions: Carlo Farina's Capriccio Stravagante

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Carlo Farina’s 1627 Capriccio Stravagante uses four violin-family instruments (violin, two violas, and a violoncello-range instrument) to mimic other instruments such as trumpets, shawms, organs, and guitars. This investigation seeks to equip the modern performer by framing the piece in the context of contemporary understandings and techniques. Carlo Farina and the Capriccio model the influence of emerging tastes for Italian practices and musicians in the courts of northern Europe, and for the violin as an individually idiomatic solo instrument. Marin Mersenne identified the violin’s specific strength as its versatile ability to adopt the timbre and musical idioms of other instruments, as demonstrated in the Capriccio. One of the primary tasks facing the modern interpreter is to identify the instruments which Farina imitates throughout the piece. The Lira, for example, is not the lira da braccio but the hurdy-gurdy, and Il tremulant is not a string tremolo technique but an organ setting. Chapter V of this analysis examines each mimicked instrument in turn and considers their period performance practice and repertoire, extrapolating an application to violin-family instruments.






Bonner, A (2018). Curious Inventions: Carlo Farina's Capriccio Stravagante. Retrieved from

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