Italian Style

In the late 18th and early 19th, paratext in Scottish song and dance collections quite often object to “Italian” influences in music.  There’s the perception that “Italian” is synonymous with fussy, arty, classical music and not quite what the compilers expected in a Scottish music anthology. Things were different in earlier days.  Here’s Francis Barsanti (Francesco) circa 1742, in A Collection of Old Scots Tunes, With the Bass for Violoncello or harpsichord. Set and most humbly Dedicated to the Right Honourable The Lady Erskine.  (Sadly, his successors would probably have dismissed it as just another Italianate, Baroque collection!)


Having discovered, in several ancient Scots tunes, an elegance and variety of harmony equal to the compositions of the most celebrated masters of those times; at the desire of several gentlemen of taste, I applied myself to do justice to those ancient compositions, by a proper and natural bass to each tune, with the strictest regard to the tune itself, and without any alteration of the tune to accommodate it to the bass.  As I flatter myself that this attempt to revive the taste of our ancestors will not be disagreeable, I have submitted the same to the judgment of the Publick, that in case this should have the good fortune to please, I may be encouraged to further attempts of the same kind.

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