Back to index
Dell'Antonio, Andrew

Syntax, Form, and Genre in Sonatas and Canzonas, 1621-1635

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1991

In 1621, with his first collection of instrumental music, Dario Castello introduces a new genre: the Sonata concertata in stile moderno. Although indebted to the turn-of-the-century sonata and canzona, the Castellian sonata concertata is quite different in several respects; the principal innovation is the extension of the mixed-affect stile moderno to instrumental music.

Through an analysis of Castello's Primo Libro and of three other collections of small-ensemble instrumental music from the ensuing fifteen years -- by Picchi (1625), Scarani (1630), and Frescobaldi (1635) -- I identify a repertory of compositional devices and formal procedures which characterize the modern style instrumental sonata/canzona. In the course of the analysis, I also examine the repertory with regard to issues of recent genre theory, and especially the concept of the "generic contract".

My conclusion is that the most important distinction in this repertory is not between generic titles (sonata versus canzona) but between the stile moderno and the traditional style of the late sixteenth century. The essay closes with an examination of the relationship between the philosophical and aesthetic trends of the early Baroque and the new sonata concertata. An appendix investigates the role of the instrumental stile moderno in the rhetoric of the seconda prattica.