The main subjects taught in the Department of Early Music at the Lyon CNSMD are:
Principal Teacher: Yves Rechsteiner
The basso continuo class at the Lyon CNSMD aims to train continuo players, harpsichordists and/or organists in repertoire from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The following skills are studied:
Basso continuo realisation from the 16th to the 18th centuries
The first two years are devoted to the study of the basic elements of counterpoint which underpin the realisation of harmony in the 17th century. The course then focuses on the study of different national styles and on mastering the techniques of non-figured bass, full realisation and left-hand chords, acciaccatura ornaments, ‘style luthé’ (lute style), use of the arpeggio, melodic improvisation, realisation in three parts, etc…
Students gain experience by regularly accompanying the students of other classes of the early music department and by working with them in chamber music groups. This helps them to listen more effectively to the other musicians, to develop an awareness of the total sound produced, to improve their sense of rhythm and general musicianship, their propensity for group leadership, the ability to follow the soloist or the conductor, etc. Every year students take part in one or more orchestra projects.
Study of repertoire for harpsichord or organ
It is clearly essential to work regularly on keyboard repertoire in order to develop effective keyboard skills. The aim is to play in a relaxed but lively manner so as to obtain full and rich tone, to which the left hand and the bass must make a major contribution. The repertoire is used to study questions of both interpretation and harmony. The stylistic features of the pieces studied serve to widen students’ experience of basso continuo practice.
Techniques of reading
Constant attention is paid to sight-reading basso continuo, reading four-part polyphony and various other pieces written in the old clefs, transposing for singers or instruments (e.g. recorders) and to reading and reducing orchestra scores.
Improvisation work, which is required throughout the course, is taught essentially through master-classes which assist students with the improvisation of preludes, transitions between pieces in different keys, ornamentation of solo pieces, cadences, etc.
Specific training for répétiteurs
Every year a number of students are selected to work with a guest conductor in the framework of a project organised by the early music department and the department of vocal studies.
Research and analysis of sources
The master’s course affords students the opportunity to progress in the research and analysis of sources. The skills targeted are the ability to identify, read and analyse a period source of music or commentary, so as to obtain from it information that can be of used for the interpretation of the corresponding repertoire. Students are also required to choose a subject of research, work on it and present their results. In short, students learn to handle different sources of information and place them in context in order to produce a coherent critical reading.
Teacher: Jean-Marc Aymes
The harpsichord class, along with the other classes of the early music department, aims to train to students in the main styles of the instrument’s repertoire, from the 16th to the end of the 18th century. An essential component of studies for harpsichord students is necessarily the in-depth treatment of key works of each style. Students are also expected to use the wonderful potential of the CNSMD media resources centre to seek out and explore more specific and rare works and areas of repertoire.
The study of repertoire does not always progress chronologically, but it is always tailored to the personal experience of each student when he or she joins the class. Similarly, the technical work enabling students to approach each specific style is organised according to the previously acquired skill of each member of the class. Emphasis is placed on developing the ability to prepare a given piece for performance. Students are regularly given the chance to take part in concerts. Master-classes are organised at regular intervals for advanced work on particular areas of repertoire.
The CNSMD owns a considerable number of instruments, so each student can be given responsibility for the tuning and maintenance, if necessary, of one or more harpsichords. Students are also encouraged to learn other keyboard instruments, such as the organ, in order to understand the specific aspects of historic interpretation more fully.
Harpsichord – Basso Continuo and Improvisation lessons
Basso Continuo syllabus
The acquisition of notions of harmony in order to master the basic elements. Study of the treatises by Dandrieu, Saint Lambert, Telemann, Handel and Heinichen. Repertoire: Hottetere, Dieupart, Telemann, Handel, etc.
Work on the Italian style of the 17th century using the treatises of Bianciardi, Aggazzari and Penna. Repertoire is drawn from Frescobaldi, Fontana, Marini, and others.
The Italian style of the 18th century is approached via the treatises of Muffat and Gasparini. Repertoire is based on Corelli, Gasparini and A. Scarlatti.
There is also work on the ‘manierliche Generalbass’, ‘musique galante’ and a special subject chosen by the student.
Improvisation is closely linked to the basso continuo syllabus.
The historical documents used for reference are ‘musikalische Handleitung’ by Friedrich Erhardt Niedt for the 18th century in Germany, ‘instructio Nova’ by Spiridionis a Monte Carmelo for the 17th century in Italy, ‘Exercises in Fugue’ by Handel and ‘Versuch über die wahre Art das Keyboard zu spielen’ by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, for gallant style. For French music the harpsichord repertoire is analysed and used as a model for improvisation. The forms studies are chosen among the prelude, the toccata, the fugue, the two-part sonata and the dance suite. The ‘partimenti’ (instructional basses) as documented by Mattheson, Durante, etc. are approached in terms of a transition between basso continuo and improvisation.
A master-class in improvisation in a given style is held every year and culminates in a public recital.
Teacher: Rolf Lislevand
Principal Teacher: Marianne Muller
The viola da gamba class, which opened at the same time as the Early Music Department in 1988, aims to approach all the different aspects of this multi-faceted instrument. The repertoire therefore begins with the Renaissance and includes the consort, which is also taught on a weekly basis.
Considerable attention is paid to the vast baroque period, which saw the development of many varieties of solo or ‘obligato’ writing. This involves touching on the styles and techniques of country in Europe country and sometimes beyond. Contemporary music is a welcome guest, making collaboration possible on occasions with student composers from the conservatory.
The class also meets with the dance department from time to time, usually with the contemporary dance section, for free improvisation workshops where the participants are guided by their own imagination.
Students have the use of the following instruments, which belong to the CNSMD: a quartet of Renaissance instruments, a baroque septet, a violone and a seven-string baroque viol. A lirone will be acquired in the near future. There are also four vielles, which are used mainly in Pierre Hamon’s ensemble sessions throughout the year and in master-classes on specific occasions.
Principal Teacher: Odile Edouard
The baroque violin class allows students to study the repertoire and assimilate the original techniques associated with the different styles of musical expression dating from the Renaissance to the beginning of the classical period (1580 – 1750). The course includes the study of the art of diminution and ornamentation in the improvisation class, chamber music and also the study of original texts.
Just as art-restorers seek to identify the technique used by the artist responsible for the painting they are working on, students in the baroque violin class endeavour to identify the material and technical resources that were at the disposal of violinists at the time of the piece they are studying. They try and get as close as they can to what the composer wanted to communicate via his music.
This leads students to explore many different areas :
- They have to re-think the position they have learnt studying the modern violin, work on posture and the balance between the body and the violin with the violin resting freely on the should-blade with neither a chin-rest nor a cushion.
- The use of gut strings and their wide range of expression must be understood.
- Students discover through organology the main styles of mounting used for period violins from the birth instrument in the first half of the 16th century up to the middle of the 18th century.
- They also study the evolution of playing techniques due to the different types of bow manufacture at various times and places.
- The question of tuning is explored through the study of the many unequal temperaments that were used in the past, notably the mesotonic temperament.
- Students must seek to understand the coherence of a musical text in order to produce an optimum performance. This often involves areas covered by subsidiary subjects such as dance, singing, counterpoint, musical discourse, basso continuo, as well as ornamentation and improvisation).
- Finally they explore the immense repertoire, more than half of which has yet to be performed!
Odile Edouard’s teaching project is centred on arousing the students’ curiosity and making them autonomous to do their own research with a view to always proposing dynamic, sincere and original interpretations of the music they perform.
Principal Teacher: Emmanuel Balssa
The baroque cello class was opened in 2001 with the role of exploring the baroque and classical periods. The course covers both the solo repertoire and the study of basso continuo through chamber music and orchestra projects. The aim is to enable students to develop an awareness of different styles and to learn to apply their knowledge both when playing alone and in an ensemble.
Work on the repertoire
Syllabus covered by the class.
- Works from the end of the 17th century: Frescobaldi, Gabrieli, degli Antonii, and so on, with the use of appropriate technique and material (instruments, bows, strings, and so forth).
- Early repertoire for cello solo with music from Italy (by Vivaldi, Marcello, Caldara, Sammartini, Geminiani, etc.) and France (Boismortier, Corette, Barrière, Bréval, etc.)
- Later repertoire with classical sonatas (Boccherini, Beethoven, etc.)
- In-depth study of a complete suite by Johann Sebastian Bach (including analysis of form, writing and style).
The style of each period is studied via the ornamentation and grace notes.
In parallel with the study of the instrument, students are required to read and analyse different sources of information about cello-playing (such as Corette, Duport, Cupis and Baumgartner). Students are constantly called upon for ensemble work and basso continuo, which form an integral part of the work of the class. Members of the class have the opportunity to give concert performances every year. Students are encouraged to develop their ability to plan their own concert programme. Master-classes are organised for work on particular themes.
Principal Teacher: Jean Tubéry
Jean Tubéry proposes an approach to and the in-depth study of the cornetto (‘cornet à bouquin’) and of the family of instruments of which it is part (mute cornett, cornettino, alto and tenor cornett). The vast repertoire for these instruments extends from the beginning of 16th century to the middle of the 18th. They are used in many rich and varied contexts, ranging form monodic solo compositions (ricercari) to large-scale vocal and instrumental ensembles.
The repertoire of Germany, France, England, Flanders, Spain and Bohemia is also covered, in order to work on the features of style and ornamentation that are specific to each nation.
The practice of ornamentation, which underpins all instrumental playing from the Renaissance to the late baroque period, forms a central part of the daily study of the instrument. Sources used include treatises dating from the first half of the 16th century (Ganassi) to the 18th century documents that continue to refer to the cornetto (e.g. Speer, Mattheson and Eisel), the period of musicians who were both cornetto-players and composers (such as Bassano, Dalla Casa, Cesare and Vierdanck) and also that of the singers who were also violinists (Bovicelli, Brunelli, Rognoni, Herbst, Bernhard, etc.) and wrote for “canto solo”.
Another aspect of the course concerns the reading of facsimile documents.
The study of and permanent research on repertoire, and on iconographic sources is also included in the course. During the three years of their bachelor’s studies, students cover the main repertoire “per cornetto” or “per soprano” (ricercari, canzoni and sonatas, chansons, motets and madrigals with ornaments drawn initially from the source and subsequently determined by the students themselves). By the time the reach the end of their master’s studies students are capable of playing the most virtuoso pieces (such as those of Castello, Kempis, Weckmann and Berlin).
Considerable importance is attached to ensemble work, which is often undertaken in conjunction with the singing, violin, sackbut and basso continuo classes. Organological research on the cornetto and its mouthpiece in partnership with an instrument-maker is encouraged, so that students play on instruments based on originals, but in the knowledge that every effort has been made to adapt the instruments to their own personal tastes, in order to make them as easy as possible to play.
Work on tuning, notably on the mesotonic temperament with its perfect thirds, forms an essential part of the course. It is a determining factor in the quality of performance and it brought to students’ attention so that they can overcome this major difficulty of the instrument at an early stage. To sum up, the atmosphere that predominates in the cornetto class offers generous encouragement to students to take initiatives. They are in constant dialogue with their teacher or teachers so that they too can contribute to furthering our understanding of this instrument.
Principal Teacher: Jean-François Madeuf
The baroque trumpet class, in collaboration with the other classes of the early music department, trains specialists in the baroque repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries and in the classical orchestral repertoire at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.
The different national styles are studied by period so that students are immersed in the atmosphere of each one in order to assimilate its specific stylistic features. The course also includes work on ornamentation and improvisation with the principal teacher and with other teachers from the department (notably cornetto and violin). The extensive collections of the media resources centre of the Lyon CNSMD provide most of the repertoire used, although students are expected to have their own copies of the basic standard music studied.
Students play regularly with an ensemble of trumpets and timpani organised by the trumpet teacher and one of the percussion teachers specialised in early percussion, Henri-Charles Caget. These sessions cover both the ceremonial repertoire, for work on the sound and coherence of the ensemble as a whole, and repertoire for trumpet and timpani sections (notably works by Bach and Handel), which are appropriate for training trumpet players specialising in this area.
Chamber music, such as the repertoire of the instrument allows, is supervised by the teacher of the student’s main subject and by other teachers from the department whose students are also concerned. Ensemble projects in the framework of the annual programme of the CNSMD frequently require the participation of trumpets.
Master-classes are organised periodically, often to cover repertoire or aspects of performance which are not often frequently approached in the lessons throughout the year.
The main instruments studied are the natural trumpet (with no valves, slide or holes) of the 17th and 18th centuries and the slide trumpet in use at that time, but work is also devoted to the modern ‘compromise’ instruments (with systems of one, two or three holes). The CNSMD’s rich collection of instruments provides many instruments which the students themselves are not expected to own.
The class consists both of students specialising in baroque trumpet and of members of the modern trumpet class wishing to follow a two-year introduction to the baroque instrument. Other musicians from the department study it as their second instrument (notably cornetto players). Baroque trumpet specialists can also choose a second instrument, such as the cornetto.
Principal Teacher: Daniel Lassalle
The sackbut class gives students the opportunity for advanced work on this early instrument in a class where the notion of group work is paramount.
The work on the solo and polyphonic repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries gives students experience of the questions of tuning inherent in the mesotonic temperament. It also gives them an awareness of the wide range of possibilities of articulation, delivery and ornamentation offered by this repertoire. The study of the sackbut naturally includes later pieces up to the concerto in the classical period.
Specific technical issues related to the sackbut are also covered in collaboration with the modern trombone class so as to maintain mutual interest and curiosity.
Principal Teacher: Pierre Hamon
Pierre Hamon proposes an approach to and in-depth study of recorder-playing from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. His teaching emphasises the technical and musical fundaments of the instrument, such as breath control, support, line, articulation, intonation, tone quality and vocality.
His friendship with musicians from diverse musical traditions throughout the world, notably his study of Hindustani music and of the bansuri flute with the great Indian master Hariprasad Chaurasia, enable him to propose a teaching approach which is particularly wide-ranging and original.
From the moment when they join the recorder class, students begin working on the specific fundamental problem of how the different notes of the scale are perceived and associated with different tone colours (solmisation) in Renaissance music, and more generally on the sense of mode, seen as a precursor of the forthcoming development of a sense of harmony.
Tuning is obviously at the centre of these preoccupations (Pythagorean system, mesotonic temperament, and so on). In collaboration with the other teachers from the department, the emphasis is laid on improvisation, the art of diminution, the study of different styles (from the Middle Ages to the 18th century), on techniques for reading from original sources and on chamber music.
Participation in a consort of recorders is another fundamental feature of the class, the atmosphere of which is particularly conducive to student initiatives (collaborations with the departments of contemporary music, dance, etc.). In this spirit, students are invited to learn or improve their skills on other instruments close to the recorder family (one-hand flute and drum, double flutes, etc.).
Principal Teacher: Angélique Mauillon
The aim of the early harp class at the Lyon CNSMD is to satisfy the needs of students wishing to explore the vast repertoire of music for this instrument, which has been increasing constantly from the 13th century right up to the present day. They learn about the medieval harp and the specific technique for playing it, and discover the 14th and 15th century literature in which the instrument was used intensively, both in a solo role and to accompany singers.
Considerable attention is also devoted to Renaissance music. Students have the opportunity to study the major vocal and instrumental works of the 16th century, which inevitably leads them to explore issues of counterpoint and diminution.
Finally the baroque harp, famous, of course, for its solo repertoire in Italy, Spain and England, is also used in the basso continuo group. This is approached from several angles, notably both the possibility of using the harp as a single accompanying instrument (involving ‘soloistic’ handling of the realisation) and that of associating it with other continuo instruments (and thus explore the multiple colours and compositions of the basso continuo group).
Principal Teacher: Patrick Beaugiraud
The baroque oboe class allows students to acquire the specific techniques for playing the different oboes of the baroque period: the oboe, the oboe d’amore, the oboe da caccia and the oboes of the classical period. Reed-making also forms an important part of the course.
By applying these techniques to the subtleties of the different musical styles, which are explored in detail, students learn to play the instruments with skill and artistic freedom and develop their sensitivity to the particularities of each style.
Attention is drawn to the importance of understanding the idiom and context in which each work is situated. This stands the student in good stead for understanding and performing the musical text as accurately as possible. The evolution of playing styles due to changes in instrument-making techniques is also covered.
Principal Teacher: Laurent Le Chenadec
The baroque bassoon class is aimed at students wishing to specialise in this instrument and also in the dulciane in the two-year master’s programme. A musical style chosen by the student in relation to his research topic forms the central part of the course.
The instrumental study includes regular ensemble work with other classes of the department. The work on sources enables students to improve their understanding of the technical and aesthetic specificities of the baroque bassoon, including forms of ornamentation and its use for basso continuo.
Principal Teacher: Amélie Michel
The baroque flute class is aimed at students wishing to specialise in this instrument in the two-year master’s programme. The instrumental study includes regular ensemble work with other classes of the department. The work on sources enables students to improve their understanding of the technical and aesthetic specificities of the baroque flute, including forms of ornamentation.
Baroque singing : Robert Expert
Singing conductor at harpsichord : Anne-Catherine Vinay
Interpretation of medieval repertoires : Anne Delafosse
Training in polyphonic art : Anne Delafosse
The early music class covers a vast repertoire extending from gregorian chant to the music of the 19th century. Particular emphasis is laid on the performance of medieval music in collaboration with other teachers from the department, Anne Delafosse and Pierre Hamon. Ensemble work is a central feature of the course. Students are encouraged to pay special attention to issues of homogeneity and tuning in relation to the polyphony.
Interpretation work centres on the pronunciation and declamation of the text in different languages. The use of gesture is also studied. Vocal technique is covered separately and considerable support is offered to students in this area.
There is constant collaboration with the other singing classes in the Choral Studies Department and large-scale musical projects are organised, often involving the participation of the instrumental players of the early music department.
Interpretation of vocal music from the 9th to the 13th centuries
Singing class taught by Anne Delafosse
This course is aimed at singers from the early music department and follows on from the teaching work done by Dominique Vellard et Marie-Noëlle Colette from 1988 until recently. It covers the main categories repertoire of the High Middle Ages, which are considered to be the foundation stone of Western music.
- Gregorian chant in the neumatic notation of Laon and Saint Gall and in the first manuscripts written on lines (Albi and Gaillac).
- The first polyphonic music (the organa from Tours and Wincester, the School of St Martial de Limoges and the Calixtinus codex).
- The monody and polyphony of the repertoire of Notre Dame de Paris.
- The monodic chansons of the troubadours, trouvères and Minnesänger.
The teaching is based on the performance of this music. Questions of theory and interpretation are covered as the manuscripts are read by the students.