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It goes without saying that engaging with the ethos of early music demands a considerable amount of continuous research on the practices of the past, as most aspects of performance are not written in the score, and the understanding and usage of signs and other written indications have changed considerably over time. As curious musicians, research is not only a source of inspiration and innovation in our work but also a source of constant questioning and strengthening of our musical practices. Questions such as “is this actually true?” and “can I really say/do that?” are recurring, and, although these are not always fully or definitively answerable, we find it important to keep asking, going back to the sources and answering over and over again. In this research, as part of the 2021 Lectorate ‘Music, Education and Society’ of the Royal Conservatoire The Hague, we will look again at well-known Italian sources and search for new sources of information on performance practice of music written in Italy in the first half of the 18th century (music methods, instructional writings and evidences in repertoire), without imposing our current practice on it, but being open to what these sources may say that is in shock with what we usually do or take for granted. What can we (re)learn about the performance practice of late 17th- and early 18th-century Italian music by going back to the sources? Our conclusions and inconclusions will hopefully stimulate a review of today’s performance practice and renew approaches on the research of performance practice.
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