In order properly to assess Frescobaldi's role in the recreation of
these genres, I shall begin by surveying the ciacconas and passacaglias
dating from the period preceding their appearance in his 1627 publication.
I will speculate on why the organist of St. Peter's appropriated
exotic dance forms that not long before had been associated with
street musicians and that in some circles were considered to be of questionable
moral character. I then review the examples and revisions preserved
in printed and manuscript materials from 1627 to 1637, which provide
an unusually detailed glimpse of how his ideas on the ciaccona and passacaglia
continued to develop. Especially interesting is the increasingly
sophisticated use of shifting modes, tempos, rhythmic patterns, and genres
as structure-generating forces, revealed most strikingly by the multi-phase
compositional history of the Cento partite sopra passacaglie.
Frescobaldi's predominantly additive technique for the creation of large
forms found relatively little resonance, as later generations increasingly
turned for this purpose toward the essentially divisive form-building technique
of common-practice tonality.