Additions and ornamentation in Telemann's F Dorian (F Minor) Sonata. Terry B. Ewell discusses the addition of dynamics, articulations, and ornaments. Music by Terry B. Ewell, Eva Mengelkoch, and Frances Borowsky . BDP #303.

<music: Telemann F Dorian Sonata, 3rd movement by Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, Eva Mengelkoch, harpsichord, and Frances Borowsky, cello.>

In this video I will provide an overview of ornamentation in the solo part for the Telemann F Dorian Sonata. Then I will conclude with information on resources that
I have prepared for you to better understand and perform Baroque music.
The starting point, of course, for ornamenting the Sonata is with the authoritative edition of the work. You can see here that the solo part is quite sparse. Few dynamics, slurs, and articulations are given. In addition, ornaments need to be added in required locations as well as optional locations. Let’s take each of these issues one by one.

Baroque music features two dynamic markings: piano and forte. If you ever see an edition of Baroque music with pp, mp, or mf you know immediately that this edition includes many markings not given by the composer. However, as a performer you might want to play these dynamics in your performance. In general, however, contrast been quiet and loud, piano and forte will work well.

In my performance of the first movement, for instance, I add these dynamics which appear in red. Telemann provides a good example for how to make use of dynamics in the first three measures. The echo dynamic, piano, in the second measure is a common way to add interest in Baroque music. The first statement in measure 1 is loud and the second statement is quiet. I use that idea for the dynamics in measures 11-12, forte, and then the echo in measures 13 and 14. Also, later in the movement measures 27-28 are an echo to measures 25 and 26.

You might also make use of dynamics to provide contrast between movements. Although Telemann gives no dynamics for the third movement it is appropriate to perform this movement more quietly than the fourth movement.

Be aware that crescendos and diminuendos on the whole were not employed much in Baroque music. The Mannheim School of composers and musicians in the latter part of the 18th century developed innovations including the use of a group crescendo. This was not, however, common in the Baroque period and in fact the principal keyboard instrument of the time, the harpsichord, could not crescendo or diminuendo. Dynamics tended to be terraced or in steps. My suggestion is to make use of crescendos sparingly and mostly feature diminuendos at the ends of phrases or movements.

The one important exception, however, is messa di voce. This is a crescendo and diminuendo over a single held note. Appropriate places for this are given in the green boxes on the first line. The B flat 3 in measures 3 and 4 is a dissonance by Baroque standards. It is a sustained note that can be highlighted with this dynamic and then resolved downwards. The D flat 4 in measure 7 and 8 is non-scale note in the Dorian mode mentioned in the first video in this series. The accidental indicates that it is not part of the scale collection and like the earlier B flat 3 it should be featured in a special way and then resolved.

<music: first movement, Telemann Sonata>

Composers of Baroque music generally allowed the musicians to put in slurs as needed. Since some music such as this Sonata was performed by different instruments it makes sense for musicians to determine what will work best. The slurs that I use for this Telemann Sonata might not work as well on the flute, for instance.

In general, I place more slurs in slower movements than faster movements. This better expresses the lyrical feelings of the slower movements.
Different slurs and articulations can also be a way to vary the music and keep interest. For instance, in the opening of the second movement I vary the slurring of the repeated figure. The first time I give no slurs, but the second time I add slurs.
Later in the second movement the green box highlights music that I perform in two different ways. The first time I perform it with slurs. The second time I perform it with staccato notes.

<music: second movement, Telemann Sonata>

John Miller’s lecture on the Mozart Bassoon Concerto contains important ideas about articulation that can be applied to Telemann’s works as well. John Miller, a famous USA bassoonist, has provided great service to the profession with his lectures, articles, and performance editions.

Slurs can also facilitate technical passages. In measure 35 and later it makes sense to slur the adjacent 16th notes rather than tongue all the notes. Also, be aware that in Baroque practice it is more common to slur adjacent notes rather than leaps.

Last of all, is something to consider that cannot be notated. Baroque performance practice includes a greater variety of articulations than common for later periods of music. Treatises of that period discuss different types of tonguing strokes. The harpsichord itself allows for little variety apart from note lengths and timings and so great players of this instrument are quite sophisticated with their articulations.
My article “A Bassoonist's Expansions upon Marcel Tabuteau's ‘Drive’” hints at this when I discuss varied note lengths in a passage of Vivaldi’s A minor Concerto. The figure indicates note lengths with numbers. The higher the number the longer the note. So, numbers 5 are played the longest and numbers 1 are the shortest. These subtle changes in note lengths allow the performer to emphasize certain notes above others and shape the musical line in different ways. The longer numbers provide for notes that receive more emphasis.

There are certain ornaments that are required in Baroque music that are often not in original manuscripts. These ornaments were so common that the composer didn’t bother to waste the ink. Everyone at that time knew that they had to be included. We find examples of this in the first movement of the Sonata. Trills are required at the ends of sections and movements. Thus, trills are needed in measures 18, 33, and 37.

Now we get to the most interesting part of performing Baroque music. Florid ornamentation or diminution was a craft practiced by all musicians at the time the Sonata was written. I will not spend time here on ornamentation because I have already addressed the subject in five other videos. Please do have a look at these and the Baroque music resource page on

Please also consider John Miller’s edition of the Sonata. In it Mr. Miller gives his suggested ornamentation as well as the original version of the passage. 

Also, I provide my performance edition to the last two movements that accompany the last video in this series.

Well, I hope that these comments are helpful to you. In the next video we will conclude our discussion of ornamentation by looking at cadenzas and what I am calling “flourishes,” which are virtuosic passages. Also, the importance of tempo relationships between the movements will be considered.

<music: Telemann F Dorian Sonata, 4th movement by Terry B. Ewell, bassoon, Eva Mengelkoch, harpsichord, and Frances Borowsky, cello.>