We will study how Vivaldi applies different diminutions to create variations in the bass part in this piece. The original piece involves diminutions in three different parts, but we will ignore the upper parts for now. Our goal is to build our diminution vocabulary and better understand how diminution relates to the underlying voice-leading pattern (the harmonic progression in modern terminology). You can always head on to Keyboard Buddy unit 2.2 to explore all the bass variations sequentially.

Writing bass variations was an established pedagogical technique in the Baroque era, most extensively captured in the second part of Friedrich Erhard Niedt’s “Musical Guide” from the early 18th century.

Several possible diminutions of C-D from Niedt’s “Musical Guide”

The first diminution is found already in the “Theme” of the Trio Sonata. Vivaldi uses the characteristic Folia rhythm quarter, dotted quarter, eighth.

The most important lesson from this variation is how effective it is to simply repeat a note. Repetition is the most basic form of diminution (including tremolo, trill, and other ornaments) and is the source of great musical themes throughout history. The rhythm chosen here is very common and adds extra energy do to the syncopation on beat 2 and the 8th note leading to the next bar.

The only exceptions are measure 7, 8 and 15. In measure 8 Vivaldi added a scale leading to D from above (he added G-F-E leading to D). In measure 7 and 15 he add a single note leading to the next note by step (G to A).


  1. Repeated notes are easy to create and are very effective!
  2. Use energizing rhythmic patterns
  3. Lead to the next structural bass notes by a step.

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