Stylus Fantasticus – permission to be set free! with Lucy Russell


When you purchase your session with Lucy Russell, she will get in touch with you to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Since very few present-day musicians have dared to escape the boundaries of notation, here is a chance to dissolve the taboo insisting that musicians must, at all times, be confined to and at the service of the dots on the page! Baroque performers were composers too – unphased by improvising cadenzas and florid ornaments. During the 17th Century, musicians practised their ‘divisions’ much as musicians today practice scales. This exercised the muscle that enabled them to break up a simple line within a given harmony (like with Jazz) and create new material.
Nowadays, we are self-conscious about being ‘free’, but it’s only because we don’t do it!
If we start with Stylus Fantasticus, we can learn from our freedom-loving predecessors and find our own liberty!


In the words of an eminent 18th Century Musicologist and composer:

“For this style is the most free and unrestrained manner of composing, singing and playing that one can imagine, for one hits first upon this idea and then upon that one, since one is bound neither to words nor to melody, only to harmony, so that the singer or player can display his skill. All kinds of otherwise unusual progressions, hidden ornaments, ingenious turns and embellishments are brought forth without actual observation of the measure and the key, regardless of what is placed on the page, without a formal theme and ostinato, without theme and subject that are worked out; now swift, now hesitating, now in one voice, now in many voices, now for a while behind the beat, without measure of sound, but not without the intent to please, to overtake and to astonish.”
 Der vollkommene Capellmeister (1739)

Here is a wonderful excuse to improvise, make stuff up, have some fun, befriend that imagination! This well-established style – largely embraced during the early baroque period – gave vent to flights of fantasy, opportunity for free expression, quirkiness and some impressive virtuosity. Frescobaldi, Buxtehude, Mealli, Schmelzer and Biber (to name a few), were exponents of this style and paved the way with this particular genre.

It is healthy and inspiring to re-visit and learn from our musical predecessors, especially when this can lead to developing your own creativity.
We will familiarise ourselves with this style – by playing/learning some of it – and then, gradually incorporate some musical games, whereby you can cut your teeth on some simple improvisation; or playing about either within the style or outside of it – whatever suits you best!

The aim: to help you find or rediscover your own voice by using a tried and tested and inspiring baroque genre which encourages all that Mattheson states above. You will be amazed at what lurks within your imagination…

Practical Information

Who is it for: Anyone who wants to get off the beaten track
Tutor: Lucy Russell
Number of particpants: 1
Length of session: 75 minutes
Number of sessions: as required
Dates and times: to be arranged at a mutually convenient time
Cost: £60 per session. Book a block of 6 one to one sessions for £300 here, ( saving £60)
InsideOut Musician offers bursaries to those on a low income. If you wish to apply for one for this course, please view the Busary Fund page.

What you need to bring:
Bring yourself and a desire for expanding your creativity!