From: Monica Hall <mjlh...@tiscali.co.uk>
Subject: [VIHUELA] Re: Stefano Landi
To: "Stewart McCoy" <lu...@tiscali.co.uk>
Cc: "Vihuelalist" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, 14 November, 2010, 8:46
Thanks Stewart. That is an excellent summary overall. In this
is the clef (rather than a rubric) which indicates the singer's picth
vi-a-vi the bass line. There was a complicated system of transposing
clefs - described by Ruiz de Ribayaz after a fashion.They are common in
century Spanish sources and they are used notably in the Marin
but died out earlier in Italy.
The point you make about the bourdon sounding below the spinet also
with what Sanz says about the bourdons confounding the principal bass
I would be a bit cautious about assuming that many guitars of several
different sizes were used. One or two perhaps. If guitars of different
sizes were used the odds are that different methods of stringing were
There used to be this idea that you need vihuelas in seven different
and I have a recording of Rodrigo de Zayas doing just that! But you
It would be interesting to know where this song and the others come
Are they from some of his operas? Do they survive in other sources?
Whilst we are on the subject I whether anyone of you who are cleverer
surfing the net than I am know where I can find a copy of Caccini's
"Amarilli" in the original?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stewart McCoy" <lu...@tiscali.co.uk>
To: "Vihuela List" <vihu...@cs.dartmouth.edu>
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 10:01 PM
Subject: [VIHUELA] Stefano Landi
> Dear Lex,
> Thank you for drawing our attention to Stefano Landi's _Quinto Libro
> D'Arie_ (1637), and in particular the implication that guitars of
> different sizes are required for some of the songs.
> There is a long history of lute songs where the singer has a part
> either no accidentals or one flat, and he transposes to match the
> of the lute. The earliest examples I can think of are some of the
> in Bossinensis' two books published by Petrucci in 1509 and 1511.
> Whenever there is a song collection involving such transposition,
> is a rubric of some kind giving the singer's first note for each
> showing what the transposition needs to be. This might be a tablature
> letter, or it could be a description, e.g. "first course, second
> The reason for having transposing parts for the singer, is to avoid
> having to read the music in unfamiliar keys, with lots of accidentals
> the key signature.
> An interesting example comes in Robert Dowland's _Musicall Banquet_
> (London, 1610), no. 6, "To plead my faith" by Daniel Bacheler. The
> Cantus is in D minor with one flat in the key signature, but the lute
> (assuming its first course is in g') is in C minor. What is so
> significant is that the Bassus is in C minor with three flats in the
> signature (allowing for duplication at the octave). The Bassus is to
> sung, since it has a text, so why not transpose the Bassus notes too?
> can only think that the correct pitch has been maintained in the
> just in case this part is played on a bass viol instead of being
> Better for a singer to cope with a difficult key signature, than risk
> bass viol player having to transpose by a tone.
> Now back to Stefano Landi. There is no rubric or any indication that
> song on page 8, "Quando Rinaldo", involves transposition. The bass
> has no text, and (according to the title page) would be played on a
> spinet. If the guitar were tuned to e', the singer might be happy to
> transpose, but the spinet player certainly would not. If the singer
> accompanied only by a guitar, it wouldn't matter too much which size
> guitar was, but if there were two instruments (spinet and guitar) the
> guitar would have to be in d'. It certainly makes sense using a
> in d', because the chord shapes are going to be easier: a nominal A
> minor is an easier key than G minor.
> What about the guitar's tuning? Will it have a bourdon on the fifth
> course? If the guitar is the only accompanying instrument, it won't
> matter too much whether the fifth course has a bourdon or not; the
> guitarist strums away giving the harmony and rhythmic support to the
> singer. If, on the other hand, there is also a spinet, many of the
> bourdon notes on the guitar would obscure the bass line, sometimes
> giving the wrong inversion (e.g. at the end of the first bar). A
> strummed without bourdons would be a more satisfactory foil to the
> There is always the possibility that a guitarist with a bourdon on
> fifth course could keep an eye on the bass line, and avoid strumming
> fifth course where it would otherwise get in the way. He could even
> the bass line as a theorbo player would, adding suitable harmonies.
> However, if he is reading the bass line, the alfabeto symbols would
> Best wishes,
> Stewart McCoy.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: lute-...@cs.dartmouth.edu
> Behalf Of Lex Eisenhardt
> Sent: 13 November 2010 13:34
> To: Vihuelalist
> Subject: [VIHUELA]
> Lately, Monica has raised an interesting matter:
> > The point about using bourdons for accompanying a bass
> > line is that they are necessary to extend the compass downwards
> enough to
> > reproduce the bass line properly. What is surprising is that
> > suggest that the fifth course could be tuned down a tone - which
> > supply the complete Gamut.
> In Stefano Landi's Quinto Libro D'Arie (1637), a song collection
> basso continuo in staff, inscribed with guitar alfabeto, there are
> songs which seem to require guitars tuned to different pitches.
> Next to songs that can be performed with the standard "E-tuning"
> are those of which the chords are one tone higher, so that a song
> soprano and bass in G is provided with chords in A, for instance on
> p.8. A guitar tuned one tone lower, in "D", as suggested in the
> instructions of Sanseverino 1620/1622, would be asked. On the other
> hand, it would be possible to sing it a whole tone lower (not much
> problem for most singers); but playing together with another bass
> instrument would be problematic.
> I saw on Monica's website that Sanseverino's songs require a
> Of course it is not said that Landi (or his alfabeto editor)
> playing the whole bass line while strumming, and the explanation I
> think of is that he wanted different, lower sonorities. Considering
> the keys the songs are in they could have been accompanied on a
> in normal "E" tuning, however it seems that some more barre's would
> required then.
> Some other songs from Landi's anthology even ask for a guitar tuned
> fifth lower (or a fourth higher), so "A"-tuning, with a fifth
> This would require a 'chitarra grande' (or a 'chitarra piccola').
> I think I have seen transposing alfabeto in other song collections
> before, but do not recall where. We find it as well in music for an
> ensemble of guitars of a different size.
> It is not very likely that basso continuo in pizzicato or
> battuto-pizzicato style was usually played on a larger/lower
> instrument. Examples is staff notation, of Foscarini, Corbeta etc.
> normally suppose the regular "E-tuning".
> I guess that the E tuning has prevailed because
> - smaller size/string length, easier to play
> - once everyone had learned alfabeto in E tuning, it would have
> confusing to have to learn it for D tuning again (hence the
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