Monday, 7 October 2019

Gorlier: Autre canon

A second piece by Simon Gorlier, published in 1551, which has made me think at least twice.

Facsimile of the original, first 17 bars.

Transcription for the ukulele, first 14 bars. The full score, tabs and notation, can be downloaded from the link below.

The canon is set, I think, in the mode of A Aeolian (i.e. the scale you get when playing the white keys of a piano starting on A), but I'm not sure whether that mode was particularly current in 1551. The only divergences are the cadence in bars 23 to 25, and the Picardy third at the conclusion. The upper voice starts on B, and is followed one bar later by the lower voice starting on E. They continue ± in parallel, but displaced by one bar, throughout the piece.


The same bars, but with the bass line displaced one bar to the left. The full analysis can be downloaded from the link below.


There is another level of interpretation, though. What at first looks like a simple exercise in 2-voice counterpoint is actually quite cunning. In some places we do have a simple upper and lower voice, running in parallel a bar apart. Elsewhere one can detect scalar passages which pass from the upper to the lower voice.

BARS     Scale passage
 8 – 11 D5 – C4
11 – 13 C5 – C4
13 – 16 D5 – B4
15 – 16 B4 – F4
16 – 18 C5 – C4
18 – 20 C5 – C4
26 – 27 C5 – G4
28 – 31 E5 – E4
32 – 34 D5 – D4
34 – 36 E5 – E4
36 – 38 D5 – D4
49 – 52 C5 – C4
62 – 65 D5 – C4
65 – 66 C5 – C4
69 – 71 B4 – C4
71 – 72 C5 – C4


For my own use I have to resort to colouring in a transcript to show these passages: I include below a link to a pdf, suitably coloured.

In performance it is not easy to make these passages coherent: as one line descends through the strings and voices, and another comes in above it to make a duplet. Good luck!

Available to download free in the following formats:

SOURCE

There is a beautifully clear facsimile here:
https://www.delcamp.net/pdf/facsimile_1551_Guillaume_Morlaye_Livre_III_Guiterne.pdf

The piece has been transcribed for classical guitar by Keith Calmes: Guitar music of the 16th Century, 2008, Mel Bay Publications.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Gorlier: Duo

Another piece for low-G ukulele transcribed from a 1550s piece for Renaissance guitar. "Duo" doesn't mean a duet, but two musical voices played on one instrument.

Not a lot is known about Simon Gorlier, but I remember reading somewhere that he thought that the Renaissance guitar was rather beneath him (ahem!).



SOURCE

I did not transcribe this piece from a facsimile of the original, as I have been doing of late, but from a transcription for modern guitar by he excellent Charles Wolzien & Frank Bliven: Early Guitar Anthology, I, The Renaissance, c.1540-1580, [EGA1], available to download at:
http://www.guitarlessonz.com/earlyguitaranthology/EGA_Renaissance-I.htm.

I have since found a facsimile at https://www.delcamp.net/pdf/facsimile_1551_Guillaume_Morlaye_Livre_III_Guiterne.pdf
for which I express my gratitude. I have used this to "correct" a few divergences in fingerings.

The piece has also been transcribed by Keith Calmes (Guitar music of the 16th Century, 2008, Mel Bay Publications) but in 2/4 time (as in the original). The main difference with the EGA1 version is that he carries the upper voice across the bars marked by a “¶” (to show the end of a cadence) on the attached files. It’s up to you what you prefer to play.

DOWNLOADS

You can download the files for free in the following formats:

ANALYSIS

There are 5 sections of 9, 6, 6, 7 and 9 bars, marked by the paragraph sign (¶) in the score. There are just two voices (except in the last few bars): I imagine that, in the convention of the time, they would be played mostly by the thumb on the lower voice and the index and middle fingers on the upper voice. In scalar passages, the index finger would be reserved for the less accented notes.

In bar 6 it is not clear where the upper and lower voices lie. I have followed EGA1 by moving the initial F to the 3rd string (the original has it on the 2nd) so that it can be sustained in the lower voice, whilst the upper voice takes the A-G-A-B…; meanwhile, Calmes has the lower voice as part of the scale in the previous bar continuing on through F-G-A-B… (but then turning into the upper voice in the second half of the bar). I have appended his voicing to the score as a footnote. To be quite honest, I don’t think anyone will notice the difference. Perhaps Gorlier meant it to be ambiguous.

The following commentary is copied directly from the learned account on EGA1 – I don’t pretend to understand all of it.
“The Gorlier Duo … features tightly packed, overlapping imitative entries at the octave
as well as the fifth that change with each new phrase (see measures 9, 16, 21 and 28).”
“Gorlier’s Duo … is written in the phrygian mode on E*, the top voice spanning the
octave of E4 to E5 (solmized with the authentic range of the mode mi-fa-mi-re-sol), the bottom voice inhabiting the octave from A3 to A4 (solmized with the plagal range of the mode, la-re-la/mi-fa-mi/la-sol).
 
The mode is defined by the expected cadences on the first, fourth and sixth (the phrygian dominant) degrees of the scale and reinforced by the picardy third that makes the final chord E major. By dwelling slightly on these cadence points, and carefully blocking the notes at the end of each phrase in order to draw attention to the start of every new motif, the performer can help clarify the modal structure of this piece for the listener.”
_____________________
* I have converted the pitch references in EGA1 to the ukulele equivalent.  The Phrygian mode in E is what you get on the piano when you play a scale on all the white notes starting on E.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Fuenllana: Passeavase (paseàbase) el roy moro

Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of Miguel de Fuenllana (c. 1500 – 1579). Although blind he became a court musician to the Spanish and, later, Portuguese royal families. Most of his large body of works is for vihuela (which was built like a guitar but tuned like a lute), but he wrote 9 pieces for 4-course guitar (and hence suitable for the ukulele).

I find it difficult to appreciate his music, which I admit is my own fault. He wrote in a linear, contrapuntal, academic style, with the harmonies arising from the overlapping lines. In contrast, the song entabulations by Le Roy et al. were often based on grounds (chord sequences), and are more familiar to our modern ears.

When I play arrangements of his pieces using simulated MIDI instruments such as the flute or fiddle, I can hear the harmonies emerge. When the same piece is played on a plucked instruments, it inevitably sounds like a succession of chords with connecting notes. Quite a challenge to interpret!

The first two lines of Fuenllana's original.
The tablature is in the Spanish-Italian format, with the lower string on top.
The red numerals are the instrumental notes that ± duplicate the sung notes.

Fuenllana has been quoted as saying “words are the soul of any composition”, so presumably he intended his song arrangements (for vihuela and guitar) to be played as an accompaniment to the singer. I have therefore included the song to the present transcription, which makes the whole thing more understandable. It would help to learn the tune.

In voicing, I have emphasised the melody to the original air (indicated by red numerals in the original) by note stems pointing up, whereas all other voices have stems pointing down. This is obviously not possible for semi-breves / whole-notes, but fortunately after the introductory (instrument-only) 9 bars, all such notes on the top line are part of the melody.

The piece is set in the Phrygian mode – the use of keys is a later musical development – which on the piano can be heard (but not in the same key as on the ukulele) by playing a scale on the white keys starting on E. The melancholic mood is appropriate to the sentiment of the song (see below).

You can download for free in the following formats:
[Arrangements updated on 30 Sept 2019 to correct a misprint in bar 22.]

 

HISTORY   

 Paseábase el rey ... tells a story of the struggle that took place between the
 Catholic and Moorish forces in Spain. The text reflects the Moorish perspective, their
 king [actually, caliph] expressing his anguish at having lost Alhama [in] Granada , their last fortress in Spain. EGA1.
In 1482, the fortress town was taken from the Moorish Sultanate and Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs. Alhama's position between Málaga and Granada gave it strategic importance for the Moors but they also had a particular fondness for the town and its thermal waters and hot springs.The cry of sorrow, "¡Ay de mi Alhama!", uttered by Abu Al-Hacen (Abu l-Hasan Ali, Sultan of Granada) following the battle ... entered the Spanish language as an exclamation of regret. Wikipedia.

WORDS 

(from EGA1)

Paseábase el rey moro 
Por la ciudad de Granada.
Cartas le fueron venidas 
Como Alhama etra ganada.
Ay! Mi Alhama! 
Como Alhama etra ganada 
Ay! Mi Alhama! 

The Moorish king was walking
Through the city of Granada.
Letters had come to him
About how Alhama had been taken.
Alas! my Alhama!
About how Alhama had been taken.
Alas! my Alhama!

SOURCES


“Orphenica lyra”, libro sexto, p 163v, 1554.
Facsimiles at
https://www.delcamp.net/pdf/facsimile_1554_Miguel_de_Fuenllana_Libro_de_musica_para_guitarra_intitulado_Orphenica_lyra-Sevilla.pdf
http://www.bibliotecavirtualdeandalucia.es/catalogo/catalogo_imagenes/grupo.cmd?path=1000562&presentacion=pagina&posicion=341&registrardownload=0

Having transcribed this piece from the facsimilies, I was informed by the transcriptions for classical guitar by




Thursday, 26 September 2019

Le Roy: Fantasie première revisited

Continuing the process of revising my earliest posts, now that I know (a little) more about the music, here is an improved (I hope) transcription of the first piece published in Le Roy's first book Premiere livre de tablature de guiterre, ff 1 – 2.

You can download the transcription freely here:



SOURCES

Facsimile online at: https://repository.royalholloway.ac.uk/items/36992e38-4a04-c705-affa-253d7b309c67/1/
(Permanent link: http://purl.org/rism/BI/1551/23)

Having transcribed these pieces from the Renaissance guitar facsimilie above, I was informed by the fine transcriptions for classical guitar by Keith Calmes in Guitar music of the 16th Century, 2008, Mel Bay Publications. I have not, however, followed his version slavishly, but have taken much from it.

Another excellent and learnèd publication is “Early Guitar Anthology, I, The Renaissance, c.1540-1580” by Charles Wolzien, music edited by Frank Bliven, available to download here: http://www.guitarlessonz.com/earlyguitaranthology/EGA_Renaissance-I.htm. As well as many musical scores, they provide useful essays on the music of the period. In some places have followed their version.

ANALYSIS

As with all music in French tabs, which were less prescriptive than modern notation, there is much scope for interpretation. For example, does an unoccupied place after a note represent a continuation of the note (sometimes ligatured across bars) or a rest?  Rather than agonise over this, if one follows the rule “hold a note down as long as physically possible” I don’t think one can go far wrong. (See footnote below.)

The piece is set in a counterpoint of two or three voices. The first voice makes a statement of the first motif in bars 1 – 2, the second voice repeats it a 4th below in bars 2 – 3, and a third voice (with doubled-length notes) starts on the open 4th string (an octave lower than the first voice) in bars 4 – 6.

In bars 7 & 8 we have a theme very similar to that often used by John Dowland about 50 years later (e.g. in “Solus cum sola”), partially echoed in the middle voice in the next two bars and leading via a kind of duet to a cadence in the dominant (D major).

The next passage, bars 20 – 44, includes a sequence of arpeggiated chords, in which one can detect a hint of the campanella style – depending of course on how long the notes are held. Bars 45 – 61 include a seriest of overlapping scalar fragments (counterpoint) leading to a high G-major chord.

There is then (in bars 65 – 69) a duet high on the fingerboard, repeated an octave lower (bars 70 – 73). After another chordal (campanella-like) passage, the piece closes in a very familiar way.

Such a lot going on in the narrow scope of four strings! The challenge is to first identify the voices, and then to bring them out in the playing as they move from string to string - I have coloured them in on a printout, as part of my self-tuition. The more you look the more you see.



_________________________________
* FOOTNOTE

One difference between the published transcriptions (see refs above) is whether they maintain certain notes for as long as possible or insert breaks. In bars 32 – 41, as in Calmes, I have maintained a continuous upper voice (dotted minims), whilst in bars 76 – 83 I have followed Wolzein and Bliven and inserted rests in the upper voice. Unlike these authors, I am no expert, so it must be a matter of choice. To be quite honest, with a plucked instrument it makes not a deal of difference to the listener. In any case, the choice is yours.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Mudarra: Four fantasias

Alonso Mudarra (c. 1510 – April 1, 1580) was a priest and vihuela player, who became canon of Seville Cathedral and was in charge of the music there. As well as many pieces for the vihuela, he published six for four-course guitar in Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela, Seville, 1646. Four of them, all fantasias, are presented here.

The title page of Mudarra's Tres libros...



SOURCE

http://hz.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/7/7b/IMSLP579453-PMLP932396-Mudarra,_Alonso_(TRES_LIBROS_DE_MÚSICA_EN_CIFRAS_PARA_VIHUELA).pdf

Having transcribed these pieces from the Renaissance guitar facsimilies above, I was informed by the fine transcriptions for classical guitar by Keith Calmes in Guitar music of the 16th Century, 2008, Mel Bay Publications. I have not, however, followed his versions slavishly.

Another excellent (online) publication is Early Guitar Anthology, I, The Renaissance, c.1540-1580  by Charles Wolzien, music edited by Frank Bliven, available to download at: http://www.guitarlessonz.com/earlyguitaranthology/EGA_Renaissance-I.htm.
They include the first and third of the Fantasias transcribed here, and I have quoted in full their learnèd comments on the modal structures, which I hope one day to get to grips with.

GENERAL COMMENTS


The musical style at this time was evolving from modal polyphony, which can make it seem rather alien to modern ears. The long horizontal lines of notes overlapped, and at any one time they formed what we hear as chords. The chords are not so obvious when the music is sung, or played on instruments with sustained sound such as flute or fiddle. (It’s interesting to change the instruments in the MIDI renderings to hear this.) On the ukulele or guitar, however, the chordal structure is much more obvious, with vertical stacks of notes being plucked into life.

I have only recently been aware of this music, and find that it needs a lot of thought to understand it, and even more practice to interpret it on an instrument. Most of the harmonies are familiar and can be given modern chord names, but that hasn’t really helped my appreciation, and is probably an anachronism too far. My recent postings of music by Le Roy and from the Osborn Commonplace Book often use grounds (chord sequences) that are more easily understood, and basically jolly good fun, but these by Mudarra are much more cerebral and elevated – good luck!

The various “tonos” refer to the modes of the time: 1st = Dorian, 4th = Hypophrygian, 5th = Lydian. You will see from my notes below that I am struggling to get to grips with this. Mudarra must have been a great musician to bend and weave in and out of the eponymous modes in such a cunning way.

I find that the scores fit comfortably on a tenor uke, can be a bit of a stretch on a Renaissance guitar (scale length 54 cm), and would need very long fingers on a full-sized guitar if you didn’t have a capo.

Below are some comments on the four Fantasias. Two have the same name, so I have appended the page numbers (f) from Mudarra's tome.

By the way, well over two years ago I made a reduction of Mudarra's vihuela piece Pavana de Alexandre, which you can see here. It's rather easier to comprehend than the fantasias and has a distinct melody and counter melody, and a hint of a bass line as well.


(1) FANTASIA DEL PRIMER TONO, f 21

In the original, the 4th string is tuned down to F to provide the root note of the home key. To avoid the inconvenience of re-tuning I have modified the piece slightly with, I hope, only slight detriment to the music.



The first two lines of the piece in facsimile. Note the corrected misprint in the heading. Temple nuevo meant that the strings were tuned in the intervals we use on the ukulele, temple viejo that the bass string (strictly "course") was tuned a whole tone lower.  The fret positions are shown by numbers, but the bass is shown on top as that is where it is when the instrument is held: difficult to get one's head round when playing.


The primer tono is the Dorian mode, but this piece uses every note in the chromatic scale except F# and A.

Wolzein & Bliven write (referring to the guitar notation which is a fourth lower than the ukulele, so for B read E, for G read C, for D read G):

“Mudarra’s Fantasia … is labeled as del primer tono, so one expects to find a piece
written in the dorian mode (or first mode); but the dorian mode is obscured right from the
beginning by the use of the flatted sixth degree in the opening phrase. The flatting of the
B-natural in this case follows the convention of solmizing a single note above la with fa
and flatting the fa: thus the first two measures of the soprano line are solmized la-fa-la-sol-fa-mi-fa.
This exchange between the B-natural/B-flat that emphasizes the characteristic
sixth degree of the dorian mode occurs throughout the entire piece, right up to the final
plagal cadence that moves from a G minor chord (with a B-flat) to a D major chord (with
the raised picardy third).”

(2) FANTASIA DEL QUARTO TONO, f 22

* Note moved to adjacent string for ease of performance

† Note on 1st string is 8 in the original, which I read as 6 and seems OK, while Calmes uses 2. The choice is yours.

§ Note on 1st string is 9 in the original.

I must confess to finding the chord changes in bars 42 – 44 difficult to play cleanly, but much easier if I omit the 3rd string, which doesn’t affect the music much (or is that sacrilege?).

I can’t relate this piece to the 4th mode, Hypophrigian (quarto tono): it includes all notes on the chromatic scale except C# and F.

(3) FANTASIA DEL QUINTO TONO, f 22

* In bar 13 Calmes suggests replacing the F# (fret 2) with G (fret 3). I must admit that I quite like the dissonance. It's up to you.

The title specifies 5th Mode (Lydian), but the piece seems to be mostly in G major (Ionian mode), with occasional side-stepping into D major (where you see note C#) and D minor (F natural). That’s the way I look at it, anyway.

Wolzein & Bliven write more learnedly (referring to the guitar notation which is a fourth lower than the ukulele, so for D read G and for G read C):

“In Mudarra’s … fantasia …, the designation del quinto tono
indicates the lydian mode (on D in this transcription), but the diagnostic fourth step,
or G-sharp, is usually lowered to a G-natural, thus producing passages in the ionian mode
as well as the lydian (the ionian mode was formed by combining the mixolydian fifth and
lydian fourth ...). The opening scale with its g-natural and then g'-sharp
underscores this mixing of modes. When the g'-sharp appears again in measure twelve it
is featured in the supple two voice imitation that leads up to the cadence on the dominant
in measure nineteen, beat one. On beat four of this same measure the g'-sharp is again
positioned prominently in the scale that begins the last section of the piece, but it is
quickly replaced with the G-naturals that remain constant through the descending scale
that concludes the composition.”

(4) FANTASIA DEL PRIMER TONO, f 23

* Note moved to an adjacent string for ease of playing

† The final chord is given in the original as a G7 chord (i.e. with an F on the 2nd string). Following Calmes, I have raised the F to G to give a G major chord.

Again Mudarra plays with his treatment of “tonos”. This piece looks, to my inexpert eyes, more like Hypodorian than Dorian.

Downloads

Having reached this far in the post, you deserve the downloads, available free in the following formats:
Have fun!

Monday, 16 September 2019

Renaissance chord sequences (grounds)

Renaissance music was based on modes, rather than the keys we are familiar with today. It evolved from polyphonic and contrapuntal forms, mostly liturgical, where horizontal lines (voices) overlapped. Earlier, music was based on the intervals of octaves and fifths, but gradually thirds and sixths became acceptable. Chords arose from the overlapping notes being considered vertically, at a point in time, enabling us to analyse them in modern terms – although that would not have been how the composers or listeners thought of them. You can read an accessible account of Renaissance music here, and of course on Wikipedia.

The popular music of the 16th century such as songs and dances seems often to have been based on common grounds (bass lines and harmonic sequences), at least in the original statement of a theme. As I encounter them, I will record them here for future reference. In a more modern context the equivalent might be "blues in F" or "New York changes".

In the charts below chords are named by the position of their roots on the scale, as Roman numerals; so in the key of C major, for example, C = I, D = II, B = VII, and so on. Minor chords are shown as lower-case numerals: e.g. Cm = i.

In minor keys, the final bars were often modified to the tonic major: the tierce de picardie.

The boxes may not represent bars/measures: each chord may be extended over several bars, or compressed into part of a bar. Composers, being creatives, base their music on selected parts of these grounds reassembled.

Passamezzo antico

i
VII
i
V
III
VII
i    V
i


Romanesca (a development of the above)

III
VII
i
V
III
VII
i    V
i


Passamezzo moderno

I
IV
I
V
I
IV
I    V
I


Bergamesca (Conte clare: the first three chords)

I
IV
V
I
repeated 3 times


Folia (later)

i
V
i
VII
III
VII
i
V
i
V
i
VII
III
VII
i    V
i
In one version the first i-chord is omitted.




English Renaissance guitar music from the Osborne Commonplace Book

Here are transcriptions for ukulele of seven English Renaissance guitar pieces from around 1560. It is fortunate that the instrument, then often called the gitterne, was tuned the same way as the modern ukulele, but with paired strings on the 2nd and 3rd courses, and octaves on the 4th course.

I have recently been playing through the tablature books of Renaissance (4-course) guitar pieces published in the mid-1500s.  The composers / arrangers are French (Le Roy, Brayssing, Morlaye and Gorlier) and Spanish (Fuenllana and Mudarra). By the way, many of these have been transcribed in modern, classical guitar notation by Keith Calmes (see Resources page via tab above).

The Renaissance guitar began to be imported into England about 1550, and was regarded as something exotic and fashionable amongst the élite (Christopher Page, 2017: see image below). It also seems to have become popular with persons of the "middling sort" and possibly also with "common" people. (Well, this was a very class-conscious age, an attitude that has not entirely disappeared, just kept under cover.) The guitar's popularity seems to have waned towards the end of the century, and it became superseded by the 5-course Baroque guitar in the 1600s.

The learned publication from which I have derived all of the historical information in this blog, and quite a bit of the musical insight too. My descriptions of the individual pieces, except where sources are cited, are largely my own, and rather more fallible.
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2017 (pbk).

The only English music for Renaissance guitar seems to be in manuscript, the main source being the Osborn Commonplace Book (c1560) from which Page prints a number of transcriptions. Fortunately, the book, now in Yale, has been made available online here. It includes 8 pp of music for 4-course guitar, as well as lute music, recipes, lyrics and letters. Each page carries 2 different numbers, but here I use the page label in the pdf facsimile (e.g. f 42 v) to discriminate between pieces having the same name.

To get to grips with the style and the (very neat) calligraphy in the MS, I used Page's transcriptions as worked examples alongside the facsimiles. Then I went solo and transcribed a few more. Some transcriptions were straightforward: clear writing, fully barred, and with all the note lengths adding up to the correct total. Others were not fully barred, the bars being used only to separate sections, and I could not always make the note lengths add up. My comments for individual pieces point out what I have done.

Some of the pieces, of which I present only two ('Morisco gallyard' and 'Hedgynge haye'), are basically strums which were presumably used to accompany songs and dances – a rôle reminiscent of that of the ukulele today. 

'The hedgynge haye' in the Osborn Commonplace Book, f 40 (pdf, ignore the page no. on the MS).
Very clear calligraphy (except the title). Note how concise, and paper-saving, this layout is. The bar separates the two lines in the tune.  


One piece ('Pasy measure') is basically an arpeggiated strum, using the chord sequence of the Passamezzo antico. The other pieces are more fully developed and mostly fall under the fingers whilst a chord is held – most convenient. They include divisions (diminutions) based mostly on scale fragments. In 'Pavan f 42v', §A'', there is some running up and down the first string, as was the style of the time. Today we would play in position.

Page points out that the Renaissance lute was played (by plucking with the fingers) mainly in an élite academic style, derived from ecclesiastical polyphony, and was not normally strummed. Chords arose as an overlapping of the different voices. The Renaissance guitar, however, had two rôles: as a "mini-lute" for formal music, and as a (presumably) strummed instrument for accompanying songs and dances. Most of the other transcriptions that I post are inevitably of the "posh" genre, as that is most of what has survived.

The strumming style could represent the continuation of earlier popular music, played on wire-strung instruments such as the citterne, which was carved from a single piece of timber and had the strings fixed to the bottom edge of the body rather than gut strings to the bridge. The music seems to be based on ("vertical") chords rather than "horizontal" lines.

And now a few general comments on the harmonies and chord voicings. I am aware of the pitfalls of applying modern harmonic terms anachronistically to this music.

1. In the strummed pieces all four strings are played, providing chord inversions or, in 'Morisco', a drone on the 4th (which in the guitar would be octave Gs).

2. In the other pieces the chords are rooted; i.e. the bass note is the root note of the chord.

3. In 'Morisco' and 'Pavan f 40', both in the key of C, the chord of Bb is prominent, which I find unexpected. I must do more research to see if this was a common usage.  The Bb also occurs briefly in 'Pasy measure', in the key of D(m).

4. The chord of A in the key of D(m) is often voiced without the 3rd (A5 in modern symbols), so it could in some places be Am. Is this a hark back to times when harmonies consisted only of root and 5th?

5. In some pieces, this A5 chord is played twice in a cadence (e.g. 'Pavan f 42v', bar / measure 3), separated by a low G. This sounds very Medieval modal to my ears.

6. Pieces and sections in a minor key finish with the tonic major: the tierce de picardie. It was apparently considered bad form to end on a minor chord.

The transcriptions


1. Morisco gallyard

Transcription: Christopher Page (2017), p. 123.

I have followed Page’s transcription quite slavishly. He explains that this piece employs a style of simple strumming that harks back to earlier times, quite unlike the academic works of highly educated Spanish and French composers. Indeed, he says that the piece is a “blatant example” of the older style and is “seemingly designed to resist any but a vigorous and raking performance”. Uncomplicated as it is, I find it not always easy to keep count of the rhythms. The block chords can be strummed or “gripped” (plucked with thumb and fingers).

The chord sequence doesn't seem to fit any of the common grounds:

bVII  | bVII  |bVII · I   | V        |
bVII  | bVII  |I · IV · V | I · IV · V | I · IV ·V | I     ||  × 2

2. The hedgynge hay

Transcription: Christopher Page (2017), p. 58

The hay was a simple rustic dance, and this basic chord sequence tune was probably strummed as an accompaniment – not all Renaissance guitar music was in imitation of the lute! Whether you strum with the thumb or the back of a finger nail depends on what sounds best your instrument: on the banjo using the back of the nail (even to pick individual notes) is called “frailing”. The 4th string acts as a drone, possibly harking back to earlier music. I imagine that the piece served as an accompaniment to a melody instrument such as a pipe or fife.

The chord sequence (ground) is that of a passamezzo moderno in C major (see next post).

A coincidence: I was trimming a recalcitrant thorn hedge whilst listening to a radio programme on dances mentioned in Shakespeare, when the meaning of “hay” was described. It is derived from the French word “haie” meaning hedge: just as when hedge-laying one weaves the stems in and out, so in dancing the hay the dancers weave in and out. This could be the “hey” of “hey nonny nonny no”.

3. Pasy measure (Passamezzo antico)

Transcription: Christopher Page (2017), p 124.

PASSAMEZZO (or “pasy measure”) was a fairly dance popular during this period. It could be in 4/4 or 6/4 time. Passamezzo antico was a ground on which variations were made (see next post), and had this basic chord sequence:

i     | VII   | i      | V    |
III   | VII   | i · V  | i    || 

This piece follows the pattern exactly (in Dm) in the first statement, except for the D major harmony in bar 8 – the tierce de picardie yet again. 

In the development, however, we have a variation thus:
i ·  IV  |  VII  |  i · vi  |  V   |
i ·  IV  |  VII  |  i · V   |  I   ||  [Fine]

An interesting lesson in the development of a standard harmonic sequence.

4. Saltarello and 5. Gallyard


Transcription of 'Saltarello' (notation for classical guitar): Christopher Page (2017), p. 5.

I used this to make the current version, but with the following changes:
a) Time changed from 3/2 to 4/2 as there are 8 crotchets (quarter notes) to the bar, and my setting software insists I make the adjustment.
b) Lengths of notes adjusted to what is achievable on the instrument.
c) I have indicated repeats by labelling the sections, rather than by either inserting repeat bars (a fiddle as the section boundaries are mid-bar) or adding by “bis” as in the MS.

I have transcribed the 'Galliard to the Saltarello' directly from the rather confusing (unbarred) MS facsimile. I have made “corrections” to make the structure similar to that of the Saltarello (but in a different rhythm), although there are only three rather than four sections. Not perfect, but the best I can manage.

The MS was probably no more than an aide-memoir to the scribe, who knew what he wanted it to sound like.

HARMONIES: an exercise in the three chord trick (G C D).

'Saltarello'

§A :  IV · I · IV  |  V         |  I · IV · V · I  |  I        |
§B :  V            |  V · I     |  I · VI · V      |  I · V    |
§C :  IV · V · IV  |  V         |  I · IV · V      |  I        |
§D :  V            |  V         |  I · IV · V      |  I        || ∥[Fine]

'Galliard'

Very similar: §§ A, B, D (no § C)∥

6. Pavan f 40r

Facsimile: The Osborn Commonplace Book, f 40r (pdf).

Not an easy piece to transcribe, as there were only two “bar lines” in the whole MS, probably delimiting sections (which I have indicated by double barring in the score). 

There were some timing discrepancies, I believe, mostly where the scribe has forgotton to insert a third beam, as in (e.g.) bar 5, when compared with the similar bars 9 and 13. I am unhappy about the final 4-bar section, which sounds like a coda, and have omitted two semi-quavers from bar 19 to make everything fit: weird, but playable.

 I imagine that this MS was just an outline, and the performer would have played his own version as he saw fit.

This transcription does not show all notes to their full lengths, as the piece consists of block chords followed by runs of notes. I imagine that the player would have held the chords for as long as possible whilst playing the top line, but I have not indulged in notational trivialities to show all the detail.

7. Pavan f 42v

Facsimile: The Osborn Commonplace Book, f 42v (pdf)

This is a nice clear MS, and fully barred, though I have divided each of the original bars into two.

There are three sections set in Dm, the first a statement and the others variations on it.  The very simple harmonies, involve only Dm, C, and A, but with and unexpected Bb in bar 6, and with each section ending on D major. It looks rather like a variation on the passamezzo antico.

i   | i   | VII   | VII   | i   | VII · VI  |  V   |  V   |
i   | i   | VII   | VII   | i   | V         |  I   |  I   ||    x3 

Download

I have combined all seven pieces into an omnibus pdf edition, to download free HERE (it's about 1.1 MB).

If you would like the TablEdit files or MIDI versions, please let me know.

Have fun!