Thursday, 4 January 2018

Sanz: Chacona

Gaspar Sanz (1640 – 1710). This detail from the dedication page of Instrucción de música may be an image of Sanz
From WIkipedia

A neat little dance tune, and not too difficult to play (or, indeed, to transcribe). The compromises of transcription from Sanz' presumably re-entrant tuning to a low-4th tuning are explained in an earlier post here. I have repeated the original graces as far as possible, but I think that the trills could be better played as mordents: you can hear it played thus on a Baroque guitar here. According to James Tyler, the appropriate trill within a phrase would be a quick pluck, then hammer on next higher note, then pull off.

A chacona was a quick saucy dance imported to Spain from South America about 100 years before this piece was written, and over the next 2 centuries it evolved through a stately 3/4 dance into an instrumental form (the chaconne). It seems to be indistinguishable from a passacalle or passacaglia, which also originated in Spain and followed a similar evolution.

It consists of nine, 4-bar phrases variations based (except for the last) on the following approximate harmonic sequence, which was not rigidly imposed, and has other passing chords in the piece:

I     | V or vi or ii | vi or IV or ii | V(7) ||

In each variation, the four bars follow a particular pattern following the harmony, rather like a riff in jazz.

You can find the transcriptions here:
  • pdf (quick preview)
  • pdf (auto download)
  • TablEdit
  • MIDI (sorry about the trills, which sound more like tremolos)


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I hope you enjoy these arrangements. I would welcome your views, and comments on possible errors or improvements.