Thursday, 4 January 2018

Sanz: Passacalles por la Cruz

Facsimile of Passacalles por la cruz, by Gaspar Sanz (1674)

Although Gaspar Sanz was a priest as well as a musician, the "Cruz" or "" in the title has no religious significance but indicates the name of the chord in the abecedario system (see post here), namely the chord fingered 0–0–0–2. On the ukulele this gives us Am. But, as in Renaissance music, there is a reluctance to end on a minor chord, as the final chord here is A5 – i.e. the third is missing. In fact, the whole score seems to drift between A major and A minor.

This piece is an exercise in different styles. Most sections are of 4 bars. From §§ a to f we have some fairly orthodox divisions, rather like the fantasias of le Roy and Mudarra from the previous century. Then §§ g to j are 'campanelas', starting first with what we now refer to as campanella style (with successive notes played on different strings; not so easy with linear tuning), and them moving to something more like a peal of bells. I can't ascribe §§ k (which has 10 bars) and l to any particular style.

Finally, §§ m to u are labelled 'cromaticos'. §§ m to q have a falling, chromatic movement, reminiscent of Purcell's Dido's Lament, which was published in the next decade (uke arrangement posted here): all very melancholy. The final sections have a more upward movement, and if not cheerful, at least indicate resignation. Well, that's how it seems to me.

You can hear a performance on the baroque guitar here.

Details of sources etc. are appended to the music files.

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.