Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Gaspar Sanz: Fuga 1 por primer tono (1: 16)

Facsimile of Sanz' original engraving.
He thoughtfully preceded the tabs with a statement of the theme in musical notation.
A simple fugue wholly in the idiom of lute and vihuela music, with none of the strumming that is so typical of the Baroque guitar. I have tried to indicate the overlapping lines by stem direction; there are also some bass notes.

Presumably, “primer tono” in the title means “first mode”, which would at that time have been the Dorian mode, and hence Dm in the original, and Gm in this arrangement. I guess that fuerte means loud, and suave means smooth or soft.

It is a pleasure to play on the low-G uke, although one does have to use "unusual" fingerings to maintain the lines.

Comparing the second bar of the theme with the second bar of the fugue, one can see that on the 1st and 3rd beats, the melody is harmonised with higher notes on the 1st string.

The indefatigable “Luthval” can be heard performing the piece on baroque guitar here .

Since Sanz' guitar had re-entrant tuning, I have tried playing the original on a re-entrant ukulele, but have been unhappy to find sudden octave jumps that break up the lines. It is instructive, and great fun, to play Rob MacKillop's version of Fuga for re-entrant uke (see Resources page), which he has ingeniously adapted to the campanella style avoiding any nasty jumps.

You can find the transcriptions here:

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