Lute Music Questions

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Orpheus

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Nov 30, 1994, 11:28:42 AM11/30/94
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I have a few general questions about lute music of the renaissance,
specifically tablature.
First, is there really any difference between spanish and italian
lute tablature? I was under the impression that they were similar but s
little different, but now that I'm reading more stuff, at least one school
of thought that the spaniards just used the italian system. Is this true,
or are there differences?
Also, are there any net sites where i might be able to FTP some
postscript or JPG/GIF/TIFF/whatever files of lute tablature? like scanned
scores? Failing that, are there any anthologies of lute tablature, so that
I might be able to get ahold of an entire collection of stuff to look at
and compare?
Thanks...


________________________________________________________________________________
--Jeffrey Dunitz (orp...@kahless.isca.uiowa.edu) (319)354-1830
Domain System Administrator, CondoLAN

Robert Trent

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Nov 30, 1994, 1:44:01 PM11/30/94
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>I have a few general questions about lute music of the renaissance,
>specifically tablature.
> First, is there really any difference between spanish and italian
>lute tablature? [snip...snip]

Jeffery,

In Western music, there were three kinds of plucked instrument tablature in
use from the late 1400's to about 1800. The first was the Italian
(Spanish) variety (of which you are specifically inquiring), in which the
lines represent a mirror image of the stringing of the instrument, so that
the highest pitched course was situated on the lowest line. This tablature
first appeared in Italy and was adopted in Spain. However, one noteable
exception (and it is a large one) is Spanish vihuelista Luys Milan, whose
use of tablature is inverted (like the French, but with Italian numbering
in place of the French letter system). Francesco da Milano 's_Intavolatura
de viola over lauto_ (1536) is another exception.
Be aware, however, that if you're also considering guitar tablature, (like
Juan Carlos Amat (1596), Girolamo Montesardo (1606), Briceno (1626) or any
of Vihuela book [all of which contain works for Renaissance Guitar] be
prepared to learn Alfabeto tables for rasgeado vs. punteado playing).

I don't however, have info on tab sites, but you might try the lute list at
Dartmouth.

Cheers,

Robert


********************************************************
* ROBERT TRENT *
* Director of Guitar and Lute Studies *
* Music Dept. *
* College of Visual and Performing Arts *
* RADFORD UNIV. *
* Radford VA 24142 *
* *
* Phone (703)831-5117 *
* Fax:(703)831-6133 e-mail: rtr...@ruacad.ac.runet.edu *
********************************************************

Peter Dickof

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Dec 2, 1994, 1:13:53 PM12/2/94
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In <Pine.3.05.9411301...@kahless.isca.uiowa.edu> orp...@HEINOUS.ISCA.UIOWA.EDU writes:

> I have a few general questions about lute music of the renaissance,
> specifically tablature.
> First, is there really any difference between spanish and italian
> lute tablature?

(snip)

> ...are there any anthologies of lute tablature, so that


> I might be able to get ahold of an entire collection of stuff to look at
> and compare?

Summary of Lute tablatures:

First the disclaimer: dates, trends, etc described here are all gross
generalizations. Standards (eg. for spelling!) are not a Rennassance
strong point.

A "reference" (my term, a convenience for this description) Rennaissance
lute has six courses (sets of one or two) of strings. Typically the
first (highest pitched) course is a single string, the remaining ones
each have two. When courses have two strings, they are either tuned in
unison (higher pitched courses) or the lower of the pair is tuned an
octave higher (for lower courses). The dividing line between octaves and
unisons appeared to move down with time. When the lute is held normally,
the highest pitched course is closest to the floor.

This six course lute would have been in common use around 1550. Earlier
lutes sometimes had fewer course (5 and even 4 are known). Think of them
as missing lower courses. Later lutes got additional strings added on
the bass side. In many cases these were not fretted. Lutes with up to 9
courses are Rennaissance, 10 course lute music is transitional from
Rennaissance to Baroque. With more than 10 courses, the music is
baroque. There is a standard Rennaissance tuning (for the six strings,
additional ones - and sometimes the sixth - were tuned as required for the
piece). In the Baroque period, tunings were very varied.

French tab:

Usually a six-line staff (though some early music has 5 lines). The
lines refer to the top six courses of the lute. The top line refers to
the courses with highest pitch.

Letters are placed above each line to indicate which fret the course is
stopped at: a indicates unstopped, b indicates stopped at the first
fret, etc. The letter j was not used (i & j were used interchangeably at
the time).

When additional courses were shown, the other courses were all indicated
immediately below the bottom line of the staff: The open 7th course was
variously indicated as a, -a- (line through a), or _a_ (underlined a).
Courses lower than this are indicated the same way but preceded (or,
sometimes, followed) by one slash for each of the extra course above it
(eg. the 10th course could be written ///a).

Italian tab.

Usually a six-line staff (though some early music has 5 lines). The
lines refer to the top six courses of the lute. The top line refers to
the course with LOWEST pitch (the course farthest from the floor).

NUMBERS are placed on each line to indicate which fret the string is
stopped at: 0 indicates unstopped, 1 indicates stopped at the first
fret, etc.

Neapolitan Tab.

A six-line staff; the top line refers to the course with the highest
pitch.

NUMBERS are placed on each line to indicate which fret the string is
stopped at: 1 indicates unstopped, 2 indicates stopped at the first
fret, etc.

Very rare, used by Francesco di Milano.

Spanish tablature (Luys Milan)

Strictly speaking not lute tablature, rather vihuela tablature. The two
instruments were usually tuned the same way. Most Spanish vihuela music
is written in Italian tablature. The big exception is Luys Milan who
uses the following scheme:

A six-line staff; the top line refers to the course with the highest
pitch.

NUMBERS are placed on each line to indicate which fret the string is
stopped at: 0 indicates unstopped, 1 indicates stopped at the first
fret, etc.

This is the scheme used today for guitar.

German Tab.

TOTALLY different from any of the above. This tablature assigns a
different letter to every fret on every string. Start with a five string
lute, label the open lowest string a, the next open string b,... the
open highest string e, the first fret on the lowest string f,.. the
first fret on the highest string k, (j is again skipped). When you run
out of the alphabet, add two extra symbols called "et" (sometimes sort
of a backwards capital F, sometimes a sort of upside-down 2) and "con"
(sort of a 9). If you need to go to higher frets start the alphabet again
with lines over, or use numbers if you prefer) Now add the sixth string by
labelling it as you would in French tablature, but use capitals. Just in
case any one still understands, use Gothic letters, and print them
upside down when the mood takes you.

This tablature uses no staff; simply write the polyphonic lines on top
of each other. This is a real benefit of German Tablature; it keeps the
polyphony straight better than other tabs (and better than staff
notation too unless a staff is used for each line). It's also compact.

Cifra Nueva

Take the white keys on the keyboard(!). start with F and label them 1-7
in sequence for two octaves (the second set gets a tail or dot on top).
You will also need flat-4 and flat-7. Use a staff with one line for each
polyphonic voice and write the notes on.

This is a keyboard tablature, but it is used for vihuela music
by Venegas de Henestrosa and Hernando de Cabecon

French tablature is the 'lingua franca' of lute music. Most amateur Lutenists
today sight read French tablature. Many also sight read Italian, Spanish, and
Neapolitan tablature. Some also sight read conventional music notation on the
grand staff and/or in guitar transcriptions (transposed down a minor third and
written an octave higher than played). A _very_ few read German tablature.

References:

_A tutor for the Rennaissance lute_, Diana Poulton, Schott & Co. Ltd.
London, 1991. This book contains modern printings of french, Italian,
Neapolitan and Spanish tablatures, and also facsimiles of all the tabs
mentioned above.

_The notation of polyphonic music 900-1600_, Willi Apel, The Mediaeval
Academy of America, Cambridge, Massachusets, 1953. There is a brief
chapter on lute tablatures in this.

Peter

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