Spanish song, chitarra alla spagnola, and the Matheo Bezón and his 1599 alfabeto songbook

Daniel Zuluaga
University of Southern California

” …the guitar will serve me as a sonorous voice and language so that I can sing you this tale.”[1]

The official debut of the five-course guitar in northern Italy during the 1589 intermedi in Florence followed years, possibly decades, of use for song accompaniment in the kingdom of Naples where alfabeto, its early system of notation, is thought to have been created.[2][3] As a system anchored in the concept of sonorities as independent entities, alfabeto was, in a sense, at the vanguard of musical developments that would eventually be “crystallized in basso continuo notation.”[4] Considering that at the end of the sixteenth century there was already a mature tablature technique developed for both the lute and the four-course guitar, the swift consolidation of alfabeto as a preferred notation in the last few years of the sixteenth century is remarkable.[5] This is especially evident upon the examination of the earliest sources featuring the notation, which show that already by the year 1600 both a relatively well developed nomenclature and a clearly defined role for the guitar as a strummed accompaniment instrument in song had been established. Most recent studies on the early period of the five-course guitar and its practice focus primarily on printed staff-notation song collections that also include alfabeto, common after 1610.[6] This is due to the difficulties presented by a common trait of alfabeto song manuscripts: the absence of mensural notation. These manuscript sources, however, often contain fairly detailed information that is unavailable in prints, which can be invaluable in clarifying the gestation and technical developments of performance practices in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that feature the guitar prominently.

Between 1610 and 1665 nearly 150 song publications with guitar appeared in Italy alone.[7] Guitar manuscripts, however, far exceeded printed sources in number and circulation. Only three manuscript alfabeto sources before the first Italian guitar print in 1606 are known today, which makes them key documents in the transition of guitar accompaniment practices from oral to written sources. These are the earliest stages of alfabeto practice, which began in the last quarter of the sixteenth century and remained vital at least into the 1630s. The purpose of this study is to examine one of these three pre-1600 alfabeto sources, a manuscript found in the private library of Rodrigo de Zayas in Seville, E Szayas A.IV.8, also known as the Cancionero de Matheo Bezón. A thorough analysis of its contents is justified on the ground that this manuscript is the earliest known source containing format features that became standard in manuscript and print guitar alfabeto.[8] The Bezón manuscript is the first source to include an alfabeto chart, the first to include alfabeto solo guitar pieces, and the first to add some type of rhythmic notation to alfabeto symbols. In all of these areas it predates Girolamo Montesardo’s 1606 print Nuova inventione d’intavolatura by at least half a decade. It is also the earliest anthology of its kind identifying the compiler by full name, as well as the earliest known collection combining the aforementioned alfabeto solo pieces and songs in Italian and Spanish, a popular format until about 1625. The number and diverse nature of the concordances found for this source further supports the notion that alfabeto songs and solos were a different written format convention for well-established songs and dances based on staff-notation models, or at least orally transmitted models, rather than records of improvisation.

Only two other pre-1600 sources containing alfabeto are known. The earliest is a manuscript located at the Biblioteca Universitaria in Bologna, I Bu MS 177/ IV, a single canto partbook that contains Italian strophic songs by Orazio Vecchi, Giulio Caccini, Paolo Quagliati, Luca Marenzio, and others. Sixteen out of the forty songs in the manuscript feature alfabeto letters written above the mensural part. It has been dated circa 1585-1600 based on its contents.[9] The other manuscript is preserved in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome, I Rvat Chigi L.VI.200. It is titled Libro de cartas y romançes españoles and dedicated to the Duchess of Traetta, and consists of fifty-eight Spanish texts with alfabeto followed by a few additional poems in Spanish and Italian.[10] The 1599 date found on the title page corresponds to the earlier part of the manuscript. Neither source contains an alfabeto chart, which, in combination with the consistency of the nomenclature among all three pre-1600 sources, indicates that the notation was well established by the last decade of the sixteenth century.

A di 4 di 7bre 1599

Two different hands can be discerned in E Szayas A.IV.8. Based on an annotation in fol. 2v, Rodrigo de Zayas, the current owner of the manuscript, identified the two copyists as “Matheo Bezón Spañol” (hand I), and “Anton” (hand II), guitar teacher and student, respectively.[11] The Spaniard Matheo penned the earlier portion of the manuscript (fols. 2v-11v) and Anton, most likely an Italian, on the basis of his orthographic variants in the Spanish texts, the later (fol. 12 onwards). The manuscript records several dates in the first few folios: 4 September 1599 appears on fol. 2r in hand II and on fol. 3r in hand I; 7 September 1600, also in hand I, is on fol. 2v. Fol. 2r (hand II) lists additional meetings (lessons?) between Anton and his teacher Matheo on 18 September and on 7 October 1599, plus some sort of prattica on 7 November of the same year.[12] (Illustration 1.)


ILLUSTRATION 1 - f2 detail Bezon

Illustration 1. E Szayas A.IV.8, fol. 2r (detail). Date and cost of lessons.

Corroborating the dates by means of the manuscript’s contents, however, is more complicated. The solo guitar alfabeto pieces are not particularly useful in dating the collection. A list of Sonatte is given by Bezón in fols. 4r-v but is not concordant with the contents of the manuscript.[13] Most items on the list as well as those actually present in the volume are relatively common dances, grounds and harmonic formulas that can be found in collections from the late sixteenth century until at least the middle of the seventeenth century.[14]

A significant number of texts can be traced to more-or-less contemporary poetic and/or music collections. The anonymous romance titled Rompiendo la mar de España is found in the Romancero general (1600) as well as a number of manuscript poetic collections from the period.[15] Ay amor, perjuro, falso traidor is a letrilla by Gabriel López Maldonado, who was active in the middle of the 1580s. A unos ojos bellos is also found in the manuscript Cancionero de Jhoan López (1588).[16] Another well-known romance, El sin ventura mancebo, was in circulation as early as 1582.[17] Four additional Spanish texts are found in alternate musical settings in Bataille’s 1609 volume of airs de cour.[18] The eclogue I toi capelli, part of Jacopo Sannazaro’s Arcadia (1504), is found in relevant musical settings beginning around 1583. Guarini’s Fillide mia se di beltà sei vaga and Amarilli mia bella can be found in musically concordant settings in Giulio Caccini’s Le nuove musiche (1602), among other sources.[19] Additional texts are partially concordant with contemporary manuscript alfabeto sources.[20]

The presence of more than one date in the Bezón MS, a luxury when it comes to alfabeto sources, would suggest that this manuscript, unlike concordant sources such as the main layer of I Rvat Chigi L.VI.200 or a roughly contemporary alfabeto song manuscript currently at the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris (F Pn Esp. 390), was a tutor compiled over a period of time that presumably encompassed the duration of Anton’s instruction on the guitar. The length of this period, perhaps two or three years, could explain, for example, the different characteristics of the settings for the two Caccini songs found in the volume, where one is a nearly exact rendition of an item found in Le nuove musiche and the other, also found in the 1602 print, was possibly copied from a manuscript variant.

Unfortunately, the geographical origin of the Bezón MS remains a mystery. Daniel Devoto has suggested Naples, possibly due to the presence of Spanish texts.[21] Rodrigo de Zayas, who indicated that the manuscript was purchased from the Florentine antiquarian Leo Olschki in 1938 by the Zayas library, has also conjectured Naples.[22] The contents of the Bezón MS, however, provide no clear indication of a Neapolitan origin. The number of song concordances with Florentine alfabeto sources point to northern Italy as a more likely provenance, especially considering that the largest number of surviving alfabeto manuscripts comes from cities such as Florence or Modena, and not from Naples or Rome. Also telling is the presence of the Cmadd2 chord shape in the alfabeto chart. This dissonant chord has been identified as a distinguishing feature of Venetian alfabeto charts beginning around 1616.[23] It can also be found in Florentine sources,[24] but is conspicuously absent from Roman or Neapolitan ones. For these reasons, Florence is a more likely place of provenance for the MS, although the evidence is not conclusive.

L’ nella chitarra alla spagnola

The essential characteristics of alfabeto notation, called in the Bezón MS, are fairly straightforward. In its simplest form, it is a shorthand in which individual harmonies are each assigned a letter of the alphabet in a manner completely unrelated to musical nomenclature. In other words, the letter ‘A’ represents a G-major chord, the letter ‘B’ represents a C-major chord, the letter ‘D’ an A-minor chord, etc. Table 1 below shows the equivalency between chords in modern symbol notation and the alfabeto letters from charts found in the manuscripts to be discussed in this study.

Table 1

Table 1. Alfabeto equivalency chart.[25]

The assignment of sonorities to letters follows a logical, orderly pattern, at least initially. The first three chords, G major, C major, and D major, functionally mimic a tonal I-IV-V progression as if in the key of G major, a chordal pattern characteristic of the early guitar passacaglia.[26] The next three chords in the chart duplicate this progression as if in the key of A minor (i-iv-V), after which the pattern breaks down. The alfabeto system appears to have been conceived so that individuals without musical education could quickly learn to play the guitar by rote. The chords would be notated in tablature in a prefacing chart, which the student would commit to memory.[27] Curiously, as in the case of manuscript I Rvat Chigi L.VI.200, a significant portion of surviving alfabeto manuscripts do not contain a chart.

A few aspects of the Bezón chart are unusual. There is no E-minor chord, usually notated in such charts with a ‘+’ or an ‘X’ symbol and situated between the alfabeto letters ‘E’ and ‘F.’[28] The Cmadd2 chord shape is represented by a different alfabeto symbol, a ‘U’ instead of an ‘L,’ which, interestingly, is left blank.[29] No symbol is provided for the relatively commonplace C minor sonority, which is not used in the MS. Instead of the usual Bb minor triad, the ‘K’ symbol is assigned in the Bezón MS to a G-minor chord in third position, which is considered in most other charts as an alternate position G-minor chord. Illustration 2 shows the chart in E Szayas A.IV.8, in Anton’s hand.

ILLUSTRATION 2 - abici chart E Szayas A IV 8

Illustration 2. E Szayas A.IV.8, no fol. (detail).

The alfabeto system, whatever its common name was at the time and despite small discrepancies in chord nomenclature, thus appears to have been relatively fixed by 1599.[30] It certainly was by the publication of Girolamo Montesardo’s Nuova inventione d’intavolatura in 1606. Montesardo has often been adjudicated the invention of the alfabeto system. Given the existence of at least three sources with alfabeto notation before 1606, it is safe to conclude that Montesardo did not devise the nomenclature. In fact, the wording of the passage in Nuova inventione that is sometimes quoted by scholars to support Montesardo’s claim of authorship of the system could be interpreted in a number of ways.[31] Given the ambiguity in the use of the words ‘regola’ and ‘regole,’ I would argue that perhaps the innovation that Montesardo claims for himself is not alfabeto nomenclature but rather the addition of visually represented rhythmic values. (Illustration 3.)

ILLUSTRATION 3 - Pasacaglia in 2 Montesardo

Illustration 3. Passacaglia sopra l’A. Montesardo, Nuova Inventione (1606), p. 5.

In this system, the letters placed above and below a dividing line are a visual representation of upward and downward guitar strums. Upper-case letters represent longer rhythmic values, lower-case shorter ones.[32] These are to be interpreted in the context of duple (primo modo) and triple (secondo modo) meters. Although Montesardo was not the first to add rhythmic values to alfabeto progressions, his graphic system is considerably more straightforward than the earlier numeric system found in E Szayas A.IV.8, which is discussed below. Moreover, the use of upper- and lower-case letters adds a layer of rhythmic complexity that is not found in the Bezón.[33] The print is, on the other hand, the earliest source known to use the term alfabeto to denote the system.

Alfabeto and rhythmic notation

The Bezón manuscript is the earliest source known to contain solo guitar pieces in alfabeto notation.[34] These alfabeto ‘solos’ are accompanied by a series of numbers above each letter.[35] Anton provides two sets of instructions for the interpretation of these numbers in the last folio of the manuscript, the first of which is as follows:

[1.] …notate che li numeri che sono sopra l’ sono tutte botte. Vi sopra l’a ci è uno i; quale i e una botta. Sopra il bi ci e un 4 et sotto detto numero, un due, et di sopra un altro due, con una linea in mezzo;[vi] dimostra che il due sotto il 4 sono due botte date al in giu, et le due di sopra al quatro, due botte date al in su; il [medesmo] al ci, et il ritorno al à. avertendo di dare una botta in giu et una in su fino al numero se[gu]itto [ ] tempo nel[36]

…[You will] observe that the numbers placed above the are all strokes. Above the letter ‘a’ you will find an ‘I’[37] and this ‘i’ represents one stroke. Above the letter ‘b’ you will find a number ‘4’ and under it a ‘2,’ and above it another ‘2,’ with a line in between them; the ‘2’ below the ‘4’ represent two downstrokes, and the ‘2’ above two upstrokes. The same upon the letter ‘c’ and then back to the ‘a.’ Remember to do an upstroke and a downstroke all the way to the following number, in the meter of the

To summarize, the large number above each letter represents the number of strummed strokes or botte, and the fraction that accompanies it represents the number and direction of upstrokes and downstrokes. These are always alternated. Illustration 4 below shows the chord progression as notated in the Bezón MS, followed by a transcription.


ILLUSTRATION 4a - pasacalle Bezon

ILLUSTRATION 4b - Passacalle transc

Illustration 4. Passacalle. E Szayas A.IV.8, no fol. (above); transcription (below).

In the basso continuo realization above, the stem direction mimics the direction of the strums on the guitar.[38] Repetition of the ground is implied by the comma following the first alfabeto letter ‘A’ and the five strokes above the second ‘A.’ A second set of instructions in the next folio complements the first set.[39] There is no indication of different rhythmic values in Bezón’s notation, but the chord progression, a passacalle, conforms to typical duple-time examples of the genre. Montesardo writes out passacaglie for all of the keys in his alfabeto table in both duple and triple time (primo / secondo modo respectively, which he calls tempi principali).[40] The pasacalles in fols. 3r-v and in fol. 10v of the Bezón MS are largely concordant with Montesardo’s examples, but do not include all the keys in his chart and, interestingly, are arranged rather differently. As do most contemporary alfabeto sources, Montesardo’s print lists his examples in the alphabetical order of the chart, considering the first chord in the progression as the key of the ground. In the Bezón MS, the root key is often the third chord in the four-chord progression. Illustration 5 shows two passacalles from the Bezón MS, the first in G major (alfabeto letter A), the second one in D major (alfabeto letter C). The key list in Bezón is: [fol. 3r] G major (sopra l’A), D major (sopra la C), A minor (sopra la D), C major (sopra la B), F major (sopra la G), [fol. 3v] E major (sopra la F), G minor (sopra l’O), Bb major (sopra la H), plus a rhythmic variation in G major.[41]


ILLUSTRATION 5 - pasacalles Bezon

Illustration 5. Passacalle in G major (above) and in D major (below). E Szayas A.IV.8, fol. 3r (detail).

Another popular ground, the Villano de Spaña (fol. 11r), also conforms rhythmically and harmonically to common versions of the ground:

ILLUSTRATION 6A - villano trans

6a. E Szayas A.IV.8, fol. 11r; transcription.

ILLUSTRATION 6B - Villan d spagna 1434

6b. I VEc 1434, fol. 6v.

ILLUSTRATION 6C - Villano sopra l'A Montesardo-1606

6c. Montesardo, Nuova inventione, p. 16.

Illustrations 6a-c. Villano di Spagna.

The correspondence is less clear in the case of the other grounds with rhythmic notation. I have yet to find other examples of a sfessania napoletana or a sfessania spagnola.[42] Two duple-time examples of the sarabanda match other alfabeto settings harmonically but not rhythmically.[43] The situation is reversed with a sole setting of the pavanilla de spaña which, despite being in the key of D major, matches contemporary settings harmonically but not rhythmically. None of the other grounds found in E Szayas A.IV.8 have rhythmic notation. The two folia settings are in the keys of C major and G major, but are otherwise concordant with contemporary examples.[44] A few examples of the romanescha, roughly scribbled on the front cover and towards the end of the manuscript, are barely legible, but seem to match the harmonic patterns found, for example, in another alfabeto manuscript currently in the Biblioteca Civica in Verona, I VEc 1434.[45]

Alfabeto songs

The core of E Szayas A.IV.8 consists of twenty-nine alfabeto songs. In the context of this study, I define alfabeto songs narrowly, limiting the term to poetic texts with alfabeto symbols above them only and excluding those that also contain staff notation. Although the distinction may seem largely one of format, it is important to understand that different parameters rule the two practices. The inclusion of alfabeto in fully notated music collections, beginning with Giovanni Kapsberger’s Libro primo di villanelle (Rome, 1610), is largely limited to printed sources. In many of them, the addition of guitar notation often appears to be a performance-practice alternative, rather than a specific requirement. The format of the alfabeto song, on the other hand, necessitates the use of the guitar, and thus specifically indicates a specific performance practice medium.

Twenty-two of the songs found in the Bezón manuscript are on Spanish texts. These are mostly romances, letrillas, and villancicos that widely circulated in Italian and/or Spanish territories in the form of poetic anthologies known as cancioneros. The remaining song texts are in Italian (four), a combination of Spanish and Italian (two), or Latin (one). The high proportion of Spanish to Italian songs is rather unusual, but by no means unique to this manuscript.[46]

In most cases, the poetic form of the Spanish texts consists of a series of hexasyllabic or octosyllabic quatrains with the addition of a refrain or estribillo, which may reappear complete or in part. This is the case even with romances, one of Spain’s more traditional indigenous forms. As a poetic form the romance was subject to significant transformation at the end of the sixteenth century with the addition of popular refrains. Although there are abundant romances without estribillo after the 1580s, the refrain eventually became structurally fundamental, and the poetic tone shifted from epic to lyric, emphasizing the musical and emotional characteristics and/or content.[47] Similarly, a letrilla or villancico would consist of an estribillo of varying length and irregular versification, a main body consisting of stanzas known as coplas or mudanzas, and two or more verses that function as a return to the refrain (enlace and/or vuelta).[48] These distinctions, however, do not seem to be generally reflected in the resultant musical forms so far encountered. Although there is no specific pattern to the concordances, none of the songs in the manuscript are found in Spanish musical sources. The largest number of these occur with Florentine and French sources. Full concordances of text, alfabeto, and music are rare.

Dama ni flaca ni gorda can be found in the I Rvat Chigi L.VI.200 (fol. 17r) and in another alfabeto manuscript in the British Library titled Villanelle de più sorte con l’intavolatura per sonare, et cantare su la chitarra alla spagnola di Giovanni Casalotti (GB Lbm Add. 36877, fols. 48r-v). This manuscript is a large compilation of alfabeto songs, primarily in Italian. It also includes a small but significant number of Spanish texts.[49] John Hill has discussed this source in some detail, identifying links to monody prints published between 1602 and 1623 and to repertoire from the circles of Cardinal Montalto in particular for the Italian songs there contained.[50] He suggests Naples as a possible place of origin for the Casalotti MS based on its Spanish contents, but at the same time acknowledges the presence of such songs in manuscripts throughout Italy and a “significant number of concordances with Florentine manuscripts.”[51] The poem itself is not a romance but a letrilla with a three-verse refrain and a series of coplas in redondilla form (with enlace and vuelta).[52] Musically, the three settings are almost exact copies, although there is no reason to believe the manuscripts are connected in any way. Minor discrepancies such as the second chord in the first line (A minor in Traetta and Casalotti, C major in Bezón) can be easily explained as a variant harmonization of a note in the vocal part that served as a model, in this case either a C or an E, based on common chord tones. (See Illustration 7.)

ILLUSTRATION 7a - Dama sample Bezón

ILLUSTRATION 7b - Dama sample GB Lbm add 36877

Illustration 7. Dama ni flaca ni gorda. E Szayas A.IV.8, fol. 7r (top, detail); GB Lbm Add. 36877, fol. 47r (bottom, detail).

Parma, Biblioteca Palatina, miscellanea parmense 1506/I (I PAp 1506/I) is a relatively small manuscript (38 pages plus eight blank folios) first mentioned as a poetic anthology of Spanish texts by Antonio Restori in 1899.[53][54] It contains fifteen Spanish and five Italian texts, all featuring alfabeto. The manuscript belonged to Ginevra Bentivoglio (d. 1651), sister of Enzo Bentovoglio, the Ferrarese ambassador to Rome. In 1604 Ginevra married Pio Torelli di Montechiarugolo. Torelli’s decapitation in 1612 due to his involvement in the plot against Duca Ranuccio motivated Ginevra’s departure from Parma during that year.[55] The manuscript must have been compiled during her stay in this city, that is, between 1604 and 1612. One Spanish text in this source is concordant with the Bezón MS, the anonymous Ay enemigo amor. A comparison of the word repetitions and particularly the harmonies shows that the musical settings are probably not related. (Table 2).[56]

Table 2

Table 2. Ay enemigo amor.

Musically speaking, the setting found in the Bezón MS is fairly simple, alternating between I, IV and V in the key of G major. In the coplas (not shown), it fleetingly uses V/V, the only deviation from what is essentially a series of cadential patterns. The setting in I PAp 1506/I is considerably more elaborate, both in terms of the frequency of chord changes and in the harmonies used, and it is not easily circumscribed into a common harmonic scheme due in part to its use of the bVII chord. The bVII chord (Eb major) serves a different harmonic function in the copla of the I PAp 1506/I setting, where it acts as subdominant in a brief cadence in Bb.

The manuscript Rome, Biblioteca dei Lincei e Corsiniana, Cod. 625 is a 63-folio collection of alfabeto songs in Spanish entitled Canzonette diverse in lingua spagnuola Al Illmo y Exmo Señor Principe Perette, who has been identified as Michele Perreti, brother of Cardinal Montalto.[57] Rather unusually, it contains alfabeto songs exclusively in Spanish. Each one is preceded by a passacalle in the key of the song, a common feature in alfabeto song manuscripts (see illustration 8).[58] Ay quién me quiera comprar, a letrilla on fol. 29r of the Peretti MS, is textually concordant with the song found in the Bezón MS, fols. 9-10.[59] Gotor’s inventory lists the preceding pasacalle for this piece as being in C major (alfabeto letters = B G A B), whereas the setting in the Bezón MS is firmly in A minor, despite a shift to C major for half of the refrain. I have yet to encounter an example where the guitar passacalle is in a different key from that of the piece it precedes, so it can be assumed that the two settings are not related.[60] Judging by the quality of the orthography, the copyist of I Rli Cod. 625 is without doubt a Spaniard.[61]

ILLUSTRATION 8 - I Rli 625 detail

Illustration 8. Song opening passacalle, in D minor. I Rli Cod. 625, fol. 51r.[62]

Entre todos los remedios is textually concordant with two other sources, the Traetta MS and an anthology of two- and three-part villanelle in Spanish, with full staff notation and alfabeto, currently in Kraków (PL Kj MS 40163).[63] The settings in the Traetta and the Kraków MSS are musically concordant, but differ from the setting found in the Bezón MS. The song in Kraków is for two voices, and consists of an estribillo and three coplas set to contrasting music, whereas in the Bezón MS a single copla text is set to the same music as the refrain. Other differences between the settings become evident when comparing the number and type of chords in the two versions. Example 1 shows an abstraction in basso continuo notation of the alfabeto chords that accompany the first two lines of text.

EXAMPLE 1- Entre todos

Example 1. Entre todos los remedios, lines 1 and 2.

Four of the Spanish texts in the Bezón MS are concordant with French sources, specifically Bataille’s 1609 print of airs de cour arranged for lute and voice.[64] John Baron and John Griffiths have written extensively on the use of French airs for the reconstruction of textually concordant alfabeto songs in Italian sources.[65] Essentially, given the limited melodic range and relative harmonic simplicity of these songs, it is possible in some cases to superimpose the harmonies from the alfabeto sources to the fully notated melodies found in the French prints.[66] Congruent melodic-harmonic units can be found in many of the Bataille settings, to an acceptable level. This occurs particularly in the case of songs based on grounds and dance patterns. Generally, concordance between Italian alfabeto sources and French prints is limited to the refrain. It is important, however, to observe that in most concordant cases, the match is not an easy fit. This is due to the fundamental ametrical nature of the French air, which can freely alternate between two- and three-beat units, regardless of the meter. This type of alternation is most evident in the metric disruptions at cadential points.[67] This practice differs substantially from the use of hemiola in Italian song, where the meter of a song remains unaltered; this is also true of Spanish song from the period, in which long and irregular chains of duple- and triple-time grouping alternations still remain within the established meter. It is entirely possible that the partial musical concordances between French and Italian or Spanish settings of the same text indicates simply a common model for the tune rather than a direct concordance, as Louise Stein has suggested.[68]

En el valle Ynés is a good example of a French setting of a Spanish text in the early seventeenth century, and how it relates to alfabeto song. The text is in a poetic form known as endechas, a hexasyllabic elegy on popular topics characterized by a tone of melancholy and assonant rhyme scheme. Copies of the text can be found as far back as 1578,[69] but the only musical settings known are the ones found in E Szayas A.IV.8 and in Bataille (1609). Text distortion is frequent in early seventeenth-century airs,[70] often in conjunction with the metrical disruptions mentioned above. As can be seen in example 2, the first such event occurs in mm. 3-7 in the setting of the first two lines of poetry.[71] In mm. 3-4 the natural accentuation (in bold) of “En el valle Ynés la to riendo,” is displaced for the word “topé.” If mm. 2-3 were reinterpreted as a hemiola (marked in brackets below) to match the natural text accentuation, mm. 4-6 would still create a metric disruption, as measure 5 is a single 2/4 measure in an otherwise 3/4 setting. The bipartite musical structure separates the fifth and last line of the refrain, “por ella muriendo,” presented in three nearly exact iterations and then repeated with some ornamentation (mm. 12-20 = 21-30). The natural accentuation of the line, preserved in mm. 12-13, is displaced in the second iteration in mm. 14-15. The accented syllable in “ella” is placed in the weakest beat of the measure, and the agogic accent given to the first syllable of ‘muriendo’ also generates rhythmic uncertainty. The alfabeto realization under the Bataille setting serves to illustrate these and other differences.

EXAMPLE 2 - En el valle Ynes multiple

Example 2. En el valle Ynés.

The problem with the displacement of text accentuations is not present in the Bezón MS, as determined by the placement of the alfabeto symbols above specific syllables. At first glance, the settings are distinguished by different modes (Bezón is in a major key, the Bataille in minor) and by overall form, as indicated in the text repetitions. The six iterations of the final line are not particularly unusual, but the more complex harmonic structure of the air would suggest a more elaborate recomposition of a common original. (Table 3.)

Table 3

Table 3. En el valle Ynés.

Concordances for De mi mal nace mi bien, unlike En en valle Ynés, are not limited to French sources. Libro de villanelle spagnuol et’italiane (F Pn Esp. 390) was penned by Francesco Palumbi, one of the most important Italian guitar players in the early seventeenth century. He is known to have compiled at least six different alfabeto manuscripts.[72] Most sources in his hand have been dated between 1610 and 1620.[73] Daniel Devoto has suggested 1595 as an approximate date for this manuscript based on the handwriting, the type of ink and paper, and the alfabeto solo dances contained therein.[74] As is the case with the Bezón MS, the solo guitar pieces in the Palumbi manuscript are common dances that can be found as far back as 1595 but also up until the 1630s, which makes them unhelpful for dating. Richard Hudson has suggested circa 1630,[75] whereas Maurice Esses dates it around 1620.[76]

Harmonic differences between the Bezón and Palumbi settings of this letrilla are limited to mode in some cadential chords (the A-major versus A-minor chord at the end of verse 2 and at the final cadence, for example). Verses 6-8, the enlace/vuelta that lead up to the repeat of the refrain, are set to the same music as verses 1-3 in Bezón, but are missing entirely from the Palumbi and the Bataille. The only other structural difference between the alfabeto settings and the air is a three-line refrain that begins “que sois mi muerte y mi vida,” which is present in Bezón and Palumbi, but absent from Bataille. The alfabeto harmonies fit the duple time setting in Bataille almost exactly. (Table 4.)

Table 4

Table 4. De mi mal nace mi bien. Missing verses marked with **

The other two Spanish songs found in Bataille (1609), Pues que me das a escoger and Quien quiere entrar, are also concordant with an additional Florentine source. Manuscript 791 ML/1 in the Biblioteca Laurenziana, Fondo Ashburnham (I Fl Ashb. 791), is a 579-folio volume described as a collection of assorted papers and gatherings from various periods, hands and sizes.[77] Gathering no. 10 (fols. 380r-399v) contains twenty-one Spanish texts and two dialogues in Spanish and Neapolitan, all with alfabeto.[78]

The four different sources for Quien quiere entrar present an interesting case. A comparison of the three alfabeto settings (example 3) shows a similar harmonic pattern between GB Lbm Add. 36877 and I Fl Ashb. 791 beginning on phrase two, with the Bezón setting largely unique except for the final cadence.

EXAMPLE 3 - Quien quiere multiple

Example 3. Quien quiere entrar.

The Bataille setting, transcribed in Example 4, also contains various discrepancies when compared to the alfabeto sources. The first phrase in Bataille, for example, shares the harmonic pattern found in Bezón, while the harmonic gesture of the second phrase is concordant with GB Lbm Add. 36877 and I Fl Ashb. 791. Despite the unusual five-measure phrases, the first half of the refrain in Bataille can be understood in triple time. The second half of the refrain, beginning at “que soy marinero,” shifts the note groupings from triple to duple, something uncommon in Spanish or Italian popular forms.[79] The chord changes only coincide again between sources in the final cadence in G. In the absence of additional concordances, it can be argued that at least three different versions of this song were in circulation.

EXAMPLE 4 - Quien quiere entrar tr-Ballard

Example 4. Quien quiere entrar, transcription.

Alfabeto songs are precisely notated despite their lack of staff notation or meter indications. This is particularly evident in regard to the placement of chord changes and the actual linear form of the song. Text repetitions are spelled out precisely, which is helpful in differentiating settings. A side-by-side textual comparison of Pues que me das a escoger reveals a two-verse text repetition omitted in the Bataille version. (Table 5.)

Table 5

Table 5. Pues que me das a escoger.

EXAMPLE 5 - Pues que me das ALF

Example 5. Pues que me das a escoger.

A comparison between the setting in the Bezón MS, transposed down from G major, and another one in I Fl Ashb. 791, shows nearly identical harmonic gestures. The discrepancy in measure five could be considered a minor variant. The same can be said about the final text repetition in Bezón, omitted in 791. The Bataille setting, in duple time, generally follows a different harmonic scheme.

The four Italian songs in E Szayas A.IV.8 present a different set of issues, due in part to the large number of settings available. Fully notated musical settings for I toi capelli, for example, include those by Cristofano Malevezzi (Il primo libro delle madrigale a cinque voci, 1583), Ruggier Giovanelli (Sdruccioli, 1585), Bartolomeo Barbarini (Madrigali, 1606),[80] and Paolo Quagliati (Il primo libro de’ madrigali, 1608), although none is musically concordant. An unrelated alfabeto setting can be found in the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence (I Fr 2774, fol. 14r). Occhi nido di amore albergo del mio core was set by Marcello Albano, Amante Franzoni and Giulio Cesare Monteverdi, in versions printed before 1616, but the Bezón setting appears to be unrelated.[81] The Bezón setting of Amarilli, mia bella has small discrepancies from the printed version found in Le nuove musiche, mostly in the modality of some chords, slightly different harmonic progressions, and the absence of the coda (Example 6). Only a few notes in the vocal and bass lines are affected by the different mode of the chords (marked by an asterisk), and the changes from minor to major are not particularly jarring.[82] The resulting harmony that begins in beats three and four of measure eight and continues into measure nine is more problematic as an unresolved dissonance, but the vocal part can be changed slightly to fit the harmony of the guitar chords. The rest of the madrigal shows similar discrepancies, though overall not enough to consider it an entirely different setting. Tim Carter has examined manuscript and print versions of the song contemporary to Le nuove musiche, and considers the differences between some of these settings not to be particularly striking, at least in contrast to other songs from the collection that circulated in a similar manner.[83] The version found in Bezón also fits into this category.[84] As mentioned earlier, note disagreements between the bass line and alfabeto figures were fairly common.[85] They suggest the practice would have been to sing songs such as these independently from the written bass line, performing them instead to the accompaniment of a strummed guitar, since the alfabeto figures will generally fit the vocal lines of the models to a high degree of accuracy.

EXAMPLE 6 REV- Amarilli composite - Full Score

Example 6. Amarilli mia bella.

In contrast, Fillide mia is an exact alfabeto rendition of the aria in Nuove musiche. It is also in Anton’s hand. The similitude of the settings could indicate that this portion of the manuscript was copied after 1602. A nearly identical alfabeto setting is found in I PAp 1506/I, p. 36.



ILLUSTRATION 10 - Fillide mia I PAp M 1506 p36

Illustration 9-10. Fillide mia, E Szayas A.IV.8, no fol. (above); I PAp 1506/I, p. 36 (below).

EXAMPLE 7 - Caccini Fillide miaExample 7. Fillide mia.

Increased historical value of manuscripts such as E Szayas A.IV.8 is partially dependent on the discovery of additional staff-notation concordances that can be determined beyond doubt to be the actual models for the practice represented by alfabeto notation. Nonetheless, as has been shown, a close reading of such alfabeto song sources can provide insights, into the practice of performing songs to the accompaniment of a strummed guitar, a very popular practice documented by a considerable number of manuscript sources from the period before 1610 and by performance accounts of early seventeenth-century singers of the stature of Adriana Basile and Vittoria Archilei.

E Sz small font

Works Referenced

An early version of this article was read on 6 March 2010 at the annual conference of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, held at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I am thankful to Alexander Dean, Margaret Murata, Giulio Ongaro, Louise K. Stein, and James Tyler for their generous comments and observations on the subject.

[1] “… la guitarra me sirve de voz sonora y de lengua con que pueda cantaros esta historia.” Excerpt from the romance “La isla de Chacona,” in Primavera y flor de los mejores romances (Madrid, 1621). Cited in Maurice Esses, Dance and Instrumental diferencias (Stuyvesant: Pendragon, 1992), 1:614.
[2] Nina Treadwell, Music and Wonder and the Medici Court (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), 166-70.
[3] John Walter Hill, Roman Monody, Cantata, and Opera from the Circles around Cardinal Montalto (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 70.
[4] Hill, Roman Monody, 119-20.
[5] The same can be said about its longevity, as it remained the only notation for the chitarra alla spagnola, as the instrument was commonly known, for nearly fifty years.
[6] Among these are Gary R. Boye, “Giovanni Battista Granata and the Development of Printed Music for the Guitar in Seventeenth-Century Italy” (Ph.D. Diss., Duke University, 1995); Alexander Dean, “The Five-Course Guitar and Seventeenth-Century Harmony: Alfabeto and Italian Song” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Rochester, 2009); Cory Michael Gavito, “The Alfabeto Song in print, 1610 – ca.1665: Neapolitan Roots, Roman Codification, and ‘Il gusto popolare’” (Ph.D. Diss., The University of Texas at Austin, 2006); Nina Treadwell, “The Chitarra Spagnola and Italian Monody, 1589 to Circa 1650” (M.A. Thesis, University of Southern California, 1995); Rime e suoni alla spagnola: Atti della Giornata Internazionale di Studi sulla Chitarra Barocca, Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardiana. 7 febbraio 2002, ed. Giulia Veneziano (Florence: Alinea, 2003).
[7] 112 of these are first editions, the remaining reprints. See Cory Michael Gavito, “The Alfabeto Song in print, 1610 – ca.1665: Neapolitan Roots, Roman Codification, and ‘Il gusto popolare’” (Ph.D. Diss., The University of Texas at Austin, 2006), 10, 176-84.
[8] A previous study was published by the current owner of the manuscript, but in its brevity it does not address many of the features that make the source historically significant. See Rodrigo de Zayas, “Il canzoniere italo-castigliano di Mateo Bezón,” in La Musica a Napoli durante il Seicento: Atti del convegno internazionale di studi: Napoli, 11-14 aprile 1985, ed. Domenico Antonio D’Alessandro and Agostino Ziino (Rome: Edizioni torre d’Orfeo, 1987), 93-103.
[9] Tim Carter notes that the manuscript “appears to largely contain canzonettas from the 1580s and 1590s,” whereas James Tyler simply mentions the date range as ca. 1585-1600). Tim Carter, “Caccini’s Amarilli mia bella: Some Questions (and a Few Answers),” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 113 (1988): 255; James Tyler and Paul Sparks, The Guitar and its Music: From the Renaissance to the Classical Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 39.
[10] There are three layers to this manuscript: The first, fols. 1r-37v, contains fifty-one songs in the same hand, indexed in the first folios of the manuscript; the second, fols. 38r-46r, is by a different hand and includes seven additional songs plus five texts without alfabeto; the third, fols. 47r-58v, includes a series of Italian poems by two different hands without any tablature. It is certain that at least the first layer is from 1599, as the Spanish poems included can be dated between 1580 and 1599, and, in some cases, to Spanish poetic manuscripts that only circulated in Italy, which would support its Neapolitan provenance. See José L. Labrador Herraiz and Ralph A. DiFranco, eds., Dos cancioneros italianos: Patetta 840 y Chigi L.VI.200 (Malaga: Analecta Malacitana, 2008): 331; Hill, Roman Monody, 70-74; John H. Baron, “Secular Spanish Solo Song in Non-Spanish Sources,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 30 (1977): 24; Cesare Acutis, ‘Cancioneros’ musicali spagnoli in Italia (1585-1635) (Pisa: Università di Pisa, 1971), 6; Tyler and Sparks, The Guitar, 43-44.
[11] The lower portion of fol. 2v reads “a 7 di 7bre 1600 comenzó en Sr. antón a tomar lición de mi Matheo Bezón Spañol a raçón de ___.” All accents are editorial. Also cited in Zayas, Canzoniere, 95. The number ‘6’ in the 1600 date gives the impression of being a corrected number ‘5.’
[12] Zayas considers this folio to be an accounting sheet based on the numbers on the right column. See Illustration 1.
[13] Under the heading Sonatte sopra la guitara spagnola Bezón lists: [fol. 4r] “villano, sarabande diuerse, pauanille diuerse, folie diuerse, sfesania napolitana, sfesania maltesa, canario, spagnoletta, gagliarda diuerse, madama de ualor, Aria di fiorenza, passe e messo diuerse, [fol. 4v] Romanesche diuerse, mazatino [matacino?], norcina, barriera, alta regina, ballo del fiore, fantasia.”
[14] A number of these dances can be found, for example, in the dance tutors by Fabritio Caroso, (Il ballarino [1581] and Nobiltà di dame [1600]) and Cesare Negri (Le gratie d’amore [1602]).
[15] Romancero General (Madrid: Luis Sánchez, 1600), fol. 11v (full text, minor variations); E Mn ms. 17556, fol. 14v; E Mn ms 17557, fol. 47v; GB Lbm 10328, fol. 100v.
[16] E Mn ms 3168, fols. 11v-12r. Modern edition: Rosalind J. Gabin, El cancionero del bachiller Jhoan López: Manuscrito 3168 de la Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (Madrid: Porruá Turanzas, 1980). Hispanist Fredo Arias attributes this text to Pedro de Padilla. See Fredo Arias de la Canal, Décimas reales, coplas y octavas de Pedro de Padilla (Mexico: Frente de afirmación hispanista, 2003), 27.
[17] Cancionero de Pedro de Rojas, item 77. Modern edition: José Manuel Blecua, Maria T. Cacho, Ralph diFranco and José Labrador Herraiz, Cancionero de Pedro de Rojas (Cleveland: Cleveland State University, 1988).
[18] Airs de different autheurs, mis en tablature de luth par Gabriel Bataille. Second livre (Paris: Ballard, 1609).
[19] Griffiths considers the Amarilli settings non-concordant. John Griffiths, “Strategies for the Recovery of Guitar Music of the Early Seventeenth Century,” in Rime e suoni alla spagnola: Atti della Giornata Internazionale di Studi sulla Chitarra Barocca, Firenze, Biblioteca Riccardiana. 7 febbraio 2002, ed. Giulia Veneziano (Florence: Alinea, 2003), 67.
[20] Other texts can be traced back to the early part of the sixteenth century. The first two verses of Estos mis cabellos, madre, for example, are cited in Libro intitulado el cortesano (Valencia: Joan d’Arcos, 1561), p. 209, a manual for the courtier by Luis Milán and inspired by Baldassare Castiglione’s Il cortegiano (Venice: Aldine, 1528). Si la noche hace oscura is a popular villancico found in poetic collections as early as 1520, although only the three-line estribillo appears in the Bezón MS; a three-part musical setting can be found in Villancicos de diversos autores (Venice: Scotto, 1556), fols. 7v-8r (a volume known as the Cancionero de Uppsala); another three-part setting was intabulated by Diego Pisador in his Libro de musica de vihuela (Salamanca: Pisador, 1552), fol. 9r; both settings are unrelated to the one in the Bezón MS.
[21] Daniel Devoto, “Un millar de cantares exportados,” Bulletin Hispanique 96, no.1 (1994), 22.
[22] Rodrigo de Zayas, ed., Gaspar Sanz – Transcripción (Madrid: Alpuerto, 1985), lxxviii.
[23] Dean, “The Five-Course Guitar,” 168.
[24] For example, it is found in F Pn Esp. 390, but not in I Fl Ashb. 791.
[25] The order of keys follows the letter order in the Bezón MS. Empty spaces represent non-existent shapes. Asterisks denote alternate chord positions.
[26] Although 1599 is too early a date for the use of the term ‘tonality,’ the forms found in early guitar music harbor a concept of mode that is rooted on the relationship between triadic chords, resulting in chord sequences that resemble tonal progressions. For a thorough discussion on the subject, see Richard Hudson, “The Concept of Mode in Italian Guitar Music during the First Half of the 17th Century,” Acta Musicologica 42, nos. 3-4 (1970): 163-83, especially 164-66.
[27]La prima, e principal Regola, che deve tenere quello, il quale vuol saper toccare bene questo istrumento gliè, che mandi in memoria ben’il sottoscritto Alfabetto.” Girolamo Montesardo, Nuova inventione d’intavolatura (Florence: Marescotti, 1606), fol.4.
[28] Interestingly, the ‘+’ is not used throughout the manuscript. The ‘X’ is used just once, in one of the passacalles (fol. 3v), although its meaning is unclear.
[29] In manuscript alfabeto charts there is no consistency as to the capitalization of the letters for chord names, and in practice both upper- and lower-case examples can be found within the same piece, as is the case in the Bezón MS. Capitalization of alfabeto letters, however, becomes standard in printed sources. For clarity, all alfabeto letters have been capitalized.
[30] The header in illustration 2 calls the system ‘
[31]mi hanno pregato caldamente, ch’io inventassi una Regola facile per impararlo di sonare, con tempo, e con misure; senza aiuto, nè di Note, nè di Numeri; e perche l’impari ogn’uno à toccare il predetto istrumento,hó voluto dar in luce questa nuova inventione di Regola facilissima, laquale da se ogn’uno, studiandola senza aiuto di Maestro potrà sonarlo con le Regole, ch’io v’insegnariò, delle quali potrà esser capace presto, chi desidera questa nobile, e vaga virtù. Montesardo, Nuova inventione, preface. I am grateful to Giulio M. Ongaro for his observations on this matter.
[32] Simultaneous use of upper and lower case letters to signify different rhythms is exclusive to Montesardo.
[33] James Tyler observed that Montesardo’s innovation was likely the rhythmic notation that indicates strumming patterns. The Bezón manuscript is, however, absent from his catalog of guitar sources, suggesting he had no previous knowledge of the source. See Tyler and Sparks, The Guitar, 37-45, 52-55, 76-80, 90-95.
[34] Despite the extensive list in fols. 3r-v, most items are not found in the MS.
[35] This term has been used extensively by James Tyler and Alexander Dean, among others. It is problematic in the sense that many of the so-called ‘solos’ are, in my opinion, written-out accompaniments for songs and well known grounds rather than outright solos.
[36] E Szayas A.IV.8, no folio number. Punctuation, spelling and accentuation are maintained as in the original. Square brackets represent editorial suggestions or unreadable words. All translations are mine unless noted.
[37] Probably intended to be a number ‘1.’
[38] A downward stem represents a downstroke, which attacks the strings from the fifth course to the first (or down, as in towards the floor when the guitarist holds the instrument in playing position); the upstroke attacks them from the first course to the fifth (or up, as in towards the ceiling).
[39] [2.] …al bi ci e un 2 e sotto un altro due, quel due di sotto sono due botte date al ingiu continuate et il medemo al ci, al ultimo, a, ci è sopra un 5. Et sotto al detto un 3 et di sopra un due. Son cinq botte tre di sotto et due al ingiu et due al in sù dan[do] però una botta [la prima] volta al ingiu et al insu fino alle cinque botte.
[40] Le passacaglie, ò vero Ritornelli si suonano in due modi, ò vero tempi principali; nel primo modo s’incomincia con el primo colpo da sù in giu, nel secondo da giù in sù, nel terzo con un colpo da sù in giù, nel quarto da giù in sù, & nel quinto da sù in giù, che saranno cinque colpi como qui sotto vedreve. Montesardo, Nuova inventione, p. 4.
[41] Two unintelligible pasacalles, seemingly modulating variations, follow the E major pattern and precede the G minor. Three additional ones can be found in fol. 10v, although only one of them has rhythmic notation.
[42] In addition to Kapsberger’s single theorbo example in Libro quarto d’intavolatura di chitarrone (Rome, 1640), there are eight alfabeto settings in Colonna’s 1620 print Il secundo libro d’intavolatura di chittarra alla spagnuola, including two Sfessania alla Firentina (pp. 10-11). Two alfabeto settings (in G major and C major) are found in Palumbi’s MSS I VEc 1434 (fol. 22v), I Fr 2793 (fol. 10v), and I Fr 2804 (fol. 12v). The latter also has two settings (in G minor and D minor) of a Fessania Romana (fol. 12v), which follow a different harmonic pattern than the major key settings.
[43] Richard Hudson, The Folia, the Saraband, the Passacaglia, and the Chaconne, ii: The Saraband (Musicological Studies and Documents, 35; Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1982), 1-8.
[44] Richard Hudson, The Folia, the Saraband, the Passacaglia, and the Chaconne, i: The Folia (Musicological Studies and Documents, 35; Neuhausen-Stuttgart, 1982), 1-12.
[45] The example is on the last few pages, in the key of D minor (2o tono): III-VII-I-V / III-VII-I-V-I.
[46] I Rvat Chigi L.VI.200, and I PAp 1506/I, for example, also conform to this proportion.
[47] Tomás Navarro Tomás, Métrica española (Madrid: Guadarrama, 1974), 238-39.
[48] Both retain the versification of the stanza. The enlace rhymes with the last verse of the stanza, and the vuelta with the first verse of the estribillo. See Rafael Lapesa, Introducción a los estudios literarios, (Salamanca: Anaya, 1968, 2nd ed. Madrid: Cátedra, 1974), 108-109.
[49] Seventeen songs in Spanish in two different sections of the manuscript, by the same hand (modernized spelling): Si hay mayor mal que el morir (fol. 47r), Mas ventura fuera (fols. 47v-48r), Dama ni flaca ni gorda (fols. 48r-49r), Quien quiere entrar conmigo en el barco (fols. 49v-50r), Ay como las esperanzas (fols. 50v-51r), Vuestros ojos dama (fols. 51v-52r), Señora mi fe os empeño (fols. 52v-53r), Con esperanzas espero (fols. 53r-v), Fué a caza la niña (fol. 54r), Donde irá sin dineros el hombre (fol. 54v), Yo he hecho lo que he podido (fols. 55-55v), Caracoles me pide la niña (fols. 56-56v), No lloréis señora / de mi corazón (fols. 58r-59r), Caminad sospiros a donde soleis (fols. 101r-101v), Ábreme esos ojos bella morena (fols. 102r-102v), Con el aire que corre a orillas del mar (fols. 102v-103r), Señor Boticario, guarde su haja, hum, hum (fols. 103v-104r).
[50] Hill, Roman Monody, 169-71.
[51] Hill, Roman Monody, 170.
[52] Hill erroneously identifies all Spanish texts in GB Lbm Add. 36877 as romances. Hill, Roman Monody, 169.
[53] Cover folio bears a label with a previous call number, B[iblioteca] R[ea]le di Parma ms # 371.
[54] Antonio Restori, “Poesie Spagnole appartenute a Donna Ginevra Bentivoglio,” in Homenaje a Menéndez Pelayo (Madrid: Victoriano Suárez, 1899), 2:455-85.
[55] See Restori, Poesie, 2:458 n.1, and Acutis, Cancioneros, 8, 35. Baron mentions this source as missing, which may be due to conflicting library sigla. See Baron, Spanish Song, 21.
[56] Alfabeto chords have been transcribed to modern chord symbol notation and underlined to differentiate them from alfabeto symbols. I have also altered the original line breaks to facilitate comparison.
[57] José Luis Gotor, “Romance de la caza de Bracciano: del repertorio de un guitarrista español en Italia” in Symbolae Pisanae: Studi in onore di Guido Mancini, 2vls., Blanca Periñan and Francesco Guazelli, eds. (Pisa: Giardini, 1989), 251-71.
[58] Four songs in E Szayas A.IV.8 include such annotation, all in Anton’s hand: En el valle Ynés (fol. 15r, passacagli a.b.c), La noche comenzara (fol. 16r, [passacalle] a.b.c), Rompiendo la mar de España (fol. 18r, passcalle e.b.g), El sin ventura mancebo (fol. 19r, pasacalle e.o.i.e).
[59] This text is unrelated to the sonnet by Francisco de Figueroa Hay quien quiera comprar nueve doncellas. Margit Frenk notes correspondence between the song in Bezón and Quién compra un perrito, damas. See Margit Frenk, Nuevo Corpus de la Antigua Lírica Popular Hispánica (Mexico City: UNAM, 2003), 1252 (#1743 bis).
[60] I have not, however, been able to examine a copy of the manuscript.
[61] This assessment is based on the single-page facsimile of fol. 51r appended to Gotor’s article. The only other source examined in this study that suggests a Spaniard as the copyist is I Fl Ashb. 791.
[62] From Gotor, Romance, appendix I.
[63] Tyler has described this manuscript in some detail. James Tyler, “The Role of the Guitar in the Rise of Monody: The Earliest Manuscripts,” Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music 9, no. 1 (2003) <>, par. 2.5, 2.6, 2.7.
[64] Airs de different autheurs, mis en tablature de luth par Gabriel Bataille. Second livre (Paris: Ballard, 1609). Manuscript A KR MS L.64, listed in the article’s inventory list for the Bezón MS, is not discussed here. Its contents are staff notation copies in voice and basso continuo format of selected Spanish items found in Bataille’s lute and voice prints of 1608, 1609, and 1614.
[65] See Baron, Spanish song, 28-33, and Griffiths, Strategies, 63-67.
[66] Baron presents a partial reconstruction of Vuestros ojos, Dama, refrain only. Ibid.
[67] For a full discussion see Jonathan Le Cocq, “A Guide to Notation in the Air de Cour for Voice and Lute (The Ballard Editions, 1608-1643),” The Lute – the Journal of the Lute Society 39 (1999): 39-41.
[68] “…the presence of the same tune and rhythm in two or more settings of the same text points to a tradition of musical borrowing, and to the conclusion that most of the simple settings with well-known texts are arrangements based on well known, pre-existent tunes.” Louise K. Stein, Songs of Mortals, Dialogues of the Gods: Music and Theatre in Seventeenth-Century Spain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 45.
[69] This anonymous text first appeared in print in Flor de romances glosas canciones y villancicos (Zaragoza: Juan Soler, 1578). It is also found in Cancionero del bachiller Jhoan López (E Mn 3618), fol. 105r; and in poetic manuscript E Mn 1587 fol. 94r. See Ralph di Franco and José Labrador Herraiz, eds., Cancionero de poesías varias Manuscrito 1587 de la Biblioteca Real de Madrid (Madrid: Visor, 1994), 143-44.
[70] Daniel P. Walker, “The Influence of Musique mesurée à l’antique, particularly on the Airs de Cour of the Early Seventeenth Century” Musica Disciplina 2 (1948), 141-63. Cited in James R. Anthony, French Baroque Music (Portland: Amadeus Press, 1997), 410.
[71] In my transcription the solid barlines follow the original, where they only indicate the end of each poetic line. Editorial dotted barlines indicate implied beat groupings. The lute part has been diplomatically rendered into a basso continuo line to facilitate comparison with the basso continuo rendition of the alfabeto in Bezón.
[72] Nearly identical calligraphy identifies Palumbi as the author of F Pn Esp. 390, I Fn Landau-Finaly ms 175; I Fr 2793; I Fr 2804; I Fr 2849, which contains no Spanish songs, and I VEc ms. 1434. Additionally, the similarity in content of I Fr 2951 and I Fr 2952 closely connects them to Palumbi. A portion of I Fc 2556 has also been identified as being in the same hand. See Tyler and Sparks, The Guitar, 78; and Warren Kirkendale, L’Aria di Fiorenza id est Il Ballo del Gan Duca (Florence: Olschki, 1972), 81.
[73] See Tyler and Sparks, The Guitar, 90-95.
[74] Devoto indicates that the manuscript initially came from the Bibliothèque de l’abbaye de Corbie. See Daniel Devoto, “Encore sur ‘la’ sarabande” Revue de Musicologie 50 (1964), 189-90. I have only examined a photocopy of the manuscript, so it is impossible for me to corroborate the date on the grounds of the ink and paper. As noted by Devoto, there is no information to be found about Filippo Roncherolle, the original owner of the volume. It is possible that this Filippo, however, was in reality Philippe de Roncherolles (1612-1636), chevalier de Malte and son of Robert II, baron de Roncherolles, a seigneury in northwest France (Normandie). This would somewhat corroborate Hudson’s estimation of ca. 1630, but without further research this hypothesis remains conjectural. See Louis Moréri, Le grand dictionnaire historique, ou le mélange curieux de l’histoire sacré et profane (Paris: Libraire Associés, 1749): 9:349.
[75] Hudson, Saraband, xxxi.
[76] Esses, Dance, 1:169 n. 200.
[77] María Teresa Cacho, Manuscritos hispánicos en las bibliotecas de Florencia: Descripción e inventario (Florence: Alinea, 2001), 382-84.
[78] Fols. 380r-381r and 396v-399r are blank. To my knowledge, this is the only such source in Florence that could be attributed to a Spanish copyist (or an Italian with excellent knowledge of the Spanish language), given the absence of orthographic ‘italianizations’ seen in other sources. Fol. 399v reads Al Illmo Sgr. Sigre e Prone. Cosimo/ Il Sig. Rosso Antonio Martín, possibly the copyist. Cacho believes this could be the mailing sheet of the songbook. A Spanish hand is also suggested by a cifras chart (1-9, P, +, 0) that immediately follows the alfabeto chart (a-x) in fol. 380v. Although a large number of the Florentine sources include an alfabeto chart, a cifras chart is unique.
[79] Such shifts are rare within sections, although not between sections.
[80] John Whenham, Duet and Dialogue in the Age of Monteverdi (Ann Arbor: UMI Press, 1982), 117-18.
[81] In Marcello Albano, Il Primo Libro di Canzoni, e Madrigaletti, a tre, et a quattro voci (Naples: Gio Giacomo Carlino, 1616), p. 15 (a3, listed as “d’incierto”); Amante Franzoni, I nuovi Fioretti musicali a tre voci d’Amante Franzoni mantovano, compiled by Fulvio Gonzaga (Venice: Ricciardo Amadino, 1605), p. 26 (“Di Giulio Cesare Monteverde”); reprinted 1607; also in GB-Ob Tenb. 1019 Caccini (Tenbury St Michael’s College, ms.1019; and in alfabeto in Giovanni Ambrogio Colonna, Il secundo libro d’intavolatura di chittarra alla spagnuola (1620), p. 36. An alternate piece with a similar title, Occhi nido d’amore chi per voi non languisce, is found in Paolo D’Aragona, Amorose Querele. Canzonette a tre voci segnate con le lettere dell’alfabeto per la Chitarra alla spagnola, sopra la parte del Basso e Canto (Naples: Lucretio Nucci, 1616) pp. 40-41; Orazio Brognonico, Gli Occhi Terzo Libro de Madrigali a tre voci di Oratio Brognonico Academico Filarmonico (Venice: Giacomo Vincenti, 1615), p. 8.
[82] Concordant alfabeto settings will often have small, non-fundamental chord discrepancies that hinge on the note of the vocal part that is harmonized in the accompaniment. See Dama ni flaca no gorda, above.
[83] Carter makes this point in specific reference to those found in I Fn Magl. XIX.66 and B Bc MS 704. He also notes the similarities with a six-part setting found in Ghirlanda di madrigli (Antwerp: Phalèse, 1601). This, in contrast with the parody found in I Bu MS 177/IV, a manuscript that, as noted earlier, contains the earliest examples of alfabeto notation. See Carter, Amarilli, 254-57.
[84] John Griffiths deems the Bezón setting an entirely different piece. See Griffiths, Strategies, 67.
[85] A full discussion on the subject can be found in Dean, Alfabeto, 62-104.

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