Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mudarra - Pavana




In 1546, Mudarra published Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela, a book of tablatures mostly for the vihuela, but also including six pieces for the Renaissance guitar, a four-course instrument (six strings in pairs and a single) tuned... GCEA! Mudarra's tablatures look very much like what we use today (4 lines for the 4 strings, numbers for the frets) but the lines are in reverse order.
So, this is his Pavana in the original tablature, except with the lines as we are used to seeing them:

There's quite a bit of information on the Web on the Renaissance guitar (and eye-candy: it is a magnificent-looking instrument), learned discussion on the way it was tuned, lists of books with tablatures for the four-course guitar(tab systems vary: for instance, the French ones use letters instead of numbers), etc. A whole continent to discover, and the uke is providing our passport...


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