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I've been asked to perform with a player of the clavichord, me on a 5-course guitar, gut strings. I'd be interested if anyone has any experience with this combination, and what repertoire did you play?

I was thinking of trying a Merchi guitar duet, but the texture is rather thin for the clavichordist... now what else could we try? Is there any 18th century repertoire for guitar and basso continuo?

We've already established, by playing a basso continuo part together as accompaniment for a flautist, that the sounds blend very well.

Any suggestions or wild ideas would be welcome!


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Granata's chamber music would be a good candidate, isn't it?
But he's a bit early, I am really looking for something from the 18th century. Otherwise, he would be great :-)
Limiting to the 18th century makes this harder!

With duets (Merchi, Diesel, etc) the keyboardist could, of course, expand a transcribed guitar by moving the bass lines or melody lines and fleshing our the inner texture and even making more active and melodious bass lines. If any of the Diesel duets on my page are of interest, I could make a quick automatic staff transcription with Finale. (I have, myself, started to transcribe some guitar duets into treble clef and bass clefs for a melody instrument and bass/continuo to play along with one of the guitar parts.)

There is also some ensemble music which might be adaptable. Carre (c 1720) has some concerted music for 2 guitars, dessus, and bassus. The dessus doubles the melody of one guitar part, while the bass is a more developed and active version of that given to the guitars.

Schickhardt has some sonatas for 5-course guitar and continuo. Buhl-Mortensen has recorded some of this repertoire and published some on Freehand Music. I believe this is 18th century.

The "Inter-American Music Review" Volume VI. Fall 1984, Number 1 has an article titled "Two Eighteenth-Century Treatises (at Mexico City) on Instrumental Music." It reproduces 13 sonatas by Juan Antonio Vargas y Guzman for (6-course/string) guitar and continue from 1776. This could be adaptable to a 5-course instrument (with low bordons on the 5th course). An edition by Miguel Alcazar has arranged these sonatas for solo guitar but does not give (or often include) the interesting bass part.

I have heard enjoyable performances of vocal music done entirely on instruments -- including Stubbs and Eilander doing Monteverdi, or Bergeron setting Caccini songs for solo guitar. You might consider trying Handel's 1707 Spanish Cantata, for example.

Thinking of Bream's recording of Bach Trio Sonatas with keyboard, you might also consider trying some favorite trio sonata pieces with the clavichord taking all the bass plus one of the melody lines (plus filler notes, possibly) and you concentrating on the other melody line with basses or chords where possible.

Let us know what you finally come up with! -- RT
That is great, Rocky. I will look into your suggestions!
I agree, the Schickhardtd duets are very nice. There is an introductory prelude for solo guitar in these pieces which suggests bourdons at least for the 4th and maybe 5th string.

You could also try some Latin American baroque music for soprano (tiple) and continuo. That could do.
Thanks Juan Pablo. I found some of the Schickhardts and I agree, they look great. I expect we will play them in the future!
Yes, that's right, you could adapt the music for 6-course guitar to a 5-course instrument. The majority of the 18th centuries Spanish guitar music has a bass voice, that can be realised either with a second guitar or with a harpsichord (or psaltery). However, this second bass voice is not obligatory. In the newspaper advertising of the time (Gaceta de Madrid) it is said that the second voice can be omitted or played by different instruments - so the music distributor sold more music.
By the way, on my block (http://thomasschmitt.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/marcha_vargas.jpg) I posted a "Macha de Nápoles" from
Vargas y Guzman with this typical Spanish structure: instrumental part and bass.

Dear Thomas, thanks for the link and for the information. I didn't know that about 18th century Spanish guitar music. It gives me all sorts of ideas for chamber music... and it adds an element of improvisation to the pieces that I rather like!

Thanks very much, Jelma van Amersfoort
Hi Martin, those pieces look very attractive... for the short term we need French music from the 18th century, but later on it would be great to shrink some Handel to chamber proportions :-)

This is definitely one of the softest ensembles I've ever played in (baroque flute - clavichord - guitar/lute), and its great fun.

Thanks, Jelma
Buhl-Mortensen also has an example of Lully's Chaconne from "Acis et Galatee" as arranged by Johan Fibiger for guitar and bass on his website -- an 18th century arrangement of a 17th century composition!


There are manuscripts from the 18th century, which may not be of French origin, but contain music in French style. The Le Cocq manuscript, for example, is from c1730 which includes music by De Visee, the Dutchman of French extraction Derosier, and Le Cocq. How about reviving the tradition of writing contrapartie?

-- R


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