Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

I just posted a new video with an Allegro by Juan de Arizpacochaga. Aguado mentioned this guitarist in the preface of his "Escuela" (1825) as one of the composers (among Laporta, Abreu, Padre Basilio) that couldn't exactly write down what they played. But I'm not sure whether this simple music requires a more complicated notation. Saludos, Tom

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Wow, very good! Congratulations.

If you're interested, the piece is from the  "Premier cahier de pièces pour la guitare" (op.11) de Castro de Gistau (Paris). This collection also includes pieces by Sor and Moretti. Saludos, Thomas

Hello Thomas,

I think Aguado is referring to passages like the one in the image I upload: probably we must ring the first A, nevertheless the notation of Arespacochaga doesn’t tell us that. We can find a lot of similar passages in the music of Laporta, Abreu or Ferandiere.

Congratulations for the video.

Saludos,

Ricardo Aleixo

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Hallo Ricardo:

The problem is this "must".  Must the note A really sound? I think that the problem is more a historical value judgment. Around 1800 a fundamental change occurs in the conception of what music is. Dahlhaus called this new paradigm the "idea of absolute music".  In this context (I think) you have to understand the text of Aguado: its a value judgment, that highlights the new idea of logical composition. The notation should express the music adequately. And any notation that do not match with this new musical model, hiding, so to speak, the music behind the figures, is called imperfect. Today we know that the tablature of the vihuelists isn't more perfect or imperfect than staff notation: it's just different but appropriate for this type of music. For Aguado (who still regards history as progress towards perfection) that was impossible to accept. That's why I said that I'm not sure whether this simple music requires a more complicated notation.

Regards, Thomas

Hello Thomas,

Sorry, but I prefer to write in Spanish because it’s much easer for me and I avoid misinterpretation.

Tuve el cuidado de poner “probablemente debemos” (“probably we must”) porque efectivamente no podemos saber si la nota la debe prolongarse o no.

Desde nuestro histórico punto de vista, la notación mensural en las obras españolas para guitarra que conocemos evolucionó desde las pequeñas melodías del tratado de Pablo Minguet e Yrol hasta una escritura a dos voces que pocas veces expresaba correctamente los elementos polifónicos. Mientras que en Francia, desde ca.1760, compositores como Merchi o Corrette  ya mostraban su intención de separar las voces por medio de la dirección de las plicas, en España, a finales del XVIII, e incluso a principios del XIX, varios autores seguían utilizando una escritura en que las voces no eran independientes en lo que respecta a sus valores rítmicos.

Aunque la música de Arespacochaga se trata de una “música sencilla”, la afirmación de Aguado se justifica en la medida que seguimos preguntándonos si “la nota La debe sonar realmente”. La falta de rigor en anotar la duración de las notas a finales del XVIII tiene como consecuencia una obligada falta de rigor (en casos como este) en lo que concierne a la interpretación. Por tanto, tal vez la música de Arespacochaga, aunque sencilla, requeriría una notación más complicada.

Saludos,

Ricardo

Perdón, una pequeña correción:

"[...] varios autores seguían utilizando con frecuencia una escritura en que las voces no eran independientes en lo que respecta a sus valores rítmicos."

Saludos,

Ricardo

Of course, you're right. I only want to emphasize that for Aguado the earlier notation was a problem, for Arizpacopchaga (and some of his contemporaries) as it seems not. Aguado has neither right nor he is wrong: it is merely a historical judgment.

Saludos,

Thomas

Hello,

Some months ago I said: "la notación mensural en las obras españolas para guitarra que conocemos evolucionó desde las pequeñas melodías del tratado de Pablo Minguet e Yrol [...]"

I didn’t express this idea with accuracy. For more information about Minguet e Yrol musical notation please visit this link.

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