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In Carbonchi's 1640 book he uses the sign * next to some chords. (see pages 22 and 24 as examples) On the page A LETTORI he says, "E trouando quest altro segno * si deue fermare la mano" which according to my very poor Italian translation is something like: and having this other sign * you can stop your hand.
I am inclined to think his means stopping to the strings with the right to shorten the notes, but I may be very wrong about this. The sign is used next to both bar chords and non-bar chords, and sometimes used on one chord that is immediately followed by another chord, so don't think it has anything to do with the left hard (such as indicating bar chords, or holding a chord while playing a following single note passage)
Could someone post an accurate translation of this passage if possible and if anyone knows how to execute this sign, also please post a reply.
The whole sentence reads -
E trovando quest’altro segno * si deve fermare la mano, facendo quei numeri col dito più commodo, sin’à che non si muta chiave
With the help of Google translate and just guessing I would translate this as
And finding this other sign * you have to hold your hand stopping those numbers with the most comfortable finger, as long as there is no change of notes.
In the context - he has just explained the purpose of the standard sign for repeating a section - I think he does mean that you are to hold or repeat the chord until a new chord is indicated.
Thanks Monica, that does make sense now I've scanned through instances of the sign in light of what you said. He seems to use it when chords are either at the end of a line, but the strumming marks carry over to the next line, or when a chord shape is written out before a repeat, but the strumming marks continue on after the repeat, or when a chord is played and follow by a strum for the same chord with just one note changed (or a scale passage). All of which mean, as you say, hold the same chord shape until a new one comes along.
Good - I'm glad we agree about that.