Early Guitars and Vihuela

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I'm trying to understand how to change tuning when I see the words " ioue a corde aualee."   Does his mean a string is lowered or raised?  If so, by how much and which string?  I'm working on Guillaume Morlaye's Fantasy D'Albert where I think the reference is for the fourth string where increasing a whole step makes sense sometimes but not others.   Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks

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Dear Michael Walker,

First of all congratulations for your great work with the renaissance guitar music; I purchased many of your books and I have a wonderful time trying to do justice to these delicate (and not so simple) gems (on an 8 string uke!).

So it is both a pleasure and an honor if I can help you. 

In old french, "i" stands for "j" and "u" for "v". So the sentence is to be read as : "jouer à corde avalée" — litteraly "to be played with swallowed string", which doesn't make sense at first sight but which is actually very simple : the fourth course of the ren guitar must be tuned one step lower. If my memory serves me right, this is what Juan Bermudo called "templo viejo". This tuning appears in quite few pieces, the most interesting of which being "la Séraphine".

Hope this helps, best regards.


Dear Giles,

Thank you so much for the kind words.  Not only do I love this music, but I find it fascinating that all of these work so well and sound so beautiful on my baritone ukulele.  I'm so pleased you're enjoying these pieces! It makes all the work on them worthwhile.

I would also like to thank you for your help on the tuning.  I was going down a rabbit hole trying to reconcile the discordant phrases in the first Fantasy D'Albert which work in some parts but not in others.  Your comments brought me back to reality.  The first fantasy is standard tuning and the discordant phrases are just meant to be there.  The second Fantasy D'Albert, (which I'm still working on), works fine with templo viejo tuning so far.    

You have been of great help - Thank you.


Dear Michael and Gilles, "aval" is here in the sense down, opposite of amont, meaning up. When one swallows, it also - hopefully - means it goes down:)

best regards



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