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Introduction to Gaspar Sanz 'Instruccion de musica sobre la guitarra' (1674)

Could someone point me to an English translation of the introduction to Gaspar Sanz's 'Instruccion de musica sobre la
guitarra' (1674)?


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There is a complete edition of Sanz transcribed and edited by Robert Strizich and published by Doberman-Yppan. It includes a translation of the preface which is not entirely accurate but better than nothing.

There is also a complete edition edited by Jerry Willard published by Amsco but the translation is not recommended. He obviously knows nothing about the baroque guitar and has only a basic knowledge of Spanish. He has translated campanellas as "overtones" - presumably looked the word up in a dictionary which doesn't recognize obscure terms in 17th century guitar sources. 

Thanks, Monica.  I am just trying to confirm that the opening remarks by licenciado Sebastian Alfonso mention the following:

‘There are some who play with the nails, who ravish the senses, and others who grate the nerves’.

I'm trying in general to understand what reliable evidence there is for the use (or not) of nails in playing the baroque guitar.  TT

I missed this. Did you solve your problem? What Sanz says is a bit ambiguous (surprise!). Robert Strizich has translated it "Some play with the fingernails and cast a spell over the senses, whilst others merely scrape against the senses with their nails" which is a rather free translation. John Roberts translated it as "Some there are who play with their nails which removes all feeling, and others who claw them [i.e. the senses]".  

It all depends on how you interpret "roban los sentidos".  

In any event Alfonso is just writing an Aprobacion and may be using "unas" in a figurative sense to indicate the fingers, rather than specifically the nails. 

Monica, I haven't fount a translation yet; Strizich is the one I'd rather consult. I'm glad you added this extra information. It helps a lot.


I don't think it sheds any light on whether players played with their nails. Alfonso is not expressing an opinion about whether this is desirable or not. He may simply be using the word "unas" to refer to the finger tips. I have attached as much of the passage as I can scan. The ring binding causes problems. Hope you can read it.


Yes, this is very helpful.

Thank you,


Thanks for sharing these two possible translations Monica Hall

Thanks for sharing this possible translation Thomas Tallant

I’m looking for a baroque guitar version of this book.

Is this what you are looking for?


Nothing there at that link

Sorry. If you go to IMSLP and search for

Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española

It should take you to the file.



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