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 I am trying to understand modes in the light of Luis Milans 'El Maestro' and realize it has nothing in common with  the way I learned the  seven 'Modern 'modes in College. Can anyone help me  understand Milans titles to the pieces in El Maestro?

I am trying to understand this Gregorian system of modes and how it relates to Milans music.

I imagine this subject has been pondered somewhere at this site before  but I havent found a discussion of it .


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I just finished reading "Luis Milan on Sixteenth-Century Performance Practice" by Luis Gasser and there is a good amount of information there on the modes and Milans use of them. It's available from Indiana University Press http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/advanced_search_result.php?s...


I must admit I don't understand Milans modal use very much more now than before I read this book (I'll have to read it and play the examples a few more times for it to sink in, I have a thick skull). Certainly not enough to explain it clearly to someone. But I think the book might be a good starting place.


It is evident that Milan certainly considered the performers knowledge of the modes very important and that the performer would be well schooled in their theory.


If you have specific questions about specific pieces I may be able to quote the book for help.

Thank you Scot ,I hope Martin Mc Bright is listenin' in .We are both on a quest to understand Luis' intentions regarding his pieces ,how he thought about modes and his title meanings.


Can that book explain why in 'El Maestro' the first three del Primero Tono Fantasias resolve in C and the Fantasia del Segundo tono also resolves in C ? I am missing something here and I'm suspecting my 'Modern' concept of modes is in the way.

Knew you'd be here shortly Mc Bright . Your discourse is wonderful but I'm still confused.

As I see it those are  C's not D's but I 'll have to assume Milans vihuela was tuned a whole step higher than what I've been thinking.Is that correct?

Now ,how do we explain all the chromaticisms in Fantasia del primero tono?They're not part of the mode DEFGABCD and I find Bb,Eb,Ab, and Gb in the piece ! oh sorry I was thinking in C so raise each chromatic note up a whole step .HEH HEH!

Good point !


I remember an article in portuguese (by Paulo Galvao?) where this mode question was discussed.  However, I seem to remember that the top voice was usualy the one that had to be followed to see how each piece worked within its mode.  Let me see if I can find it.


Regarding Bb, Eb, Ab and Gb... I am almost sure that Milan thought of them as Bb, Eb, G# and F#.  G# and F# most likely used for "musica ficta" type accidentals. Do you think this makes sense?

Thanks Pablo I hope you find that article.


 I guess you are suggesting G# and F# for a proper spelling of a Ficta hexachord

This C,D discrepancy is somewhat clear now , at least as regards to Milan vihuela pieces .Thank you . Follow the moving part up that garden path !

Here's what it says about that:


"Examining the fantasias we observe that, those in the 1st and 2nd modes may cadence on the "minor" or major" consonancia of both the first and the fifth degree, i or I and v or V, respectively, in addition to the IV and the described secondary cadences on III and VII."


And in another spot quoting Milan:


"The ambitus (termino) of each mode is defined in relation to the final as the octave above plus one note above and one note below in the authentic modes; and the fifth above plus one note above and the fourth below plus one note below, in the plagal modes. Cadences in the authentic tones are on the final, the fifth above the octave above the final, and also the forth above the final...The first tone is said to be able to cadence one tone below the final. Plagal tones follow the same rule, but taking onto account that they have the fourth below the final instread of above the fifth. The final (clasusula final) is D for the first and second modes..."


So this makes sense as to why the above mentioned fantasias all end on C (D). Luis Gasser makes an argument that Milan played a vihuela in A (and transcribes the examples as such) so for lute or vihuela in G as most of us play these days then the final would be C.


I don't know, does that help clear the mud away a little?

No you created more mud !Ha Ha! Just kidding .I need time to think , thanks !


The Gasser D comment IS  clearing things up with an aggreement with Martin.


At least you made me feel good about thinking C!

If I created even more mud then what was originally there, my plan worked!!...it makes me sound smarter (at least in my mind) if no-one else can understand what I say. ;)


Martins explination is much clearer and easier to understand than the Milan quote. There is some other stuff that comes up in the Gasser book concerning transposition of the modes that is driving me insane but as I said earlier I'll have to read it a few more times to get it understood.


It's a good book BTW. I'd recommend getting it for Milan fans. It has some research into his life and times that is very interesting.

You're a genius,because I dont understand you ! HEH!

I'd have all the books if I had the money.

I may get it because it does sound good!

Do you feel it helps with a greater understanding of Renaissance music or like me are you a reluctant modern thinker ?


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