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In his Livre de guittarre (Paris, 1682), Robert de Visée has provided treble and bass parts to some of the movements of the guitar suites, including the very popular one in d minor.

On page 114 of The Guitar and its Music written by James Tyler and Paul Sparks, there is the statement that where the parts have been provided the music can be played as a trio arrangement presumably with a flute, recorder or violin on the treble and cello or viol on the bass. Tyler and Sparks suggest the guitar plays the original solo while its treble and bass are reinforced by the other instruments. An alternative arrangement would for the guitar to provide a continuo part i.e. doubling the bass where possible and to add alfabeto chords as a realisation of the figured bass. Does anyone have any views on this?     

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Thanks very much for getting back to me, Stuart. Since I posted the discussion, I have been listening to a recording of Robert de Visee suites on Spotify called Musique de la Chambre du Roy. They are played on recorder, flute, theorbo and viol by Stanopoli, Marchese and Contadin. The theorbo player seems to have realised his own continuo part based on the original solo  which seems to work very well.

I suppose I was also enquiring if anyone knew what R d Visee had in mind when he provided additional treble and bass parts for his guitar and lute suites. it's very doubtful that the composer provided any information on how he expected them to be performed.

By the way, the 1979 vinyl recording you mentioned in your reply still seems to be available on Gemm.       

I think you could realize the continuo part with guitar.  A suitable model might be the continuo excercises and consort pieces  in Grenerin's  Livre de guitarre which is contemporary with De Visee.  Indeed they probably knew one another.  You would need to double the bass part with either a theorbo of viola da gamba.  I don't think Tyler's suggestion is a very practical one.   Why would you want to double the treble part?

In addition to Stuart's examples there are also the 'pieces du consort' by Anthoine Carre (Paris  c.1720) for dessus, basse and two guitars. The Dessus part doubles the top line of the first guitar part.

Some of Granata's writing in his op.4, also has this doubling texture with the violin and guitar.

It is not clear in any of these sources whether the parts are intended to be played altogether or whether they are alternatives.   I don't think doubling the treble with flute/violin or guitar would be very effective...but I have never had a chance to try these particular pieces.  Doubling the bass is another matter because the guitar does not have an adequate bass register.  

Interesting thought.  No way of knowing how unusual the theorboed guitar was since Granata is the only person to have printed music for it.   As Granata was employed as a supernummary theorbo player he may well have used his instrument in that context.  There are some pieces in manuscript.  Just for the record - the guitarre theorbee in the Gallot ms. was probably not a guitar at all but a type of mandora (i.e. small lute shaped instrument) with high basses which overlap the courses on the fingerboard.

Carre's book was certainly not printed as late as 1720.  It is undated but as it is dedicated to Lady Mary - the elder daughter of our James II - whilst she was still Princesse d'Orange it must have been printed between 1677 when she married William IV of Orange and 1688 when the pair of them succeeded to the English throne.  Incidentally Tyler is wrong in saying that the book is dedicated to the previous Princess Mary - Charles II's sister - married to William III.  She died in 1660!   I am afraid a lot of what Tyler says is inaccurate.

Carre's instructions about accompanying a bass line aren't terribly helpful.  

Well - they are the least useful of all these exercises.   Carre was a dilettante - most of his music is cribbed from other people - mostly Corbetta.


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