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Looking, yet again, at early four course guitar stringing I'd be grateful for any additional perspectives especially on the stringing of the third course, bearing in mind the Phalese (1570) directions.
Bermudo in his 1555 work describes two principle tunings for the four course guitar: Temple Nuevos and Temple Viejos. The highest three courses are understood to be in unison and the doubled fourth course with a bass and an octave high string.
Cerreto's 1601 tuning has the same intervals as Bermudo's Temple Viejos but with both strings of the fourth course at the higher octave.
Praetorius (1619) gives nominal pitches which have the same intervals as Bermudo's Temple Nuevos but just the lower octave single fourth course depicted and with no description of detailed stringing of any doubled courses.
Phalese's Selectissima of 1570 (Rostock University Library Musica XVI-58) contains latin text describing, amongst other things, the detailed stringing of the four courses.  Heartz's translation (Galpin Soc 1963) clearly shows that Phalese describes an instrument with an octave on both the fourth AND third courses. The article by Dobson, Segerman and Tyler in LSJ 1974 questions some of Heartz's conclusions: in particular that Phalese indicates third and fourth basses an octave lower than nominal rather than the small basses being an octave high. The article's conclusions are nowadays generally accepted but this still leaves Phalese requiring a high octave on the third course as well as the fourth.
All this is not just an academic query: I've just rebuilt a small four course made in the 1980s and am now uncertain how to string it. The high octave on the third course certainly makes a noticeable difference (with numerous unexpected inversions - shades of the five course guitar controversy!).  I'd also be grateful for personal experiences of employing a high octave on the third course of the early four course instrument and its suitability in the contemporary non-Phalese repertoire. Do people use this tuning for the other sources or do they bother to re-string? Also any relevant papers I may have overlooked.
MH

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Martyn,

I can't recall the article, but I thought it had been shown by now that Phalese's instructions for the guitar are actually a poorly adapted version of his cittern tuning instructions -- an instrument which, at that time, had octaves on both the 3rd and 4th courses. This would suggest that 3rd course octaves would not be typical for 4c guitar. I'm sorry I don't have more than this; it's been a long time since I have looked into it. I'll try digging through my papers to see what I can find. Maybe someone else will be reminded and think of the article.

I also think there might be another article about a supposedly "lost" tuning from Le Roy (or was that just the music?). I think that paper was authored by Tyler.

FWIW, I use a 4th course octave string strung on the *outside* (i.e. closer to the bass side than the treble -- the reverse of what's normal on lute). I find 2 benefits of this:

1) The octave string becomes more pronounced on the downstroke, especially when you need to hear it in voice leading.

2) One can also skillfully avoid playing the octave string for chords where the inversion is not desirable. 

Of course, I don't know how HIP that is, but it works for me (which, I suppose, has historical spirit at the least, if not precedent).

AMH

Thanks Andrew.

Yes, it was the Dobson et als paper which first suggested that the Phalese instructions were a bit garbled and might incorporate some cittern instructions.  However in the end, this paper didn't go as far as saying there was not octave on the third course - just that Heartz's interpretation that the low course basses were at the octave lower pitch was wrong. The paper still agreed that there was a high octave on the fourth AND third courses (LSJ 1974 page 23 Example 3 giving their understanding of differences between guitar and cittern tuning as derived from Phalese 1570).

But, of course, you may be right. However the directions seem so very clear (for example, referring to the First Bass and the Second Bass not, perhaps, terminology usually associated with the cittern - but you will, of course, know better than me about the cittern)

regards and thanks

Martyn

PS Interesting that you employ the usual five course disposition of the octave string in a pair (ie plucked by the thumb first): I'd assumed a more lute-like arrangement on the early four course guitar since I can't really see any evidence of 'campanella' play etc.  M

Not immediately relevant but it is questionable whether Cerreto's instructions refer to the 4-course guitar. They may refer to the small 4-course lute - chitarra, mandora or whatever you wish to call it. (As per Meucci).

Yes possibly - though Cerreto is quite a lateish source for the instrument.  

It may also have simply also been known as the chitarrino or, even more specifically, the 'chitarrino alla Napolettana' as required for the rispostas in Cavalieri's setting of 'O che nuovo miracolo' (Gran Duca) for the 1589 Florentine intermedii. This source links the instrument with the 'Chitarrino alla Spagnola' so I think in 1589 they considered such an instrument a guitar rather than a lute.

But earlier maybe not....... 

Cerreto  is not a late source. Millioni's 1631 book includes an alfabeto table for the 4-course chitarra italiana and the book "Concerto vago" includes music for lute and chitarrino a quarto corde.  Both are probably small 4-course lutes. There is no obvious reason to assume that the "chitarrino alla Napolettana" was guitar shaped. The instruments are not linked in any way that suggests that they were the same shape. On the contrary it suggests that they were different. We simply don't know. 4-course guitars were just as Spanish as 5-course ones.

It occurred to me that Mudarra's comment about his 4-course guitar "a de tener bordon en la quarta"  implies that the 4-course guitar had a re-entrant tuning i.e.no bourdon on the 4th course - hence the need to add one. But I suppose that doesn't rule out the possiblilty that it had octave stringing on the 3rd course but combined with Bermudo's comments that doesn't seem very likely. At the end of the day we simply don't know the answer to these questions.

Thank you Monica. Yes - I do generally agree.  Though a few observations:

- By late I meant later than the first significant flower of intabulated sources for the four course instrument which we have from the mid 1500s.

- My view is that the 1589 source suggests both the Spanish and Neopolitan guitars mntioned were considered similar: 'Furono tutti gli terzetti cantanti e ballati da .........., e sonavano Vittoria, e Lucia, una Chitattina per uno, una alla Spagnola, e l'altra alla Napolettana,......'

- I'd be interested in you reasons for believing that the chitarra italiana  and the chitarrino a quarto corde were both probably small 4-course lutes.  I realise this sort of speculation has been put forward before but am not entirely convinced.

As you say, at present we simply don't know the answers to some of these questions which is why I was casting around for any new perspectives on stringing the small four course instrument's third course. But, nevertheless, all grist to the mill.....

MH

Sorry - typos crept in! And the fuller 1589 source extract should read:

'Furono tutti gli terzetti cantanti e ballati da Vittoria Archilei, e Lucia Caccini, e Margherita, e sonavano Vittoria, e Lucia, una Chitarrina per uno, una alla Spagnola, e l'altra alla Napolettana, e Margherita un Cembalino ...........'

As said, this might suggest that both the Spanish and Neapolitan instruments were similar.... but, of course, in lieu of pictures of these instruments there must still be some uncertainty.

MH

MH

I don't think it does suggest anything of the sort. You are just reading into it your own preferences. As far as your original query is concerned the most likely arrangement for a 4-course guitar is with octave stringing on the 4th course. That's all there is to it.

You know very well why the chitarra italiana and chitarrino a quarto corde were probably small course lutes. The whole point of Meucci's article is that the term chitarra does not necessarily refer to a figure of eight shaped instrument. Like so many things it is ambiguous. This is true in French and English as well. 

You may not be convinced - that's your privilege.  

Thank you for these two messages Monica; - though I do wonder why you now adopt such a combative tone!

Regarding stringing of the four course guitar, you earlier said that ' I suppose that doesn't rule out the possiblilty that it had octave stringing on the 3rd course but combined with Bermudo's comments that doesn't seem very likely. At the end of the day we simply don't know the answer to these questions'.   Thus I'd be grateful for the reasons why you now firmly believe it 'likely' that the four course instrument always had unisons on the third course.  This is, of course, the very reason why I initially asked the wider forum for their views: 'I'd also be grateful for personal experiences of employing a high octave on the third course of the early four course instrument and its suitability in the contemporary non-Phalese repertoire. Do people use this tuning for the other sources or do they bother to re-string? Also any relevant papers I may have overlooked.'


And I do not, as you put it, 'know very well why the chitarra italiana and chitarrino a quarto corde were probably small course lutes.' .   Accordingly I'd still be grateful for a proper response to an earlier question I asked you: 'I'd be interested in your reasons for believing that the chitarra italiana  and the chitarrino a quarto corde were both probably small 4-course lutes.  I realise this sort of speculation has been put forward before but I am not entirely convinced'.  

Nevertheless, I do now tend to agree with something you also wrote earlier in this exchange: 'At the end of the day we simply don't know the answer to these questions'  ..........

MH

I think we have digressed from what was your original query - which if I understand it rightly was whether there is any evidence for octave stringing on the 3rd as well as the 4th course.  You asked whether anyone had experience of using octave stringing on the 3rd course.

Judging by the replies - nobody has. 

As far as I am aware the only source which seems to indicate that there was octave stringing on the 3rd course is Phalese and his instructions are questionable.

Michael Fink has written a paper on the stringing of the 4-course guitar - I have got copies of several different versions of it. Not all of what he says is very convincing or accurate.  I am not sure whether it was actually ever published.  Apart from that and whatever Tyler may have said on the subject I don't think anything else has been published.

It was you who brought Cerreto into it and then decided that it was too late to be relevant. Most of the surviving repertoire may have been printed in the 1550s but almost all of it was reprinted by Phalese in 1570 and is found in some manuscript sources. These things don't go out of date as quickly as you might think.

Thank you Monica - indeed digression has occurred.

To return to the original matter: I can report that I've now strung the old/new four course instrument with a high octave and a bass on the third course. One problem was that it was necessary to lower the instrument's pitch by a tone to accommodate the breaking stress of the new highest sounding string (the third course high octave) and this inevitably reduced the brightness and clarity of the fourth course bass string (especially when tuned a tone low as required in some sources).

Nevertheless the tuning works relatively well in the simple dances in Phalese but the high third course octaves are, as might be expected, intrusive in the contrapuntal works by Fuenllana and Mudarra and blur the fine lines. The dances in the Gorlier, Morlaye and Le Roy collections also work fine, but the chanson etc settings requiring some counterpoint less well. Finally, the Barberis works are interesting since there is a passage which could be thought to represent campenalla style play taking advantage of the high octave third (eg 6 bars from the end of the Fantasie seconda) - or possibly not.......

In short, in my view an octave high third is possible and permissable in some pieces but I still prefer a unison third in all the repertoire.

MH

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