The Lute Society: Santiago De Murcia

Santiago de Murcia Resumen de acompañar


"Resumen de acompañar", printed in 1714, is the earliest of three collections of music for five-course guitar composed and arranged by Santiago de Murcia.

Very little is known about Murcia. In "Resumen de acompañar" he is referred to as "Master of the guitar to the queen, our lady, Doña Maria Luisa Gabriela of Savoy." Maria Luisa was the first wife of the first Bourbon king of Spain, Philip V, who succeeded to the throne on the death of Charles II in 1700. Their marriage place by proxy in Turin on 11th September 1701 when she was just thirteen years old. On 3rd November the couple met for the first time and the marriage was re-celebrated at Figueras in Catalunya. They remained in Catalunya until April 1702. Philip then left on a tour of his Italian posessions appointing Maria Luisa as regent in his absence. She proceded first to Zaragossa where she presided over the Cortès and then to Madrid, arriving there for the first time on 30th June.

There are two references to Maria Luisa learning the guitar, neither of which mentions Murcia. In a letter dated 30th September 1704 the Duc de Gramont informed Louis XIV that she was learning to play the guitar and in a letter to her grandmother dated 3rd July, 1705, she herself mentions that she is learning to play the guitar and studying music. Murcia probably obtained his appointment sometime between June, 1702 and September, 1704. After giving birth to several children Maria Luisa's health deteriorated and she died on 14th February, 1714 before "Resumen de acompañar" had appeared in print. Presumably Murcia's appointment had terminated by then if not earlier.

No reference to Murcia has yet come to light in any official documents relating to the period in question. It was however an unsettled period in Spanish history. Philip's title to the Spanish throne was challenged by the Hapsburg dynasty in the person of the Archduke Charles of Austria, known to his supporters as Charles III of Spain, and later emperor Charles VI. The ensuing War of the Spanish Succession was waged intermittently until 1714. Murcia's employment may therefore have been occasional rather than continuous and any record of it could have disappeared either at the time or in later upheavals.

Two other Murcias, Gabriel and Antonio, were active as luthiers in Madrid and are mentioned in official records between 1682 and 1717. The first reference to Gabriel is on 22nd February, 1682. A document mentions that his wife, Juliana de Leon, had deputized for her father, Francisco de Leon, as violero to the Queen (Marie Louise de Orleans, first wife of Charles II, who died in1689) after his death, and appoints Gabriel to succeed her. The wording of the document suggests that the marriage had taken place recently. There are further references to Gabriel in 1685, 1689, 1690 and 1695. His employment probably terminated in 1701 when Philip V restructured the Royal Chapel. He was not paid his outstanding expenses for the period 1st January 1696 to 31st October 1700 (the day on which Charles II died) until 10th July 1717. There are no references to him after that date. Antonio de Murcia's name first occurs as a witness to the examination of the instrument maker, Juan López de Ana on 2nd May 1694, and he was a co-signatory to the agreement between Gabriel de Murcia and two other violeros in 1695. On 25th November, 1704 he was appointed to succeed Marcos Ximénes as violero to Queen Luisa Maria Gabriela. He died in 1709 and was succeeded by Juan de Campos. It is possible that Gabriel and Antonio were brothers and either might have been Santiago's father. However any relationship between the three men is unproven. (Note1)

"Resumen de acompañar" is dedicated to Jacome Francisco Andriani, knight of the Order of St. James and Extraordinary Envoy of the Catholic Cantons (those areas of Switzerland which remained catholic after the Reformation) whose patronage Murcia seems to have enjoyed after the death of Maria Luisa. It also includes a recommendation from the composer Antonio Literes. Presumably he and Murcia were acquainted. Literes refers to the book as having been engraved (and presumably printed) in Antwerp. Murcia may have done the engraving himself. In the introductory letter to the reader he seems to be claiming credit personally for the attractive appearence of the tablature and says that the work was carried out abroad. (Note2). As the name of the printer is lacking and the book has no licences, it may have been printed privately. (Note3)

The two later manuscript collections of Murcia's music, Codice Saldivar no. 4" (c.1730) and GB:Lbl Ms.Add "Passacalles y obras" (1732) both came to light in Mexico in relatively modern times. "Passacalles y obras" is described in the British Library's "Catalogue of additions to the manuscripts...1876-1881" as "a volume of tablature purchased in Mexico." It has always been assumed that the purchase in Mexico was made by the previous owner, the book collector, Julian Marshall, who sold the manuscript to the British Library in 1880 although this is not certain. "Codice Saldivar no. 4" was purchased in Leon, in the province of Guanajuato by the Mexican musicologist, Gabriel Saldivar in 1943. Because it lacks a title page its connection with Murcia was not recognised until 1980. It is possible that Murcia and the dedicatee of "Passacalles y obras", Joseph Albarez de Saavedrra, spent their later years in Mexico. However, it is just as likely that the manuscripts were taken there at a later date, by a subsequent owner. (Note4)

"Resumen de acompañar" includes one of the most comprehensive treatises on accompanying a bass line with the guitar. It was evidently much admired. There are three complete 18th century manuscript copies of it. Biblioteca nacional, Madrid Ms.M881, dated 1726, is a straightforward copy. In Biblioteca nacional, Madrid Ms.1233 (1763) and Granada University Ms.16972 it is combined with excerpts from Sanz's "Instruccion de musica"(1674). Minguet y Irol (Note5) reproduces Murcia's notes on Tiempos (p.42-43) without the musical examples and the text and music from p.28 separately with an ingenious device for reproducing the scales on p.29-34. The musical examples illustrating the different keys are included in Mexico City: Biblioteca Nacional Ms.1560. Vargas y Guzman mentions "Resumen de acompañar" as one of the works which he has consulted when writing his own "Explicacion para tocar la guitara" (1776) (Note6) and is clearly influenced by Murcia's work.

"Resumen de acompañar" also includes much attractive music which has been somewhat neglected in favour of that in Codice Saldivar no. 4. There are six fine sets of variations, three suites and a large number of simple arrangements of French ballroom dances.

NOTES - Introduction

1. It has been suggested that Gabriel de Murcia was the father of Antonio and Santiago. However as children were apprenticed in instrument making at around the age of 14, and the apprenticeship lasted five or six years, Antonio must have been at least 20 years of age in 1694 and was probably older. If, as seems likely, Gabriel married between 1679 and 1682, his sons would have been too young to have qualified as luthiers by 1694. Return to text

2. It is known that Sanz did the engraving for "Instruccion de musica" (Zaragoza, 1674) and Corbetta for "Guitarre royale" (Paris, 1671). This may have been common practice. It certainly makes good sense as the composer could work directly onto the plates, whereas anyone else would need a fair copy to work from. Antwerp was an important centre for the printing of Spanish books in the 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries. A special type of press, known as an intaglio press, is needed to print from an engraving. The availability of such a press in Antwerp may have prompted Murcia to have his work printed there. Return to text

3. Books printed in Spain required licences from both the Church and the State. In theory books printed abroad were subject to scrutiny on being brought into the country but this was enforced erratically. Murcia may have solicited Antonio Literes' "Aprobacion" in order to comply with these requirements. It should be emphasised that Spain was no different from most other European countries in exercising censorship. Return to text

4. It has been asserted that Julian Marshall purchased his manuscript in the city of Puebla in Mexico and that it was there that Murcia and Joseph Albarez de Saavedrra were living when the manuscripts were copied. It is not known however where Marshall purchased the manuscript. Los Angeles Public Library possesses a copy of "Resumen de acompañar" which was purchased from the dealer Francis Borton in Puebla in 1910 and it seems that the two have been confused. A "Joseph Alvarez" buried in the Parish of Analco in Puebla, has been identified as Murcia's patron but the name is too common for this to be regarded as certain. Return to text

5. Minguet y Irol, Pablo, "Reglas y advertencias generales" (Madrid, 1752) Return to text

6.Newberry Library, Chicago Ms.VMT 582 V29e - Vargas y Guzman, Juan Antonio, "Explicacion para tocar la guitara"(1776). An earlier version (manuscript in the collection of Angel Medina Alvarez dated 1772) does not mention Murcia. Return to text

This translation is in two parts. Part 1 is the introductory material as far as page 4; Part 2 is the treatise from page 4 to 44. The translation is text only, to be used in conjunction with the facsimile edition published in Monaco by Editions Chanterelle (1980.)


p.1. Summary of how to accompany a bass part with the guitar.

Including all that is conducive to this end. In it the aficionado will find all kinds of chords and suspensions on the seven degrees of the scale, natural and with accidentals, set out in different positions on the instrument.


to the illustrious Señor Don Jacome Francisco Andriani, Knight of the Order of Santiago and Envoy Extraordinary of the Catholic Cantones [of Switzerland].


Santiago de Murcia, Master of the Guitar to the Queen, Our Lady, Doña María Luisa Gabriela of Savoy, Whom may God have [in his keeping].

In the year 1714.

[p.i] Dear Reader,

The prologue is as necessary in any book which is printed as is the address in any letter which is written; these [addresses] have to say to whom they [the letters] are sent, and I have to explain for whom my work is intended. Assuming such unavoidable circumstances, I will go on to say that in having laid open these pages, I have as my sole end my wish to encourage the taste of aficionados of the guitar, giving them, with novelty, the most appropriate incentive for application. To those of this persuasion, the book which now sees the light of day is offered. And in case I do not achieve in it that which may merit their esteem, it will be well that they understand that I [hope to] bestow some merit on it with the knowledge of my shortcomings; and that it is not my fault that those who favour me have judged it with their own partiality. At their request, my modest labours are today brought out for public judgement. I assume that those who know me will believe without compulsion that I set about this task intending to please, not craving applause. Insofar as it is appropriate for me with my shortcomings to seek praise, I would look for it on account of the cleanness and clarity of the tablature, in which my care achieved that which at least carries [p.ii] some excellence, although at the cost of foreign toil.

The first treatise consists of a summary of how to accompany a bass part, which will be understood not [only] as rules for accompanying, but as a whole. For in it will be found all the suspensions most used in music, on all the notes, natural, or with accidentals, and all these in different positions on the instrument, so that each one may choose that which pleases him, according to the technical ability which he possesses, and may be able to use the guitar with knowledge of the whole fingerboard. In it will also be found other interesting matters, for these too are conducive to this end.

In the second treatise, which is written out in tablature, the skill of the aficionado, and the pleasure of the listener will find a variety of pieces, following the present fashion, including French dances and contradances, different minuets and canciones, and for those who may be advanced [players] several difficult works of some originality. I have not included any passacalles, because of the many [sets of variations] that there are written on them with great skill by well-known composers. Nor have I detained myself in explaining the ornaments which are executed in playing, which are the salt of that which is played (although they are notated [in the tablature]), for I am persuaded that there is no aficionado who has not seen the most exceptional book of Spanish pieces and exquisite passacalles which Don Francisco Garaù [i.e. Francisco Guerau's Poema harmonico, 1694] has had printed, in which he places at the beginning a full explanation of notable lucidity and intelligence for those who wish to play [p.iii] this instrument with all the filigree work which someone with consummate skill is capable of. If the aficionado considers himself well served by this offering of my work which I make to him, I will have obtained the greatest applause, this having been the sole object upon which my ambition has set its sights.



With much pleasure and attention I have looked at a book of guitar tablature, engraved in Antwerp. Its author, Don Santiago de Murcia, who was master to the queen, our Lady Doña María Luisa Gabriela of Savoy (whom God has [in his keeping]) performs in it a very considerable and useful service to any aficionado, both in the harmoniousness and variety of his compositions, and in the examples with which he explains the method of accompanying any bass line, leaving no doubt without an answer. In the carefulness and hard work of its rules and principles, the master will be found not [just] portrayed, but living. For which reason I am of the opinion that the said book should see the light of day.

Salvo &c.

Madrid, 1st August, 1717.

Don Antonio Literes


Illustrious Sir,

As I have received from Your Grace such diverse and contiuous favours, both in Your Grace's expressions of kindness and lavishness of generosity, my gratitude cannot refrain from repaying you with some vote [of thanks], which, being mine, will be inadequate. However the number of the victims does not make the sacrifice, but the genuineness of the sentiments. They say that the Apostles gave up everything, yet in their [own] estimation, little or nothing - only a few nets; for it may be seen what little substance these enclose in themselves, nor do they have to be anything [substantial]. I might say the same of myself, but in the opposite sense, because I desire to offer a whole, yet I am contributing little more than nothing. For my musical labours and my harmonic endeavours are little harmony for the eyes, and much visibility for the ears; if they are to be seen, nothing; if they are to be heard, a great deal. p.3 This vote [of thanks], which my gratitude expresses for the honour of Your Grace, is nothing if it is to be seen, a great deal if aficionados were to cultivate it with repeated periods of application.

The second Artaxerxes triumphing over Cyrus (Note1)some [the followers of Artaxerxes] offered him rich gifts, others [the followers of Cyrus] innumerable jewels; and in the midst of the former, and on the fringes of the latter, a worthy peasant arrived with a simple offering. He offered to him [Artaxerxes] a pitcher of water saying "King, accept the sentiments, even if you despise the gift for its humbleness". My offering can say the same when dedicating this work to Your Grace - that it is a pitcher of the water which my labours have sweated, and of the liquor which my waking hours have distilled; one in the imaginitiveness of my ideas, and the other in the skill of my performances.

Much could be said of your lofty ancestors, and much of your excellent virtues; but let one and the other remain in the bosom of modesty and in the mansions of silence, so that a better tongue [than mine] may recommend them, and a better pen express them. All that remains for me [to do] is to offer to Your Illustrious Grace immortal thanks, because as a result of your being for me an exception to the rule of the fixed star, who with timely efficacy influences my adverse fortunes, I may make use of your kindness, honour and favour, so that my labours may leave the obscurity of preliminary sketches for the uncertain lights of the press, and so that there may remain engraved on tablets of bronze the liberality of Your Grace, and this gift from me, who desires that God should keep you at the height of prosperity.

From this your house. Madrid, August 20th 1714.

Your Grace's most affectionate and grateful servant, who kisses your hand,

Santiago de Murcia

p.4. Passing from sacrificing to obeying, the Author is obliged to place eulogies in his work, which were composed in this sonnet by an admirer and benefactor of his, the Señora Doña Francisca de Chavarri, Señora de Aramayona de Muxica.


Number and accent are equivalent words, which explain melodies

Sympathy for number and accent is frequent in musicians and poets.

So alike are they, so related, that the same symmetries may be heard

Since music is sweet poetry, or verses will be measured solfas.

Your virtuosity says it on the lyre, Oh Murcia, when you explain its secrets, in which the quiet poets lie mute.

And hearing your supreme conceits, they say that you make poetry with your fingers, or that you versify with your hands.


NOTES - Part 1

(1.) Artaxerxes II and Cyrus, the grandsons of Artaxerxes I, fought for the crown of Persia on the death of their father, Darius, in 404 B.C. Plutarch [Lives, vol.11] refers to two occasions on which Artaxerxes was offered water as a gift to quench his thirst. Return to text




showing to which notes [of the scale] both the open strings, and the strings stopped at each of the frets correspond, so that you may understand the whole range of the guitar. To achieve this it must be understood that a G represents G sol re ut, an A, A la mi re, the B, B fa b mi, the C, C sol fa ut, the D, D la sol re, the E, E la mi, the F F fa ut. This sign # indicates that the note is sharpened; this b that it is flattened.

The five open strings. First fret. Second fret. Third fret.

Fourth fret. Fifth fret. Sixth fret. Seventh fret.

Eighth fret. Ninth fret. Tenth fret. Eleventh fret. Twelfth fret.


The symbols of the Abecedario are explained by writing them out in fret tablature. In this the five lines are assumed to be the five strings of the guitar, beginning to count from the lowest [line], which represents the first course. Ascending in this way, the second line will be the second course of the guitar, and the third line will coincide with the third course, and likewise the fourth and fifth [lines will be] the fourth and fifth courses.

The numbers which are found on the lines [of the tablature] indicate the frets which have to be stopped, so that if there is a 1, the first fret has to be stopped (on the string where it [the 1] is placed); if there is a 2, the second fret will be stopped, and so on for the rest.

The small dots are supplied so that you may know with which fingers the strings should be stopped to achieve the best position of the left hand. When one dot is found [the strings] are stopped with the index finger; when there are two, with the middle finger; if there are three, with the ring finger; if there are four, with the little finger.

The stave (below the letters) is supplied so that you may know to which note, in the bass clef, each letter [of the Abecedario] corresponds.(Note1) Note that this sign - 3# - above [the bass note] indicates that that note is accompanied by a major third; and this sign - 3b -, that it is accompanied by a minor third. Even if these signs are found above the [bass] note ( as has been explained) without a 3 before them, they indicate the same thing, for then the sign # indicates that note sharpened; and if it has this b, it is flattened.


p.8 Having memorized the whole fingerboard of the guitar, to which the notes of music correspond, (both those on the open strings and those stopped at each of the frets), the diligent aficionado (who wishes to make progress in their use) will be able to transpose whatever chords he likes to any part of the instrument. He will also be able to find easily the notes which the [bass] note requires to accompany it. For this purpose it is necessary to know with which note[s] the bass note ought to be accompanied. This is impossible, if the accompanist does not understand the rules of composition, unless he makes use of general principles. In spite of the extensiveness of the problems involved, these will be set out here, for all the notes without accidentals, and for all those with them, which the aficionado may encounter in any music, whether Spanish or foreign. They will include, as will be seen, all kinds of suspensions and chords.

First of all, to find the note which the [bass] note requires to accompany it, one has to count from the [bass] note itself to the right (Note 2) from note to note until it is found. Then the string nearest to where it occurs will be chosen according to the place where the hand happens to be, without displacing it; for one of the most important points to which he who accompanies or plays must pay attention, is the proper position of the left hand.

For example, if a 6 is found above the note G sol re ut, it needs a sixth to accompany it, and to find this, you will count six [notes] from that note saying G sol re ut, one; A la mi re, two; B fa b mi, three; C sol fa ut, four; D la sol, five; E la mi, six; which is either the open first course, or the second course stopped at the fifth fret. Then you will choose from these two the one most suited to the position in which the hand is found. If it is a 6b it will be given E la mi flat, and so on for any other note which the [bass] note may require.

All that remains for you to understand now is that if the bass note is on the fifth course of the guitar, from the fourth course downwards can be used to look for the accompanying voices; if it is on the fourth, from the third course downward; if on the third course, on the second and first courses.

As to the general rules for harmonizing the voices, it should be noted that with suspensions of a fourth resolving on to a third (which are the most usual), the fifth should be used, or in its place, on some occasions, the octave, so as not to displace the hand.

In suspensions of the sixth resolving on to a fifth (when the [bass] voice makes a cadence) the sixth is accompanied by a fourth and afterwards the sixth resolves on to a fifth, leaving the fourth suspended, and then the fourth resolves on to the third.

All sixths and sevenths should be accompanied by a major or minor third, as the key signature demands or the note indicates.(Note 3)

The diminished fifth is accompanied by the third or sixth, and if possible by both.

The ninth is also always accompanied by the third.

Suspensions of an augmented fourth are accompanied by a second or a sixth, and if possible in any place by both. The said suspensions [of an augmented fourth] resolve on to a sixth in the next chord.

The diligent reader will see all this put into general practice in the following pages.


to illustrate all the modes, both the eight standard ones and the other transposed ones, according to the final note on which the bass part ends.

p.10 First mode - 1st mode a tone lower - 2nd mode - 2nd mode a tone lower

3rd mode - 4th mode (little used) - 5th mode

6th mode - 6th mode a tone lower - 7th mode - 7th mode a tone higher

p.11 8th mode natural - 8th mode "por el final"

8th mode a tone higher - "Segundillo" - "Segundillo" a tone lower

"Segundillo" with a flattened third - Third mode a tone higher - 8th mode "por el final" a tone higher.(Note 4)

p.12 The note of G sol re ut with the chords and suspensions which commonly accompany it.

p.13 On G sol re ut sharp as it is found in sharp keys

On G sol re ut flat

p.14 On A la mi re natural

p.15 On A la mi re sharp

On A la mi re flat

p.16 On B fa b mi natural

p.17 On B fa b mi flat

p.18 On C sol fa ut

p.20 on C sol fa ut sharp - Suspensions on this note with a sharp

p.21 On D la sol re

p.23 On D lasolre sharp.......The rest of the suspensions for this note are the same as for E la mi flat as can be seen under that note

On D lasolre flat.........The rest of the suspensions for this note are the same as for C sol fa ut sharp

p.25 On E la mi sharp - On F fa ut.................The rest of the suspensions for this note are the same as for F fa ut natural

p.26 On F fa ut sharp

Suspensions on this note sharpened

p.28 Scale [in the clef] of F faut without any flats.

Note that although the scales ascend a long way, and the notes descend as far as the tenth fret, this is only in order to give the full range of natural notes. In practice the accompanist may repeat the same thing from the second G sol re ut.

[Second stave] Scale in the clef of C sol fa ut as it is accompanied transposed in the melodies of Spain in the old style.

[Third stave] Scale in the clef of C sol fa ut as it is accompanied untransposed in the Italian style.

In all the scales in this clef of C sol fa ut untransposed in the Italian style it should be understood that of the two rows of notes set out in this first example, the one in the lower register is the one which is at the same pitch as the notes of the other two scales. They will be arranged in the same way in all the other examples. Then the example on last stave illustrates what to do when it rises further.

In cantatas in the Italian style, composers use the clef of C sol fa ut untransposed, because the clef of F fa ut does not rise far enough [without the use of ledger lines]. For this reason note that when the treble assumes the role of [the bass part] , (that is when it [the real bass part] has a rest), the accompaniment is better played as on a single string [i.e. as a single line] if the note values are short. However if the note values are long and the voice [continues to] sing, the accompaniment is is played with full chords as is demonstrated.

The last stave in each of the [sets of] scales serves as an example for when it [the accompaniment] is on a single string.

p.29 With one flat

p.30 With two flats

p.31 With three flats

p.32 With one sharp

p.33 With two sharps

p.34 With three sharps

p.35 Diagram showing how to write out a treble part for the guitar, both in the clef of G sol re ut and in that of C sol fa ut. Note that this first example is transposed up a fifth. This is the way of writing in this clef in the Spanish style when it is used for vocal music.

Notes with sharps

Notes with flats

When there is a B flat in the key signature

When there are sharps in the key signature

As far as here the clef of G sol re ut transposed has been explained. What follows shows how the music is written out when composing for the violin in the Italian style.

p.36 Notes with sharps

With flats

When there is a B flat in the key signature

p.37 With two flats - With three flats

The rest of the notes will be played as has already been explained. If the said clef [of G sol re ut] is found with more flats, examine the accidentals to see which space or line the flat occupies, so as to give its equivalent when it rises or when it falls.

With one sharp

With two sharps

With three sharps

Here will be understood the same as was noted for the flats.

p.38 Example of the same clef of G sol re ut placed on the first line [of the stave] from below, which is how it is used only in France. This is the equivalent of the clef of F fa ut on the second line from above. [That is, if the bass clef is substituted for the G clef the series of notes will be the same].

Notes with flats

Notes with sharps

The rest of the notes are played as the examples illustrate

p.39 Example of the clef of C sol fa ut on the first line.

Notes with sharps

Notes with flats

The rest of the notes will be played in this clef both with flats and with sharps, as it is set out in the first example of the said clef of C sol fa ut.



This metre, when it goes very slowly, is called de nota negra [of the black notes] in Spain and largo in Italy. Then because of its gravity, the crotchets are harmonized in full, the quavers in pairs and the semiquavers in groups of four. They should always be treated in this way, both in this example and in all the others, depending on the technical skill of the accompanist.


When the said metre goes in half the time, that is rather quickly, the down-beat and the upbeat of the bar only are harmonized in full, together with such [bass] notes as may need a particular note [to accompany them]. Its movement [i.e. that of the bass line] will always be the reason for executing them in this way in any of the metres, if there is occasion to and [the player has sufficient] skill for it.


This metre in which the notes are double the value (of those in the metres which have already been explained) is accompanied rapidly. For this reason, the full chords will be played on all the minims, the crotchets harmonized in pairs and the quavers in groups of four. And it may be realized in this way if the player is skillful. Otherwise the down- and up-beats will be harmonized in full, considering it like compassillo ayroso(Note 8)


There is another metre in Italian and French music called gavotte metre, which is indicated by a 2 and a 4. This goes very quickly, because there are half the number of notes in it as there are in compassillo, since it is usually made up of one minim, two crotchets, four quavers or eight semiquavers. The full chords will be played on the down- and up-beats of the bar.


There is variety in this metre (as will be seen in the examples), especially in the Italian style. In the Spanish [style], when it goes slowly, the semibreves, and the first and second minims, or crotchets (which are of the same value in this metre (Note 9)will be given full chords, and also the last [minim] if it requires a chord. The black semibreves (three of which equal two bars) will be given full chords, or two chord to each one. On the smaller note values, the down- and up-beats of the bar [will be given full chords]. (Note10)


This metre is the one which is usually used for the juegetes of Spain, and it is so called because of its speed; but the notation is the same (as in proporción). Full chords will be played depending on the skill of the accompanist, but it is essential, in any metre (as is indicated in all the others) to play them on the down- and up-beats of the bar. However taking into account here the brevity [of the notes], they should be placed on [the note which makes up] the greater part of the bar, being governed in this as in all the others, by the examples at the end.


In this metre, the dotted breve equals one bar; without a dot, a semibreve is needed [to make up the bar]. Three semibreves, six [white] crotchets, or twelve [white] quavers make up another [bar]. Full chords are played on all the semibreves, which are equal here to the minims [of the previous metre]; assuming these [the minims in this metre] to be crotchets, the first and fifth are harmonized in full. Only the first of the quavers, which are like semiquavers [is harmonized in full].


As far as here the kinds of triple time used in the Spanish style have been explained. However, these same [metres] are also used (as can be seen) in foreign music, although with a difference in the notation; as for example, the metre of 3 by 4, whose tempo is the same, when it goes slowly, as that of proporción and [the same] as that of proporcioncilla when it goes quickly. [The only difference is] that the minim is worth two parts [of a bar]; when dotted, a bar. Three minims make two bars, three crotchets, one. There are six quavers to a bar, and twelve semiquavers. The full chords will be played observing that which was said previously about proporción.


There is another metre [used] in Italian music which is indicated by a 3 and an 8, in which the dotted crotchet is worth one bar; without the dot, [it is worth] two thirds of it. It is made up of three quavers and six semiquavers. This metre, for the most part, is for fast arias, and then the first note of the bar will be harmonized in full. If it is used in arias which go slowly, full chords will be given to the down- and up-beats, or wherever a particular note demands it, treating it [in the same way] as the metre of proporción.


There are other metres which are called sexquialtera, sexquidozena and sexquinovena. These three metres differ in the way in which they are notated. Thus sexquidozena, which is the metre most commonly encountered in many cantatas or tocatas is indicated with a 12 and an 8. If [the tempo] is very fast, the full chords will be played on those notes which fall on the down- and up-beats of the bar, when this is composed of quavers; but if it is composed of dotted crotchets, these will all be harmonized in full. An example of this metre is placed at the end.

Sexquialtera is indicated by a 6 and a 4, and often with a 6 and an 8. The full chords will be given to the down- and up-beats of the bar.

Sexquinovena (less often used) is indicated with a 9 and a 6. The full chords in this metre will be played, following the same rules as the preceding ones for sexquialtera and sexquinovena.

As well as reading the theoretical explanation, the diligent player who wishes to put it into practice should study the examples [which follow] with care. In these the music is placed above, and the tablature below; they will provide him with enlightenment, and rules for those [similar] situations which he may come across in other accompaniments.

NOTES - Part 2

(1.) The notes in question represent the roots of the chords. Return to text

(2.) That is, as if the intervening notes were set out successively on the stave. Return to text

(3.) That is, as the figures in the bass line indicate, or according to whatever degree of the scale the bass note falls on. Return to text

(4.) The terms "Por el final" and "segundillo" do not have English equivalents. Literally they mean "by the final" and "little second. Return to text

(5.) Tiempo = metre. In seventeenth century Spanish, the word conveys the idea both of metre, i.e. the number of beats in a bar, and their denomination, and to some extent, the speed or tempo at which they are to be executed. Return to text

(6.) I.e. which notes of the bass line should be harmonized, and which treated as unessential or passing notes. Return to text

(7.) Compassillo = compas menor. Return to text

(8.) Compassillo ayroso - possibly a name for the metre illustrated in Example 2. Return to text

(9.) As all the notes are written as white notes, a minim = a crotchet, of which there are three to a bar. There are then six white quavers or twelve white semiquavers to a bar. Return to text

(10.) Black notes are used when syncopation occurs. They are otherwise of the same value as the white notes of the same denomination. Return to text