Guitarra

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Alejandro Vera

Santiago de Murcia’s Cifras Selectas de Guitarra (1722): a new source for the Baroque guitar
antiago de Murcia’s output occupies a place of the greatest importance in the guitar music of the 17th and 18th centuries, as witnessed by, among other things, the large number of studies dedicated to it especially since the late 1970s,1 and the significant number of recordings of hismusic.2 The earliest known source for his music was published in 1714 under the title Resumen de acompañar la parte con la guitarra; together with Nicola Matteis’s treatment, this is the most detailed treatise dedicated to this instrument on the art of accompanying.3 It includes a detailed explanation on how to accompany a figured bass by transposing the high clefs, when applicable, and executingsuspensions precisely, all of this accompanied by a selection of examples in different metres and modes for the executant to practise.4 Aside from the treatise itself, the book contains a selection of pieces in guitar tablature; predominant are French dances,5 such as ‘La Mariée’ and ‘La Bourgogne’, that were taken directly from the compilations published by the dance-master Raoul Auger Feuillet inParis at the beginning of the 18th century.6 The widespread circulation of the French repertory of that period in Madrid is undoubtedly linked to the influence and personal tastes of Philip V, though it would not have been possible without the greater sense of openness that began before 1700.7 In any case, Resumen de acompañar is the first Spanish guitar source that incorporates this repertory insuch a systematic manner. Murcia’s second known source to date is the manuscript entitled ‘Passacalles y obras de guitarra’, copied in 1732 and presently preserved as British Library, Add. Ms.31640.8 Unlike Resumen de acompañar, this anthology combines in more or less equal propor-

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tion traditional Spanish dances written by Murcia himself (mostly pasacalles) with pieces originating fromFrance and Italy, mainly by other composers, especially François Campion, Francesco Corbetta and Arcangelo Corelli, some of whose sonata movements are transcribed by Murcia for guitar.9 Likewise, ‘Passacalles y obras’ includes some pieces attributed to François Le Cocq in a manuscript copied by Jean-Baptiste Louis de Castillion in Ghent around 1730. Given that other sources with Le Cocq’s music arenot known, and that he was, according to Castillion, a musician of the royal chapel in Brussels, Monica Hall has conjectured that Murcia may have visited the Netherlands, though this has not been proven.10 With the exception of Corelli, none of these composers is cited by Murcia. There may have been various reasons for this, but it was a convention of the period to use pre-existing material, soit is possible that some of the suite movements for which concordances have not yet been found may belong to other musicians who have yet to be identified. The pasacalles have the pattern of a theme and variations or ‘diferencias’, a form with a long tradition in Spain.11 Murcia’s variations are especially difficult from the technical point of view, given their abundant use of cascading scalicpassages (called campanelas) or slurred scales and ornaments for the left hand. This is partly because the degree of rhythmic activity constantly increases, a feature that distinguishes them from those composed by Francisco Guerau, for example, and lends them a special attraction and expressiveness.12 This can also be seen in Murcia’s third known source, the so-called ‘Códice Saldívar nº4’, amanuscript discovered in Leon (Guanajuato) in 1943 by

Early Music, Vol. xxxv, No. 2 © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. doi:10.1093/em/cam013, available online at www.em.oxfordjournals.org

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the musicologist Gabriel Saldívar and currently owned by his heirs. Though it lacks a cover and has no indication of the author nor the date, Michael Lorimer...
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