Session 31 (Free Papers): Instrumental music

Wednesday, July 7, 14.30-16.30, Room 217 | Chair: Pedro Sousa Silva (ESMAE-IPP / CESEM-P.Porto)

Behind the scenes: How to compose a “twelve-tone experiment” in 1507 | Eric W.M. Thomas (University of Huddersfield)

In John Griffith’s analysis of the final ricercare Francesco Spinacino’s Intavolatura de Lauto Libro Primo (Venice: Petrucci, 1507), he demonstrates how it is, ‘one of the most extraordinary lute ricercares of the sixteenth century’ and how it’s modal conception is in, ‘complete contravention of accepted music theory’, systematically exploring the ‘flat’ and then ‘sharp’ keys of the lute. Griffiths’ image of Spinacino as a musical innovator contrasts with the portrait painted by other scholars, with Otto Gombosi writing off the Spinacino’s ricercari as work of the improvvisatori that show, ‘a rather uniform picture’, and more recently Marc Lewon suggesting that Spinacino perhaps, ‘didn’t have much experience in lute playing’.

How can this divisive figure conceive of such a radical experiment, that is not attributed to genius or through some misunderstanding of the lute? I demonstrate, through an analysis comparing the transpositions to various sizes of lutes and mode in the intabulations, frottole and dances of the Petrucci print lutenists (Spinacino, Joan Ambrosio Dalza, and Fransiscus Bossinensis), a common transposition system that has the lute, rather than vocal range, as its central concern. Then I show that through the analysis of select ricercari by Spinaicno, the approach to transposition and mode through the lute, is used as a creative stimulus to expand the eight-mode system used to create large scale structures, culminating in the final ricercare of the libro primo.

Solmization and hexachords on the lute and vihuela? | Jason Yoshida (University of Southern California)

Questions about tuning and temperament continue to rise in the performance practice of the lute and vihuela. Some nudge frets to adjust for different qualities of thirds, following Gerle, Milan and Dowland or employ little frets (tastini) that Galilei complained about and those who agree with Galilei to use equal temperament as argued by Ozmo (2016). Recent scholarship is re-examining the role of solmization in performance practice, including Anne Smith in 16th-century music and flute, Sarah Mead on viols, and Gilbert and Bregman in the instruments of the alta capella. Because treatises from the fifteenth the sixteenth centuries provide fretboard charts with solmization as in the Kasseler Lautenkragen (ca. 1470) and Agricola (1529), this presentation will consider what we might learn by applying solmization to the performance practice of the Renaissance lute and what effect this might have on our perceptions of pitch and tuning. Applying solmization to the Renaissance lute in A (with A re as its bottom string) and the lute in G (with Gamma ut as its bottom string) will consider the practical application of this system to tuning the frets of the lute in quarter-comma meantone, and will apply Bermudo’s Pythagorean system from Declaration de instrumentos musicales (1555) to the vihuela. As a result, we may catch a glimpse at differing perceptions and performance practices for the lute that parallel modern discussions. Considering the prominence of solmization in Renaissance lute pedagogy, it is time to explore this issue with renewed interest.

Francesco Guami and the limits of inganno | Alon Schab (University of Haifa)

Francesco Guami published but one set of instrumental pieces—his Ricercari a due voci (1588). The 23 bicinia in Guami’s book exhibit their composer’s fascination with, and mastery of, the technique of inganno. Inganno, the modification of a subject by hexachordal manipulation, can be found, mainly in instrumental contrapuntal genres, from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. Inganno’s most celebrated exponent was Frescobaldi, but he used the device only sparingly, merely as one possible way of achieving variety. Even the most alert listener might miss Frescobaldi’s occasional inganni, in the midst of the composer’s rich four-part ricercars or fantasias.
Guami, undoubtedly a lesser luminary, was much more daring and much less discriminating in his use of inganno. Moreover, Guami’s use of the technique in two-part music makes it more exposed and readily subject to analysis. In fact, inganno is so prevalent in his ricercars that his aforementioned book may be read as compendium to that technique. Guami used inganno sometimes as the primary means of developing a subject, and sometimes to avoid contrapuntal deadlocks. His third ricercar he began, almost provocatively, with a “list” of all the possible inganni that he considered valid for his chosen subject. In my paper I interpret the Ricercari a due voci as the most detailed surviving description of the inganno technique (at least as it was understood by Guami), I extract the limits of that technique, and evaluate what it had to offer composers of the late renaissance.

The Paston lute manuscripts: Musical commonplace books of a Catholic in Protestant England | Anthony J. Harvey (McGill University)

In 1611 Edward Paston, an amateur musician and Catholic recusant, compiled two curious manuscripts (GB-Lbl Add. MS 29246 and Add. MS 29247) containing 223 intabulations. These manuscripts are remarkable for two reasons: firstly, they were compiled at a time when intabulations were scarcely present in English lute manuscripts; secondly, they are organized as commonplace books, making them unique in the English lute literature. Yet, no study has investigated the connection between these two peculiarities. This paper examines this interrelation and the manuscripts’ genesis, organization, and function as commonplace books. As a youth, Paston was sent to Spain to be educated in a Catholic society. There, he received a musical education and was exposed to vihuela prints. These prints were organized like commonplace books using loci and headings. Just as literary commonplace books contained excerpts from larger works, such as the Bible —the vihuelists excerpted and intabulated movements from masses, especially those of Josquin.

Later in England, Paston imitated the vihuelists and organized his lute manuscripts as commonplace books, using loci and headings. The intabulated excerpts in his manuscripts are principally derived from music by Catholic composers such as Fayrfax, Monte, Taverner, Byrd, Palestrina, and Victoria. Intabulations of sacred music were used in clandestine Catholic services that Paston hosted. Literary commonplace books were a repository of intellectual capital. Similarly, Paston’s lute books were a repository of Catholic cultural capital despite the certain risk that possessing this capital endangered his very existence.