I believe that at the turn of the nineteenth century, a walnut orchard was sacrificed to build the library, which encircled the entire central salon of the villa and was at least as tall as three floors of a normal mansion […]. It was as risky as it was inviting to gaze down upon the floor at the piles of books visitors had left behind. Books, of course, have always traveled in the storm-tossed seas of human hands. It is a bizarre destiny, since it is from human hands that books are born and raised. And in the mind and in the eye they come to rest, accumulate, demand their own space.
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Back to index of guitar tablature pages by Donald Sauter. The first one, "Toccata Arpeggiata" for chitarrone, is just a series of chords that the performer is supposed to arpeggiate however he likes. I thought it was pretty neat. I also thought it was pretty hard, the way it stacked up small intervals. But a blindly struck guitar gives you fourths, on the average. It takes a real effort to stack up seconds and thirds!
In order to wring out some of those tightly-packed 3-note chords in the treble, it was necessary to finger them in higher positions. In some cases, that put the required bass note out of reach.
By lowering the 6th string, its notes are shifted higher up the fingerboard, thereby putting them back in reach. It occurred to me that a better way to go might be to lower the 1st string to D - sort of "collapsing" it in on its closest neighbors. You might have to be a little bit more on your toes right-hand-wise since there are more instances where the treble notes are not on 3 adjacent strings, but that makes the piece a good right-hand exercise being stoic about it.
Should be easier! The chitarrone was a theorboized lute, meaning it had long bass strings off the fingerboard. The top 6 courses were tuned like the Renaissance lute, which guitarists are quite familiar with, except that the highest two courses were tuned down an octave.
Kapsberger wrote the earliest and highest quality solo music for chitarrone. He was active when the Renaissance era was transitioning into the Baroque. See my page on guitar fingering notation. You just follow the numbers, and your fingers will play the 1st string notes 2 frets higher.
Also, I present this piece as evidence supporting my claim that we ought to consider customizing the tuning for any given guitar composition or transcription in order to make it as easy as possible to play - maybe even putting a computer to work to figure out this "best" tuning.
Visit my pages on "Alternate tunings" and "Computers and arranging for guitar. Also see my Francois Campion page, with guitar pieces in a variety of altered tunings. Click here for general comments on the modern tablature , including some tips on printing it out perfectly.
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger
A prolific and highly original composer, Kapsberger is chiefly remembered today for his lute , theorbo and chitarrone music, which was seminal in the development of these as solo instruments. After Kapsberger moved to Rome , where he quickly attained a reputation of a brilliant virtuoso. He cultivated connections with various powerful individuals and organizations; and himself organized "academies" in his house, which were counted among the "wonders of Rome". Around Kapsberger married Gerolima di Rossi, with whom he had at least three children. He started publishing his music at around the same time, with more than a dozen collections of music appearing during the next ten years.