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The J o u r n a l of t h e
L u t e Society

VOLUME XXIV, Part 2, 1984

ISSN 0460-007 X

Performance Style of T h e English Lute Ayre c. 1600 -


Hinrich Niewerth - Lutenist at the Roya1 Swedish Court -


Fray Juan Bermudo and his Seven Vihuelas -


An American in Zillertal - ROLAND H.B. STEARNS

Record Reviews

Instrurnents for Sale

@ The Lute Society 1984

Adrninistrator: Shirley Wilson, 2 Canon Street. Islington, London N1 7DB
LUTE SOCIETY MUSIC PUBLICATION Fray Juan Bermudo, in his book Declaracion de In~trumentor,~ describes seven
'vihuelar', meaning seven tunings for the vihuela, and includes the appropriate
diagrams for them.2 These vihuelar, and the fact that in many pieces for vihuela
we find clefs that indicate the tuning for the piece in question, seern to suggest
LESSONS FOR THE LUTE that various tunings were used for the vihuela. The practice is described by
BY Bermudo as 'changing the instrument for the rnusic' - that is, to change the
tuning to suit the rnusic - as opposed to changing the rnusic for the instrument,
ANTHONY BAILES & ANNE VAN ROYEN transposing the rnusic to fit the instrurnent.3
The correct interpretation of 'changing the instrument' and of the concept of
.. 'tuning' has given rise to two schools of thought: the first takes Berrnudo's state-


ment literally, and rnaintains that an actual substitution of the instrument foi
another tuned differently is intended, or at least, that the tuning itself should be
a l ~ e r e d This
. ~ hypothesis has been disproved in an authoritative article by John
Ward, who has demonstrated that the 'change' takes place only in an imaginary
or intellectual leve]; in other words, that the instrurnent and tuning are to be left
unaltered, and the change consists in assigning different note-names, according
to the assurned tuning, to the strings and fret-board locations.' His argurnent is
supported by the fact that note-names were only points in a theoretical system,
while the actual pitch, which is never narned in the vihuelists' tuning
A book of intcrmcdisie picccs
selecred snd fully fingered
instructions, was subject to many variables: from thesizeof the instrurnent to the
by effect of the weather on the strings. His argument is further strengthened by the
treatise of Bartolorneo Lieto P a n h ~ r r n i t a n o ,where
~ several tables are found
Anthony Bailes & Annevan Royen which show how to assurne different tunings for the sarne instrument according
to the rnusic to be ciphered. While 1 agree with Ward's conclusions, they are,
nevertheless, limited to the tuning. In rny view, there is room for a different
THI LulX S W l m MLIK EDmoriS
inter~retationof Berrnudo's statement about 'changing the instrument' which, 1
believe, implies an actual change in another aspect: the fretting-scheme, at least
in the context of his own writings.
The first thing to consider is the distinction which Bermudo makes between
current practice, as he saw ir, and the possibility of improvernent and innovation.'
Price: 27.50 mernbers. £10.00 non-members We can find confirrnation of the two-fold nature of his work in the following
Postage and packing: British Isles 5Op; Europe £1.00;
Outside Europe (Surface) £1.00;(Airmail) £2.75 En todo lo que en rnusica escriuo In everyrhing 1 wrire about rnusic,
guardo el orden 1 keep (to) rhe order
Order your copy from: de naturaleza of Nature,
procediendo de lo imperfecto proceeding from the irnperfect
The Lute Society Administrator, a lo perfecto, to the perfect,
2 Canon Street, Islington, London N1 7DB que primero digo for 1 say firsr
lo que se haze, what is done,
y si alguna cosa ay and if there is something
que perfectionar o innouar: to perfect or innovate,
... acaece, que vna cuerda ... it happens, that [when] a string
se pone en el segundo lugar.8 itis stated in the second place. en v n traste forma mi, in a fret forms a mi [sharp],
Having established that Bermudo's writings can either reflect actual practice y lo ha menester: and needs if,
or suggest hypothetical (but feasible) innovations, it follows that they must be y otra cuerda another string
considered differently, according to the category in which they fall. It remains to en el mesmo traste in the same fret
define to which class the statement concerning the 'changing of the instrument', necessariamente ha de formar will necessarily form
el dicho mi, the said mi,
the object of this study, will pertain. The statement reads as follows: [although] it needs a fa [flat].
y auia menester fa.
Los curiosos tañedores de vihuela Learned vihuela players En las vihuelas pintadas In the vihuelas drawn
en vna de dos maneras treat this matter en este libro in this book
se han en esta materia. in one of two ways. hallareys muchos exemplos you will find many examples
O mudan la musica Either they change the music para verificar Lo sobredicho.14 to verify the aforesaid.
para el instrumento: for the instrument,
o mudan el instrumento or they change the instrument Example 1 shows Bermudo's diagram for thegamaut vihuela. T h e sharp frets are
para la musical for the music. identified by the presence of the % sign, and the flat frets by the b . The blank
spaces show the places where missing notes occur.
Since the statement indicates that the players themselves used one of these two
options, we may conclude that 'changing the instrument' falls in the 'actual
Example 1
practice' category. If the fretting arrangement, as 1wish to suggest, is the subject
of the 'change', it will have to fulfil two conditions in order to beconsistent with
the statement:
1) It should belong to the 'standard practice' category.
2) I t must not be a fretting-scheme suitable for equal temperament, since, if such
were the case, there would be no need to change it.

Bermudo describes the fretting-schemes for the seven vihuelar o r assumed

tunings in chapters 80 and 81 of the fourth book of the Declaracion; these
fretting-schemes are appropriate for a Pythagorean temperament.1° Later, in
chapter 86, he sets out rules for a fretting-scheme closely approaching equal
temperament,' o r as he puts it: que s e tangan todos los semitonos (whereall the
semitones can be played), and he also mentions that the frets will be placed
en nueuo modoi2(in a new way). From this we may infer that equal temperament the category of 'innovative' writings. Furthermore, in chapter 84, after
the diagrams and fretting-schemes for the seven vihuelas, he states:
Todo quanto de la vihuela Everything about the vihuela
tengo dicho which 1 have said If we compare the seven diagrams, and examine the fretting instructions in chap-
es lo que hasta oy is what until today ters 80 and 81, we will find that the fretting scheme is different for each of the
los muy sabios the wiser
musicos practicos han vsado.l> practica1 musicians have used. vihuelas,l> and also that the places where 'missing notes' occur are different.
From this we may conclude that if a change of assumed tuning, o r instrument,
From these statements it is clear that Bermudo considered a non-equal takes place, the frets will have to be re-positioned accordingly. When Bermudo
(Pythagorean) temperament to be standard practice; it follows that the fretting- announces that he will discuss the fretting-schemes giving the proportions to
scheme could very well be the subject of the change. calculate the frets (en cuenta de Arithmetica) for the wise and willing to learn, he
One of the characteristics of non-equal temperament fretting is the existence points out that it is necessary to know which frets are fixed, and which must
of 'missing notes'. That is, if a fret is in a sharp position and a flat is required on be shifted, and how much:
one of the courses, it will nor be found in that fret and vice-versa. This is che case
Es menester saber que trastes estaran fixos,
for Bermudo's vihuelas:
y quales se deuen mudar, y que tanto.I6
Example 2 is a comparative diagram of the placing of [he frets for the seven Communmente Commonly
vihuelas : 10s tañedores de vihuela vihuela-players
Example 2 que son diestros who are skilful
en al arte de cifrar, in the art of ciphering,
y de poner and of putting
en este instrumento cifras: ciphers in this instrument,
ymaginan comencar la sexta cuerda imagine the sixth string to begin
en vazio when [it is] unstopped
en garnaut, i n gamaut,
y algunas veces and sometimes
en Are.'9 in Are.

The close relation between ymaginar as a necessary step in the ciphering process
and the actual shifting of the frets in order to prepare the vihuela for playing is
revealed later in the same chapter (the 'compass' is the proportion used to
calculate the placing of the frets):
Sabiendo el compas Knowing the compass
de poner los trastes: by which the frets are placed,
It is interesting to note that Bermudo considers frets 2,4,5,7,9 and X as fixed, pueden ymaginar they rnay imagine
and that the change takes place exclusively in frets 1, 3, 6 and 8," which he la sexta en vazio the open sixth [course]
considers as diuisioner de tono (divisions of the tone, i.e. semitones): en qualquier signo at any\sign [or note-narne]
que q ~ i s i e r e n . ~ ~ they desire.
Tenga pues el tañedor The player should therefore take it
por auiso particular, as a particular warning,
que en los trastes primero, that in the first, Confirmation that assuming a tuning ( y m g i m r ) and preparing the vihuela
tercero, sexto y octauo third, sixth and eighth frets (changing the instrument) are two separate operations in the same process, is
que son diuisiones which are divisions
de tono of the tone, found in the way Bermudo deals separately with each one. In chapters 61,62 and
correspondientes a las corresponding to the an unnumbered one, called Exemplo de la vihuela commun (Example of the
teclas negras del monochordio: black keys of the monochord, common vihuela) he gives detailed instructions of what note-name to assign to
no forme mi he should not form a mi each fret-board location, whereas the rules and mathematical proportions to
en el traste que es fa in a /a fret fret the seven vihuelas are furnished in chapters 81 and 82 of the fourth book of
ni fa nor a /a the Declaracion. Further cases in which Bermudo makes clear that the frets need
en el traste que es mi. in a mi fret. to be placed according to the assumed tuning will be found in Appendix 1.
Lo sobredicho se entienda The aforesaid is to be understcod T o conclude, 1 believe that, in the context of Bermudo's own thinking, it is
en los instrumentos de cuerdas comrnunes: for [all] common string instruments, quite clear that by 'changing the instrument' h e meant a n alteration of the
peron en mi vihuela but in my vihuela fretting-scheme. It remains to be determined to what extent a non-equal
tambien se halla the fa and the mi temperament, which would have made it necessary to 'change the instrument'
el fa como el will be found equally.
was used in actual practice.
(The last part of the statement refers to Bermudo's new equal-temperament
fretted vihuela, where "al1 the semitones will be found".)
An argument againsc the proposition that changing the instrument means to 1 should like to thank Brian Trowell for his invaluable help, and the UniversidadNacional
adopt the suitable fretting-scheme could be provided by the word ymaginar, to Autonoma de Mexico, whose financia] support has enabled me to pursue these studies.
imagine, o r arte ymaginaria, imaginary art, which Bermudo uses in relation to
this practice. The context, however, shows rhat these words do not relate to the
instrument itself, but to the process of intabulating, o r ciphering the music:
Appendix 1 2) Book 4, fol. xc'.
Comienza el arte de la vihuela.
... LOS curiosos tañedores de vihuela en vna de dos maneras se han en esta
Three cases in which Bermudo makes clear that a change of the fretting- materia. O mudan la musica para el instrumento: o mudan el instrumento para la
scheme is implied in the change of instrument. musica. Digo, que como es un organo solo, y los signos tiene fixos, y por ser la
Musica fuera de tono para responder en el choro, o por otra cosa que parece al
tañedor mudan la musica: assi ay algunos tañedores de vihuela que siempre
1) Book 2, Chapter 35, fol. xxix'. imaginan la vihuela de una manera, y si la musica no viene conforme a la
De algunos otros auisos para principiantes. - Ca. xxxv. ymaginacion que tienen de la vihuela, porque sale fuera de los trastes: mudan la
Communmente los tañedores de vihuela que son diestros en el arte de cifrar, y Musica por signos, que descansadamente se pueda tañer. Este arte de tañer vihuela
de poner e n este instrumento cifras: ymaginan domencar la sexta cuerda en vazio antiguamente se vsaba mas que ahora, y auia tanedores con mas facilidad: aunque
engamaut, y algunas vetes e n Are. Verdad es, que cifras he visto de buen tañedor no era[n] extensamente tan sabios: como los que vsan en este tiempo muchas
ser la sexta la tecla negra que esta entre Are ~ b m i Bien
. se, que por aqui y por vihuelas. Tracto esta materia debaxo la presente ymaginacion en el capitulo
ochenta y dos. LOS que no supieron mudar los trastes, vsaron esta manera de
otros lugares semejantes no acertaran todos a tañer. Lo vno, porque no esta vsada
poner en la vihuela, y para los tales era buena. Ay ahora musicos, que no
la mano: y lo otro, porque es menester para los sobredichos lugares mudar ciertos
trastes. Sabiendo el compas de poner los trastes: pueden ymaginar la sexta en contentos con mudar la musica para la vihuela: sino dexan estarla como la hallan,
y mudan las vihuelas, que no siempre ymaginan ser la sexta vn signo: pero segun
vazio en qualquier signo que quisieran. Puede ser la sexta e n vazio, no solamente
gamaut, o Are (segun dicho auemos) perobmi, y Cfaut, y Dsolre, y qualquiera de sube, o abaxa la Musica: assi fingen ser la sexta e n vazio. Ymagina[n] pues vnas
los otros signos differentes. Dixe señalamente imaginar: porque pintar las vezes comencar la vihuela en gamaut, otras en Are, y assi proceden por todas
siepte letras differentes, y aun por diuisiones de tono comiencan algunas vezes.
vihuelas, guitarras, bandurrias, y rabeles, que adelante vereys: no se hace porque
departe de los dichos instrumentos ello sea assi: sino que, teniendo las vihuelas Esto vsan buenos tañedores, y en la cifras de Espana, y estrangeras lo hallareys.
debuxadas, facilmente (mirando a los signos que en ellas estan pintados) pueden
cifrar. Es pues este arte imaginario: para por el venir con facilidad, y certidumbre Here begins the art of the vihuela.
a cifrar, que es lo que muchos tanedores dessean. ... The more learned vihuela players treat this matter in two ways. They either
change the music for the instrument, or change the instrument for the music. 1
say, that as in an individual organ, which has [notes of] fixed signs,*' if the music
Of certain other advice for beginners. is out of tune when answering the choir, or for any other reason which seems
Vihuela players who are skilled in the art of ciphering, and of setting [music good to the player, they change [i.e. transpose] the music, likewise some vihuela
in] ciphers for this instrument, commonly imagine the open sixth string as players always imagine the vihuela in [only] one way, and if the music does not
beginning on gamaut, and sometimes on Are. It is true, that in the ciphers of [a] conform to the mental picture they have of the vihuela, because it goes beyond
good player 1 have seen the sixth string [as] being the black key which is between the frets, they change the signs of the music [i.e. transpose it], so it canbeeasily
Are and mi [Le. B flat]. 1 know well that in this and other similar places [i.e. played.
assumed tunings] not everybody will be able to play, first, because the hand is not This art of playing the vihuela was formerly more in use than [it is] nowadays,
amstomed toiit, and secondly, because it ir necessary to change certain frets for and there were players of greater facility, although they were generally less
the aforesaid placer. Knowing the measurements by which the frets are to be learned than those who nowadays employ many vihuelas [Le. assumed tunings]. 1
plced, they can imagine the open sixth [course] at whatever sign [;.e. note- treat chis matter concerning the current [use of] 'imagination' inchapter eighty-
mame] they muy wish. The open sixth [course] can be, not only gamaut or Are (as two.22 Those who did not know how to change the frets used this method of
we have said), but bmi and Cfaut and Dsolre, and any of theother different signs. setting [music] in Ifor] the vihuela, and for such [players] it was good. Nowadays
1 said imagine deliberately, because the drawings of the vihuelas, guitarras, there are some musicians who, not content with changing the music for the
bandurrias and rabeles which you will see later are not made [so] because the vihuela, leave it as they find it, and change the vihuelas, for they do not always
instruments themselves are like that, but by keeping [before them] the drawings imagine that the sixth [course] is of a fixed sign [i.e. note-name], but depending
of the vihuelas, they will be able to cipher [more] easily [by] (looking at the signs on how [much] the music [to be set] rises or falls, they feign [the note-names of]
drawn in them). This is thus an art of the imagination; and with it ciphering will the open sixth [course] accordingly. Sometimes, therefore, they imagine that the
bccome easy and certain, which is what many players desire. vihuela begins in gamaut, at orher times in Are, and so theyproceed by theseven
different letters [i.e. note-names], and even begin sometimes in divisions of the Appendix 2
tone [;.e. semitones]. Good players use this [method], and you will find it in
Spanish and foreign ciphers.
Bermudo's instructions to calculate the fret positions.
3) Book 4, Chapter 84, fol. cviii. The following is a concise versionof Bermudo's instructions, found in chapters
De otra mayor perfection e n la vihuela commun. - Ca. 84. 80 and 81 of the fourth book of the Declaracion. H e considers the frets numbers
2, 4, 5 , 7, 9 and 10 as fixed, except in one isolaced instance, for the m i tuning,
Todo quanto de la vihuela tengo dicho es lo que hasta oy los muy sabios musicos '
where he advises the player to shift the fourth fret to a FA position. The
practicos han vsado. Pero no faltan angustias y trabajos en mudar trastes para remaining frets will be placed according to the tuning intended; to determine
cada vihuela, de tener cuenta con tantas vihuelas, y guardarse de golpes que no se &ese places refer to example 2, p.80. It is worthwhile to point out that for
puedan dar, como es el traste que era mi no podian en el formar fa y al con- the Gamaut tuning he makes clear that the 8th fret should be a FA, but he
trario, [ ... ] eventually decided that it would be more useful in the MI position.
Of a further way to perfect more the common vihuela. Each line provides the instructions to calculate one fret, divided into two
operations. First one must divide a g i v h length of string by a stated figure, in
Everything 1have said aboutthe vihuela is what the wiser practica] musicians order to obtain a modular length which will be the measuring unit [L] for the
have been accustomed to. But there is no lack of difficulty and labour inchanging next operation; the second stage is to add this module, or a multiple of it, to, or
fretr for each vihuela, in keeping track of so many vihuelas, and avoiding notes subtract it from, a given point. 'Distante between' will be abbreviated as db,
which cannot be played, as in the case of a fa fret which was [tuned to] mi, modular length as L, and 'fret' as f.
[where] one may not play a fa and vice-versa.
FRET 1. - Values for L. -
2. Placing of frets.
f5 String lengrh + 4 nut +
r f 10 dbnut&fSf 4 f54-3L
f7 dbnut&f5+ 3 f5+1L
f2 db n u t & f i f 3 nut +
-_ -____ ------ - . -- ._
db f2 & f7 + 3
d b f2 & f 9 + 3
f7+ 1L
f2+ 1L
d b nut & f 2 = 1 L
Irpc f G MI
f 8 MI d b f6 M I & bridge f9
bridge - 8 L
!N P A D O V A V v c n d c l ; ~V c n c r c f l MI db f6 M I & bridge + 3 f6-1L
f 3 FA d b f 5 & bridge + 8 f5 - 1 L
f 3 MI dbflMI&bridge+ 9 flMI+ 1L
f l FA dbf3 FA&bridge+8 f3 FA- 1L
f6 FA d b f l FA & b r i d g e + 4 flFA+lL
An accurate and detailed drawing of the 1592 Venere located in f 8 FA d b f 10 & bridge + 8 f10- 1 L
t h e Accademia Filarmonica, Bologna, ¡S now available. This is a f 4 FA db f G FA & bridge + 8 f6FA-1L
7 course lute with a string length of 58.4 cm that is virtually in
original condition. T h e drawing includes 6 accurate cross-
sections of the back, 4 X-rays, 10 pages of descriptive notes and FOOTNOTES
photostats of 9 photographs. Price: $30 plus $10 for postage
1. Juan Bermudo: Deciuracion de Instrumentos Mrrricakr (Ossuna. 1555), hereafter referred to
and the extra-strong mailing container. Copies of the drawing as Dec.
o n mylar and b. & w. photographs are available upon special
2. The instructions about the drawing of the vihuelas are ser in Book 4, chapters 61-62,fols. xcii-
request. Direct inquiries to: xciii; the fretting instructions are contained in Book 4, chapters 80-81,fols. cv-cvii, where the
Grant Tomlinson diagrams for the seven vibrrehr are also found.
3523 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V6R 115, Canada 3. Dec., fol. xc'.
4. This theory has been accepted by Emilio Pujol, cv. Luis de Narvaez: Los seys libros del Delpbin de
NOTE : PRICE QUoTEo IS iN C ~ N ~ O I A~ NL L ~ R S . musica de cifrar para taner vibrefa (Valladolid, 1538); transcription and edition by E. Pujol,
C MME III (Barcelona,1945), p. 28.Ir should be noted that Pujol also accepts thepossibilityof the
change taking place at an imaginary level. For other writers who support chis theory cf.
A. Salazar: 'Musica, Instrumentos y Danzas en las Obras de Cervantes',NRFH, 11 (1948), p. 154; A Look a t the 1984 Course f o r Lute in Zillertal, Austria
M. Prynne: 'A surviving Vihuela de Mano', GSI, XVI (1963). p. 26; R. de Zayas: 'The Vihuela:
Swoose, Lute or Guitar-', GR, 38 (1973). p. 5. ROLAND H.B. STEARNS
5. John M. Ward: 'Le problkme des hauteurs dans la musique pour luth et vihuela au XVIe sihcle',
Le Luth et sa Musique, ed. Jean Jacquot (Paris, 1958.2/1978), pp. 171-178. Cf. also by the same
author: 'Changing the Instrument for the Music', ILSA. XV (1982), pp. 27-39.
6. Bartolomeo Lieto Panhormitano: Dialogo Quarto di Murica (Naples, 1559).
7. Whether his view of current practice is reliable, and whether his innovations gained general
acceptance will require a wider srudy than is here attempted. Our concern is with the inner
coherence of Bermudo's own views.
8. Dec., Second Prologue. sig. +vi¡.
9. Cf. note 3.
10. Mark Lindley: úrter, Viols and Temperamentr (Cambridge, 1984), pp. 16-17.
11. J. Murray Barbour: Tuning and Temperament. A Histotical Suwey. (Michigan, 1951.2/1972),
p. 166. Cf. also M. Lindley: op. cit.. pp. 27-28. N.B.There is a mistake in this last work, where,
in p. 28, chapter 86 is quoted as 16.
12. Dec., fol. cix.
13. Dec., fol. cviii.
14. Dec.. fol. cviii'.
15. The only two vihuelas which are alike are the one in Are and the one in Elami. Although theone
in Gamaut and rhe one in Cfaut are also similar, chis is due to Bermudo's decision to place the 8th
fret in a MI position in the vihuela in Gamaut, which otherwise would have a fretting arrange-
ment differing from al1 the others.
16. Dec., fol. cv.
17. The only exception is the bmi vihuela, where a change in the 4th fret is called for, cf. Dec..
fols. cvi'-cvii. Stefan Lundgren
18. Dec., fol. cix.
Once in a great while the guitarist or lutenist encounters a group or activity
19. Dec., fol. xxix'
which gives him memories for a lifetime, knowledge thar can help his entire
20. Dec., fol. xxix'
career, and friends that make a return trip something worth planning for as long
21. In this context signos fixos besides meaning note-name also implies a fixed pitch, suggesting
that [he music was transposed when it exceeded the range, or when the limitations of its
as necessary until he can relive the experience.
temperament prevented a satisfactory intonation. There are many reasons for this, and 1 am sure there are as many different
22. In fact, the instmctions about how to use a vihuela with fixed signs (assuming only one tuning), opinions on what is important as there are kinds of people who participate in
and how to change the music instead, are found in chapter 83. Chapter 82 isdedicated togeneral these gatherings.
advice, such as: not to slant the frets, or use false strings. Cf. M. Lindley: op. cit., pp. 17-18. However, no argument can be given about leadership in knowledge and per-
formance in such activities, and no opinion can sensibly discount the importance
of h ~ s p i t a l iduring
t~ such a short period of intense work. In both categories, the
Course for Lute in Zillertal has the best kind of qualities, and it is a fortunate time
for lutenists and guitarists in Germany and Austria thát the Zillertal course
The Journal of the Lute Society founder, Stefan Lundgren, is pursuing his career in this area.
Mr. Lundgren, a Swede who has widely-travelled credentials through studies
Display Advertising Rates in England and Basel, is the kind of rare person who combines the often contra-
dictory attributes of outstanding, historical performer, excellent instruction uia
Quarter page: £17.50 Half Page: £30 Full Page: £50 performance techniques and knowledge, and perhaps most important, the ability
Full details f r o m Shirley Wilson. 2 C a n o n Street, Islington. London N1 7DB. to organize and handle diverse talents and opinions without the unfortunate
Telephone: 01-359 1064 personal animosities that often spring up where talented and competitive