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Francisco Guerau

The complete Poema Harmonico in modern tablature

Here is everything from Francisco Guerau's Poema Harmonico for Baroque guitar (1694). It represents the complete, surviving works of Francisco Guerau.

So that you may jump right into the music, comments about Guerau's tablature follow the table of contents.

But make sure you understand the basic difference between the Baroque guitar and modern guitar before jumping in. See the section on "Guerau's Tuning" below, or view the Villano edited for modern guitar for suggestions on where you might want to add octaves above 4th and 5th string notes. There's nothing to it!

For convenience, each piece by Guerau has been assigned a short ID. Note that "Compassillo" is common time (4/4), "Proporcion" is 3/4 time, and "diferencias" means "variations".

You may safely IGNORE the "(notes)" link after each piece. This is where Guerau's very rare errors would be noted. It also presents the same piece in my superceded but then-revolutionary ASCII tab.

INDICE DE LAS OBRAS CONTENIDAS EN ESTE

POEMA HARMONICO

fg01: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, de Compassillo. 17 diferencias. (notes)
fg02: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, de Proporcion. 17 diferencias. (notes)
fg03: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, de Compassillo. 16 diferencias. (notes)
fg04: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, de Proporcion. 16 diferencias. (notes)
fg05: Passacalles de 2llo. (segundillo) tono, de Compassillo. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg06: Passacalles de 2llo. (segundillo) tono, de Proporcion. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg07: Passacalles de 3o. (tercer) tono, de Compassillo. 19 diferencias. (notes)
fg08: Passacalles de 3o. (tercer) tono, de Proporcion. 16 diferencias. (notes)
fg09: Passacalles de 4o. (quarto) tono, de Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg10: Passacalles de 4o. (quarto) tono, de Proporcion. 16 diferencias. (notes)
fg11: Passacalles de 5o. (quinto) tono, de Compassillo. 15 diferencias. (notes)
fg12: Passacalles de 5o. (quinto) tono, de Proporcion. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg13: Passacalles de 6o. (sexto) tono, de Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg14 Passacalles de 6o. (sexto) tono, de Proporcion. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg15: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, de Compassillo. 19 diferencias. (notes)
fg16: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, de Proporcion. 18 diferencias. (notes)
fg17: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) tono, de Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg18: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) tono, de Proporcion. 15 diferencias. (notes)
fg19: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, de Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg20: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, de Proporcion. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg21: Passacalles por Patilla de 8o. (octavo) punto alto. Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg22: Passacalles por Patilla de 8o. (octavo) punto alto. Proporcion. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg23: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, punto bajo, de Compassillo. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg24: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, punto bajo, de Proporcion. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg25: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, punto alto, de Compassillo. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg26: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, punto alto, de Proporcion. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg27: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, punto alto, de Compassillo. 14 diferencias. (notes)
fg28: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, punto alto, de Proporcion. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg29: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, punto bajo, de Compassillo. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg30: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, punto bajo, de Proporcion. 12 diferencias. (notes)

fg31: Jacaras. 39 diferencias. (notes)
fg32: Jacaras de la Costa. 29 diferencias. (notes)
fg33: Marizapalos. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg34: Espanoleta. 8 diferencias. (notes)
fg35: Pavanas. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg36: Gallardas. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg37: Folias. 12 diferencias. (notes)
fg38: Marionas. 18 diferencias. (notes)
fg39: Canario. 13 diferencias. (notes)
fg40: Villano. 13 diferencias. (notes)

 

***

Francisco Guerau, Baroque guitar, and tablature

Poema Harmonico was published in Spain in 1694. To put that in context, the first Baroque guitar treatise, by Juan Carlos Amat, was published in 1596. Gaspar Sanz's well-known work, "Instruccion de musica" appeared in 1674. Santiago de Murcia's two large manuscripts came very late in the game, 1732.

Guerau's title page reads as follows:

POEMA HARMONICO

COMPUESTO DE VARIAS CIFRAS
POR EL TEMPLE DE LA GUITARRA ESPANOLA

DEDICADO

A LA SACRA, CATHOLICA, Y REAL MAGESTAD
DEL REY NUESTRO SENOR

DON CARLOS SEGVNDO,

QUE DIOS GUARDE,

POR SV MENOR CAPELLAN, Y MAS AFECTO VASSALLO,
EL LICENCIADO DON FRANCISCO GVERAV,
PRESBYTERO, MVSICO DE SV REAL CAPILLA, Y CAMARA;
CON LICENCIA.
EN MADRID: En la Imprenta de Manuel Ruiz de Murga. Ano de M.DC.LXXXX.IV.

 
That starts off, "Harmonic Poem, comprising tablature for the Spanish Guitar," followed by the obligatory fawning of the age.

I encourage you to track down a facsimile copy of Poema Harmonico. Mine was published by Tecla Editions (1977) and has an introduction and English translation by Brian Jeffery. Everything you need to play the music is here, but even if you never actually play from a facsimile, just looking it over and comparing a few bars here and there with the modern tablature should bring you a lot closer to Guerau.

GUERAU'S TUNING: Gueraus' five-course guitar was tuned like the top 5 strings of the modern guitar, A d g b e', with high octaves on the A and d and unisons on the g and b, yielding Aa dd' gg bb e' (or maybe doubled e').

Some Baroque guitar composers made melodic use of the high octaves on the 5th and 4th course. They were used for melody notes in passages called campanelas, where notes of a scale are gotten by jumping back and forth between strings on different sides of the fingerboard.

Since Francisco Guerau did not write campanelas passages, his music works quite well played directly on a modern guitar. But there are spots where adding the octave above the 5th or 4th string note may improve the texture or help the melody. This is usually very easily done. See the Villano edited for modern guitar. Of course, you might add more, or fewer, notes than I did.

GUERAU'S TABLATURE: Guerau's tablature was "upside-down" relative to what modern guitarists are used to. His top-most line in the tablature staff represents what we call the 5th-string ("low A"). The modern tablature flips Guerau's staff, the top-most space representing our 1st-string ("high E").

RHYTHM VALUES: In ancient tablature, a rhythm symbol is shown only where the next, new rhythm value appears. For the modern musician's reading comfort, I provide complete, running rhythmic information.

GUERAU'S ORNAMENTS: Francisco Guerau notated three different ornaments: % for a trill; ) for a mordent, and # for vibrato. He placed these symbols behind the note (i.e., fret number) they acted on.

In this modern tablature, I use symbols which suggest twiddles from above or below, and I put them in front of the fret number. My ornament notation is not 100% consistent. I was still finding my way producing tablature, and the computer-generated tab, the ASCII character tab, and my handwritten touches yielded different possibilities to experiment with. But there should be no problem interpreting the ornament symbols.

A symbol at the HEAD of a fret number means trill (multiple twiddles from above.) You will find a raised ~ or a " .

A symbol at the FOOT of a fret number means mordent (main note, lower neighbor, and back up.) You will find a lowered "^" or a hand-drawn shallow bowl (u) or a comma "," .

# = vibrato.

Guerau says, "The most beautiful thing of all is a continuous series of trills, mordents, slurs and arpeggios," and calls the ornaments "the soul of the music." But, if you can't play them, leave them out. "They are not an inviolable law." (Translations by Brian Jeffery.) Where a shorter note calls for a trill, I generally find an inverted mordent (main note, upper neighbor, back down) works fine.

STRUMS: While Baroque guitar music is famous for its strumming, Francisco Guerau makes very modest use of this effect. I put ^ and v arrowheads on the rhythm stem.

RIGHT-HAND TECHNIQUE: Francisco Guerau says to alternate i and m on descending passages down to string 4, and then use the thumb. On ascending passages, use the thumb up to the 2nd string, and then alternate i and m from there on up.

FINAL MEASURE: For all of the passacalles and some of the dances, you'll find that Guerau did not write the last measure. I just end the piece on the same chord it started with, but

MY FAVORITES: In Baroque guitar books, passacalles often make up the bulk of the work. However, the passacalles are almost completely ignored nowadays. Editors and performers generally go for the little dance hits. For what it's worth, here are some of my favorite passacalles by Guerau: fg1, fg12, fg19, fg20, fg21, fg22, fg23, fg25, fg26 and fg28.

And don't laugh, but a few of them remind me of J. S. Bach (who would have been about 9 when the Poeme Harmonico appeared.) Check out Passacalles fg07, fg17, fg18. Passacalle fg04 brings the famous Chaconne to my mind.

 


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