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Gaspar Sanz -
Selected works from Instruccion de Musica
in modern tablature

Presented here are selected pieces from Gaspar Sanz's Instruccion de Musica sobre la guitarra espanola for Baroque guitar.

This modern tablature uses only common keyboard characters - no graphics. It's very simple and instantly usable, but you can click here for some general comments on the modern tablature, including tips on printing it out perfectly.

Unlike some of my other tablature presentations, this one is not a "complete works", but it now has Sanz's complete Libro 2 (second volume.) The reason for completing Libro 2 was that I got a special request for the Marizapalos from Matt Reade. After adding that I figured I only had to do a few more pages to polish it off. The reason for the Libro 1 page I transcribed was that Paul Gabler, creator of the fine La Folia web site, said, sure, he'd like a link to Sanz's versions of that old chestnut. Sanz had a strummed Folia in Libro 1 and, always making things harder on myself, I determined to do up all the pieces on any page if I was going to do even one.

Gaspar Sanz, of course, has been published widely in editions for modern guitar. I thought I read once there is even an edition in music notation that will direct your fingers exactly where Sanz's tablature does. Still, I'm not sure it's an easy matter for the common man to get his hands on a complete works of Gaspar Sanz that is completely faithful to the original, and instantly usable. If there is any sort of clamor for the rest of his pieces in this form of tablature, I'd be glad to do them up some day, too. As you saw from the anecdotes above, ask and ye might receive.

Further comments specific to Gaspar Sanz and his tablature are below the table of contents. So it doesn't get lost, let me mention here a page with a suggestion on how you might add octaves to get a more satisfying result playing Sanz on the modern guitar.

For convenience (or confusion?), each piece by Sanz has been assigned a short ID of the form GStpx, where t, p, and x are set as follows:

t = tomo (volume) number. Sanz's Instruccion comprises three tomos, so the range for t is 1-3. In fact, "tomo 1", "tomo 2" or "tomo 3" is printed on each page of tablature in the Instruccion. The three volumes are also called "libros" (books).

p = page number of the piece. Within each tomo (or libro) page numbers start at 1 for the introductory text, and at 1 again for the plates with tablature. Thus, there are six (or so) Page 1's in the Instruccion.

x = number of the piece on the page, but designated with a letter. a=1, b=2, c=3, etc. x is omitted if there is only one piece on Sanz's page, or if I thought it made more sense to lump all of the pieces on Sanz's page together into one web page here.

So, for example, the 3rd piece on page 4 of tomo 2 would be designated as GS24c. I know, I know . . . there's got to be a better way.

Tomo 1 (Libro 1)

Page 3. GS13: Gallardas. Villano. Otro. Dances delas Hachas. Jacaras. Jacara de la Costa. Passacalle. Passacalles. Otros Passacalles. Espan^oleta. Folias. Pavana. Rugero. Las Paradetas. There are multiple versions of some of these. Be forewarned - these are all strummed.

Tomo 2 (Libro 2)

Page 3. GS23a: Gallardas.
Page 3. GS23b: Las Hachas.
Page 3. GS23c: La Buelta.
Page 3. GS23d: Folias.
Page 4. GS24a: Rujero.
Page 4. GS24b: Paradetas.
Page 4. GS24c: Matachin.
Page 4. GS24d: Zarabanda.
Page 4. GS24e: Jacaras.
Page 4. GS24f: Chacona.
Page 5. GS25a: Espan^oletas.
Page 5. GS25b: Espan^oletas por Otro Punto Las que siguense.
Page 5. GS25c: Passacalles.
Page 6. GS26a: Canarios.
Page 6. GS26b: Siguense Otros Canarios.
Page 6. GS26c: Villanos.
Page 7. GS27: Marionas.
Page 8. GS28: Maricapalos (marizapalos).
Page 9. GS29a: Granduque.
Page 9. GS29b: Otro Granduque.
Page 9. GS29c: Passacalles.
Page 10. GS210a: Pavanas por la D, con Partidas al Aire Espan^ol.
Page 10. GS210b: Una Jiga Inglesa.
Page 10. GS210c: Bailete Frances.
Page 11. GS211: Passacalles por La O.
Page 12. GS212: "Clarines y Trompetes con Canciones muy curiosas Espan^olas, y de Estranjeras Naciones. In Carazoga. 1675." Clarines y Trompetas. La Cavalleria de Napoles. con dos Clarines. Canciones. La Garzona. La Coquina Francesa. Lantururu. La Esfachata de Napoles. La Min^ona de Catalun^a. La Minina de Portugal. Dos Trompetas de la Reyna de Suecia. Clarin delos Mosqueteros del Rey Francia.

Tomo 3 (Libro 3)

(No transcriptions here from tomo 3.)

Gaspar Sanz, his guitar and tablature

Gaspar Sanz's Instruccion, published in Saragossa, 1674, was the first guitar book published in Spain in the 17th century. The first Baroque guitar booklet was published by Juan Carlos Amat in Valencia in 1596. The guitar books between Amat and Sanz came mostly from Italy and France. Francisco Guerau's Poema Harmonico was published in Madrid in 1694. Santiago de Murcia's two large manuscripts came along much later - 1732.

I used a facsimile, published by Minkoff, of the 1697 edition of Instruccion. I'm confused about how the 3 Libros were originally published - whether separately, or whether every time Sanz wrote another Libro he tacked it onto the previous one(s) and published them as a unit, or whether all 3 were published together right off the bat in 1674. Something's funny, because the last page of Libro (tomo) 2 is dated 1675.

Libro 1 has about 14 pages of pieces for Baroque guitar. (There are some more pages with music theory.) Libro 2 has ten pages; and Libro 3 has eight pages. That adds up to about 32 pages, of which you get 11 here. These figures may mislead you regarding the actual quantity of music contained in the Instruccion. Sanz crammed a lot of tablature onto one page; in modern notation - whether music or tablature - one of his pages might fill three of ours.

The Guitar Review magazine, in issue 40, winter 1976, began a project to transcribe all of Sanz's Instruccion into music notation. They claimed that "with the completion of this series, Guitar Review subscribers will be in possession of all the Gaspar Sanz music that has survived to this day." This effort was aborted without comment almost as soon as it began. Their 25 pages of transcription in 2 consecutive issues only got them up to page 8 in Sanz's Libro 1. That, combined with the fact that they presented all of Sanz's smallest and simplest pieces, had me confused for decades about what Sanz had actually produced. Don't you be duped.

TABLATURE ORIENTATION: Sanz's tablature was "upside-down" relative to what most modern tablature readers are used to. His top-most line in the tablature staff represented what we call the 5th string on the guitar. This modern tablature has flip-flopped the original tablature staff; the top-most space here represents our 1st string.

BAROQUE GUITAR TUNING: There are three main stringings for the Baroque guitar depending on the period, nationality and composer. Each of these tunings had treble strings a d' g b e', in the order of what we think of as string 5 to string 1. The alternatives come about depending on which, if either, of string 5 and string 4 were paired with bass strings (bourdons).

Sanz said that bourdons were usual in Spain, although he himself did not use them. Thus, Sanz's own tuning was aa d'd' gg bb e'. The lowest note is the g given by the open 3rd string. To be honest, I find that stringing a modern guitar with 5 trebles gives an unsatisfying, thin sound. I suggest it's ok to take the stance, "Even if Sanz was goofy enough to take the basses off of his guitar, probably hardly anybody else did, so I'm not gonna either."

If you play this tablature on a modern guitar, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS THINK ABOUT WHETHER YOU WANT TO ADD, OR SUBSTITUTE, THE OCTAVE ABOVE ANY NOTE ON THE 4TH OR 5TH STRING. Here is a page that gives a suggestion on how you might add octaves to get a more satisfying result playing Sanz on the modern guitar. Also, see my web pages giving two versions of a Passacaille by Gallot - one faithful to the original for Baroque guitar, and one with added octaves for the modern guitar.

You might also want to visit my web page which explains how you can very simply convert a modern guitar into a Baroque guitar - what I call a "quasi-Baroque" guitar. If you go with a modern guitar, let me suggest terz guitar strings. I find the brighter sound and the lighter touch (I tune them a half-step below the designated pitch) to be much more "in tune" with this ancient music.

ORNAMENTATION: Sanz notated 3 different ornaments in his tablature.

"T" = trill.

")" on its side = mordent. The curve appears like an umbrella above the fret number, or a bowl below it.

"#" = vibrato. It's clear that Sanz often meant for one # to apply to 2 or more fret numbers in a chord.

In this modern tablature, I use symbols which suggest twiddles from above or below, and I put them in front of the fret number.

" = trill (multiple twiddles from above.)

` = grace note from above. (Not used in Sanz's music.)

, = mordent (main note to lower neighbor and back up.)

# = vibrato.

Some think that in Sanz's music the trill begins on the main note, rather than the upper neighbor.

SLURS: are described by their starting and ending points. You'll have to draw them in by hand - not too onerous a chore. If only a starting point for the slur is given, the slur includes all the following uninterrupted notes on the same string, even if the run of notes crosses a bar line.

STRUMS: Baroque guitar music is famous for its strumming. The first 2 pages of tablature in Sanz's Libro 1 are filled with completely strummed pieces. They are notated in alfabeto; letters indicate what chord to finger and little dashes indicate where to strum up and down. There are some, but not many, strums in the later pieces in the Instruccion.

I have managed to work ^ and v arrowheads into the tablature, but they can stand a little touching up. I suggest re-drawing the ^ arrowhead neatly at the top of the stem. For a nicer appearance, redraw the arrowhead right at the top or bottom of its stem and white-out the printed one.

RHYTHM VALUES: Sanz's original rhythm values have been retained. Remember that in the original tablature, a rhythm symbol is supplied only when a new rhythm begins. If I have to describe the original rhythm values in a given measure, I write the implied rhythmic values in ( ). For example, where Sanz writes . . .

        |          |   | 

. . . I would describe the rhythms as follows:

Bar 1 - 4er (4er 4er 4er).
Bar 2 - (4er) 8th (8th) 4er (4er).

DOUBLE BAR LINES: Sanz uses short double bar lines to separate sections within a piece. The short double bar line spans just the inner 2 of the 4 tablature staff spaces. They are represented in the modern tablature here with full-length double bar lines.

That would hardly be worth mentioning, except that it relates to the question of what Sanz means by full-length double bars. Often it's obvious; a highly decorated double bar line is used at the end of a piece. Even without all of the loops and swirls, you would know it's the end of the piece because something new starts up after it. There may be a space, a time signature and a title for the next piece.

But there are instances where a full-length double bar is only minimally decorated - or not decorated at all - and there's no space and no title for a following piece. One might think that it acts just like a short double bar, separating sections within a piece, but my conclusion is that the full-length double bar is always meant to separate one piece from another. So, what at first glance might appear to be one long passacalle could actually be 3 distinct passacalles separated by plain, full-length double bars. In the modern tablature, I've tried to retain Sanz's presentation of the full-length double bars so you can draw your own conclusions.

TIME SIGNATURES: When I need to indicate the time signature in the modern tablature, I use 3/4, 4/4 and 2/2 for Sanz's "3", "C" and Cut time (a "C" with a slash), respectively.


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Helpful keywords not in the main text: espan^ol = espanol; espan^oleta = espanoleta; Min^ona de Catalun^a= minona de cataluna. strummed = rasgeado, rasgueado.

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