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Francisco Guerau -
The complete Poema Harmonico in modern tablature

Presented here are all the pieces in Francisco Guerau's Poema Harmonico for Baroque guitar (1694). This represents the complete, surviving works of Francisco Guerau.

Further comments specific to Guerau's tablature follow the table of contents. For convenience, each piece by Guerau has been assigned a short ID.

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.

In the table of contents below, note that "compassillo" means common time (4/4), and "proporcion" means 3/4 time.



FG1: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono. Compassillo. 17 diferencias.
FG2: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono. Proporcion. 17 diferencias.
FG3: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono. Compassillo. 16 diferencias.
FG4: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono. Proporcion. 16 diferencias.
FG5: Passacalles de 2llo. (segundillo) tono. Compassillo. 13 diferencias.
FG6: Passacalles de 2llo. (segundillo) tono. Proporcion. 13 diferencias.
FG7: Passacalles de 3o. (tercer) tono. Compassillo. 19 diferencias.
FG8: Passacalles de 3o. (tercer) tono. Proporcion. 16 diferencias.
FG9: Passacalles de 4o. (quarto) tono. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG10: Passacalles de 4o. (quarto) tono. Proporcion. 16 diferencias.
FG11: Passacalles de 5o. (quinto) tono. Compassillo. 15 diferencias.
FG12: Passacalles de 5o. (quinto) tono. Proporcion. 12 diferencias.
FG13: Passacalles de 6o. (sexto) tono. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG14 Passacalles de 6o. (sexto) tono. Proporcion. 14 diferencias.
FG15: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono. Compassillo. 19 diferencias.
FG16: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono. Proporcion. 18 diferencias.
FG17: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) tono. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG18: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) tono. Proporcion. 15 diferencias.
FG19: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG20: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto. Proporcion. 14 diferencias.
FG21: Passacalles por Patilla de 8o. (octavo) punto alto. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG22: Passacalles por Patilla de 8o. (octavo) punto alto. Proporcion. 14 diferencias.
FG23: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, punto bajo. Compassillo. 12 diferencias.
FG24: Passacalles de 1o. (primer) tono, punto bajo. Proporcion. 13 diferencias.
FG25: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, punto alto. Compassillo. 13 diferencias.
FG26: Passacalles de 8o. (octavo) alto, punto alto. Proporcion. 13 diferencias.
FG27: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, punto alto. Compassillo. 14 diferencias.
FG28: Passacalles de 7o. (septimo) tono, punto alto. Proporcion. 13 diferencias.
FG29: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, punto bajo. Compassillo. 12 diferencias.
FG30: Passacalles de 2o. (segundo) tono, punto bajo. Proporcion. 12 diferencias.

FG31: Jacara. 39 diferencias.
FG32: Jacara de la Costa. 29 diferencias.
FG33: Mari-Zapalos. 12 diferencias.
FG34: Espanoleta. 8 diferencias.
FG35: Pavana. 12 diferencias.
FG36: Gallarda. 13 diferencias.
FG37: Folias. 12 diferencias.
FG38: Mariona. 18 diferencias.
FG39: Canario. 13 diferencias.
FG40: Villano. 13 diferencias.

Francisco Guerau, Baroque guitar and tablature

Francisco Guerau's Poema Harmonico of 1694 was the last of the guitar books published in Spain in the 17th century. For a bit of context, the first Baroque guitar treatise, by Juan Carlos Amat, was published in 1596. The most famous of the Spanish guitar books, by Gaspar Sanz, appeared in 1674. Santiago de Murcia's two large manuscripts came late in the game - 1732.

Guerau's title page read as follows:







EN MADRID: En la Imprenta de Manuel Ruiz de Murga. Ano de M.DC.LXXXX.IV.

I urge you to buy 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 in these web pages, but having access to the original enhances the experience immeasurably. Even if you never actually play from the facsimile, merely looking it over and cross-checking a few bars here and there with the modern tablature goes a long way in removing the "middle man" (me) from between you and Francisco Guerau. It's a lot easier to transfer slurs from the original to the modern tablature than it is to decipher my instructions on where to draw them. If you want to acquire a copy, go to the Tecla catalog.

Don't laugh, but some of the pieces here remind me more than a little of J. S. Bach. Check out the passacalles FG7, FG17, FG18. Passacalle FG4 brings the famous Chaconne to mind.

In guitar books from this period, passacalles often make up the bulk of the work - but the passacalles get 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 Francisco Guerau: FG1, FG12, FG19, FG20, FG21, FG22, FG23, FG25, FG26 and FG28. Let me know your favorites.

TABLATURE ORIENTATION: Francisco Guerau'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. The 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 variations come about depending on which, if either, of string 5 and string 4 were paired with bass strings (bourdons).

Gaspar Sanz said that bourdons were usual in Spain, although he himself did not use them. Don Lucas Ruiz de Ribayez (Madrid, 1677) also called for bourdons. There's no reason (that I know of) to doubt that Francisco Guerau used bourdons. Thus the proper tuning is Aa dd' gg bb e'. That's like the top 5 strings of the modern guitar, with high octaves paired with strings 5 and 4.

Some Baroque guitar composers made melodic use of the high octaves on pairs 5 and 4. 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.

Francisco Guerau did not write campanelas passages. Thus, his music works quite well played directly on a modern guitar. There are a few passages, however, where a bass line jumps from string 5 to string 3, or vice versa, with a resulting discontinuity. When you notice this, it is a simple matter to add or substitute the higher octave.

Sometimes, I add the higher octave, not for the sake of a musical line, but just to fill out the texture pleasingly on a modern guitar. For a start, focus on the open 5th and open 4th strings, especially where they appear by themselves. Play the passage with and without the higher octave and go with whichever sounds best. Write in your added notes. In the introductory notes to some of the last pieces, starting with FG31, I list the places where I add the higher octave. The idea is the same for all of the Passacalles (FG1-FG30). See also my pages giving two versions of a Passacaille by H. F. Gallot - with and without added octaves.

Please 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. (Don't use your Hauser.) 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.

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.

ORNAMENTATION: Francisco Guerau notated three different ornaments. In his tablature, "%" meant a trill, ")" meant a mordent, and "#" meant vibrato. These symbols were placed 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

" = trill (multiple twiddles from above.)

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

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

# = vibrato.

On shorter-lengthed notes, such as 8ths and dotted-8ths, I generally find an inverted mordent (main note to upper neighbor and back down) works better than a full-blown trill. But don't go on my word.

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: While Baroque guitar music is famous for its strumming, Francisco Guerau makes only modest use of this effect. I have managed to work ^ and v arrowheads into the tablature, but they can stand a little touching up. For a nicer appearance, redraw the arrowhead right at the top or bottom of its stem and white-out the printed one.

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

        |          |   | 

. . . I would describe the rhythms as follows:

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

SIMPLIFICATIONS: The main source of difficulty is in the ornamentation, in particular, trills using the little finger. In some cases I suggest leaving out a note, or playing the same notes in a lower position making the execution of the ornament easier. 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.)

FINAL MEASURE: For all of the passacalles and some of the dances, you'll see that Guerau did not write the last measure. Not wishing to do anything rash, I just end the piece on the same chord it started with.


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Helpful keywords not in the main text: joan amat; Henry Francois de Gallot.

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