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Baroque Guitar for Dum...

No, no, no, I'm not gonna say it. How about:

A Passacaille for Baroque (and Modern) Guitar

I have two things in mind here. The first is to present a grand and powerful piece of guitar music.

The second relates to feedback I have received on my tablature for Guerau and Campion, and my proposal for modifying a modern guitar into a quasi-baroque guitar. I have been assured several times that baroque guitar music just cannot work on a modern guitar. I hope to demonstrate here that baroque guitar music works very well on a modern guitar - without "transcribing" or "arranging".

I've chosen a Passacaille from the Gallot guitar book, a huge collection of pieces for baroque guitar in manuscript, compiled between 1660-1684. I present it twice. The first version is an absolutely faithful translation into modern tablature. That's the one to use if you have a baroque guitar in your hands.

The second version is intended for modern guitar. A very simple - simple-minded, even - modification has been made. The next octave above any note on the 4th or 5th string has been added, or substituted, wherever it sounds good. This modification is suggested, of course, by the treble strings on the baroque guitar's 4th and 5th courses.

The Guerau and Campion music benefit from this addition of higher octaves in a few places here and there. This Gallot passacaille requires a much more extensive (but still simple-minded!) insertion of these high octaves. The end result is still baroque guitar music through and through - not a modern transcription; not an arrangement.

The two versions are laid out identically from beginning to end over the 5-page marathon, making it easy to identify the differences. Another modification I took the liberty of making was notating how many strings to include in strummed chords. If you find yourself in disagreement with any of my modifications - high octaves or strum endpoints - that's great. It just goes to show that you already know what to do to make baroque guitar music from baroque guitar tablature on a modern guitar. The labor, I'm sure you'll find, is no more than that of finding fingerings for guitar music.

The links below will take you to the tablature, but read over the material further down for important information on this piece, like where to draw in slurs. In case you miss the suggestion below, let me plead up-front: please put "swing" into the 8th-notes; straight 8ths are a murderous drag.

Here is the Passacaille for baroque guitar.

Here is the Passacaille for modern guitar.

Let me know how it works for you.

Notes on the passacaille

Title:     Passacaille.
Composer:  Henry Francois de Gallot.
Source:    Pieces de guitarre de differenda autheura recueillis.
           Folio 16, recto.
Date:      1660-1684.
Facsimile: from microfilm.

Tuning:    A D G B E.
Time sig:  3.

Fixes and modifications (M=measure r=rhythm s=string): 
  M81r1 original rhythm was 4er; changed to 8th here.
  M215r2-5 original showed no rhythm symbols; 8ths supplied here.
  M218r1, M277r1, M305r3 original did not indicate strum; strum added here.
  M304r1 original showed a vertical dash suggesting an intended bass note, but 
    no bass note; fret 2 on string 4 added here.

  The above errors fall into the "typo" category. The last few staffs of the 
  piece had more fundamental problems with rhythms not working out between 
  variations. It appears that the piece originally ended at m282, as evidenced 
  by the heavy, vertical squiggle after that measure; and finer pen strokes, 
  lack of repeat dots, and the problems, themselves, thereafter. With a few 
  adjustments - making explicit repeats, assigning 1st and 2nd endings, 
  incorporating partial measures within the measures they repeat to, etc. - 
  the rhythm problems were worked out. These adjustments aren't listed here 
  because they are hard to describe verbally and probably of limited interest. 
  If there are better solutions, please let me know.

Tablature elements to be added by hand:
  Slurs. If only a starting point is given, slur includes all the following 
  uninterrupted notes on the same string, even crossing bar lines.
  M31s1r2-3. (Slur not shown in original.)
  M45s5r1, s3r3-4.
  M53s3r2, s4r4-6.
  M54s3r2, s4r5-6.
  M55s1r2, s2r5-6.
  M63s1r1, s2r6-8.
  M65s1r2, s2r4, s3r7.
  M75s5r2, s4r4-5.
  M129s4r2, s5r5.
  M289s1r1-2, s2r4-5.
  Triplets. The original does not show triplet symbols. Write "3" above beamed 
    8th-notes in m224-7 and m274-7.  M1 also seems to me to be a triplet. 
    (Note that the m5 rhythm, dotted 4er, must be adjusted according to what 
  Take a moment to fill out the 16th-note beams.

Strums: Arrowheads ^ and v indicate strums. Open strings in strummed chords 
  were not generally shown in the tablature; add as many open strings as sound 
  good. My choices are explicitly shown in the version for modern guitar.  

  If the detached arrowheads are bothersome, re-draw the ^ arrowhead at the 
  top of the associated stem (just under the beam, if present); extend stem 
  down to the v arrowhead.

Explanation of symbols: 
  " = trill (starting on upper neighbor). 
  , = mordent (none in this piece).
  # = vibrato. 
  . = do not strum this string in the chord. 

Performance style: definitely consider playing the 8th notes inegales, that 
  is, as dotted 8ths or "swing" 8ths (triplet feel).

Suggested simplifications (if need be): 
  |_5_ to _5_|_7_ to __7_|

Leading measures in Gallot's original tablature:
  1 8 18 26 33 42 50 57 65 72 81 89 98 105 115 123 133 143 153 162 171 182 
  192 201 210 217 226 236 247 255 262 270 278 287 [count 2 measures for m288] 
  295 [don't count the measure after M301] 302.  Last measure is 305.

Unknown notation (to me): 
  M41r1 original showed an "x" below the tablature staff, below the strummed 

THE MODERN TABLATURE: Click here for general comments on the modern tablature, including some tips on printing it out perfectly.

THANKS: to Baroque guitar enthusiast and scholar Beverly Ross for providing me with a large chunk of the Gallot guitar book copied from microfilm, and helping me to decipher the chicken scratch in the first place.


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