Melchior de Barberis - Opera Intitolata Contina (1549)

Melchior de Barberis was an Italian lutenist and composer.  His book, Opera intitolata contina intabolatura di lauto...fantasie per sonar sopra la Chitara a da sette corde, was published in Venice in 1549.  Most of the book is dedicated to the lute, but the final few pages of the book contain 4 pieces (fantasias) for the renaissance guitar.  Barberiis refers to the instrument as the chitara da sette corde (guitar with seven strings).  Of interest in his name for the guitar, is that it provides early evidence that the 4-course guitar was strung with a chanterelle (single string) on its first course, like the later 5-course guitar.  The music is written for a 4-course instrument.  Taken with the name "guitar of 7 strings" we have a renaissance guitar with 3 courses (paired strings) and a chanterelle.  Another interesting characteristic of this book is that, while the music is written in Italian Tablature, the tablature for the guitar music is inverted, such that the 1st course is shown on the uppermost line of the tablature (similar in that way to French Tablature).  The result of this inverted Italian Tablature is a system of tablature notation that very closely resembles modern guitar tablature.  Luys Milan's vihuela book, El Maestro, also uses this style of tablature.  Click here for more information on Italian Tablature.

Cover page of Opera Intitolata Contina (1549)

Fantasia Terza - Melchior de Barberis (1549)

Facsimile of Barberis' Fantasia Terza from Opera Intitolata Contina (1549).  The piece begins on the 2nd line of the page.  Note in the title that the piece is for the chitara da sette corde (guitar with 7 strings).  Also note that the top line (highest pitched course) is marked canto.  This would indicate to the Italian Tablature reader of the day that the 4-course guitar tablature was inverted (compared to typical Italian Tablature). 

Transcription of Fantasia Terza

Transcription of Fantasia Terza to staff notation and modern guitar tablature, by Johann von Solothurn.

Johann von Solothurn

Johann is a bard and Court Musician in the Kingdom of Atlantia.  Johann enjoys sharing his art.  If you would like Johann to assist you in organizing or judging bardic/music competitions, teaching classes, or if you would like him to drop by your camp and perform, just send him a note (email below).  

Johann von Solothurn

Barony of Black Diamond

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