In February 1820 Fernando Sor revealed his guitar works to be the product of a “system”, which he explained in his Méthode pour la Guitare in 1830, also announcing his treatise On Harmony Applied to the Guitar. Sor’s “system” may be imagined as an infinitely extensible grammar for guitar, based on the alfabeto principle subjected to thoroughbass conventions. His exploration of the harmonic resources and scordature of the new six-string guitar began in 1796, generating exemplars that he continued to develop in his later works. The application of thoroughbass conventions to alfabeto chords by Santiago de Murcia in his 1714 Resumen de Acompañar la Parte Con La Guitarra, was a precedent for Sor’s “system”. Bordones on the fourth and fifth courses are a defining characteristic of the Spanish guitar, traceable to the vihuela de cinco ordenes of Miguel de Fuenllana in 1554 and continued by Murcia to satisfy the ‘rigorous’ polyphonic style of the Spanish harp, organ and vihuela...
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