Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

The Alfabeto Song in print 1610- ca 1665: Neapolitan roots, Roman codification and "il gusto popolare"

The focus of this dissertation is the widespread practice of annotating vocal music with a tablature system known as alfabeto, a shorthand notational method related to basso figurato that uses alphabetical letters and typescript characters to represent hand positions on the fretboard of the five-course Spanish guitar. Cultivated in Italy from the latesixteenth century until the mid-1600s, alfabeto songs first appeared in print in 1610. The repertory witnessed its most prolific printed dispersal during the 1620s and 30s, where at times it comprised over half of the yearly total output of secular vocal music published in Italy. The resiliency of the repertory even during outbreaks of plague and crippling economic instability attests to the alfabeto song’s economic, musical, and cultural value in Italy during the early seicento. This undoubted popularity has led some scholars to hypothesize that music printers added alfabeto to vocal publications primarily to...

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