CHAPTER 3: History to 1800

3.5 The Baroque, Rococo and Classical Periods 1600-1800

3.5.1 The west

1.2. Higher cultures in the 17th & 18th centuries: Romance language-area

Documentary evidence: 7 of 14


The Trouvain/ Schenkt example above is in marked contrast to the clarity of the Copenhagen MS discussed below, and another example of a dulcimer-player using written notes is that on the front cover of the instrumental tutor of Pablo Minguet y Yrol, published in Madrid in 1752-54 (fig.78). Efforts to trace a copy of this work in England have proved fruitless - neither the Bodleian nor the British Libraries has one: it is referred to in bibliographies as Reglas y Advertencias Generales ... de taner los instrumentos mejores, 'Rules and General advice ... on playing the best instruments', while the engraved frontispiece, shown in Kinsky (106) and MGB (107), bears the inscription, Academia musicál de los instrumentos, 'Musical Academy of Instruments' (108).

The engraving is clearly not intended to give exact reproductions of the instruments - the harp has only 14 strings, and the keyboard instrument recalls the 15th century more than the 18th but the artist has been consistent in showing half as many strings as tuning pegs on the guitar-family instruments, which presumably had double courses: fifteen single strings are shown, and hitch-pins in pairs are suggested, so that the instrument may be intended to show 15 II strings: as mentioned above, no such instrument exists at this time, although 15 courses is perfectly likely.

The player is using his fingers rather than hammers - as do Mexican salterio-players today and the staff notation of the Pastoril is clearly written, although its nine-bar phrase-length is unusual; the long compound upbeat in 6/8 time is characteristic of Couperin and the 17th century, and whilst one would expect an instrumental tutor to portray the accumulated wisdom - and therefore style - of the preceding generation, rather than the avant garde, this way of writing a jig seems rather old-fashioned for the 1750s (fig. 80).

Anthony Baines suggests that the tune has the characteristics of an Italian saltarello which, as a folk dance, could well warrant Minguet's label 'Pastoril'. It would be lovely to postulate a reconstruction, with melody played by flute, recorder, violin and salterio and a continuo section of harp, guitar and harpsichord: but regretfully one must consider that the artist was probably only indicating the instruments dealt with in the tutor, or those generally current at the time.

The indication of continuous bridges divided into several parts to vary the ratio across the bridge is clear. The placing of the instrument on a table is convincing enough, although it may have been rare for it to share the surface with a clavier.

Inside the work itself is another engraved plate, the "Demostracion y Diapson del Psalterio" - an unusual retaining of the Greek 'ps' in Spanish - with a very pragmatic approach, letters for those who want to learn 'by music' and numbers for those who want to learn 'by figures'. The tuning features divided whole bridges, divided to give some chromatic notes very similar what became traditional in East Anglia. Fascinating that the two bass notes at the bottom left are apparently the 'wrong way round', with the Bb - called no.3 but in the ifirst position, nearest the player - having a longer length but sounding higher than the G - called no. 1 but further away than no.3, and than no.2 on the right. Reasons that suggest themselves include

It creates a very human touch that the two sound-holes are evidently scribed with some kind of tool that makes circles and arcs, without any attempt to modify them to fit the perspective which the drawing otherwise uses ...

[2008] Five years after this study was written, Messrs. Minkoff published the whole work in facsimile, so then it was posssible to get to know the whole work. The Psalterio is listed on the title page, as the eighth of 14 instruments, before even the violin, flute and recorder.

Apart from the main title page for the whole collection, there are separate title pages for six sections within the book, evidently so that the smaller sections could be bound and sold separately: they can also have been made at different times

Only the sections for the Psalterio and the flutes are dated, both 1754: they might be later additions.

The Psalterio section consists of five pages of text, the tuning diagram and one page with three melodies, 'Minue', 'Pasapie' and 'El Amable'.

Of the three melodies, the first two are given in both staff notation ("para ... aprender por Musica") and tablature ("para ... aprender por cifra"), though there was no room for the tablature version of the third. All three tunes include chords with two and three notes to fill out the harmonies: all three are also given in the guitar section, as single-line melodies without extra notes, so we can be sure which is he meolody and a comparison with the other versions shows that in the first two, the extra notes are all under the melody; but that in El Amable, the extra notes are added above the tune as well as below it, an effect which may be familiar from the sound of the baroque guitar and theorbo. Or even the five-string banjo.

A translation of the text of this extraordinarily detailed and practical work will follow as soon as time allows, but for now here are the topics of the nine reglas:

Regla primera: what the psalterio is, and what it's composed of:
from 21 to 30 courses, strung with III, IV or V: but 23IV is most common

Regla segunda: stringing

Regla tercera: learning by notes

Regla quarta: writing the notes on a bit of paper under the strings

Regla quinta: tuning

Regla sexta: playing, with detailed notes about which fingers and thumbs to use to play particular examples of two and three notes at the same time

Regla septima & octava: transcribing the notes to tablature

Regla general de acompañar: adding harmonies