Guitar Aaron

A blog that is going to focus on the guitar discussing current and historical guitar recordings, guitarists of note from the Renaissance to the present, and music theory and how it relates to the guitar. If it has to do with the guitar this is the place to discuss it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alonso Mudarra

I was going to post this earlier today but the death of Les Paul caused me to be delayed shortly.

Alonso Mudarra
Alonso Mudarra was born around 1510 from all the sources there seems to be no real consensus. However everyone is agreed that he died on April 1, 1580. He was raised in Guadalajara in the households of the third and fourth dukes of the Infantado. It is very likely that he traveled to Italy in 1529 with the entourage of Charles V. He then entered the priesthood and became canon at Seville Cathedral on 18 of October 1546 less than two months before the publication he is most well known for, “tres libros de Musica in cifra para Vihuela” During the next 34 years he was an important member of the cathedrals affairs. His duties included arranging annual Corpus Christi celebrations, hiring wind players, and installation of a new organ. From March of 1568 he served as the major-domo of the cathedral, which meant he was in charge of all disbursements. After his death and the sale of his estate which raised 92,000 maravedis. The money was distributed to the poor according to the provisions of his will.
Alonso Mudarra was known for his books for the vihuela “tres libros de Musica in cifra para Vihuela. The three books contained 77 works total including 6 pieces for 4 course guitar and 1 work for harp or organ. The books contained several innovations for its time. The first is it is the earliest example of music published for the guitar. Second he invented a 14 line tablature system for harp and organ. Third he arranged the pieces in Suite-like groupings of works by mode, and finally it contained the earliest example of a farbodon ( early example of harmony being added to plainchant) psalm printed in Spain. Mudarra wrote many pieces using the musical styles of his time.

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Les Paul

Lester William Polsfuss, known as Les Paul (June 9, 1915–August 13, 2009) was a musician and inventor. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar, which "made the sound of rock and roll possible." He is credited with inventing or discovering many recording innovations including overdubbing (also known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects, and multitrack recording.
That is the basics of this incredible influence on music of the 20th century. I have spent the morning listening to his albums again and had forgotten how great of a musician he was. In looking at the albums he performed on it is also interesting to see that the original les paul guitars look more like sgs than les pauls.
I am currently listening to his tune Forever Blowing Bubbles which is a great example of his multitrak genius. Just a beautiful little instrumental guitar piece. His guitar playing is truly amazing and will be greatly missed. Thank you Les.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Short History of Guitar Tablature

The following is the definition of the term tablature from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
Tablature- System of writing down music to be performed other than by use of notes. Instead figures, letters, and similar signs were used. There were systems of organ and lute tablature in which the symbols represented the position of the players fingers, not the pitch. Diagrammatic notation used today in popular music for guitar, ukulele, etc is a type of tablature.
The Spanish and Italian System.
The earliest book to contain music for the four course guitar was published in 1546 in Alonso Mudarras “tres libros de Musica in cifra para vihuela”. He was a Spanish composer and the Spanish and the Italians both used the same tablature system. The system consisted of lines to represent each of the strings like our modern tablature system. Then numbers were placed on the line to indicate which fret your fingers were to be placed at. Then comes the biggest difference between old and new notation and that is there was a rhythmic indication above the tablature to tell you how long each note was to be held.

French Tablature
French Tablature was used by both the French and the Germans. The French system differs from the Spanish and Italian system in the fact that it uses letters to indicate the fret and the highest line represents the highest course or string of the instrument. The letter a represents the open string the rest of the alphabet the frets so a= open string, b= 1st fret c=2nd fret and so on. So the above example in french tablature would look like this

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