Di Carlo G. manuscript (ca. 1600-1620)

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This manuscript has surfaced only recently. The finding and first examination of it were by Roman Chalda.

Here you can read his Bachelorarbeit concerning the manuscript, which includes also the story behind its finding. The manuscript is currently under study, but here is a short introduction.

As can be seen immediately, the most impressive thing about this manuscript is the vast amount of written-out keyboard accompaniments; such specimen is very rare in the early 17th century. This kind of account is precious as it may give us an authentic impression of what was actually played and sung (as opposed to most cases where we have pieces with unrealized basso continuo). In terms of content, most of the manuscript includes liturgical pieces in Latin for one or two ornamented vocal lines and keyboard accompaniment. Four vocal pieces are found in two versions; one with keyboard accompaniment, and one with lute accompaniment (tablature notation).

Carlo G MS, p. 132v, Sub Umbra Illius (full transcription of the piece here)

Performance of Carlo G's Sub Umbra Illius: Perrine Devillers & Elam Rotem

There are several points where it is indicated that a piece for one or two voices and accompaniment is an arrangement of an original polyphonic source. That is, a motet (or even a madrigal in one case) for 5 or 8 voices was arranged for one or two ornamented voices with accompaniment. There are however other cases where it seems that the piece is an original monody, and we are lucky enough to have the written-out accompaniment of it.

Most of the pieces in the manuscript are by Carlo G.; his name appears fully on the first page of the manuscript, but unfortunately a dark stain hides his last name. In the rest of the manuscript only his initials are used: C. G. (see example above). Other than pieces by C. G. there are few pieces (or arrangements of pieces) by Giulio Caccini (1551-1618), Luca Marenzio (1553-1599), Paolo Quagliati (c. 1555-1628), Girolamo Giacobi (1567–1629), and Bartolomeo Barbarino (c. 1568 – c. 1617).

Apart from the vocal pieces there are several Toccatas/"preludes" intended to be played before certain motets. These are found in different settings such as one keyboard alone, two organs, violin accompanied by a chitarrone, lira, and basso di viola, and other combinations.

For those who are interested in reading/playing/singing from the manuscript, here are two notation means that one should know about:

1. It is very often that in the accompaniment, at cadences (on the cantizans-clause), there is a small sign. This is a "g" for gruppo. This sign is explained and used in other sources such as Cavalieri's Rappresentatione (Rome, 1600). In Carlo G MS it can be found most often in the accompaniment part, but sometimes also in the singing voice. See example below: on the left a written-out gruppo, and on the right the "g" sign alone where the gruppo should be realized by the reader.

Carlo G MS, p. 3v-4r

2. On the singing line, it is very common to see a "+" sign. It is used mostly at the end of long passaggi before a new syllable is introduced (see example above). It most probably means to wait a little bit before going on. A similar thing is found in Francesco Severi's Salmi (1615, Rome); he uses the letter "F" (=fermare/stop). In the context of instrumental music, a similar description is found in Frescobaldi's preface for his Toccatas (1615, Rome):

IV. Nell' ultima nota, così de trilli come di passaggi di salto, o di grado, si dee fermare ancorché detta nota sia croma ò biscroma o dissimile alla seguente; perché tal posamento schiuerà il confonder l'un passaggio con l'altro.

The sign could be use also within a group of eight-notes. For example, four eight-notes with "+" signs on the second and fourth notes probably indicated a "lombardic" rhythm; short-long, short-long, as we see very often written-out in the music of Giulio Caccini. Those are notation tools that came into be in order to overcome the "squareness" of the western notation, and get closer to sprezzatura.


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