The Carlo G Manuscript - A Precious Window to the Past


  • The Carlo G manuscript (scan of the manuscript and edition of selected pieces) [imslp]

  • Elam Rotem, “The ‘Carlo G Manuscript'. New Light on Early Seventeenth-Century Accompaniment and Diminution Practices”, in: Groß Geigen um 1500 · Orazio Michi und die Harfe um 1600, ed. Martina Papiro, Basel: Schwabe, 2020, 401–429 (Basler Beiträge für Historische Musikpraxis 39) [LINK].

  • Performances of pieces from the manuscript: Profeti della Quinta / The Carlo G Manuscript - Virtuoso liturgical music from the early 17th century (Glossa, May 2017) [YouTube] (Singing: Perring Devillers & Doron Schleifer; Violin: Plamena Nikitassova; Theorbo: Ori Hamelin; Organ: Elam Rotem)


  1. [01:06] The first to notice the importance of the Carlo G manuscript is Roman Chalda, who wrote his bachelor thesis about it: “Die Begleitung am Tasteninstrument bei Carlo G.” [LINK]

  2. [01:14] Before the auction the manuscript was examined by Iain Fenlon. His report is found on the item’s page on Sotheby’s website [link]. Until at least 2017 the sum of the sale (65,300 pounds) was written on Sotheby's webpage, but has since been removed.

  3. [02:05] Arnaldo Morelli, “‘Divini concerti musicali di diverse monache’ - New light on the origin and context of the Carlo G manuscript”, in Stimme – Instrument – Vokalität: Blicke auf dynamische Beziehungen in der Alten Musik, ed. Martina Papiro, Basel: Schwabe, 2021, 245-259 (Basler Beiträge für Historische Musikpraxis 41) [link] [this article will become openaccess on June 2022].

  4. [03:43] Luca Marenzio, Il quarto libro de madrigali a sei voci (Venice, 1587) [LINK] The madrigal “Se bramate ch’io mora” is the first in the collection.

  5. [04:05] See our episode: High clefs (so called Chiavetta) and transposition [LINK].

  6. [04:45] Orazio Vecchi, Madrigali a cinque voci di Horatio Vecchi […]. Libro primo (Venice, 1589) [LINK] The madrigal “Quella ch'in mille selve” is the last in the collection.

  7. [08:40] Luzzasco Luzzaschi, Madrigali per cantare et sonare (Rome, 1601) [LINK]. See our episode: Luzzasco Luzzaschi: Madrigali per cantare et sonare [LINK]

  8. [11:10] See more in an upcoming publication (2022): Keyboard accompaniment in Italy around 1600 by Augusta Campagne and Elam Rotem (Forschungsportal Schola Cantorum Basiliensis) [LINK]

  9. [11:58] Regarding trillo and gruppo see our episodes The art of diminution in the 16th century (from 07:50) [LINK] and Giulio Caccini: the good, the bad and the unclear (from 08:32) [LINK].

  10. [12:22] Francesco Severi, Salmi passaggiati per tutte le voci nella maniera che si cantano a Roma, (Rome: Nicolò Borboni, 1615), fol. [IIv]: “Che si fermi un poco chi canta dove ritrova la lettera .F. e questo tanto quanto non paia di cantare seguitamente l’un passaggio con l’altro, non interrompendo la voce […].”

  11. [12:40] Girolamo Frescobaldi, Toccate e partite d’intavolatura di cimbalo […] Libro primo (Rome: Nicolo Borbone 1615). See preface, point 4: Nell' ultima nota, così de trilli come di passaggi di salto, o di grado, si dee fermare ancorché detta nota sia croma ò biscroma odissimile alla seguente; perché tal posamento schiuerà il confonder l'un passaggio con l'altro. (On the last note of a trillo or of an ascending or descending passaggio, one must stop, even when this note is a croma or biscroma or different from the following, for such pause/stopping will prevent a passaggio to be confused with another one.). See here all the prefaces of Frescobaldi with English translation: [LINK].

  12. [12:32] Similar refined modification of rhythm is described in Tomás de Santa María, Arte de tañer fantasía (Valladolid, 1565), Book I, chapter XIX [LINK]. Full English translation by Warren Earle Hultberg, “The art of playing the fantasia”, Latin American Literary Review Press, 1991 [not available online].

  13. [14:10] Giulio Caccini, Le Nuove Musiche (Firenze: Marescotti, 1602) [LINK]. English translation of the preface in Giulio Caccini's Published Writings: Bilingual edition by Lisandro Abadie (Early Music Sources PIE Series Vol. II, 2021) [LINK].

  14. [14:52] The chitarrone that seems to be called for by the tablatures in the Carlo G manuscript is a 13 or 14 course lute with 8 courses on the fingerboard. The tuning seems to be without re-entrant tuning: g ’, d’, a, f, c, G, F, E♭; diapasons: D, C, B’, A’, G’. At the time the terms chitarrone and theorbo were often freely exchanged, as opposed to nowadays where the two terms refer to different kinds of instruments. See Tyler, James. "Chitarrone." Grove Music Online. 2001.


Created by Elam Rotem, December 2021.

Special thanks to Jacob Lawrence, Doron Schleifer, Manuel Maio, Filipa Meneses, and Anne Smith.