Quando io penso al martire

Comparing Sixteenth-century Intabulations

When studying sixteenth-century intabulations I try to be aware of their vocal originals. I look these up to analyse their structures so I know how the phrasing is and where the cadences are. I mark the polyphony in the intabulations and perhaps I will even write the words above the music to know about the commas, word accents and where to express what emotion. I check which repeated notes were originally tied, so I can play those notes softer. By doing all this I feel I am faithful to the originals and I am able to convey all the musical content of the pieces, hidden in the tablatures. And when I encounter an intabulation of which I cannot find the vocal original, I might decide not to study it, because I feel I do not fully understand the polyphony and have no idea about the text and therefore the character of the piece. All this assumes that the first intabulators were just as faithful to the originals as I am. But were they? To question their intabulating habits, and by extension my own approach to playing their music, I have compared several versions for lute solo, made by different sixteenth-century lutenists, of Jacques Arcadelt’s madrigal Quando io penso al martire. I have limited myself to printed editions.

The madrigal was first published in 1539 in Il primo libro de i madrigali d’Archadelt a quatro (A. Gardano, Venice, 1539). Here I will list the sixteenth-century printed lute intabulations followed by their identification in Brown [footnote 1]. Brown marks which pieces are identical to others, thereby establishing a tentative lineage or so called stemma [footnote 2]. After the Brown identifications I have put in square brackets the sources I used for my comparison.

Francesco Vindella: Intavolatura di Liuto … libro primo (A. Gardano, Venice, 1546)
Brown 1546-17 no.3 [LSA microfilm of original]
Francesco da Milano: Intabolatura de Lauto … libro terzo (A. Gardano, Venice, 1547)
Brown 1547-2 no.21. Reprints in 1562, 1563 and 1566.
Guillaume Morlaye: Premier livre de tabulatura de leut (M. Fezandat, Paris, 1552)
Brown 1552-4 no.16 = 1546-17 no.3 [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 1982. facsimile]
Valentin Bakfark: Intabulatura … liber primus (J. Modernum, Lyon, 1553)
Brown 1553-1 no.18 [Edition Musico, Budapest, 1976. modern edition with tablature]
Jean Paul Paladin: Premier livre de tablature de luth (J. P. de Trin, Lyon, 1553)
Brown [1553]-7 no.11. Reprint in 1560.
Albert de Rippe: Quart livre de tabulature de luth (A. Le Roy & R. Ballard, Paris, 1553)
Brown 1553-9 no.6 [CNRS, Paris, 1975. modern edition with tablature]
Benedikt de Drusina: Tabulatura (J. Eichorn, Frankfurt, 1556)
Brown 1556-2 no.20 = 1553-1 no.18 [Zentralantiquarat der DDR, Leipzig, 1980. facsimile]
Wolff Heckel: Discant Lautten Buch (C. Müller, Strassbourg, 1556)
Brown 1556-5 no.45. Reprint in 1562. [LSA microfilm of original]
Sebastian Ochsenkun: Tabulaturbuch auff die Lauten (J. Kholen, Heidelberg, 1558)
Brown 1558-5 no.69 [Cornetto-Verlag, Stuttgart 2001. facsimile] [footnote 3]
Jean Paul Paladin: Premier livre de tablature de luth (S. Gorlier, Lyon, 1560)
Brown 1560-3 no.11 = [1553]-7 no.11 [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 1983. facsimile]
Francesco da Milano: Intabolatura de Lauto … libro terzo (A. Gardano, Venice, 1562)
Brown 1562-1 no.21. Reprint of the 1547 edition. [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 2002. facsimile]
Wolff Heckel: Discant Lautten Buch (C. Müller, Strassbourg, 1562)
Brown 1562-3 no.45. Reprint of the 1556 edition.
Francesco da Milano: Intabolatura de Lauto … libro terzo (A. Gardano, Venice, 1563)
Brown 1563-6 no.21. Reprint of the 1547 edition.
Pierre Phalèse: Theatrum Musicum (P. Phalèse, Louvain, 1563)
Brown 1563-12 no.71 = 1546-17 no.3 = 1552-4 no.16 [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 2005. facsimile]
Francesco da Milano: Intabolatura de Lauto … libro primo (M. Dorico, Roma, 1566 or 1546)
Brown 1566-1 no.4. Reprint of the 1547 Gardano edition.
Pierre Phalèse: Luculentum Theatrum Musicum (P. Phalèse, Louvain, 1568)
Brown 1568-7 no.60 = 1546-17 no.3 = 1552-4 no.16 = 1563-12 no.71 [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 1983. facsimile]
Pierre Phalèse: Theatrum Musicum, longe (P. Phalèse, Antwerp, 1571)
Brown 1571-6 no.144 = 1553-9 no.6 [Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 2002. facsimile]
Bernhart Jobin: Das Erste Büch (B. Jobin, Strassbourg, 1572)
Brown 1572-1 no.7 [Dr. Bernd Becker, Köln, 1996. facsimile]
Matthäus Waissel: Tabulatura (J. Eichorn, Frankfurt, 1573)
Brown 1573-3 no.21 [LSA microfilm of original]
Melchior Newsidler: Teutsch Lautenbuch (B. Jobin, Strassbourg, 1574)
Brown 1574-5 no.17 [Dr. Bernd Becker, Köln, 1996. facsimile]

These are ten versions in nineteen books, published in a period of 35 years after the first appearance in print of the madrigal. On closer examination it turned out the versions that are a copy of each other according to Brown, did differ after all. I did not have access to all versions, or all editions of the same book, so there might be even more variants out there. As it is now, I used fifteen different versions. The first two intabulations were published by Gardano, the same publisher that published the original book of Arcadelt’s madrigals. It is therefore not unlikely that both Vindella and Da Milano had access to this publication. Da Milano’s book was reprinted twice by Gardano, and there is one print with nearly the same content by Dorico in Rome in 1566. Richard Falkenstein, in the preface to the facsimile edition of Francesco’s Libro Terzo by Gardano (Éditions Minkoff, Genève, 2002), makes a strong case for 1546 as the year of publication of the 1566 Dorico edition, so Gardano might have actually copied Dorico, and not the other way around. Vindella’s book must have found its way to Morlaye, who used two of Vindella’s intabulations of madrigals by Arcadelt for is own publication six years later. Phalèse printed this same version twice, in 1563 and 1568, so perhaps he had a copy of Morlaye’s book. A further indication for this is the fact that in his Theatrum Musicum of 1563 Phalèse used quite a number of pieces from Morlaye’s edition of 1552. De Rippe’s intabulation is printed by Le Roy & Ballard, who are known to have ornamented the music of De Rippe in their publications, so perhaps De Rippe’s version we have is not quite as he wrote it himself. Phalèse used this version for his 1571 print. Eichorn in Frankfurt published Drusina’s version in 1556, which is based on Bakfark’s version of 1553. Eichorn published another version, this time by Waissel, in 1573. Jobin published two different versions, his own in 1572 and Newsidler’s in 1574. These two versions were published in Strassbourg, just like Heckel’s in 1562. Bakfark (1553) and Paladin (1553 and 1560) were both published in Lyon. Jobin published music by Melchior Newsidler in 1572, as did Drusina in 1573. All of this serves to indicate that lutenists and publishers were aware of at least part of each other’s work and could have had access to at least some of the intabulations published before their own were printed.

So, what did the sixteenth-century intabulators do? Did they simply copy an earlier intabulation like Brown suggests they did in many cases? And when they wrote their own versions, did they modify existing versions or did they go back to the vocal original, like I do when I play their intabulations? Let’s see what the music can tell us.

To make the comparison easier, I made a score (16 pages pdf-file) with all versions underneath each other, starting with Arcadelt’s madrigal and an intabulation of just the madrigal without any ornaments, to be used as reference. Then follow all intabulations to which I had access, in chronological order of their first appearance in print. All intabulations are transcribed into French tablature with six lines, but original bar lines have been retained. Note lengths have been unified and I have used unified measure numbers, not incorporating the irregular measures in some of the editions. I have assumed Renaissance lutes tuned in g’ for all intabulations. All intabulations happen to be in the same key, which made comparison easier. Here I must add a word of warning. Some prints contain mistakes and my score will be no exception. Furthermore, some of the German tablatures were hard to decipher and not all microfilms were of good quality. So, I must accept some details to be wrong. I hope my general conclusions will not be affected by these errors.

Francesco Vindella (1546) – Quand’io penso al martire

Vindella’s intabulation was the first one to appear in print, although it may be Francesco’s intabulation was printed one year before that by Dorico in Rome. Both were printed by Gardano in Venice, but they are not copies of each other. Vindella followed the vocal original quite strictly, but added more diminutions than Francesco did. Vindella missed the entrance of the tenor in measure 16, as did Francesco. Was their original perhaps different from mine? In measure 22 Vindella added a florid ornament to what is not really a cadence in Arcadelt’s original. The real cadence is half a measure later on the word passo. If he intabulated the music from vocal partbooks, the most likely scenario, Vindella might have been fooled by the cadence in the soprano and the tenor. The alto and bass, however, are quite clearly still in the middle of their phrases. A cadence in the key of G, as Vindella suggested with his writing, is contradictory to what Arcadelt wrote. For example Bakfark, Paladin and De Rippe had a better understanding of this passage. By repeating the c in the bass they made it clear in the harmony that the phrase has not yet ended.

Concluding I‘d say that Vindella was very aware of the vocal original, though misinterpreting some of it, and tastefully added some modest diminutions.

Francesco da Milano (Dorico 1546 or 1566 and Gardano 1547, 1562 and 1563) – Quand’io penso al martir di F. Milanese

Francesco was one of the most celebrated lute players of his generation. But if we look at his intabulations we see rather sober music. This intabulation is quite literal, closely following the vocal original. Occasionally a sustained note is struck again, and conversely some repeated notes in the original are sustained in the intabulation. Of the latter a poignant example is to be found halfway measure 26. Arcadelt started a new phrase here, in the text even starting with a new sentence, on the same chord as the preceding phrase ended. Francesco, however, did not repeat the chord. Did he not see the ending and new beginning? In measure 16 Francesco missed an entrance in the tenor voice, but with him most of our intabulators did. Francesco also missed the bass entrance in measure 43. In measure 40 Francesco was the only intabulator to insert a rest where in Arcadelt’s madrigal three of the four voices have a rest, so he was aware of the original here. On the last half note in measure 47 is a high a that seems to be a mistake. Halfway measure 48 Francesco simplified a chord, where the other intabulators did not, so he chose for practicality above polyphony here. In the beginning Francesco added almost nothing, just one embellished cadence in measure 8 and a filled-in gap after the final chord at the end of measure 36. Towards the end a few more cadences are embellished. He did make many choices in musica ficta that are specific to him, and he left out many notes of rhythmic interest in the middle voices. Did he have a different original to work from, or did he deliberately simplify the rhythmic structure to be able to improvise more freely on the end result? Because it is my suggestion that Francesco used these intabulations as frameworks to improvise diminutions and embellishments upon, free and impulsive like his fantasias. This would be supported by his reputation as an impressive and virtuoso player.

Francesco wrote a very sober intabulation in which he followed the original at some places, but at others he took great liberties in moulding the madrigal to his own taste. I suspect this intabulation was used as a basis for improvisation.

Guillaume Morlaye (Fezandat, 1552) – Quando io penso al martire

Morlaye copied Vindella’s intabulation. Including difficult fingerings that are used to preserve the polyphony, like in the beginning of measure 5, where the g’ and d’ are fingered on the second and third course instead of played as open strings. But at the end of this same measure a difficult chord has been simplified without regard to the polyphony. At the end of measure 8 a cadence has been intensified by adding faster notes. Halfway measure 14, again, a chord has been simplified. In measure 22 Morlaye made a mistake in the thrill at the cadence, omitting one note and misplacing a rhythm sign. At the end of that measure he has added an extra note in a chord. So perhaps he was suffering from a lapse of concentration here. In measure 25 he also misplaced a rhythm sign in the thrill, but the dots under the notes clearly indicate the intended rhythmic structure. At the end of measure 24 he made the same simplification in a chord as he did before, so without regard to the original polyphony. Halfway measure 33 Vindella fingered the D-major chord on which he started his cadence with two open courses, but Morlaye chose a fingered version. Although this is better for the sustaining of voices it is not easier. This looks like the obvious choice for an experienced lute player, so he was not copying Vindella blindly. At the end of measure 36 he made a similar choice in fingering the note d’ that Vindella had as an open string. In Morlaye’s version the chord can be sustained where in Vindella’s it has to be lifted at least partially. Halfway measure 57 Morlaye wrote cipher c on the fourth course instead of the fifth course, as Vindella did. The resulting chord is obviously missing the note d in the bass, so it is most likely a printing mistake.

We can conclude that Morlaye made a faithful copy of Vindella, but he kept his attention to lute fingering questions awake and made minor changes accordingly. I‘d say it is unlikely he consulted Arcadelt’s original. But if he knew the madrigal, he might have felt that, as Vindella’s intabulation follows Arcadelt quite closely, the few simplifications he made were in the interest of playability and did not seriously harm the polyphonic structure of the madrigal.

Valentin Bakfark (Odernum, 1553) – Quand’io pens’al martire. 4. Vocum

Bakfark made a richly ornamented intabulation, filling every long note with diminutions and ornamenting every cadence. He appears to have followed the important cadences in Arcadelt’s original, but added written out thrills to so many smaller ones that the structure of the piece has become less clear. An example is measure 23, where the alto line e-g is embellished into a thrill on g-f-sharp, suggesting a cadence into measure 24 where Arcadelt’s madrigal has no such cadence. He also filled the final chords in cadences and did not always give the new entrances after such chords enough prominence: these get drowned in florid runs, see measure 34 as an example, or become difficult to hear because of other distractions like the slower added line near the entrance on Coro in measure 11. Despite the many diminutions Bakfark used a full texture, repeating many sustained notes. An important entrance in Arcadelt’s madrigal, Amor in measure 7, he missed, however, because here he did not repeat the chord. On the first beat of measure 40 Bakfark is the only of our intabulators who used D-major on this final chord and who continued with a d-minor chord on the entrance at the end of the measure. This is a clever device for making the phrasing clear, and an obvious sign that he was aware of the phrasing of Arcadelt’s original.

On the whole Bakfark has set Arcadelt’s madrigal to his own hand, following the polyphony and adding much diminutions and ornaments, creating a fully textured and rich lute piece in which the original gets lost at times.

Jean Paul Paladin (De Trin, 1553 and Gorlier, 1560) – Quan’io penso al martir’

Paladin had his intabulation followed by a Fantasia sopra al detto Madrigal, as he did with more of his intabulations. His intabulation begins rather soberly. It is as if Paladin saved his diminutions and embellishments for later on. Paladin repeated the occasional note, for example halfway measure 4 and on the first beat of measure 5. In measure 23 and 24, it’s the same spot repeated, he did it again, this time with some diminutions added. In measure 34 Paladin got lost in his florid run in the final chord and missed the entrance of the soprano halfway the measure. The second half of measure 37 is missing in Paladin’s intabulation. For Paladin this was a whole measure, as he used measures of half length. We can see such omissions in more intabulations (Drusina and Newsidler) but there they can be more easily explained as copying mistakes from tablature to tablature. Making such a mistake when copying from vocal partbooks, or even from a score to tablature, is much less likely. As I think Paladin made an intabulation from the vocal original, I suppose that a copyist or typesetter made this mistake. In measure 42 Paladin repeated the a’ from the measure before, resulting in an awkward but spicy chord.

Paladin made a conservative intabulation, following the original and adding diminutions to his liking.

Albert de Rippe (Le Roy & Ballard, 1553) – Quando pens’io el martir

De Rippe was one of the greatest lutenists of his time, writing inventive fantasias and imaginative intabulations. He did so here, too. In measure 3 he is the only one of our intabulators who did not raise the f to an f-sharp in the soprano. And the only one who did write the a halfway measure 4 as an open string, just like the d’ in measure 5 (Francesco and Bakfark actually omitted that d’). In measure 5, and later in 24, De Rippe wrote a double g’ (once as an open first course and once on the second course) in the same chord. This way the second g’ can be sustained while the first g’ changes into an a’. In measure 24 the extra trouble seems hardly worth while, but as it is a repeat of the section of measure 5, it might well be De Rippe simply copied his own fingering and wrote other diminutions on it without checking if the doubling of the g’ was really needed here. For him the fingering was easy anyway, we must assume. At the end of measure 6 he added a cadence at the right place in Arcadelt’s music. Halfway measure 7 he played around with broken chords so much that the new entrance in Arcadelt’s madrigal got lost. In measure 10 he used a similar way of filling the long notes, although the musical spot is quite different, thereby deviating from Arcadelt’s intentions. De Rippe occasionally repeated notes, in sixteenth century intabulation tradition, like the bass notes in measure 15. In measure 16 the new entrance in the tenor got lost in the florid run, as it did in most other intabulations. In measure 17 he missed a high a’ in the soprano. In measure 19 he choose to deviate considerably from Arcadelt. In measure 20 De Rippe has an interesting ficta with a b-flat in the bass, and in the soprano he deviated quite a lot again from Arcadelt. In measure 22 he did not use the ficta of f-sharp, something the other intabulators did. I think he was right in the sense that it makes it clearer that the real cadence is yet to come. In measure 23 he filled the jump in the soprano from the g’ to the c” in the same way as Vindella did. His diminutions in measures 23 and further are more florid than the first occurrence of the passage. In measure 34 he filled the long notes with so many diminutions that the new entrance of the soprano, followed by alto, tenor and bass together, is lost. A similar situation can be found in measure 43 and 46. In 40 he broke a chord in the ending, and lost the new entrance at the end of the measure. Often De Rippe added notes at the top of chords, like in measures 50 and 51, making the line of the soprano less clear. Halfway measure 57 De Rippe already had the f-sharp in the alto, like Paladin had, but not like Arcadelt, who postpones the f-sharp till the end of the measure. De Rippe’s love for filling long notes with broken chords can be seen even in the final chord.

De Rippe made an imaginative intabulation, following the original of Arcadelt, but adding freely and often making the original structure unclear.

Wolff Heckel (Müller, 1556 and 1562) – Quando io penso alli martirio

Heckel is known to most lutenists for his lute duets and his pieces requiring exotic scordatura. But his two books with lute music contain more pieces for lute solo and among these is an intabulation of Quando io penso al martire. It appears Heckel had access to a different original, or an intabulation of a different original, because there are many significant deviations from Arcadelt’s version as we have it now. The end of measure 4 shows the first deviations, an e’ and f-sharp’ in the alto where Arcadelt had a rest and an e’. Then, on the first beat of measure 5, Heckel had a b’ in the soprano where Arcadelt had a tied c”. The bass note A on the third quarter note of measure 14 might be a printing error, the cipher f-with-line (in German tablature that indicates the second fret on the sixth course = note A) might have easily been printed instead of the cipher f (second fret on the fifth course = note d). But on the third quarter note of in measure 15 Heckel wrote an e’ in the alto where Arcadelt clearly has a c’. This list goes on.

In between what looks like a faithful intabulation of the, different, original Heckel wrote standard diminutions.

Benedikt de Drusina (Eichorn, 1556) – Quando io pens’al martire Ex Gallico transl: V B

Drusina obviously copied Bakfark, he acknowledges this in the title, referring to V(alentin) B(akfark), but he did make some changes. Most obvious, though least important, is the doubling of measure lengths. In measure 16 and 17, and elsewhere, the more complicated rhythms in Bakfark’s intabulations have been simplified. Also, some fast thrills at cadences have been taken out and replaced by leading notes only. In measure 23 this led to the situation that Bakfark’s wrongly interpreted cadence, a diminution of Arcadelt’s e-g jump in the alto, was reduced to just an f-sharp. Arcadelt, however, had an e at this place. This is also the place where Drusina became confused with doubling the lengths of the measures and his bar lines get out of sync. There are small differences like omitted notes, and of added notes too, for example at the end of measure 32. This added f could be seen as a repeated note in Arcadelt’s alto, but it is more likely a note to make the chord in Drusina’s lute piece richer. In the second half of measure 36 many intabulators filled the whole note with some sort of bridging notes, but Bakfark did not. Drusina however did write some bridging notes, as it happens they are the same ones Francesco wrote. Drusina omitted the second half of measure 52, a mistake probably, and as a result his bar lines are in sync again from this point onward. Remarkably, later Newsidler omitted exactly the same section in his intabulation. At the very end Drusina added a complete measure with a florid cadence of his own invention.

We can conclude that Drusina copied Bakfark, but left out some of the fast and difficult cadences. At other places Drusina added notes. He probably did not have access to the vocal original, as in his changes he does not conform to what was written by Arcadelt. That he left out half a measure is another indication that he did not know the original.

Sebastian Ochsenkun (Kholen, 1558) – Quand Io pens ala martire

Ochsenkun’s intabulation shows many deviations from Arcadelt’s original, for example the d’ halfway measure 4 and its identical spot in measure 23, already seen in Paladin, where Arcadelt had a rest. It is actually a surprising addition to the a in the bass and the c” in the soprano, so its appearance in both intabulations might suggest a connection. Ochsenkun did not copy, however, the missing half measure from Paladin, and at several places he seems more indebted to Morlaye or Vindella. Compare for example the second half of measure 6. By adding chords in the second half of measure 8 Ochsenkun deviated again considerably from Arcadelt. Ochsenkun is the first of our intabulators who included the g on the second half note in the tenor of measure 16.

Ochsenkun’s intabulation seems to suggest he used an existing intabulation as model on which he freely wrote his own diminutions. As he deviates often and quite considerable from Arcadelt, I do not think he used the vocal version as a reference.

Pierre Phalèse (1563 and 1568) – Quando ie penso al martire

According to Brown, Phalèse 1563 is a copy of Vindella, or Morlaye of course, as Morlaye is a copy of Vindella, too. But a closer examination will reveal Phalèse’s version is a pastiche of Morlaye and Paladin, alternating sections copied from these two versions [footnote 4]. Whether Phalèse made the pastiche, or copied it from an unknown source remains an unanswered question. But either way, Phalèse was obviously not concerned with following Arcadelt’s vocal original. Though it is noteworthy that the missing measure in Paladin’s version is present in Phalèse’s pastiche, as he copied the section containing it from Morlaye.

Phalèse 1568 is practically a literal copy of Phalèse 1563, including the irregular bar lines and most of the page lay out. The apparent mistake in measure 61 in Phalèse 1563 (on the first beat cipher e on sixth course instead of fifth course) has been corrected in the 1568 edition, so there was some form of quality control, or the copy was made from the same original once more, but better this time. Surprisingly, in measure 7 we find added diminutions.

Pierre Phalèse (1571) – Quando pens’io el martir’

Phalèse 1571 is a copy of De Rippe 1553, but the number of bar lines is halved, leaving out every second bar line. At the end of measure 6 Phalèse got confused, however, and made three of De Rippe’s measures into one, resulting in the remainder of his bar lines running out of sync with the beginning. There is a simplification of a chord halfway measure 5, leaving out a double e: cipher h on the third course in De Rippe is left out and replaced it with a cipher c on the second course. This means that the double note g’ in De Rippe (soprano and held note in alto) was replaced by a single note g’. De Rippe wanted to stress the polyphony of this passage, but Phalèse choose for playability. At the end of measure 15 Phalèse added a few diminutions in the cadence. Other than these, there are no differences.

Phalèse was a publisher who collected pieces from other publications. But he, or his editor, did make minor changes to the music. It seems unlikely he was concerned with the vocal originals of the intabulations when he did so.

Bernhart Jobin (1572) – Quand Io pens a la martire

Jobin seems to have taken much of his inspiration from Ochsenkun, as many of their embellishments are identical; see for example measures 6, 12, 15, 18, 26, 27 and others. Another remarkable similarity is the second chord of measure 3, where none of the other versions included the tied note a of the tenor. There are, however, also spots where Jobin made his own embellishments of the skeleton intabulation, like measures 4, 8, 9, 10, 15 and the surprising double last chord, only seen before in De Rippe, there ornamented, and Phalèse 1563 and their respective copies Phalèse 1571 and Phalèse 1568. There are also two curious notes that might be misprints (measure 20 first bass note, measure 37 second halve note).

Jobin’s intabulation is clearly inspired by Ochsenkun’s, or by an unknown third source used by both intabulators, and enriched with embellishments of his own. It doesn’t seem likely Jobin was concerned with the vocal original.

Matthäus Waissel (Eichorn, 1573) – Quand, io pense

Waissel’s intabulation was printed by Eichorn in Frankfurt, as was Drusina’s in 1556. But it is a copy of neither Drusina’s intabulation nor of Drusina’s example, Bakfark’s intabulation. There are original diminutions in many places. See for example measures 5, 7 and 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 28, 29 33, 34, 35, 41, 44, 45, 47 and 49. But there are also many places that seem to be copied from or inspired by an example. Often diminutions are those of Bakfark (for example measures 1, 3, 7, 9, 55, 57, 59 and 60) and sometimes of Paladin (for example measures 50, 52 and 54). But these places are not always exactly the same, although their outlines are similar. The surprisingly similarity with Drusina’s ending strongly suggests an influence. The most surprising detail of Waissel’s print however, is measure 26. This is a double measure in my print, but in the original the notes are distributed over two measures. I don’t think this is a misprint where we must halve the note lengths to make the intabulation conform to Arcadelt’s original. I think Waissel simply got carried away in his zeal to fill a static measure of C-major with interesting diminutions.

Waissel’s intabulation seems to be inspired by an example. Drusina’s is the obvious candidate as it was published by the same printer. The similar ending, not seen in other versions, is a clear indication. But Waissel added many of his own diminutions, making it a much different piece. I don’t think Waissel was concerned by following the voice leading in Arcadelt’s original; all the diminutions make it an instrumental piece to show of fast runs in between a harmonic progression merely hinting at its origin.

Melchior Newsidler (Jobin, 1574) Quando io Penso al martire

Newsidler’s intabulation is clearly related to Waissel’s, with which it shares some of the new diminutions Waissel made. See for example measures 5, 11, 21, 29 and 44. It also shares diminutions going back to Bakfark. There is also a relation with Jobin, who was the publisher of his own book. The many similar or identical diminutions show it’s relation to the Bakfark tree of the Quando family, see measure 16, 20, 45, 46 and 55. The clearest link is with Drusina’s intabulation, as Newsidler, too, has the second half of measure 52 missing. Most notable, however, is the high number of places with original diminutions not found in any of the other versions.

The missing half measure suggests Newsidler used Drusina’s intabulation as a template to work from. Perhaps he had other examples too. But he added many diminutions of his own. Again, I feel Newsidler used one or more existing intabulations and not Arcadelt’s original to work from.


Of all our intabulators Vindella remained closest to Arcadelt, although he misinterpreted a few points in the structure of the original madrigal, perhaps because he worked from partbooks and lost the overview of the score. Da Milano, Bakfark and De Rippe still followed Arcadelt, but less closely. These great lutenists often changed the music considerably to their own purposes, such as making cadences where the madrigal had none and changing the counterpoint to add melodic interest. It is fair to say they used Arcadelt’s vocal polyphony only as a frame to build their own lute pieces upon. It appears none of the others referred to Arcadelt’s original but instead used existing intabulations as starting points for their own works: Morlaye used Vindella’s, Drusina used Bakfark’s, Ochsenkun used an unidentified source, Phalèse 1563/1568 made a pastiche of Morlaye’s and Paladin’s, Phalèse 1571 used De Rippe’s, Jobin used Ochsenkun’s and both Waissel and Neusidler used Drusina’s or a related source. This practice has lead to copied mistakes, like a missing half measure copied by Newsidler from Drusina, but more interestingly to copied (mis)interpretations of Arcadelt’s composition and to a gradual change from the original polyphony to a harmonic framework for adding diminutions. Morlaye in copying Vindella changed onely a few of the fingerings of difficult chords in the interest of playability, but at other places he remained faithful to the polyphony even if this meant preserving difficult chord shapes. Others have not been so thoughtful, and there are many places in their intabulations where the polyphony is completely lost in favour of playability of chords and diminutions.


The picture emerging from these detailed comparisons is that the sober pieces follow their vocal originals closely but the more elaborate lute pieces are less faithful to their sources. That should influence our approach to these different types of intabulations. How to play the sober, faithful intabulations seems obvious: look up their vocal originals and see what we can learn from those. I have outlined this approach in the opening paragraph. But comparing just any intabulation note by note with its vocal original might not always help in understanding the piece better. In the more free intabulations cadences can have been altered, entrances can have disappeared and new notes can confuse us about the underlying polyphonic structure. Correcting these spots, or making them agree musically with their vocal originals by forcing an unnatural interpretation, might be quite against the idea of the intabulator, as he might not have had access to the vocal original at all, or if he did, might not have been interested in following it in the first place. So, even if their titles suggest they are intabulations, we should play these pieces as fantasias. In other words: some lute pieces are just good lute pieces.

David van Ooijen 10/2008

1. Howard Mayer Brown Instrumental Music Printed Before 1600 (Harvard University Press, 1965. Reprinted by iUniverse.com 1999).
2. Arthur Ness made a stemma of intabulations of Quando io penso al martire, including manuscript sources, in his dissertation: The Herwart lute manuscript at the Bavarian State Library, Munich: a bibliographical study with emphasis on the works of Marco Dall’Aquila and Melchior Newsidler (New York University, 1984). Another good example of a stemma, of the different versions of an intabulation of Doulce mémoire, can be found in The Siena Lute Book and its Arrangements of Vocal and Instrumental Part-Music by Arthur Ness (Proceedings of the International Lute Symposium Utrecht 1986. Nederlandse Luitvereniging and STIMU, Utrecht, 1986).
3. A Xerox of the original and transcriptions of all the pieces can also be found in Choon Mee Hong’s dissertation Sebastian Ochsenkun’s Tabulaturbuch auff die Lauten (1558) (Michigan State University, 1984).
4. See my article Morlaye, Paladin, Phalèse – Two Pastiches (LSA Quarterly Volume XXXXII, No. 2 May 2007) for a detailed account.

You can download this article, including all the intabulations on separate pages as well as the complete score, in one pdf-file (1,84Mb).