Alonso Mudarra

The six guitar pieces by Alonso Mudarra (ca 1510 – 1580) are now arranged and ready for you to view (go to the YouTube channel  to see them).

One of the fantasies is in non-standard tuning labelled “viego” or old tuning where the lowest string is tuned down a whole tone. The remaining pieces are in standard tuning labelled “nuevo” or new tuning. All the original pieces are in Italian tabulature ((which is upside down to our modern tab) and, while I’m getting used to reading it, I still have to turn the original folio upside down and read it backwards to proofread the arrangements. After working with original folios by various composers for over three years, I’m also “seeing the music” in the tabulature (i.e. separate voices and melodic lines), especially in pieces with some structure like the Pavana and Romanesca by Mudarra. Enjoy!

Mudarra & Fuenllana

In searching for music to arrange from the Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque eras, there is a plethora of pieces written for lute, vihuela, and guitar (both Renaissance and Baroque guitars). This music takes advantage and recognizes the characteristics and limitations of these stringed instruments, such as the sound starting to fade immediately after plucking a string.

Music written for the lute, vihuela and Baroque guitar require additional changes when arranging the music for modern ukulele, as these instruments have 5 or 6 strings while the ukulele has only 4 strings. The most straightforward to arrange is music written for Renaissance guitar as the string arrangements and tuning is much the same as the modern ukulele (read more details in this post).

However, there is a limited amount of surviving music written specifically for the Renaissance guitar, such as the nine surviving books published by Adrian Le Roy and Guillaume Morlaye in Paris in the 1550’s.  There are only two other surviving sources of such music, but they are included as a small selection of pieces in larger works written for vihuela. They are:

Tres libros de musica en cifras para vihuela (“Three books of music in numbers for vihuela”), which was published on December 7, 1546 in Seville by Spanish composer Alonso Mudarra (ca 1510 – 1580).  Only 6 of the pieces are written for the Renaisance guitar in the first book (Libro I).

Libro de música para vihuela intitulado Orphenica Lyra (“Book of music for vihuela ….”), which was published in 1554 in Seville, known briefly as Orphenica Lyra, with 182 pieces in six volumes by Spanish composer Miguel de Fuenllana (ca 1500 – 1579).  Only 7 of the pieces are written for the Renaissance guitar in the sixth book (Libro VI).

I am arranging these 13 pieces for the ukulele (as illustrated below) and they should be completed in February or March 2021.  I will be posting the arrangements so you can preview and enjoy these pieces as I complete them. To receive notifications of each posting, you should subscribe to the YouTube channel.