Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

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Frank Nordberg

Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Frank Nordberg » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:38 pm

Here is a transcription of a mandolin piece by an almost forgotten baroque composer. Stylistically this little fuga is somewhere between Sanz and Bach, in format it's perhaps closer to Sanz although a little bit larger than Sanz' better known pieces and - let's face it - composed by somebody more familiar to the possibilities of strings and frets than Sanz was.

(An earlier version file was originally posted at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=74717 before I was aware that this board has a special section for music in tablature. A version without tablature is still available at that URL.)
cecn-fuga-norf-gtab.pdf
Niccolo Ceccherini worked as theorbist and chamber music at the court of the Grand Prince of Tuscany, Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663-1713). The Grand Prince was a great patron of music and an excellent musician himself, so holding a post as musician at his court must have given Ceccherini quite a high status in his days and also given him the chance to meet and play with many of the famous names that were invited to visit the court, such as Händel, Marcello, Pasquini, both Scarlattis and the inventor of the piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Unfortunately, musicians from the old times before recording was invented tend to be remembered not by their performing skills but by their compositions. Ceccherini doesn’t seem to have ever published any music, and today he is only remembered by some small pieces - like this one - for four-course baroque mandola preserved in a 1703 manuscript.

If you read a music theory or composition textbook today, you will learn that the baroque fugue was a highly stylized contrapuntal form built on a very strict framework. This isn’t true, the fugue was in fact a rather free form. There would always be some hints of counterpoint but overall the genuine baroque fugue was a capricious fantasia, often improvised or semi-improvised by the performer. This piece doesn’t look like a fugue by today’s standard but is actually a fairly typical example of what the word meant back when it was a common music form.

As mentioned, the piece was originally written for the four-course baroque mandola, a mandolin-sized instrument strung with double gut strings tuned e'-a'-d"-g" and played with the fingers, not with a plectrum as today’s mandolins and mandolas are. I have transposed the music down an octave and a third from the key of G dorian to E dorian to better fit the guitar’s range. Although intended for the classical guitar, the music is equally suitable for steel strings and may even sound good on an electric guitar with the right tone!
You may want to use a capo to get a brighter, more mandolin-like tone. With a capo on the third fret you’ll get the same key as it was originally notated in. I’m not sure if that’s an important point though. It’ll still be an octave below the original pitch and besides, the chamber pitch back then was quite different than it is today. I prefer either to use a capo as high as it is possible to go without too many awkward upper-fret notes or to use no capo at all.

Apart from the transposition, the only changes I have made is to add some accidentals (the ones in brackets), a suggested tempo indication and left hand fingering. I decided not to add any right hand fingering since I thought that it would either be too sparse to be useful or too detailed to keep the score easily readable. You should try to use rhythmic alternate stroke as much as possible but don’t be frantic about it. The tempo indication I’ve given is just a suggestion and it is possible to make the music work in a much slower or much higher tempo.

I was tempted to add some ornament suggestions but decided not to. Any early 18th century musician would have been expected to add ornaments to a piece like this but exactly where and how would depend on each musican’s taste and skill level.
In case somebody are interested, here is a transcripiton of the original version for baroque mandola:
cecn-fuga-bqm4t.pdf
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Aucaman
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Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Aucaman » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:40 am

Frank Nordberg wrote:Niccolo Ceccherini worked as theorbist and chamber music at the court of the Grand Prince of Tuscany, Ferdinando de’ Medici (1663-1713).
It's not clear to me if those dates belong to Ceccherini or to Medici.

Anyway, I want to thank you for all the wonderful music you have been sharing with us in this Forum. This is an enormous amount of work. Just the time it takes to put all this in a computer format is huge, let alone transcribing and adapting to the modern guitar. :bravo: :bravo:

I recently did some research on the music of Piccinini and Zamboni and I learned quite a bit about the music of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. However the name of Ceccherini never came up in the sources I was consulting. Maybe the reason was that I was looking at music for the "Liuto Ateorbato," or "Archiliuto" (Archlute?) and not the Theorbo. The way I understand it, the "Archiliuto" falls right in between the Lute and the Theorbo. Is that right?

I bet we can be regaled with your excellent exposition about the three kinds of Renaissance and Baroque instruments.
:bye:

Frank Nordberg

Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Frank Nordberg » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:42 pm

Aucaman wrote:It's not clear to me if those dates belong to Ceccherini or to Medici.
Medici. Ceccherini's dates of birth and death are unknown but the manuscript the music is from, is dated 1703.
Aucaman wrote:I recently did some research on the music of Piccinini and Zamboni and I learned quite a bit about the music of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. However the name of Ceccherini never came up in the sources I was consulting. Maybe the reason was that I was looking at music for the "Liuto Ateorbato," or "Archiliuto" (Archlute?) and not the Theorbo.
Unfortunately we don't know of any music by Ceccherini neither for the archlute nor the theorbo.
Aucaman wrote:The way I understand it, the "Archiliuto" falls right in between the Lute and the Theorbo. Is that right?
Not quite. In size and range the archlute and the French "baroque lute" are more or less the same.

There were numerous variants of the lute during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Four of them were:
  • The French lute
    Usually simply referred to as the "baroque lute". A 11-15 course lute tuned in a D minor tuning. Common in Northern Europe.
  • The archlute
    A six course renaissance lute with extra long unfretted bass strings added. This instrument was mainly used in Italy where they tended to prefer the old renaissance lute tuning rather than the French D minor tuning.
  • The theorbo
    A larger lute with extra long unfretted bass strings. Tuned like the renaissance lute/archlute except the upper strings were tuned an octave down. Originally Italian, variants of it were common all over Europe. It was especially popular as a continuo instrument but it also has a solo repertoire. Recently it has been suggested that Northern Eruopean lutenists who doubled on French lute for soloing and theorbo for continuo would have tuned both instruments in D minor tuning.
  • The gallichon
    Aka mandore. Essentially a five or six course renaissance lute. Made in two distinctively different designs, one identical to the renaissance lute with an elongated deep body and the head angled backwards, the other with a rounder, wider and shallower body and a regular straight head. Originally tuned like a renaissance lute but gradually GADGBE and eventually EADGBE became the norm. This makes the gallichon particularly interesting to us guitarists since it's the first instrument to use the modern standard guitar tuning. Unlike the other lutes, the gallichon never completely disappeared; the 19th century "Wandervogel Laute" and the modern guitar-lute are direct descendants of the gallichon.
The archlute is essentially a regular six-course renaissance lute with extra long unfretted bass strings added.

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Aucaman
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Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Aucaman » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:18 pm

Thank you, Frank. Your description of these instruments is most informative. Of course, your response only triggered a dozen more questions. :)
Is there a particular book you'd recommend on this topic? :bye:

Frank Nordberg

Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Frank Nordberg » Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:47 am

Aucaman wrote:Of course, your response only triggered a dozen more questions.
I think that sums up the state of early stringed instruments research right now: every answer triggers a dozen more questions.
Aucaman wrote:Is there a particular book you'd recommend on this topic?
Not that I can think of right away. We've made quantum leaps in our understanding of this topic recently - very much thanks to the internet - and books written more than a decade or two ago tend to be outdated already.

There are quite a number of web sites and internet forums though. I'd recommend Stephen Barber and Sandi Harris' site as a good starting point. Their site is of course mainly focused on the instrument models they actually make themselves but they've done some serious background research and are generously sharing it with us all. Especially relevant in this context are the pages on:

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Aucaman
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Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by Aucaman » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:00 pm

Thank you. That's very helpful.
You're such a bottomless source of knowledge! :merci: :merci:

gilles T
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Re: Ceccherini, Niccolo - Fuga - Tab

Post by gilles T » Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:57 am

Hello,

Very intersesting, but the first page of the pdf file seems to be corrupted.
Regards,

Gilles

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