Comments on the Capirola Lute Book

This project started in 2005, when Göran Crona entabulated the entire manuscript in Fronimo 2 format, a monumental task for which he deserves a good deal of credit.  His entabulation is amazingly accurate, when compared with the tab given in the 1952 Otto Gombosi edition of the MS.  I did not have the original tab to compare with, but the concordance between the two sources I do have leads me to believe that my entabulation is reasonably accurate. With the new edition of Fronimo, Fronimo 3, I have been able to add all the ornaments and tenuto marks, etc, that Capirola has in his MS.  I wish to thank Francesco Tribioli for all his good work on creating the Fronimo program, but especially for going to the trouble of inserting elements into his program that are, so far as I know, only useful in the Capirola MS.  Now you could say that these features are as fully utilized as they can be!

I have also made heavy use of the Gombosi edition and Gombosi's extensive notes and emendations in my entabulation.  Gombosi obviously made a deep study of the MS, and his input I found extremely valuable.  Some of Gombosi's changes, though, are actually unplayable or quite ungraceful on the lute, being more suited to harpsichord.  Most I believe greatly enhance the quality of the music.  I have incorporated the ones I like and added a very few of my own.  Amongst the ones I like are the addition of a low F note that would only be playable on a 7 or 8-course lute, but that makes more sense in the voice leading or rounds out a chord nicely.  Since perhaps most lutenists have an instrument with more than 6-courses, this should be helpful.  I have notated all editorial changes except a few obvious errors in or absence of rhythm flags.  I have also made 7-course versions of those pieces (7th course tuned to F) that Capirola played with a G course lowered to F.  I believe these are easier to play than the originals.  In three pieces (#17 and 28, Padoanas, and #41, Ricercar 13), Capirola uses a split-course approach, in which one string of the third course, third fret, is held by the third or fourth finger of the left hand and separated from the other string of the third course, while both strings are played together by the right hand.  Sometimes, the other string is also fingered, using the first or second finger of the left hand.  This is a tricky maneuver and uncommon in the lute literature.  Since Fronimo cannot render a view of the split-course tab, I have substituted a way of playing the same notes without using the split-course approach.  Anyone who enjoys the challenge of the split course is welcome to use it.

For those who, like myself, are somewhat Italian-tab challenged, I have also included French tab versions.  I have kept the original ornaments even in the French tab versions, even they may be a bit incongruous (like a shady "3" next to a "c").  Also Capirola’s ornament with two dots above the note is not so legible in French tab, so I have shunted it off to the left side of the note.  Hopefully, it will not be too much of a stretch to imagine that it lies above the notes in question.

Directions for playing these ornaments, and other points, are contained in the introduction written by one Vitale, Capirola's student and the creator of the MS.  A translation and commentary on this is provided by Federico Marincola.