Toccata for lute by Frescobaldi... -

a small "Frescobaldi for lute" project

Updated 7.8.2000
(As normal, I of course have copyright to my own intabulations and transcriptions, but I thus give permission to public performances in condition the proper attribution is given.)

This page started as only the "Toccata..." page, but then I got an idea: Why not collect also other Frescobaldi lute transcriptions and intabulations? My own and also by others.

As far as I know the "Toccata per Spinettina sola, over Liuto" is the only solo composition, where Frescobaldi names the lute. But I think there are many other compositions suitable for solo lute by this great composer.

I am going to publish here my own intabulations and transcriptions only handwritten..., my own "mms"... Yes I know my handwriting is not so beautiful, but it is anyhow mine... Others may send me also "machine made music"... :-)


Toccata per Spinettina sola, over Liuto

In 1995 I intabulated a "Toccata per Spinettina sola, over Liuto" - "Toccata for small harpsichord, or lute" by Girolamo Frescobaldi from his "Il primo Libro delle Canzoni", Roma 1628. (Reprint by SPES)

The original is written in staff notation, three lines: a soprano clef and two bass clefs, second one as a slow continuo line. I have lowered the original key by one whole step, if we assume a lute in g. (With a lute in a the key is original.)

My intabulation is free: I have added harmonies where I like... Not too many... Archlute is perhaps the best instrument for the piece, but 10-course will do also well, because no string lower 10th is used.

In my tabulature the part written with time signature "3" is actually in triplets - it is written in 12/8 in the original staff notation. Generally I would suggest quite free tempo throughout the piece.

And finally, my intabulation is not "science", I hope it is "art"... :-)

My intabulation: (handwritten Italian tabulature)

The original partitura:

Fronimo, tab and ps versions of my intabulation by Frank A. Gerbode (in French tabulature):

We had an interesting discussion of what happens at the end of 7th bar and in the beginning of 8th:

Begli Occhi

"Begli Occhi", "Beautiful eyes", is a duo for two equal voices and continuo. It was published in Frescobaldi's "Arie Musicale per cantarsi...", Firenze 1630.

My version is really my true "performing edition". That is why it has also some fingerings... The piece is very beautiful, and "sells well"...

The piece is actually quite simple. A couple of stretches are a bit tricky, but you'll get used... The original is in "G minor", mine is in "F minor" assuming lute in g. Even an 8 course lute is enough for this piece (basses needed are f and e flat).

My transcription: (handwritten French tabulature)

You may play the piece AB AB ..., but another alternative is to repeat the beginning and end AABB AABB ...

The "unofficial" (my own!) A part ends and B starts at the middle of the first bar of the second system, bar 6. The "official" (printed) borderline between A and B is in the middle of bar 10!

And it is not strongly forbidden to decorate the repetitions... :-)

The original partitura:

Recercar dopo il Credo from "Missa della Madonna"

The lute intabulation of this organ piece was sent to me by Frank A. Gerbode. He had found it on Alain Veylit's page. The original intabulator is Giuliano Tiziana.


When I got this piece, I commented:

This is a very beautiful piece! And you know, when I tried it, it felt strangely familiar... Then I got it: It is from "Missa della Madonna", which was published in "Fiori Musicali", Venetia 1635. That "Missa" is, by the way, my favorite one!

I have a recording (Astree E 8714-8715), where Rinaldo Alessandrini plays all of the "Fiori" by the organ "Antegnati" of Milano (1554). And he plays well!!

A couple of comments (I do not have the printed music):

In bar 47 Alesaandrini fills the D major chord. I like that.

At the end he plays D major. I think it is a must! And if it was not printed, it was only because everybody knew that it must be a major...

Generally I think that organ is more suitable for this higly chromatical piece - you really can hear the strange harmonies, when the voices carry on. But anyhow it is a good and well made addition on to the "lute repertoire" of Frescobaldi.

Aria detto Balletto

Richard Yates writes: "The Aria detto Balletto is a challenging but glorious set of solo variations by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643). the original was written for the keyboard but sits well on the lute." You can find more Richard's transcriptions in his page Lute Music in Tablature.

Richard Yates' transcriptions:

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