Vihuela fingerboard from Diego del Puerto, Portus Musice correctus seu emendatus in quo nemo periclitabitur. Salamanca, 1504.

(1504) - E-Mn
instrument: vihuela de mano | century: 16cent/1/early | catalogue nº: 16-163

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Creator Puerto, Diego del

Medium Artwork: Woodcut


City Salamanca | Region Castilla-León | Old kingdom Castile

Body Strings Neck Pegbox
Bridge Frets Yes Back Pegs

Diego del Puerto, Portus Musice correctus seu emendatus in quo nemo periclitabitur, Salamanca, 1504. This early book of music theory was published as indicated, in Salamanca in 1504. Despite its Latin title, the text of the book is in Spanish. The sole surviving copy is in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid (E-Mn), digitised in Biblioteca Digital Hispana with the permanent identifier (PID) bdh0000176808. It is a volume of only 12 folios. It is described in angles1941, I, 68 and anglessubira1946, II, 157, nº 172

Under the heading “Orden de la viyuela,” the diagram depicts the fingerboard of a six-course vihuela. The courses are numbered in order i-vi. Along the sixth course it has the notes of the frets, spelt out “bmi cfau: dsolre elami ffaut gsol alamire.” These are spelt out in the text below: “El primer traste es bmi. El segundo cfaut. El tercero dsolre. El quarto elami. El quinto ffaut. El sexto gsolreut. El septimo alamire.” This describes its “siete trastes”. It is defective in that it does not have the frets placed chromatically, and all are equidistant, thus a theoretical rather than realistic drawing. The author appears to have no idea of the chromatic placement of frets. Given that the “first fret” —really the first whole tone— is B (bmi), it implies the vihuela to be tuned in A.