Alonso Mudarra

Fantasía 10, que contrahace la harpa en la manera de Ludovico


Tres libros de música en cifra (1546), fol. I/13


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Source title Fa[n]tasia que co[n]trahaze la harpa e[n] la manera de Luduuico. es difficil hasta ser entendida.
Title in contents   Otra fantasia q[ue] co[n]trahaze la harpa en la manera de luduuico.
Text incipit


Category abstract

Genre fantasia

Fantasia type Id

Mode 2

Voices 4

Length (compases) 158


Tuning G

Courses 6

Final VI/0

Highest I/7

Lowest VI/0

Difficulty not specified

Tempo fast

Song Text


Vocal notation


Mudarra’s most famous fantasia. It pays homage to the harpist Ludovico who flourished in Mantua, Ferrara and Naples from the 1480s, and who then came to Spain with the exiled Ferrante of Naples. On his identity see Bermudez (berm1994, berm2002). Bermudo attests that Ludovico was able to play chromatic notes on a diatonic harp by shortening the string with his finger. He was apparently legendary for this ability.

When Mudarra came to pay him homage in his Tres Libros, Ludovico would have been only a memory. Perhaps Mudarra might have heard him play at some banquet organised by his patrons. Mudarra chose a unique formal organisation structure to reflect probably what he understood to be the way that musicians of that generation improvised fantasia, by improvising on a ground. This one is built on three variations on the formula that was known as the “pavana” bu that by the 1590s had transformed into the “folia” Mudarra cleverly avoids any internal cadences within the work by substituting a chord on the 4th degree of the mode each time that a cadence on the modal final is set up by expectation. This means (on a vihuela in G) that all melodic cadences on G are harmonised with a chord on C that allows the music to continue forward with any closes. The music is set as three variations on the “pavana” of 95, 31 and 32 compases. It is at the beginning of variation 3 that Mudarra adds: “Desde aquí fasta açerca del final ay Algunas falsas, tañiéndose bien no pareçen mal”

The fame of the work due to its exceptional harmony, clarity of direction, and particular idiomatic appropriateness and clever devices. The work forms three intensity curves as shown, and can be divided texturally into 4. The descending 3rd is important as an interval, melodically. The harmonic framework likewise and the intensity of I can be traced by the pattern & direction of the lower notes of the descend 3rd. There is no imitation.


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zayas01 Vihuelistas españoles del siglo XVI (IV) Rodrigo de Zayas & Anne Perret solo vihuela song Milán Narváez Mudarra Valderrábano Pisador Fuenllana Daza

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cherici02 El Siglo de Oro: Obras para vihuela 2 Paolo Cherici solo Mudarra Valderrábano Pisador Fuenllana Daza

Song Text

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