The repertoire that survives for the vihuela comprises nearly 750 works, 712 of which are found in seven printed vihuela books. These are listed in chronological order:

  • Luis Milán, Libro de Musica de vihuela de mano ntitulado El Maestro (Valencia,1536)
  • Luis de Narváez. Los seys libros del Delphin de musica de cifras para tañer Vihuela (Valladolid, 1538)
  • Alonso Mudarra, Tres Libros de Musica en Cifras para Vihuela (Sevilla, 1546)
  • Enríquez de Valderrábano, Libro de Musica de Vihuela, intitulado Silva de sirenas (Valladolid, 1547)
  • Diego Pisador, Libro de Musica de Vihuela (Salamanca, 1552)
  • Miguel de Fuenllana, Libro de Musica de Vihuela, intitulado Orphenica lyra (Seville,1554)
  • Esteban Daza. Libro de Musica en cifras para Vihuela intitulado el Parnasso (Valladolid, 1576)

Additional pieces are preserved in a handful of other sources, mainly manuscripts and from the latter sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Notated in tablature, the repertory includes original works and a large number of arrangements of vocal polyphony by leading composers from Spain and elsewhere in Europe. This database provides details of every single known composition. The sources are as follows:

  • Barbarino — PL-Kj Mus. Ms. 40032 (Krakow, Biblioteka Jagiellonska)
  • Castelfranco — I-CFVd without number (Castelfranco del Veneto, Duomo)
  • Declaración — Juan Bermudo, Declaración de instrumentos musicales (Osuna, 1555)
  • Málaga — Málaga, Archivo Diocesano. Libro de Bautismos 1558-1570
  • Ramillete — E-Mn ms 6001, Ramillete de flores nuevas
  • Siculus — GB-Lbl, Lucius Marineus Siculus, Epistolarum familiarum (Valladolid, 1514), C.48.h.1.
  • Simancas — E-SIM Simancas, Archivo General de Simancas, Casa y Sitios Reales, leg. 394.
  • Vienna — A-Wo Vienna, Österreichische Nationalsbibliothek, manuscript additions to Valderrábano, Silva de sirenas, S.A.76.A.15
  • Willoughby — GB-NO Nottingham University Library, Willoughby Lute Book, Mi LM 16.


At the top of each individual record, you will find:

  • composer
  • uniform title of the work using regularised modern spelling
  • name of the source with folio or page number
  • unique identifier based on the surname of the composer and the order of each work in the source.

Immediately below is the title of the work as it appears at the head of each work, the corresponding entry from the table of contents of each publication and, in the case of vocal works, the opening words of the sung text.


This section gives the opening bars of the tablature, and information about the musical genre, how the music is set on the vihuela, and the notation of the song text, where relevant.


Categorising the vihuela repertory by genre is not without problems. The main types are clear, but there are many works that are difficult to classify due to various ambiguities or the absence of complete information. For this reason we have two layers of classification of differing specificity. Even here, there is some ambiguity. In some cases, it is not clear if a texted piece is a song with instrumental accompaniment or an intabulation. Often this means it cannot be stated categorically whether it is an original work or an arrangement.

In the following list, we give first the broad CATEGORY of each work, then its more specific GENRE with explanations where necessary:

  • abstract works — fantasia | tiento | other (“fuga,” “duo,” “toccata,” and some fragments from Italian ricercars)
  • cantus firmus settings — chant (principally hymns) | secular
  • dances — pavana | other
  • intabulations — canción | chanson (French) | endechas | ensalada | fabordón | madrigal (Italian text, including Neapolitan villanelle) | mass (works, movements, sections) | motet | romance | villancico | villanesca (Spanish “madrigal”)
  • songs
  • variations — conde claros | folia | pavana | vacas | other
  • unclassified — (miscellaneous works unable to be accommodated elsewhere, possibly songs or intabulations in the main)

Fantasias are classified according to the types defined in John Griffiths, “The Vihuela Fantasia” (Diss. Monash University, 1983) as follows:

  • ImP — imitative polythematic)
  • Par — parody
  • Id — idiomatic
  • ImM — imitative monothematic
  • nIm — non-imitative
  • Id+Im — idiomatic and imitative
  • Ost — ostinato
  • nIm+Im — non-imitative and imitative
  • Id+nIm — idiomatic and non-imitative


The vihuela was tuned in fourths with a major third between the third and fourth courses. The vihuela común (‘common’ or standard vihuela) was nominally tuned in G (G-c-f-a-d’-g’) but its pitch was often imagined to be up to a fourth higher or lower in order to ‘put’ music onto the instrument (poner en la vihuela), especially concerning the range of the music as well as ease of playing, getting maximum use of open strings, and so forth. Whatever the real sounding pitch of any given instrument, they were frequently ‘imagined’ to be tuned in D, E, F, F#, G, A, B or C. The surviving repertoire also includes some music for four and five-course instruments. The four-course vihuela was usually called guitarra

In the data for each piece, the ‘imaginary’ tuning is specified, the number of courses, followed by the location of the final (the root note of the final chord) for each piece, plus the position on the fingerboard of the highest and lowest note. These are expressed using Roman numerals for the courses and Arabic numerals for the frets. VI/0 is therefore the open sixth course and II/6 is the sixth fret on the second course.

Several of the composers indicated the difficulty of the music, and the desired performance tempo. This information is also listed here.


These fields allow the user to see the languages used in vihuela music (Catalan, French, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish) and the manner in which it is notated, either in the tablature with red ciphers or apostrophes, or as separate mensural notation.

Following this is a commentary on each piece with bibliographic, stylistic and analytical comments. In the second tab, there is a bibliography of editions, literature, recordings, as well as the texts of vocal works (with English translations in many cases) and details of the sources and modern editions of the vocal works intabulated for the vihuela