a suite of seven movements for solo guitar
five new pieces and two original medieval arrangements
Preview: Sample PDF of Nuevas Cantigas
Written: fall, 2000
Duration: ~11 minutes, 8 pages
Instrumentation: solo guitar
Difficulty level: short fast scales and some high positions
Recording: Sketches by Frank Wallace on Gyre, 2004
I fell in love with the sound of Medieval music in 1979 when I toured Spain for three months, performing 12-16th century music in 800 year old cathedrals in Catalunya. This Medieval suite for guitar is the result of much love and adoration of the pure melodies and harmonies of that period: five original pieces with two arrangements of authentic medieval music, Imperayritz from the Llibre Vermell and a Cantiga de Santa Maria. The first movement, Montserrat, was featured in Issue #58 [July 2005] of Fingerstyle magazine.
Montserrat is dedicated not just to the famous pilgrimage site west of Barcelona, but also to the actual pilgrimage Trio LiveOak made there in 1979. We were privileged to have a private viewing of the Llibre Vermell (Red Book) which contains Imperayritz, a hymn or dance of praise to the Virgin Mary, and 13 other important musical examples of 14th century Catalonia, now the northeast region of Spain. Abadesses is a memory of another phenomenal 12th century site, the cathedral at Sant Juan de les Abadessas [see photo below]. Loor means ‘praise’ in Gallego-Portuguese, the poetic language King Alfonso X, “El Sabio,” preferred for his large and magnificent collection of over 400 Cantigas de Santa Maria of the 13th century. Santa Maria Valed is one of the few songs thought to have actually been written by Alfonso when he was ill and in need of his precious Saint Mary’s aid. The suite concludes with an Estampie, a medieval dance form that features many sections not unlike the rondo form of later centuries. This particular one is modeled after the Robertsbridge Estampies, the earliest examples of written keyboard music.