New Book to be Released
José de Torres's Reglas generales
An annotated Spanish/ English edition of José de Torres's Reglas generales (1736) is to be published in the coming year by Indiana University Press. Torres's treatise, translated and edited by Paul Murphy, Assistant Professor at Eastern New Mexico University, first appeared in 1702 with the title Reglas de acompañar en órgano, clavicordio, y harpa con solo saber cantar la parte o un baxo en canto figurado. It comprises three sections, which Torres calls tratados (treatises), and thereby divides thoroughbass instruction into the subjects of rudiments, ac-companiment with consonant chords, and accompaniment with tied and untied dissonant chords. In this first edition Torres uses scored realizations of figured basses to explain the method for deriving accompaniments from unfigured basses.
A second, revised edition, which adds a fourth tratado to explain the method for accompanying in the Italian style, was issued in 1736. The second edition not only exhibits a reformatted and enlarged text, but contains the first use in Spain of two-stave keyboard notation. All of the scored examples from the first edition are rewritten, typo-graphically, in keyboard notation, i.e., one note for the left hand is written in the bass clef and three notes for the right hand are written in either the soprano or the treble clef, with both staves connected by a brace. The thorough-bass theory presented in the first three tratados of the second edition of Reglas generales was first presented by Torres in 1702, that is, before many of the most influential pre-Rameau eighteenth-century thoroughbass treatises, specifically, Saint-Lambert's Nouveau traité (1707), Gasparini's L'armonico pratico (1st ed., 1708), and Heinichen's Neu erfundene und gründliche Anweisung . . . des General-Basses (1711).
Although instruction in the art of deriving an accompaniment from a bass line appeared in Spain long before Torres's treatise with works such as Juan Carlos Amat's Guitarra española (Lérida, 1626) in which arabic numerals are used as chord symbols, and Gaspar Sanz' Instrucción de música sobre la guitarra española (Zaragoza, 1674) in which the realizations are notated in guitar tablature, Reglas generales enjoys the significant distinction of being the first work in Spain to deal specifically and completely with thoroughbass accompaniment at the keyboard. Be-cause of its emphasis on keyboard accompaniment and what Torres describes as the "rigorous Spanish style," this treatise, unlike any that had appeared before it in Spain, approaches thoroughbass from a contrapuntal as well as a harmonic perspective; this is a perspective that, unlike the guitar treatises of the same period, considers chord inversion and voice leading in the realization of the bass. It is also the approach shared by most of the influential eighteenth-century thoroughbass treatises from Italy, France, and Germany.
José de Torres y Martínez Bravo (c. 1670-1738) is a remarkable figure in Spain's musical history whose life included service in the Real Capilla de Madrid, a vast output of musical compositions, achieve-ments as a printer and editor, and significant influences as a music "theorist." In more than fifty years of his professional association with the Real Capilla Torres held the positions of organist (eventually, Organista Principal), rector of the Colegio de Niños Cantóricos, and Maestro de Capilla. Thus, Torres served in the Spanish Real Capilla in several capacities: composer, practicing musician, and instructor of music. Torres's compositions, while occasionally retaining certain features of Spain's prima-prattica tradition, such as identification by modal rubrics, cadential organization according to psalm-tone differentiae, and limited use of paraphrased plainchant cantus firmi, also demonstrate a Baroque conception of harmony and dissonance, and a preference for characteristically Baroque accompanimental ensembles. Through La Imprenta de Música, the printing establishment he founded in Madrid in 1700, Torres made available in Spain an unprecedented number of works, including con-temporary Spanish and French compositions, and contemporary and traditional Spanish theoretical treatises. Further, his technological advancements in the way music is printed allowed him to initiate the typographical production of figured basses and the notation of keyboard music in two staves. As a teacher of music, Torres is primarily concerned with practical explanations of musical concepts to aid in thoroughbass instruction. Ac-cordingly, Reglas gen-erales excludes the "ostentación " found in Kircher's and Cerone's theoretical discussions. Nevertheless, he borrows from a diverse group of seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Spanish and Italian theorists, including Francisco Correa de Arauxo, Andrés Lorente, Pablo Nassarre, Lorenzo Penna, and Francesco Gasparini.
Internationl Hispanic Music Study Group: Study Session 1999
"The Interaction of Traditional and Art Musics in the Hispanic World."
Saturday, October 30, 1999,
Leonora Saavedra (University of Pittsburgh), Chair
Bernardo Illari (University of Chicago)
Malena Kuss (University of North Texas)
Cristina Magaldi (Towson State University)
Alvaro Torrente (Royal Holloway College, University of London)
Luisa Vilar (Universidad de las Américas, Puebla)
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