Alonso Mudarra: Romanesca, o guárdarme las vacas
Alonso Mudarra (c 1510 – 1580) was apparently the first man to set down guitar music on paper. The Spanish are justifiably proud of him – he has an extensive web presence, should you want to learn more.
This version is made for the low-4th ukulele from a transcription for lute published by Wayne Cripps here.
Available in the following formats: pdf (preview), pdf auto download, TablEdit and MIDI – just click the links.
Note added Oct 2019: I really need to revise this transcription.
About the piece
The title translates as Look after the cows for me.
There are 5 variations. Most of the lute work is on the upper 4 strings, which made for easy transcription, but bars 35 to 39 involved runs on strings 4, 5 & 6, so I have had to take greater liberties to maintain the lines. The most efficient fingerings are not always the most obvious, but I found that including them the score made it cluttered and difficult to read, so I leave the choice to the player.
Some years ago, Michael Parmenter made a transcription for low-G uke of Mudarra’s original version for Renaissance guitar, available here. It is in the same key as this one (though in 6/2 time) so one version might well be played after the other.
There is a fine uke version played by the fretted instrument performer Jocko MacNelly here.
‘Romanesca, also known as “Guárdame las Vacas”, is a form of song that was very popular in the Spanish Renaissance on which many composers made different versions and series of “differences” (variations).’ [Quoted from this blog] There is more information and an image of the composer here.
According to Wikipedia: ‘Romanesca was a melodic-harmonic formula popular from the mid 16th to early 17th centuries’, following this 8-bar sequence: III–VII–i–V–III–VII–i-V–i’. The present version is, however a 10-bar sequence:
III – VII – i – V – V – III – VII – I-V – i – IV – i,
with sometimes ♭VI substituted for i in bar 3, III for V in bar 4, and I for i in the final bar of the piece.
Guárdame las vacas,
carillejo, y besarte he;
si no, bésame tú a mí
que yo te las guardaré.
Keep my cows for me,
darling boy, and I will kiss you:
or else, you may kiss me
and I will keep the cows for you.