Le Roy: Deux Préludes

Le Roy: Deux Préludes

The first bars from Adrian Le Roy’s Prélude from Tiers livre de guiterre, Paris, 1552.
The index finger dot indicators can be clearly seen.
Facsimile at https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/music/research/earlymusiconline/home.aspx
Here are two pieces which are rather shorter than the fantasies I published recently, but still quite discursive. 

It is clever how Le Roy manages to fit in up to three voices with such a limited range. I have set the middle voices mostly stem-down, but a few look better stem-up; this should not affect their interpretation. 

There are some quite fast runs in the second half of the first prelude, so it might be a good idea not to start playing too rapidly. As these aren’t for dancing or singing to, the player is free to change tempo at will.


Until recently I have ignored Le Roy’s indications of right hand fingering. Since, however, they were intended to emphasise the dynamics of the rhythm, I thought that I would have a go at including them.
The very simple system was to indicate (with a dot) only that the weaker notes were to be played by the (weaker) index finger (i). The other (unmarked) notes were stressed and played with the (stronger) thumb (P) and/or middle finger (m). 

Runs of single notes would often have been played P-i, even on the top string.

When two notes are played together, the dot under the lower note means, I think, use i-m rather than P-i or P-mThree-note chords were generally played P-i-m, and four-note chords either P-P-i-m or P-i-m-a (or even P-i-i-m). There was therefore normally no need to show the dots.

When I tried to use the more modern “P-i-m-a” system for the RH digits it made the score very cluttered and hard to read, so I have kept to the old dot system. It is unfortunate that this is not 100% compatible with on-the-line tabs.

I have gleaned much of this information from lute tutors written by Diana Poulton and Rob MacKillop, but it should apply also to Le Roy’s guitar works as he was originally a lutenist, and would probably played guitar in a similar way.

Available for free download in the following formats: 
  • pdf (between the lines)
  • pdf (on the lines)
  • TablEdit
(“Between the lines” means that, in the tabs, the spaces between the lines on the stave represent the strings, as in the Renaissance French system, which was used also in the UK. “On the lines” means that the lines represent the strings, which is the modern system. I find that the numbers are clearer in the former system, but fully understand that they are harder to play from if you’re used to the latter. Hence, I’ve now started posting pdfs of both formats. If you have access to TablEdit, you can format as you wish.)

Tags: #preludes

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