Le Roy: Fantasie Seconde

Le Roy: Fantasie Seconde I’ve recently been playing a lot of pieces from Adrian Le Roy’s books of Renaissance guitar tablature. Remarkable as they are in achieving so much on a 4-course instrument, they can get a bit boring: many are set in G or Gm, and the same cadences and phrases occur time after time. Here we have a piece set in F (mostly), which is not a popular key for the instrument as the root note is a whole-tone lower than the 4th string. Le Roy got round this by using the first inversion, with A on the 4th string, which may have been breaking the rules of the time, when chords were usually voiced in root position. (Mudarra solved this problem by retuning the 4th to F.)

The first page of Le Roy’s tablature. The dots under certain notes indicate that they are to receive less emphasis, and to be played with the first (or possibly the second) finger, but not by the thumb.

This piece, being a fantasia, is not divided neatly into 4- or 8-bar segments, unlike an air or a dance. In fantasias the first few bars often contain a main theme, which is repeated with variations or as a canon. As far as I can see, this does not happen here.

I once read a description of Renaissance fantasias as “meandering amiably”, but in this fantasia there is a fairly obvious structure. One can discern the rise and fall of overlapping voices (the style being derived from polyphonic ecclesiastical music), and the challenge is to bring them outseamlessly  in the playing.

HARMONIC ANALYSIS. As noted above, the piece is mainly in F, and whilst the chords are not fully voiced once can speculate that there is much reliance on I (of course), IV and V; IV is sometimes substituted by ii, and V by vii. The final cadence goes: I, ii, III (briefly) and ends, surprisingly, on VI (here, D major). Perhaps it’s the relative minor, but with the “tierce de Picardie” applied.

FINGERING. As you can see from the image above, the unaccented notes are marked by a dot, indicating that they are be to played with the index (or possibly middle) finger, rather than the thumb. Generally these are on the “&” when you count “1 & 2 &”. To avoid cluttering, I have not indicated them in the score. Where this rule does not apply (as in bar 2 line 3 in the above image), I have indicated with an i the unaccented notes for the whole bar.

I should say that there seem to be different opinions amongst the cognoscenti as to whether the middle finger counts as a strong note digit, and whether a dot under a chord means “pluck using fingers only” or “strum up with the index finger”. The 4th string seems to have been played mainly with the thumb.

SOURCE. Transcribed from the original tablature of: Premier livre de tabulature de guiterre, contenant plusieurs chansons, fantasies, pavanes, gaillardes, almandes, branles, tant simples qu’autres le tout composé. Par Adrian le Roy. Paris, 1551.
Facsimile online at: https://repository.royalholloway.ac.uk/items/36992e38-4a04-c705-affa-253d7b309c67/1/
(Permanent link: http://purl.org/rism/BI/1551/23)

Available to download freely in the following formats:

  • pdf (notation + tabs between the lines)
  • pdf (notation + tabs on the lines)
  • TablEdit
  • MIDI

Tags: #fantasie #seconde

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