An Overview of the Iberian Repertoire

This information sheet was prepared by John Collins in connection with his talk given at the BCS all-day event ‘A Golden Age: Iberian Instrumental Music before 1700’ at the Art Workers Guild, London, on 29 March 2003.

The Titles

The titles of Iberian works offer considerable information for the player as to the type of composition, and occasionally registration; these notes are designed to assist the non-Iberian speaker to understand this information. It may also be opportune to mention the divided registers which are such an important element in the Iberian organ, especially for the great majority of instruments with only one manual, and to point out the difference between 'Medio Registro', which refers to a stop which functions over half of the keyboard only (i.e. Corneta in the treble and Bajoncillo in the bass), and 'Registro Partido', in which the pipes relating to the compass up to c1 and from c#1 have individual stop-knobs on either side of the console. To use the rank over the full compass it is necessary to draw both knobs.

According to Jesús Ángel de la Lama in El órgano barroco español (vol. 1, pp. 249 ff.), the first instrument with a Medio Registro for which records survive was constructed by P. Serrano in Valencia in 1547 (this was an exception in being on a two manual instrument), and the first with a Registro Partido was by G. de Lupe in Zaragoza in 1567. In 1579, the Jorge organ in Seville Cathedral was built with all its registers divided, but this was an exception, the majority of provinces adopting this scheme in the early 17th century. It should also be remembered that the batteries of horizontal reeds were a product of c. 1695 onwards, the normal scheme being 8 + 4 + 2 in the LH and 16 + 8 + 4 in the RH. Before then J. Echevarría, in Alcalá de Henares in 1659, was apparently the first to place a single Clarín (for the treble only) horizontally. For further detailed information see El órgano barroco español (vol. 1, pp. 283 ff.).

The term Tiento (Spanish) or Tento (Portuguese) is a generic term, used both for pieces that are imitative, and for pieces which are homophonic, closely approaching the Toccata in conception. Some pieces by Jiménez and Cabanilles in such a style are subtitled Sin Paso. The term Phantasia is sometimes used by Portuguese composers to denote non-imitative works, as in the pieces by Pedro de Araújo on the 4th and 8th Tone. The Tiento/Tento or Obra (terms which appear to be synonymous, given that the same piece may be entitled Tiento in one source and Obra in another) can be subdivided into the following basic types; the word Tiento may or may not be present in the title.

The final part of the title indicates the Tone or Mode in which the piece is written, showing the accidentals one would expect to find. The medieval classification of the 8 Tones, dating back to Cicero, aligning them with specific planets and heavenly bodies, and therefore taking on the appropriate character, appears in Bermudo's Declaración (Libro Quinto, Chapter V, folio cxxii) and is still mentioned in Nassarre's Escuela Musica 1723 (Part I, Chapter XVIII, pp. 75-80). Occasionally the piece retains the inherent characteristics of the Mode but is transposed, either up a Tone or down a Tone, i.e. Quinto Tono Punto Alto is presented with a key signature of 2 sharps. Only Correa de Arauxo uses the extra four Tones added during the Renaissance.

Mode or tone Final Ruling planet Characteristics and effects
Dorian (Tone 1) D Sun Happy as well as serious, modest. Disperses laziness, the sadness of the heart and heavy sleep
Hypodorian (Tone 2) D Moon Moves to tears of sadness, induces sleep/dreams, laziness
Phrygian (Tone 3) E Mars Inflames the heart to anger. Terrible and frightening. Provokes pride and lies
Hypophrygian (Tone 4) E Mercury Moves to both sadness and happiness, to meekness
Lydian (Tone 5) F Jupiter Moves to happiness. Very benevolent influences favouring human nature. Purifies foul air
Hypolydian (Tone 6) F Venus Benign influences, promoting tenderness, devotion, piety and love of God
Mixolydian (Tone 7) G Saturn Melancholic, induces a love of solitude, thoughtful but inconstant. Can make sad, and move to weeping, and to internal unrest
Hypomixolydian (Tone 8) G All planets and stars Serious, pours spiritual joy into the soul and fervent yearning for the things eternal and a view of our Creator

Selected Spanish composers of the 16th century

António de Cabezón, c. 1510-1566, Madrid:
16 Tientos, a pavana and hymns etc. in Henestrosa 1557 and 124 pieces (12 tientos, 43 canciones y motets glosadas) in Obras 1578. Pieces in MS242 Coimbra.
Fernández Palero, fl. c. 1550-1570, Granada:
14 pieces in Henestrosa 1557 (including 3 Tientos, 4 Hymns, 3 motets glosadas).
Alberch Vila, 1517-1583, Barcelona:
2 Tientos in Henestrosa.
Francisco de Peraza, 1564-1598, Seville:
1 Medio registro alto, a form said to have been invented by him, as were the modulating figures or 'flores'.

Selected Spanish composers of the 17th century

(not including versos etc.)
Sebastián Aguilera de Heredia, c. 1561-1627, Zaragoza:
4 registros, 3 falsas, 8 tiento/obra.
Pablo Bruna, 1611-1679, Daroca:
11 registros, 3 falsas, 5 Tiento/obra, 1 batalla.
José Jiménez, c. 1610-1672, Zaragoza:
6 registros, 2 Tiento/obra, 2 batalla, differencias sobre las Folias.
Andrés de Sola, 1634-1696, Zaragoza:
2 registros, 1 obra.
Francisco Correa, c. 1575-1654, Seville, Jaén:
36 Registros, 26 Tiento/obra, 7 canciones glosadas.
Gabriel Menalt, c. 1657-1687, Barcelona:
3 Registros, 1 falsas, 2 Tiento/obra.
Juan Batista Cabanilles, 1644-1712, Valencia:
101 registros, 15 falsas, 104 Tiento/obra, 10 Batallas, 7 tocatas, 6 Gallardas, 6 passacalles, 4 Paseos, 1 Corrente Italiana, 1 Xácara.
Gregorio Clausells, d. c. 1737, Barcelona:
1 Tiento, 2 Tocatas.
Miguel López, 1669-1732:
3 Llenos (Tientos), 1 Registro, 1 ecos & contraecos.
José Perandreu:
5 Registros.
Cristóbal de San Jerónimo, 1605 entered El Escorial:
3 Tiento/Obra.
Pedro de Tafalla, 1606-1660, El Escorial:
2 registros, 1 Tiento/obra (incomplete).
Diego de Torrijos, c. 1640-1692, El Escorial:
1 Canción, 3 registros (1 untitled), 6 Tiento/obra (1 untitled).
Juan del Vado:
4 Tiento/Obra.
Diego de Xaraba, c. 1652-1714:
2 Tiento/obra.
Bartolomé de Olague:
10 Registro, 2 Tiento/Obra.
José Torrellas:
8 Registros, 1 Tiento/Obra,1 batalla.
António Martín y Coll, c. 1660-1740, Alcalá:
1 Batalla, 1 Obra, 3 'Clarines', 14 Canciones.

Major Spanish MSS sources of the 17th century

El Escorial (2) MS2186/7
Barcelona (8) MS 386, 387, 450, 729, 751.21, 1011, 1328, 1468
Madrid (5) MS 2267, 1357-60
Felanitx (2)

Major Portuguese MSS sources of the 16th century

Coimbra MS242

Selected Portuguese composers of the 16th century:

Heliadora de Paiva, c. 1500-1560, Coimbra:
3 Tentos.
António de Carreira, c. 1525-1597, Lisbon:
17 Tentos (mainly untitled in source), 1 Canção.

Major Portuguese MSS sources of the 17th century

Braga MS964
Porto (2) MS1577 (composers were almost certainly Spanish) and 1695

Selected Portuguese composers of the 17th century:

Coelho, c. 1555-1635, Elvas and Lisbon:
(24 tientos, 4 Susanas, versos) in Flores de Musica 1620.
Pedro de Araujo, c. 1640-1705, Braga:
7 Tentos/Obra, 1 Registo, 3 Phantasias, 1 Batalha.

return to top of page

back to home

updated 20 February 2009