17thc. & 18thc. Music in 'Nueva España', and 'Brasil Colonial'


“Slaves Carrying a Sedan Chair' (Palaquin), Brazil, c.1760 Spain - Nueva España, and Portugal - Brasil Colonial, introduced European liturgical music for use in churches into their respective South American colonies starting in the early 16thc. Indigenous musicians were converted to Christianity and taught to compose in the European style and to play European instruments, and in the process European style became blended with indigenous music, language, and instrumentation. Martín y Coll, composer and organist, his modern fame rests on four volumes of the Flores de Musica (Musical flowers), a compilation of hundreds of keyboard pieces, nearly all of them without an author:


Gaspar Sanz, 1640 -1710, composer, guitarist, organist and priest. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the baroque guitar that form an important part of today’s classical guitar repertory, and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of baroque guitar playing. Sanz’s manuscripts for baroque guitar are written as tablature.

Baroque Music in Nueva España

Baroque Music in Portugal

Baroque Music in 'Brasil Colonial'

Virginals, Hans Ruckers, 1581 Virginals The collection of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, includes a Virginals, a rectangular harpsichord, dated 1581, by Hans Ruckers – the first of several generations of Flemish harpsichord makers in Antwerp (Belgium) - which had been sent to the Viceroy of Peru in Nueva España from Flanders in the late 16thc. It was discovered in a hacienda chapel in Cuzco, Peru in the early 20th century in remarkably good condition considering its age and the effects of the tropical climate.

Pernambuco coast, Brazil. Pernambuco, and Snakewood. Early Portuguese explorers recognized that small trees growing along the coast was similar to the Asian species of Sappanwood tree used in Europe for producing red dye. The Portuguese named these trees pau-brasil, the term pau meaning wood, and brasil meaning reddish/ember-like. The South American trees soon dominated the trading as a better source of dye. Sailors and merchants started to refer to the land itself as Terra do Brasil, or simply, the 'Land of Brazil', and from this use the present name of Brazil was derived. One of the areas that produced a lot of the Brazilwood trees was the Pernambuco region in the NE of the country, and it is this name that is used to describe the Brazilwood used for making bows for instruments of the violin family. Although the wood was imported into Europe from the early 16thc., it was not until the late 18thc, that 'Pernambuco' was used to make violin bows - it proved to be especially suitable for the concave design of bow we still use today. Prior to this, South American 'Snakewood' was used for straight or convex baroque bows. The swashbuckling Latin name of snakewood is 'Piratinera guianensis'. The wood is hard, with a specific gravity of 1.20 so it sinks in water.

Argentina, Nueva España,18thc. Baroque Tango! Argentina was part of the Spanish Colonial Empire. Jumping forwards - around 1900 the dance 'Milonga' (originally a song in the mid 19thc.) developed into the modern 'Tango'. This is a recording of a baroque violinist and cellist playing an arrangement of a Milonga at the Göttingen Handel Festival: Tango Barocco: Alfia Bakieva, baroque violin; Leonhard Bartussek, baroque cello 4K UHD This is a performance of a modern-day tango in baroque style for two violas da gamba and string ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLfoS3kGy0g


Next Week –

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