Spagnoletta (Anonymous)

Classical guitar Spagnoletta is not a title per se, but a class of song. It is Italian for Españoleta, which is an old Spanish dance. Almost all Españoletas or Spagnolettas share a similar melodic theme and rhythm, using a triple meter. This Spagnoletta comes from page 184 of Lautenspieler des XVI. Jahrhunderts. Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis des Ursprungs der modernen Tonkunst von Oscar Chilesotti.[1] (or in Italian Liutisti del Cinquecento) by Oscar Chilesotti as published by German publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel in 1891. Chilesotti credits the song to Codice Magliabec.XIX, 105. and tells us the codex contains the following dedication:

A di 12 di Marzo 1635. Questo libro è da sonare di Liuto. Di me Giulio Medici et suoi Amici.[2]

As far as I can determine, the codex is a book from Antonio Magliabechi's personal library or the Biblioteca Palatina. Magliabechi was named librarian of the Biblioteca Palatina di Firenze by Cosimo III de' Medici. Despite many of the materials from the library being available online, I haven't been able to isolate the exact source Chilesotti used.

Spagnoletta is remarkable in that as old as the music is, the basic chord progression—at least through measure 13—would sound at home on a late 20th-century Pink Floyd album.

This is a very simple piece that makes for enjoyable practice for the beginning guitarist. The lute music, as transcribed by Chilesotti from the lute tablature in Codice Magliabec, is playable on the guitar without modification. I have, however, added fingering and corrected one or two note durations. Measure 22 contains a five-note chord that cannot be partially strummed by the thumb as in measure 16. I had the option of omitting the E on the fourth string or keeping it and playing the first string open E with the little finger. I chose the latter approach. The c in the right-hand fingering indicates the little finger. You may choose to omit the E on the fourth string to avoid using the little finger.

Sheet Music

[1] The book title in English: Lutenists of the Sixteenth Century. A contribution to the knowledge of the origin of the modern art of music by Oscar Chilesotti.

[2] In English: March 12, 1635. This is a book of lute music. From your friend, Giulio Medici.