Francesco Canova da Milano
(1497 - 1543)
Francesco da Milano(?) in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan
This page is dedicated to
the work of one of the greatest lute player-composers of the
Renaissance, called "il divino" by his contemporaries. Born
a family of musicians in 1497 at Monza, near Milan, he spent most of
his working life in the service of successive Popes in Rome: Leo X,
and Paul III. When he died in 1543 only a few of his pieces had been
published, but over the following decades much more of his music
appeared in print and continued to be copied into manuscripts into the
17th century, such was his fame and the quality of his work.
1997, on the 500th anniversary of his birth, a symposium in his honour
was held at the University of Milan. You can read three brief
. A review by Mariagrazia Carlone is also to be found in the Journal of the Lute Society of America XXVI-XXVII (1973-4), pp.107-114. For a list of books
and articles about Francesco see Bibliography.
music still speaks to us after 500 years.
Though it can be lively and witty, more than anything it is
serenity and air of contemplation which draws the listener in and
creates a unique atmosphere. Apart from intabulations of
music and the one "tochata", all his surviving pieces are designated
"Recercar" or "Fantasia", two terms which were largely interchangeable
in the first half of the 16th century, and which are hard to translate
into modern musical terminology. Most pieces start with a melodic
fragment which is imitated by various voice parts in succession, and
may be transformed in the course of the piece. It may be
in strict canon, or free counterpoint, it may appear in augmentation or
diminution. Some pieces are essentially monothematic, crowded
with entries of the same subject, often in stretto; others are less
densely populated. Pairs of voices often sing duets (see 2, 3, 28) a
popular with admired composers of the previous generation such as
Josquin Desprez. Francesco excels in making vocal
clear on the lute: he achieves this largely by avoiding dense textures
while often implying more parts than are actually present.
pieces are identified by "Ness numbers",
corresponding to the modern edition by Arthur Ness (1970).
It is a testament to the quality and
thoroughness of Prof. Ness's work that in the last 40 years
handful of pieces have been added to the canon.
The scores published here are intended to be complementary to those of
Ness: they are usually based on alternative sources and have in any
case been edited from scratch, so there will always be some differences
between the two editions. Ness' edition remains the
of Francesco studies to which the interested reader is
for all bibliographical references and points of detail. Here
sources are identified by "Brown numbers" from Howard Mayer Brown's
"Instrumental Music Printed before 1600".
My first exposure to this music was an LP by Julian
Bream called "The woods so wild" (1973) in which he alternated pieces
Francesco and sets of variations by English composers of the late 16th
century. He had an uncanny knack of choosing the best pieces,
most of them being favourites of
present-day lutenists. It was only a short time after I
to play the lute (1979) that I got the Ness edition out of the university
library and I've been hooked ever since. More than thirty years later,
still finding new inspiration in these pieces.
The recordings presented here are just my own homemade recordings,
takes, made at hazard over a period of time. For a list of commercial
recordings see Discography (link to be added). For my own recordings I have always used gut strings.
are provided for some pieces, for general musical interest and to
facilitate performance on other instruments. We should remember
that many of these pieces have their origins in music which was
originally written for three or four instruments or organ, for example
that of Giulio Segni of Modena (1498-1561), who published a book of recercari in
Venice in 1540 of which only the Bassus partbook survives (Musica nova, 15403). Fortunately most of the pieces were reprinted (in Musicque de Joye, 154?6) and are available in a modern edition (Slim, 1964).
A further dozen or so pieces survive only in the form of intabulations for lute by Giovanni Maria da Crema (see 15484), Francesco da Milano and others. Adapting this type of music for the lute sometimes involved
leaving out one of the four parts except at cadences or other points
where a fuller texture was desirable. I have left it to the
ingenuity of the reader to fill out the missing part in cases where
there are long gaps (usually in the alto). I have provided the
scores in Fronimo FT3 format as well as PDF so that the pieces can be
heard in computer playback without having to assemble the extra
players, though of course the second is highly recommended. A
demo version of Fronimo 3 can be downloaded from the Fronimo User Group site.
Barlines are present in the original tablatures every two (sometimes
every four) minims. They are only a visual aid for reading the
music and have no other significance, unlike modern barlines with their
implications for stress, accent and grouping of notes. I have
usually carried over these "non-functional" barlines into the scores in
mensural notation, but again they should be studiously ignored.
lutes were strung
entirely in gut, with no metal-wound strings. The lute had
courses, with (usually) a single first course, and octaves on courses
4-6. The octaves serve only to brighten the sound of the
and are almost always ignored as far as the counterpoint is concerned.
The neck of the lute was long enough for eight tied frets and as
far as we know all notes above the eighth fret were fingered without
frets (only much later in the 16th century did wooden frets appear,
even then they were not universal in the way they are today). The
only contemporary evidence we have for positioning of frets comes from
Hans Gerle (1533) whose fretting system is very close to 1/6 comma
meantone. Lutes varied considerably in size, so with the top
usually tuned close to the breaking point, they also varied
in pitch (as illustrated in my recording of no.4, and several others
where I have used a 67cm lute tuned a tone below modern pitch).
For ease of
reference in discussing pieces and scores I have regarded the lute as
being nominally in G tuning, but this should not be taken to imply any
of uncertain attribution
from the works which are definitely attributed to Francesco, there are
a number of pieces which might be by him which are either unattributed
or attributed to a different composer. Many of these appear
the Appendix of the Ness edition. I have included a few more
for interest, though I am not making any strong claims about their
in the Siena Lute Book
Siena Lute Book (almost certainly of Sienese origin, now in the Hague
Gemeentemuseum MS 28.B.39) is the most important manuscript source of
Francesco's music. It was copied in the late 16th century,
after Francesco's death, but the scribe must have had access to
reliable sources as the versions of pieces are usually quite accurate
where they can be compared with earlier sources. Very few of
pieces in the Siena lute book have titles or attributions, but many can
be identified from concordances. Twenty-three
known to be by Francesco from other sources, of which four are
attributed to "FM" and the rest have no attribution. Five are
attributed to "Francesco da Parigi", of which two attributed to Francesco
da Milano in other sources, one elsewhere attributed to Albert
Rippe, and the other two are unica (see S28 and S66 below). One piece
is attributed to
"Monzino": Francesco was born in Monza, so "Monzino" could
refer to him. One curious feature is that all but one of the
attributed to Francesco da Parigi or Monzino are without barlines,
suggesting perhaps that they were all copied from the same source.
My feeling is that this other source was not too accurate
its attributions: S28 and S66 (Francesco da Parigi) and S64 (Monzino) seem to
be in a
different style from the known pieces by Albert de Rippe and Francesco
da Milano. A further puzzle is that the piece by Monzino
be another version of the piece by "B.M." on f.19v. (S51, included
below for comparison) - could "B.M." stand for "B.Monzino"?
Other known works by B.M. include another four pieces in the
Siena lute book, and one Recercare
and two lute duets in Vincenzo Galilei's Fronimo
(1584): Galilei also only gives the initials B.M. and describes him as
"a Florentine gentleman". Listed below are some pieces which
not included in the main
sequence of Ness numbers but some of which may be by Francesco (piece
beginning with S refer to Arthur Ness' inventory of the manuscript
published by Minkoff).
(Ness App.25): PDFtab
previous piece S27
is attributed to Francesco da Parigi but is elsewhere
attributed to Albert de Rippe. The designation "del medesimo"
the head of no.28 therefore could refer to either composer.
noted above the style is different from both - but it is a fine piece.
The presence of an opening flourish, before the piece gets
to business, is
not typical of Francesco but is found in some earlier pieces,
especially in the
Capirola lute book, and some later sources (e.g., Matelart 1559, nos. 2, 7 and 10) as well.
Perhaps such openings were more common than
the sources indicate, improvised introductions being rarely written
figure of three repeated notes followed by a descending third (26-32)
recalls Ness 28 (36 - 40). The beginning of bar 40 seems
and I strongly suspect that there should be a further two entries of
the point of imitation (the descending scale figure which starts at
34). I have added these editorially but not added any
making it easier to compare with any regularly barred version of the
original (which has no barlines at all).
S45 (f.17-17v.) PDFtab; MP3
This piece is anonymous in both sources, but is probably by Francesco.
It appeared in Attaignant's Très brève et familière
in 15293 and
therefore predates the earliest printed sources of Francesco's music
(e.g., Marcolini, 15363;
Daniel Heartz (1964) gives an analysis of the piece
and notes its similarity to Ness 24. The Siena version seems
to be more complete, and I have
used this as the basis for my version, with just a few corrections
based on the Attaignant text (see commentary).
of pieces on the fifth tone starts on f.19v. with a piece by "B.M.".
following 15 pieces, 12 are unattributed (of which six are known from
other sources to be by Francesco), two are attributed to "Francesco da
Parigi" and one to "Monzino". Could it be that the
sequence S52-66 is by Francesco?
S52 (f.20) (Ness 8): PDFtab; MP3
(f.20-20v.): PDFtab; MP3
(Ness 35): PDFtab
S56 (f.21): PDFtab; MP3
An arrangement of an ensemble recercar by Giulio Segni, also included
in Giovanni Maria da Crema (1548, LibroVII, Recercar ottavo,
(f.21v.-22) (Ness 61):
S59 (f.22): PDFtab
A short passage (23-26) is identical to a passage in Ness 8 (49-52) and
S60 (f.22): PDFtab
(Ness 58): PDFtab; MP3
(f.22v.-23): PDFtab; MP3
(f.23-23v.) (Ness 5): PDFtab
(Ness App.26): PDFtab
(Ness 56): PDFtab (Francesco da Parigi)
(Ness App.27): PDFtab; MP3
(Francesco da Parigi)
I think S64-66 are in a different style, though interestingly the
opening of S66 uses a theme which was used by Francesco (Ness 41, bars
11-14). The shorter anonymous pieces tend to be very much in
same style as established pieces by Francesco and often quote from
them, but of course it is impossible to say whether they are by him or
by an imitator. Similar considerations apply to the following
sequence of pieces:
(f.31-31v.): PDFtab; MP3
detail which might not be immediately apparent: the slow moving soprano
part in 29-35 is an augmented version of part of the theme which is
treated as a point of imitation in 47-54.
(f31v.): PDFtab (not included
in Ness' inventory, hence the designation 79a)
S80 (f.32): PDFtab
S81 (f.32) (Ness 46): PDFtab; MP3
(Ness 15): PDFtab; MP3
S83 (f.33): PDFtab; MP3
S86 (f.34): PDFtab
(f.34-34v.) (Ness 40): PDFtab; MP3
The Siena version differs slightly from the other sources, for which
Possible Francesco pieces in other sources
A manuscript of Bavarian origin, now in Paris (Bibliothéque du
Conservatoire, Ms. Réserve 429) includes seven pieces attributed
to Francesco da Milano (Ness numbers 67, 87a, 88-91, and 95).
There is also a piece on f.109 headed Recercata ser zimlich which has many features of his style:
Recercata: PDFtab; MP3
I have made many small changes, correcting obvious errors but also
sometimes removing repeated notes and adding a couple of bars where
needed to make musical sense. I have listed all these changes in
the commentary. Curiously, at the end of the piece is written "176 compases" though it is in fact 195 bars long (197 in my version).
I am grateful to John Robinson for drawing my attention to this piece via his music supplement in Lute News no.88 (December 2008). John's edition is different from mine. He also included a Praeludium with an almost identical opening from Phalèse (Des Chansons Reduictz en Tabulature de Lut ... Livre premier, Louvain, 1545, p.6).
securely attributed to Francesco da Milano
Note:as stated above, the
versions of the pieces presented here are often
different from those in the Ness edition - I have identified them using
"Ness numbers" for convenience of reference. The scores cite the
primary source used, and the critical commentary at the end of each
piece indicates if editorial changes are based on other sources.
I have reproduced the dots for right hand fingering without any
emendation, even where they depart from the usual patterns, because
occasionally they offer a point of interest and (unlike wrong notes)
they are easy enough to ignore when they are incorrect. It is
worth remembering that the dot just means an upward stroke with
a finger (not necessarily index finger) rather than a downward
stroke with the thumb.
Fantasia (Ness 2): PDFtab; MP3
According to Slim (1961, unpublished paper cited by Ness,1970) this piece is related to the motet Elizabeth zacharie
by Jean de la Fage (fl.1518-30). The motet was intabulated by Barberiis (Libro Sesto, 15464, f.24v.) and a shortened version appears in Munich 266 (f.119). You can see the opening of the motet here. (apart from adding a few F sharps I have not added any ficta, but there are quite a few places where it is probably needed, e.g. the B naturals in bars 11 and 13 should probably be flat).
Fantasia (Ness 3): PDFtab; MP3
Gombosi (1955) and Ness (1970) offer interesting analyses of this
piece. In some sources, the pattern in bars 14, 34 and 36 uses
repeated notes, in others, tied notes are implied.
Recercar (Ness 4): PDFtab;
The MP3 file shows this piece played on three different lutes in e',
a', and g' (in that order).
Recercar/Fantasia (Ness 5): PDFtab; MP3
Siena lute book text is very close to that of 15467,
except for a few corrections and extra bars.
However it does end rather surprisingly on
the dominant chord, suggesting perhaps that this version was used as a
prelude to another piece in the same key.
Fantasia (Ness 6): PDFtab; MP3
Fantasia (Ness 7): PDFtab; MP3
The little burst of fast notes in bar 3 gives a hint as to one way in which this style of music was decorated.
Recercar (Ness 8): PDFtab;
Unusually, the first few bars seem to form an introduction.
Recercar (Ness 10): PDFtab;
This piece also survives in a more decorated form (Ness Appendix 1): PDFtab; MP3
A player's tip for bars 55-56 of the decorated version: when you stop
h1f4 in bar 55, do it by flattening the 4th finger over the top three
courses - then you can keep the h1 sounding until it is replaced by g1
(it also simplifies the fingering of the chord at the start of 56).
Recercar (Ness 15): PDFtab;
This piece and the following one seem to form a pair, see note to nos.
33 and 34. The vihuela book of Enriquez de Valderrábano (Silva de sirenas, Valladolid, 1547) includes a Soneto (Libro VI, f.XCII) which is really another version of this piece: PDFtab; MP3.
Recercar (Ness 16): PDFtab; MP3
An interesting puzzle concerns the first note of bar 9, which is the
open 5th course in the source. If this note is regarded as part
of the tenor line which continues D-Bb-C it makes a leap of a ninth,
which seems very implausible. If it is regarded as a bass note
which sustains under the following few notes it is dissonant with all
of them until the second half of bar 10, for which it is hard to see
any motivation. I have usually corrected it to an open 4th
course, but I now think that open 3rd course might be a
better solution (as you can hear on my recording).
Fantasia (Ness 20): PDFtab
The first piece in the Casteliono lute book of 1536. At first
sight it looks less contrapuntal than most Francesco pieces, but
that's because the first section is really an introduction - the
first real point of imitation starts at bar 21. The beautiful
duet between the top two voices over a slowly changing bass in bars
158-166 is one which occurs in several other pieces (see for example
no.24, bars 68-72).
Fantasia (Ness 21):
This piece is undoubtedly one of Francesco's greatest hits - it
appeared in the one of the first printed books to feature his music
(G.A.Casteliono, 15369) and one of the last
Harmonicus, 1603, where it is attributed to Edinthon).
Fantasia (Ness 22): PDFtab; MP3
Another piece from Casteliono's book.
Fantasia (Ness 24):
I have chosen the text from the Siena lute book here because although
it is very close to the version in the Casteliono lute book it seems
more complete. In bar 44 I
have changed the order of the first two bass notes from that given in
both the sources to correct the counterpoint (if you don't believe me just try playing a1e3a5 and then a1e3d5).
It has some difficult corners technically: in bars
21-23 I prefer to play the chord h1g4f5h6 without using a barré,
and in the following chord use the third finger to play both the
4th and 5th courses. It's still not easy. In bar 45 I use a
"hinge barré": on the second note the first finger holds the
first fret on the first course not with its tip but with its root, so
that it can be held while the finger flattens itself across the
fingerboard to stop the first fret on the sixth course (in this
instance the finger hinges again, this time on its tip, to allow the
open first course to be sounded on the next note, and back down again
to stop the first fret on the second course). This is a technique which
finds many uses in this style of music, though of course we have no
idea whether anyone did it in the 16th century - they may have reached
over the top of the neck with the thumb instead.
Fantasia (Ness 27): PDFtab; MP3
Bars 31-47 are the same as bars 86-102 of no.21.
Fantasia (Ness 28): PDFtab; PDFscore; MP3
A favourite piece of mine which always seems too short - a compact
masterpiece. Soprano and alto sing a duet in strict canon for the
first 7 bars, then it's the turn of tenor and bass. Bars 9-13 see
the same pattern with a different theme, this time started by the alto.
In bar 21 the soprano starts another canon, but this gets broken
off in bar 24 and we arrive at a perfect cadence, and the beginning of
a new idea, in bar 27. The overlapping entries in bars 36-40
could be realized as successive entries of different voice parts, but
then the entries don't follow a regular pattern. In leaving the
tenor out of the texture, it becomes yet another canon between the top
two voices which extends to bar 45. In performance, however, the
impression is still of successive voices jostling for a piece of the
action - a lovely example of how Francesco uses a thin texture to give
an impression of many more voices. In the chords of bars 46-48,
notice the descending sixths in the middle voices and the syncopation
of the soprano pattern in 48.
Fantasia (Ness 30): PDFtab; PDFscore; FT3score; MP3
Another favourite piece which treads a very
consistent contrapuntal path. The opening theme is almost the same
that of Ness 83.
Fantasia (Ness 31): PDFtab; PDFscore; MP3
Fantasia (Ness 32): PDFtab; PDFscore; MP3
Like Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas of nearly two centuries later,
some of Francesco's pieces seem to be in pairs. This pair is
designated as such explicitly in the source I have used (Siena,
ff.58v.-59v.) where the second piece is called "La compagna".
Fantasia/Recercar (Ness 33):
Recercar La Compagna (to no.33) (Ness 34):
Another pair of pieces which occur together in the source (Libro Terzo,
Fantasia (Ness 38):
I love the bell-like effect of the
descending scales at the beginning, with their overlapping entries.
A new theme is taken up by the tenor in bar 10 and this is worked
through all the voices until the cadence at 20-21. Scale passages
in imitation in 21-28 recall similar passages in no.34. A
question and answer session between soprano and alto take us through to
32. The final theme starts with the tenor halfway through 35, and
makes its last sneaky appearance halfway through 41, just when we
thought it was all over.
Fantasia (Ness 39):
This piece begins in a conventional way with the first theme being
followed through many points of imitation, making its last appearance
in the alto in bar 26 (the only entry starting on Eb). Then a
curious thing happens - the cadential figure Bb-Bb-A-Bb in the soprano
in bars 32-33 is taken up as a theme in bar 34 and continues to the end
of the piece, with entries on F, A, D, C and G. I particularly
love the more dissonant ones at bar 41 (bass, starting on A), 42-43
(starting on G) and 47-48 (starting on C).
Such dense counterpoint gives rise to some difficult fingering issues.
In bar 18 I play the first two notes with 2 and 3, then flatten
the first finger across the first two courses to play the next two
notes so that I can arrive on the chord halfway through the bar with 4
and 2. The last note of the bar must be played with 3, the first
two notes of bar 19 with 2 and 1. In bar 32, the third finger is
moved across to play the penultimate note, again so the first chord of
bar 33 is played with 4 and 2, the next note on the first course with 3
and the following two bass notes on the 5th course both with the second
finger (almost the same pattern occurs at bar 45). If the last
two notes of bar 40 are played with 3 and 1 (also the next two notes),
it makes it easier to play the chord c2d3c6 3-4-2 which means the
second finger stays on the sixth course for the following chord.
Fantasia (Ness 40): PDFtab; MP3
The duet version by Matelart (see the bottom of this page for an MP3) seems to imply a
slower tempo than is usual nowadays for solo performance, providing
food for thought about our current notion of the correct speed for this
piece. Matelart also incorporates the rather surprising
cross-relation in bar 28 (F where we might expect C in the bass, giving
rise to a close clash with the immediately following F# in the treble),
suggesting that he regarded the F as deliberate.
Fantasia (Ness 41): PDFtab; PDFscore; MP3
[Recercar] (Ness 46): PDFtab; MP3
Recercar (Ness 49): PDFtab; MP3
Only found in 15484. A
lovely piece which deserves to be better known. At bar 106/2 a
note c is required (tied into the following bar) - this is provided by
the upper octave of the 5th course.
Recercar (Ness 51): PDFtab
Also found only in 15484. This particular piece is not entirely typical
of Francesco but has nevertheless become a favourite of present-day lutenists.
Fantasia (Ness 56): PDFtab; PDFscore;
A fine example of point-of-imitation technique which lends itself to an interpretation in four parts.
Fantasia (Ness 61): PDFtab; MP3
The opening phrase strongly recalls the beginning of the chanson
"J'attends secours" by Claudin de Sermisy (thanks to Ray Nurse for
pointing this out). Here is the chanson, with the superius and lute parts taken from the voice and lute arrangement by Attaignant (15293, f.24v.): J'attends secours
Fantasia (Ness 67): PDFtab; MP3
Like 31, 32, 40 and 41, this was used by Matelart (15597) as the basis
of a lute duet, this time for two lutes at the same pitch.
I find this the most satisfactory and convincing of the six pieces which appear uniquely in Galilei's 15637
book (Ness 68-73). A short passage (bars 46-58) corresponds to
part of no.51 (and also recalls some of no.84). At 65/2 there is
a "O" indicating the open first course where we would expect a "12" (an
octave higher). I suspect this may be because there was no
standard system for printing notes which run into double figures: some
printed books, e.g. 15468 use a superimposed double X as a
sign for a 10th fret, as a hold sign (explained in the preface), and
also as a vertical alignment mark. However a contemporary
publication from the same publisher Dorico (Matelart, 15597)
uses a straightforward X for tenth fret and + as a hold sign.
Could it possibly be a harmonic? As far as I know there are
no other instances in lute literature of the use of harmonics, but it
might give a clearer note here and it is worth considering. In
any case I don't think playing that note at the lower octave is really
Rechercha (Ness 75): PDFtab; MP3
Another version of this piece is found in CH-Bu F.IX.70, p.41(I am
grateful to John Robinson for drawing my attention to this
concordance): PDFtab; MP3
The opening theme is also found in an anonymous fantasia in the Marsh
lute book (p.235; I am grateful to Gail Gillispie and Ron Andrico for
discussion of this piece): PDFtab; PDFscore; MP3
Fantasia (Ness 82): PDFtab; MP3
Only found in Dd.2.11 (f.16), but on stylistic grounds the attribution to Francesco ("fra de mylan") seems reasonably secure.
Fantasia (Ness 83): PDFtab; PDFscore;
The unusual key of A minor suggests this could be an arrangement of a
vocal or ensemble piece. It is only found in one English
(Dd.2.11, f.16) dating from the 1590s. Another version of the
found in another English MS (Hirsch, f.65v.) and in Mertel's (1615)
anthology, but I feel this version is even further from Francesco: PDFtab; MP3
Ricercar (Ness 84): PDFtab; MP3
There is also a version of this piece in Joan Maria da Crema's 1546 book (15469): PDFtab
Ricercar (Ness 88): PDFtab; MP3
This appears to be a parody of the Recercar
terzo from Joan Maria da
Crema's 1548 book (15484), itself an
arrangement of an ensemble ricercar by Julio (Segni) da Modena: PDFtab; MP3
Tochata (Ness 92): PDFtab; MP3
Found only in Casteliono's book of 1536, this "tochata" is the earliest
known piece with that title. It appears at the end
of a suite
of dances, suggesting a postludial function.
O bone Jesu (Ness 111): PDFtab; MP3
An intabulation of the motet "O bone Jesu" by Loyset
Compère. Francesco has added very little decoration, and has
stuck very close to the original voice parts, even when this creates
some technical difficulty (bar 60) or even lack of clarity (bars
75-76). I have therefore corrected his text in a few places
it deviates from the original because I believe these are oversights or
printers' errors rather than deliberate changes.
Music for two lutes
There are only three surviving lute duets by Francesco:
Canon (Canono a Dua liutti)
This and the following piece come from the Cavalcanti lute book, dated
1590 (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique). The
Canon is unique in the lute repertoire in that the two lutes play
exactly the same single line of music, forming a strict canon at the
La Spagna (Tenore De la Spagnia / SPagnia Contrapunto)
The first lute plays a free-ranging melodic part while the second plays
three parts. The Spagna melody is not easy to discern in this
part because it is not always the highest or lowest sounding part in
any given "chord". The first lute part (without the tenor) is
also found in a mansucript in Florence (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale).
This piece comes from the tantalizingly unavailable Castelfranco manuscript. The style recalls the two Contrapunti by B.M. published by Galilei (Fronimo, 1584), so much so that the attribution to Francesco might be called into question.
Duets by Joanne Matelart
by Joanne Matelart published in Rome in 15597 includes seven lute duets
of which five are based on solo pieces by Francesco. The
Matelart was primarily a composer of church music and clearly studied
Francesco's pieces in some detail: his added parts are carefully
dovetailed into Francesco's contrapuntal texture and while not easy to
play, make a delightful whole. The first five pieces (four of
which are attributed to Francesco) are for lutes a tone apart.
the pieces by Francesco the original lute solo is played on the lower
pitched lute, the added part on the higher pitched lute. For the third
the situation is
reversed, and a note in the margin instructs the players to swap
instruments. The last two duets in the set are for equal
lutes: Fantasia sexta
adds a part to Ness 67, and Fantasia
adds a second part to an ensemble piece by Julio da Modena which was
intabulated by Giovanni Maria da Crema (15469, Recercar quinto, sig.B1;15484, Recercar secondo,
sig.D). For a modern edition of all seven duets see Gordon Gregory
(Lute Society Publications, 1997, available from www.lutesoc.co.uk).
Prima: (Ness 31)
Seconda: (Ness 41)
Quarta: (Ness 32); MP3
Quinta: (Ness 40); MP3
Sexta: (Ness 67)
Inspired by Matelart's example, here are a couple of duets based on
Fantasia prima by Stewart McCoy (2002, tone apart lutes): MP3
(reproduced with the permission of the composer)
Fantasia seconda by Martin Shepherd (2002, equal lutes):
Thanks to Richard MacKenzie for playing the duets. In the tone-apart duets, Richard is playing the lower pitched lute.
Pieces probably not by Francesco da Milano
There are a few pieces which are attributed to Francesco in one or more sources but which may not be by him:
This piece is attributed to "MD. La" (Marco d'Aquila) in Munich MS 266 (f.27v.) and it seems to be much more in Marco's style.
This is untitled in the Casteliono Lute book (f.55) but is listed in
the table of contents as "Fantasia del ditto", the preceding piece
being styled "Fantasia del divino Francesco da Milano".
A more satisfactory version appeared in the Quart livre de tablature de luth ... par feu maistre Albert de Rippe de Mantove published in Paris in 15539
by Le Roy and Ballard (f.5). Another related piece appeared in
Enriquez de Valderrábano (15475, f.70) where it is unattributed.
Fantaisie by Albert de Rippe:
Fantasia by Anon./Enriquez de Valderrábano: PDFtab
Ness speculates that this may be by Pietro Paolo Borrono. In appears only in the Intabolatura di lauto del divino Francesco da Milano, et dell'eccellente Pietro Paolo Borrono da Milano ... Libro Secondo (15468).
Later the same year Gardano reprinted all the pieces by
Francesco from this book except this piece, possibly because it was in
fact by Pietro Paolo.
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