Transcriptions from Orphenica Lyra

This project displays the transcriptions of three pieces of vihuela music written by Manuel de Fuenllana, and published in Libro de música para vihuela intitulado Orphenica Lyra in 1554.  To the best of my knowledge, these pieces have not been transcribed and published before.   Please see the full research paper Transcription of 5 Course Vihuela Music from Orphenica Lyra

Fuenllana’s Orphenica Lyra consists of 182 compositions in 6 volumes.  In addition to his own compositions, the music of 17 other composers is included.  The volume that I am focusing on in this work is book six, or Libro Sexto. This volume contains music for the 6-course vihuela, the 5-course vihuela, and the 4-course vihuela which he also refers to as a guitar. 

The 4-course guitar was popular enough in the mid-16th century for Alonso Mudarra to include guitar compositions in his vihuela book in 1546.  Also, Mudarra refer to an “old tuning” and a “new tuning” for the guitar.  Mudarra even includes one piece written in the “old tuning.”  Given the discussion of an old tuning and the publication of guitar music by 1546, could indicate an early 1500s origin of the instrument.

The 5-course guitar is of specific interest in this project.  Juan Bermundo frequently refers to the guitarra de cinco ordenes in his Libro primo de declaracion de instrumetos in 1555.  The cover of the sixth book of Orphenica Lyra refers to “vihuela de cinco ordines”, or “vihuela of five courses”.  In the first book, as shown in the image below, Fuenllana refers to “…vihuela de quatro ordines, que dizen guitarra” or “…vihuela of four courses which they call guitar”.

Interestingly, Fuenllana’s 5-course “vihuela” music appears to actually be for 5-course guitar; in order to be played, it requires an instrument to be tuned like the 5-course guitar.  It is quite possible that in Fuenllana’s mind, the concept of “vihuela” and “guitar” were essentially conflated. That would make these be some of the earliest 5 course guitar music written. I have not been able to find proof that these pieces have been transcribed and published before; it is possible that this is the first time they have been presented in modern staff notation.


Click images below for full original images and transcriptions

De la Missa de Ave Maria de Morales
Seguese Seys Fantasias del Author

Seguese Seys Fantasias del Author

by Miguel de Fuenllana

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