Transcribing English Virginal Music for Two Guitars: Historical Perspective, Methodology, and Practical Applications
In the 1950s, Miguel Llobet (1878–1938) and Emilio Pujol (1886–1980) published the first transcriptions of piano and orchestral music for two guitars that became staples in the repertoire. Ida Presti (1924–1967) and Alexandre Lagoya (1929–1999) expanded their efforts with new adaptations of Baroque, Romantic, and Modern music. Following their examples, generations of professional guitar duos have maintained a similar transcription repertoire. However, closer examination reveals noticeable gaps in it as Renaissance works have been largely overlooked. To illuminate this issue, chapter 2 revisits adaptations for two guitars of music originally written for vihuelas, lutes, viols, and the virginal to inquire about the reasons for this neglect and discuss plausible solutions. Because the virginal stands out for its innovative characteristics and alignment with the solo lute works by John Dowland (1563–1626) and John Johnson (ca. 1545–1594), the “English School” of Virginalists is further explored as a potential source of suitable works for transcriptions.
Chapter 3 discusses philosophical concepts and editorial practices to propose a method aimed at producing stylistically faithful adaptations of virginal music. The editorial criteria for this method are informed by in-depth reflections on terminology, the ontology of musical works, the notion of authenticity, and common sixteenth-century practices from musica ficta to tuning temperaments and notational conventions. Concerning ethical matters, this chapter assesses authorship issues that originated at the turn of the nineteenth century but are still adopted by modern editors and transcribers. This discussion aims to shed light on both the negative impact on intellectual property and how it can be avoided by simply resorting to the practice of scholarly transcriptions. Chapters 4 and 5 explain the procedures and applications of the proposed method in two parts: adaptation and revision. The first introduces concepts and strategies from choosing suitable works to balancing playability and aesthetic fidelity intended to produce a preliminary version of the original work. The second establishes a knowledge base through musico-historical discussions and comparative analyses of sources that inform editorial decisions and necessary changes to be implemented in the final score.