The Old-World composers
“[…] el harpa (en lo politico) el mas adecuado Simbolo de una Monarquía, y su acorde consonancia, descripción de un Reynado feliz, quando al acertado impulso de la mano que le rige, cada cuerda suena, según el temple que la determina […]”
Diego Fernandez de Huete, Compendio numeroso de zifras armónicas, (Madrid: Imprenta de Musica, 1702).1
Music in Spain, and especially Spanish music, lived in the second half of the XV century a period of extraordinary fervor. If the complex information transmitted by the documentary sources is mainly relating to the sacred music and the music of the great aristocratic courts, it is however certain that music must have had an increasing importance also in the daily life of pre-imperial Spain. It is no coincidence that, in 1498, when the king and queen of Castile authorized the shipment of some music and musical instruments to the New World, these were not primarily aimed to triumphantly celebrate the arrival in the new lands of the Admiral of the sea Ocean, Christopher Columbus, nor to resonate in religious liturgies, but rather were expressly conceived "as a pastime"2 to accompany and delight the conquerors.
The repertoire of this popular music in the Spain of the Catholic kings has been handed down only fragmentarily, and this, as we have seen in the previous chapters, prevents us all the more from visualizing its modes and contents once it was transferred to the new American lands, first with the discoverers and later with the new settlers.
1 “[…] the harp (in the political) the most adequate Symbol of a Monarchy, and its consonance, description of a happy Reign, when to the right impulse of the hand that governs it, each string sounds, according to the temple that determines it […]”
Diego Fernandez de Huete, Compendio numeroso de zifras armonicas, con theorica, y practica, para Harpa de una orden, de dos ordenes y de Organo, 1st ed., vol. 1, 3 vols. (Madrid: Imprenta de Musica, 1702), http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/detalle/bdh0000075392, p. 1.
2 The Catholic Monarchs to Admiral Christopher Columbus. Instruction for the good government of the people of the Indies, (June 15, 1497).