From Theory to Practice: Reflections of Juan Bermudo and Francisco Salinas in Francisco Guerroro's "Canciones y villanescas espirituales"
1st prize winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Undergraduate Research Awards, 2012.
In this research paper, I combined my interest in music and my knowledge of Spanish to explore the connection between music theory and compositional practice regarding the text-music relationship in music from Renaissance Spain. Throughout the research process, I drew on musical scores, recordings, and sources in English, Spanish, French in Fondren Library.In his “Canciones y villanescas espirituales” (1589), Francisco Guerrero demonstrates sensitivity to the writings of Spanish music theorists in the late Renaissance by setting sacred Spanish poetry to polyphonic vocal music that reinforces the meter, meaning, and emotional content of each poem. Guerrero ubiquitously conveys specific phrases through descriptive music in accordance with the precepts Juan Bermudo develops in “Declaración de instrumentos musicales” (1555) [Declaration of Musical Instruments]. In addition, the rhythm of Guerrero’s music stems from the inherent accents of the Spanish language, as Francisco Salinas recommends in “De musica libri septem” (1577) [Seven Books on Music]. This essay will analyze two of the Canciones, “Ojos claros, serenos” and “¿Qué te daré, Señor,” which aptly demonstrate Guerrero’s practical application of these theoretical ideals regarding the relationship between music and poetry.