Marionas por La B

Marionas por La B. by Santiago deMurcia for Baroque Guitar

Murcia Marionas score Page 1

Marionas page 1


Santiago de Murcia (1673-1739) was a Spanish Baroque guitarist and composer. Keeping with the French Baroque tradition, Murcia notated many dances, but put them in tablature for the Baroque guitar. In the early eighteenth century, along with composers Gaspar Sanz and Francisco Gueráu, de Murcia strengthened the foundation of technique and style for the modern six-string guitar, which emerged at the end of the century. The guitar tuning used by the Spanish varied slightly from that of the Italian guitar. The five treble clef pitches used in both were A-D-G-B-E. A single high E string existed on each, with dual pitches in unison on the other four strings for the Spanish tuning. The lowest note was in the middle string, G. The Italian tuning used dual unison strings for the B and G, but A and D utilized an octave difference in the dual strings, with A being the lowest note.


This piece comes from one of two anthologies by Murcia, Passacalles y obras de guitarra por todos los tonos naturales y acidentales. This era favoured the 5-string treble strung guitar, utilizing tablature instead of staff notation. Murcia used the Spanish re-entrant tuning, as discussed above. Marionas, a Spanish dance form, is said to have originally defined a sturgeon. The term mariones may have referred to sailors. This dance became a favorite in Baroque Spanish theatrical productions. The typical harmonic chord progression for marionas can be seen in measures 6-8 of the score: I-V-vi-iv-V. It also contains second-beat syncopations throughout the piece.

Murcia Marionas score Page 2

page 2

I have included a sample of measures 1-8 in traditional notation form:

Marionas score sample

Marionas notated sample


I am comparing two of Murcia’s works: The triple time Marionas is distinctly Spanish with its syncopated rhythm, but still appears to have a European influence. Cumbées is much faster, and asks for a player to strike the guitar top for a percussive effect. The Inquisition banned this piece for being “lewd, lascivious, and indecent.” This work draws on Afro-Mexican influences, rather than European.

This is the youtube link for Cumbees:

I am also including a sample of Cumbees notated traditionally.

Cumbees score sample

Cumbees score sample


Although I play guitar, I did not know prior to this research that the stringing of the Baroque guitar was so different. It was interesting to note that there were some similarities to what we now use as the 12-string guitar. The influence of the courtly dance suites was more widespread than I originally realized.

Works CitedEdit

Peedu, Timo. Early Guitar and Vihuelas. Web page. 2014.

Rowe, Don and Richard d’A Jensen. Baroque Guitar for the Modern Performer: A Practical Compromise.

Russell, Craig H. "Murcia, Santiago de." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 10, 2014,

Saldivar, Gabriel and Craig H. Russell. Santiago de Murcia’s C'ódice Sald'ívar no. 4: Commentary. Web page.

Stauffer, George B. ed. “The World of Baroque Music: New Perspectives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Vera, Alejandro. “Santiago de Murcia’s Cifras Selectas de Guitarra (1722): A New Source for the Baroque Guitar.” Early Music 35, no. 2. (2007).