Although music publishing in Italy was on the decline around the turn of the seventeenth century, Venice emerged as one of the most prolific publishing centers of secular song in Italy throughout the first three decades of the 1600s. Many Venetian song collections were printed with alfabeto, a chordal tablature designed to facilitate even the most untrained of musicians with the necessary tools for accompanying singers on the fashionable five-course Spanish guitar. Carlo Milanuzzi’s Quarto Scherzo (1624) stands out among its contemporary Venetian song collections with alfabeto as an anthology of Venetian secular songs, including compositions by Miniscalchi, Berti, and Claudio and Francesco Monteverdi. Issues surrounding its publication, instrumentation, and musical and poetic style not only contribute to the understanding of Venetian Baroque monody, but also help to construe a repertory of vocal music with defining characteristics usually associated with popular music of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Gavito, Cory Michael