"A book, therefore, of high scientific value, a reliable source of consult from which to obtain secure information, but also much more than this" (Danilo Prefumo, il Fronimo, n. 179, July 2017).
"A book like the one just published by Ricardo Aleixo is a must for anyone who wants to go in depth into any of the aspects, authors or sources of all this eighteenth-century period" (Ángel Medina, El otro a ratos, 2017).
Caprichos, Preludios, Fantasias, ó Modulaciones, formacion de los Tonos mayores y menores, siguiendo el orden de los signos de la Musica, explicacion de sus nombres segun el metodo Ytaliano, Frances y Español, Obra de Guitarra escrita por d.nFernando Ferandiere, en Cadiz año de 1790*
- A la Española primer tono. A la Francesa tono de re. A la Italiana tono de Delasolrre menor
Fernando Ferandiere's Caprichos, Preludios, Fantasias, ó Modulaciones... (MP/1659), form a group of small pieces collected inside the factitious volume Ejercicios para guitarra (MP/1659) preserved in the National Library of Spain.(1) After the page with the title of the work, the same title heading this text, sixteen handwritten pieces are followed, each one written on a single page of the document and, for the most part, occupying about five staffs.
In 1780 the Royal Spanish Academy includes in its dictionary the following definitions for "caprice" (p.192):
On the other hand, the term "prelude" is defined as follows in the 1788 Terreros y Pando dictionary (p. 199):
Only in the sixth edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language, from the year 1822, is added a musical definition for "prelude", in addition to an explanation of the verb "preludiar" (p. 658):
"It is to sing or to play any step of irregular and very short fantasy, going through the essential strings of the Tone, either to establish it or to tune its voice, and to test an instrument before beginning to play a piece of Music".(2)
The caprices or preludes of Ferandiere seem to have a didactic function. The title of the work states that an "explanation" of the music signs will be given, "according to the Italian, French and Spanish method" will be given. And one of the inner pages of the manuscript explains that "in addition to the major tones that are represented and put into practice which are the following [...]". Moreover, some years after its composition Ferandiere himself would write for his method Arte de tocar la guitarra española... (1799) a piece of very similar characteristics titled Lección Sexta / El Laberinto ó Circulo Armónico. In fact, there are technical and musical concordances between this lesson and the caprices.
In summary, while everything indicates that the sixteen Caprichos, Preludes, Fantasias, ó Modulations... were written for didactic purposes, they are an interesting and singular sample of a type of repertoire of the end of the 18th century that according to the dictionaries of the period served to set the tone or test an instrument before the performance of a larger work.
*I would like to thank Luis Briso de Montiano and Anna Corral Arias for assisting me during the research and the English translation of this text, respectively.
(1)Alfredo Vicent describes the content of this volume in “Un cuaderno de aficionado inédito de finales del S. XVIII. Estudio e interpretación de su contenido”(En: Papeles del Festival de música española de Cádiz, nº 3, 2007-2008, pp. 201-211).
(2) Diccionario de música (Sevilla 1818), edición y estudio preliminar Ángel Medina, Oviedo, Universidad de Oviedo y Centro de Documentación Musical de Andalucía, 1990, p. 84.