Arte de Tanger: Gonzalo de Baena's New Keyboard Method (1540)

Artist Bruno Forst organ
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 95618
EAN code 5028421956183
Release February 2018

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About this release

Gonzalo de Baena’s Arte novamente inventada pera aprender a tãger (Newly devised method for learning to play) was the first book of keyboard music ever printed on the Iberian Peninsula. Lost for centuries, it was rediscovered in 1992, and early music keyboardist Bruno Forst has since painstakingly decoded its unique tablature system and edited a modern edition, published in 2012.

Baena compiled mostly polyphonic vocal music by various composers, from the old Flemish Masters he himself studied, to contemporaries thriving alongside him in the rich musical environment of Spain under the Catholic Monarchs, along with pieces of his own and several by his son, Antonio. To disseminate this music in arrangements for keyboardists, professional or amateur, Baena transcribed them in an easy to read tablature notation and ordered the pieces in increasing level of difficulty.

While his collection, printed in 1540, was pedagogical in intent, Baena nevertheless left a valuable historic document to posterity, creating a faithful depiction of the place and time that gave birth to later masters such as Antonio de Cabezón.

In 1992 a (misfiled) manuscript was discovered in the Madrid Palacio Real Library: the Arte Novamente Inventada pera aprender a tager (Newly devised method for learning to play), which proved to be the first book of keyboard music to be printed in the Iberian Peninsula, published in 1540. The author, Gonzalo de Baena, was a Castillian musician in the service of the King of Portugal.
The book is a method designed to teach amateurs without theoretical knowledge to play a keyboard instrument through the use of a simple tablature that represents the notes by letters. The pieces consist primarily of transcriptions of vocal works, but also purely instrumental music is included. It is a valuable historical document, faithfully depicting the cultural and musical environment of early 16-th century Iberia. Composers included are Ockeghem, Obrecht, Desprez, Compère, Brunel, Agricola, Gascogne.
Organist and musicologist Bruno Forst has painstakingly deciphered and prepared the manuscript, and performs it complete on this new recording, adding suitable embellishments in the 16-th century style: clearly a labour of love, bringing to life this musical treasure after 472 years!

Recorded in Zaragoza (July 2013) and Madrid (April 2014), Spain.
Booklet contains detailed notes on this extraordinary early Iberian keyboard tablature collection, as well as information and specifications for each organ.
Full organ registrations for each track available at

Track list

Disk 1

  1. In diebus illis
  2. Two verses of a Magnificat
  3. Pange lingua
  4. Congratulamini mihi omnes
  5. Kyrie eleison de nuestra señora
  6. Unica est columba mea
  7. Kyrie eleison 4º tono
  8. Kyrie eleison 8º tono
  9. Conditor alme siderum
  10. Clamabat autem mulier cananea
  11. No title
  12. Patrem omnipotentem
  13. Jesu nostra redemption
  14. Deposuit potentes
  15. Si dedero
  16. Ave maris stella
  17. Agnus dei
  18. Kyrie eleison
  19. Sanctus
  20. Pleni sunt
  21. Kyrie eleison 6º tono
  22. Sanctus

Disk 2

  1. Domine deus
  2. 1º tono
  3. Credo
  4. Et iterum venturus est cum Gloria
  5. Benedictus
  6. Pleni sunt
  7. Agnus dei
  8. Benedictus
  9. Sanctus
  10. Benedictus. Mass fortuna desperate
  11. Pleni sunt
  12. Si sumpsero penas meas
  13. In pace, in idipsum dormiam
  14. Si dedero
  15. Gloria
  16. Agnus dei
  17. Sanctus
  18. Patrem omipotentem
  19. Agnus dei
  20. Mater patris
  21. Agnus dei
  22. Hélas que pourra devenir
  23. Motete del ciego