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Electronic Musicological Review
Vol. 1.1/September 1996
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Rogério Budasz

I. Introduction

Information about the salterio -- the Ibero-American dulcimer (hammered or plucked) -- in colonial Brazil is rare. In a generic study of the Province of Goiás, Cunha Mattos reported in 1824 that "some ladies sing fairly and play the psalterio, citharas, guitarras and violas".

The Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro School of Music holds a late eighteenth century Brazilian salterio which bears the following inscription: "Antonio Miz. S. Tiago made it in the Castle of Rio de Janeiro, year of 1767". Two other S. Tiago's instruments remain in Portuguese Museums at Lisbon and Guimarães, as evidences of his popularity.

FIG. 1: Antonio M. Santiago's salterio,(Antonio Miz Stgº, Rio - 1762. Martins Sarmento Museum, Guimarães, Portugal).

Curiously, in the Rio de Janeiro Museum's catalogue, the instrument is called cítara. Although in his narrative Cunha Mattos distinguished the psalterio from the cithara, it is clear that in some cases this particular word also referred to dulcimer-like instruments. In any case, there are evidences that the dulcimer played a more important role in colonial Brazil than it was believed up to this point. The recent discovery of a nineteenth century music tablature also contributes to support this hypothesis.

II. The manuscript

In April 1994, it was found at the archives of the Círculo de Estudos Bandeirantes (a Research Center) in Curitiba, Brazil, a manuscript containing a fair number of musical pieces in tablature for salterio. Basing on the partially mutilated frontspice the remaining information of the title was remounted, as follow: Cifr[as de música para] s[alterio] em que se mostrão march[as...] lunduns, repiques de igr[ejas...], or "Music tablature for the salterio, in which are presented marches, lunduns, churches chimes..."

FIG. 2: Antonio Vieira dos Santos, Cifr[as de música para] s[altério], p. 1.

Containing 104 pages, 31,5 x 21,2 cm. size, apparently it was written in Paranaguá or Morretes, two coastal cities of Paraná State, during the first half of the nineteenth century. Even though the first page, where the author's name should have been mentioned, is mutilated, we can identify him as Antonio Vieira dos Santos (Oporto, Portugal, 1784 - Morretes, Brazil, 1854). Well known as one of the first historians of Brazil, he also played and probably wrote music. According to his memories, this interest increased in 1805, when he started to learn the salterio in Paranaguá.

It is obvious the importance of this work to the Brazilian musicology: the manuscript shows an unparalleled collection of colonial and imperial popular music that has not been yet an object of studies. It includes marchas, retiradas, zabumbas, amáveis, minuetes, gigas, tocatas, adagios, cotilhões, modinhas, lundus, chulas, tiranas, batuques, and other kinds of dances and songs, many of them for the first time found in a Brazilian source and others absolutely new.

The following chart shows the manuscript's contents:




Title, author (mutilated)


Explanation of the tablature (mutilated)


Description of the instrument, drawing


Stringing and tuning

3 - 4

Salterio (introduction)

5 - 7

Tons naturais do saltério, afinação, entoação, ajuntação das vozes.


How to tune the viola by the salterio


1 Prelúdio

11 - 26

23 Marchas

27 - 29

9 Retiradas

29 - 30

4 Zabumbas

30 - 31

3 Séries Amáveis

32 - 67

53 Minuetes


1 Miudinho


1 Composição

69 - 72

2 Tocatas

72 - 73

1 Giga

74 - 77

4 Adagios


1 Modinha


1 Solo Inglês


1 Turel

78 - 79

3 Cotilhões

79 - 80

3 Valsas

80 - 85

19 Contradanças

86 - 87

8 Modinhas


1 Cantiga or Hino


1 Hino nacional

88 - 90

5 Lundus


1 Baiana


1 Tonta

91 - 92

1 Chula ponteada

92 - 93

1 Desterro

93 - 95

7 Tiranas


1 Vilão


1 Fandanguilho espanhol


1 Chico do Rio


1 Recortado


1 Furrundu


1 Anu


1 Batuque

97 - 98

2 Repiques


1 Miudinho


1 Bitu


1 Lundu


1 Modinha


1 Hino


1 Composta (Comporta?)




Nomes de varios toques e modinhas (?) brasileiras

These 171 pieces could be divided in two main groups:

European musical forms: adágios, amáveis, contradanças, cotilhões, hinos, marchas, minuetes, repiques, retiradas, tocatas, and valsas.

Brazilian or Brazilianized forms: baianas, batuques, cantigas, chulas, miudinhos, modinhas, lundus and several marcas de fandango such as anu, chico, recortado, tirana, tonta, and vilão.

III. Dulcimer or psaltery?

The instrument described by Vieira dos Santos has similar features to the Anglo-American (hammered-) dulcimer and the Germanic hackbrett, but it seems to differ from them when it comes to the production of the sound. Since neither the use of hammers is mentioned (perhaps the mutilated first page would contain this information), nor hammers were found with any of S. Tiago's instruments, we could assume that both instruments were played with a similar plucking technique. This possibility is in harmony with the observations regarding the psalterio in Minguet e Yrol's Reglas y advertencias generales, Madrid, 1754.

FIG. 3: Minguet e Yrol's psalterio (Reglas y advertencias generales [...], Madrid, 1754, 3rd part, f. 5v)

However, there are evidences that both playing techniques -- by using hammers and plucking with the fingers -- could be applied to the Iberian psalterio. That is what definitions of psalterio in two old Luso-Brazilian music dictionaries seem to suggest (one must keep in mind that salterio is the Portuguese word for both dulcimer and psaltery):

Psalterio, s.m. Struck instrument of metallic strings [...] At first, one placed it against the breast holding it with the arms, while the hands strike the strings; but afterward, as it size growed, it was placed on a table and the player struck it with two hammers [...] even today there are people in Lisbon who know how to play it. (VIEIRA, Ernesto. Diccionario musical. Lisbon, 1899, p. 432-433).

Psalterio - Fairly old wooden instrument with metallic strings, that was played with the index and thumb fingers [...] Today it is a triangular shaped instrument with 13 courses of either steel or iron wire, played with a hammer. (NEWTON, Isaac. Dicionario musical. Maceió, 1904, p. 232).

FIG. 4: Eighteenth-Century Portuguese tiles showing the hammering technique (Músicos num terraço, Wilhelm Van Der Kloet, 1707. Nogueira da Silva Museum, Braga.). [68Kb]

IV. The research

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries Iberian musical sources reveal remarkable parallels with the manuscript. Several pieces have concordances in Manuel da Paixão Ribeiro's Nova Arte da Viola (Coimbra, 1789), Antonio da Silva Leite's Estudo de Guitarra (Oporto, 1796) and anonymous manuscripts in the Lisbon and Madrid National Libraries.

The following chart shows the most important concordances:



MS p. 22 Marcha Francesa

"A Marselhesa".

MS p. 26 Minuete da Rosinha

RIBEIRO, Nova Arte de Viola, Lisboa, 1789. MM 4504. Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional

MS p. 27 Minuete Contra Rosinha

RIBEIRO, Nova Arte de Viola, Lisboa, 1789. MM 4504. Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional

MS p. 32 Minuete da Corte

LEITE, Estudo de Guitarra, Porto, 1796. MM 44, Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional.

MS p. 62 Minuete afandangado

MM 4178, Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional

MS p. 62 Minuete da Saudade

LEITE, Estudo de Guitarra, Porto, 1796. MM 4504, Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional.

MS p. 63 Minuete da Enviada

LEITE, Estudo de Guitarra, Porto, 1796. MM 4460, Lisboa, Bibl. Nacional.

Solo Inglês MS p. 78

NEVES. Cancioneiro de Músicas Populares, Porto, 1895.

Modinha de J. Teixeira MS p. 86

Modinhas do Brazil, Lisboa, Bibl. da Ajuda, MS 54-X-37/27-55.

MS p. 90 Lundum de Marruá

Landum de Monrois, MM 4473, Lisboa, B .N. Landum do Marruá, MM 4460, Lisboa, B. N.

MS p. 99 Modinha

SPIX & MARTIUS. Reise in Brasilien, München, 1823-1831.

The manuscript also has a Marcha dos Encantos de Medéia (Medea's Enchants March), which could be a fragment of the music for the Antonio José da Silva's ("the Jew") opera Os Encantos de Medéia ( The Medea's Enchants) premiered in Lisbon in 1735. An odd piece is the Hino Nacional, an old version of the Brazilian national anthem. There are also some popular songs that are still heard today.

The Notation system used by Vieira dos Santos has no parallel among the several known dulcimer or psaltery tablature types. The historian uses a vertical reading tablature, divided in four columns, one for each of the four groups of strings, in which the numbers correspond to the courses:

EX. 1: Tuning of the instrument

EX. 2: Representation in tablature of the instrument's range

EX. 3: Transcription of EX. 2

This system does not represent the rhythmic aspect in a precise way, restricting itself to a few horizontal bars and verbal indications such as, fast, briskly. Even admitting that the exactitude is impossible, a comparison with other existing versions or pieces of similar kind can help us determining the rhythm in some cases. In the following section, I selected four examples in order to explain my restoration work.


V. The music

The Minuete da Corte [25kb] (Court Minuet) is a piece to which alternative versions may be found in other sources. About this dance, Mário de Andrade informed that

the European minuet with all its steps and rules was called here "Minuete da Corte" (Court Minuet), at least in the first half of nineteenth century.

One can supply the lacking rhythm by juxtaposing the Silva Leite's Estudo de Guitarra (Guitar Study) and Vieira dos Santos's tablature versions.

The same happens with the Solo Inglês [16kb] (English Solo ), of which a version is found in César das Neves's Cancioneiro de músicas populares (Popular Music Tunes), published in Oporto, Portugal, between 1893 and 1898. In 1919, João Ribeiro Fernandes reported the popularity of the Solo Inglês, wich was danced

with all the ceremony [...] in the most solemn occasions.

Cesar das Neves published also a complete choreography of this dance, assuring that

it was very in vogue in the early nineteenth century, both in the aristocratic salons and in the bourgeois and people of good manners meetings, as well in the harbors saloons, where there was musicata.

For comparison reasons, the first measures of César das Neves's Solo Inglês (English Solo) are transposed a tone higher. In the two bottom staffs, the Vieira dos Santos's version in a simple transcription with the guessed rhythm [Example - 6Kb].

Another group includes works whose restoration was based in comparing them to pieces of the same genre, with similar melodic patterns.

The Lundu is an Afro-Brazilian dance, condemned by the church and official authorities in the eighteenth century, that considered it licentious and indecent. Soon after, it was converted in instrumental music, played in the guitar or harpsichord, and gained the bourgeois salons.

The Lundu da Bahia [36kb] (Bahia's Lundu ) follows the 2/4 semiquaver figuration, typical of various nineteenth century instrumental lundus, among them the Landum collected by Spix and Martius (Reise in Brasilien, Munich, 1823-1832). I have applied some of its patterns to parallel situations in Vieira dos Santos obtaining a satisfactory result, though several other solutions are possible.

A real challenge is the third group, in which no specific concordances were found, only pieces of the same kind. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century sources offer a number of different possibilities of rhythmic figuration for the same kind of dance or song. In these cases, the problem resides in choosing the most appropriate rhythmic model, which could provide also information regarding time signature, tempo and structure. Our last example, the Desterro [23kb] , illustrates that approach.

Finally, there are some works from which no parallels were found until now. From a few of these, historians' and explorers' narratives provide some information. Others fell in complete oblivion.

As regards as the interpretation of this repertory, the main Brazilian accompanying instrument for salon music was a kind of guitar, the viola de arame (wire guitar) which in modern performances can be replaced by the modern nylon or steel guitar. The typical syncopated rhythmic pattern of the Lundu should be explored by playing with a minimal accentuation in the second note of each group. Also a second player -- either a guitarist or a percussionist, or both -- seems to be necessary here.

As it happens with the restoration of this repertory, also the question of playing technique -- by hammering, plucking, or a combination of them -- will allow several possible solutions. Each musician, based on his own experience is invited to choose his best solution.

Revised: 11/27/98


Baiana, p. 90

Batuque, p. 96

Chula Ponteada, p. 91

Contradança, p. 80

Cotilhão, p. 106

Fandanguilho, p. 95

Lundu de Marruá, p. 90

Lundu, p. 89

2º Lundu da Bahia, p.89

Minuete Afandangado, p. 62

Minuete Contra Rosinha, p. 52

Minuete da Enviada, p. 63

Minuete da Rosinha, p. 52

Miudinho, p. 96

Série Amável, p. 30

Tocata Grande, p. 69

Tonta, p. 90

Zabumba Alegre, p. 29

Bibliographic References

ANDRADE, Mário de. Dicionário musical brasileiro; coord. Oneyda Alvarenga, 1982-84, Flávia Camargo Toni, 1984-89. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia / [Brasília]: Ministério da Cultura / São Paulo: Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros da Universidade de São Paulo, 1989. 701 p. (Coleção reconquista do Brasil. 2 série, v. 162).

Biblioteca Nacional de Lisboa, MM 44; MM 4178; MM 4460; MM 4467; MM 4473; MM 4504.

Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Lisboa: MS 54-X-37/27-55, Modinhas do Brazil, séc. XVIII, 32 f.

CUNHA MATTOS, Raimundo José da. Chorographia historica da Provincia de Goyaz. Revista do Instituto Historico e Geográfico Brasileiro, tomo XXXVII, 1ª parte, p. 213-398, 2º trim. de 1874.

KENYON DE PASCUAL, Beryl. Los salterios españoles del siglo XVIII. Revista de musicologia, VIII: 2, 1985, p. 303-321.

KETTLEWELL, David. "Dulcimer". In New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Ed. Stanley Sadle. London: Macmillan, 1980, vol. 5, p. 695-707.

LEITE, Antônio da Silva. Estudo de Guitarra. Porto: Antonio Alvarez Ribeiro, 1796. 40, XXIII p. Reimpressão, Lisboa: Ministério da Cultura / Instituto Português do Património Cultural, 1983, 5 f. inum., 40 p., XXIII p. (Lvsitana mvsica, II/opera rervm mvsicarvm scriptorvm).

MERSENNE, Marin. Harmonie universelle. Trad. Roger E. Chapman. The Hague: Marinus Nijhoff, 1957. 596 p.

MINGUET E YROL, Pablo. Reglas y advertencias generales que enseñan el modo de tañer todos los instrumentos mejores, y mas usuales, como son la guitarra, tiple, vandola, cythara, organo, harpa, psalterio, bandurria, violin, flauta traversera, flauta dulce y la flautilla. Madrid: o autor, 1754. Reimpressão, Genève: Minkoff, 1982, 120 p. Modinhas do Brazil. Lisboa: Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional da Ajuda. MS 54-X-37/27-55.

NEGRÃO, Francisco. Genealogia Paranaense. Curitiba: Impressora Paranaense, 1926-1950, 6 vol.

NERY, Rui Vieira; CASTRO, Paulo Ferreira de. História da Música. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1991. 202 p.(Sínteses da Cultura Portuguesa).

NEVES, César das. Cancioneiro de Músicas Populares, contendo letra e música [...] trasladadas para canto e piano. Coord. Gualdino de Campos, pref. Teophilo Braga. Porto: Typographia Occidental, 1893, 95, 98, 3 vol. 307, 303, 305 p.

NEWTON, Isaac. Dicionario musical. Maceió: Typographia Commercial,1904. 315 p.

RIBEIRO, Manuel da Paixão. Nova arte de viola. Coimbra: Real officina da universidade, 1789. Reimpressão, Genève: Minkoff, 1985, 76 p.

SANTOS, Antônio Vieira dos. Breve rezumo das memorias mais notaveis acontecidas desde o anno de 1797 ate 1827. Curitiba: Círculo de Estudos Bandeirantes. (Códice manuscrito).

[SANTOS], Anto[nio Vieira dos]. Cifr[as de música para] s[alterio] em que se mostrão march[as...] lunduns, repiques de igr[ejas...]. Curitiba: Círculo de Estudos Bandeirantes. (Códice manuscrito).

SPIX, Joh. Bapt. von; MARTIUS, Carl Friedr. Phil. von. Reise in Brasilien, in den Jahren 1817-1820. Neudruck des 1823-1831 in München in 3 Textbänden und 1 Tafelband erschienen Werkes, herausgegeben und um ein Lebensbild der Botanikers von Martius sowie ein Register erweitert von Karl Mägderfrau. Stuttgart: F. A. Brockhaus, 1967.

SPIX, Johann Baptist von. Viagem pelo Brasil: 1817-1820 / Spix e Martius. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia; São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, 1980. 3 vol. (Coleção Reconquista do Brasil; nova série, v. 46-47-48).

VIEIRA, Ernesto. Diccionario musical. 2ª ed., Lisboa: Typ. Lallemant, 1899. 11 p., 551 p.

Rogério Budasz, composer and musicologist, is professor at the School of Music and Fine Arts of Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil. He is bachelor in Guitar by the Escola de Música e Belas Artes do Paraná, Curitiba, and Master in Musicology by the University of São Paulo. (Back)

Copyright@1996 Electronic Musicological Review, vol. 1.1/September 1996