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71: Schema and Idiom in the Music of Mauro Giuliani

Desculpa: Any blatantly copyright-infringing similarities in notational markup here, with respect
to a certain work characterizing schema of the Galant Style written by one Professor Robert Gjerdingen,
ought best be interpreted as a respectful imitative gesture in the spirit of 18th-century Galant schema-
sharing pedagogery, the pupils developing fluency with the style (here, Galant music and technical music
theory writing) through the direct imitation and experimentation with the formal models provided by
their instructors. As to whether the following document proves an exemplar in demonstrating either of
the two, I leave to the reader.


The viewer who examines any small number of Watteau’s fêtes galantes will quickly see the
recurrent depiction of the guitar as a regular icon. Yet despite such high-profile associations to the
galant world in the visual arts, and such shared social connotations as the gendered overlap of the
historically feminized spaces of galant music1 and guitar playing2, the appearance of Gjerdingenian
galant schema in the guitar music of the 1700s, at least according to the minor survey conducted by
myself and my peers, is minimal.

It is plausible this absence is explained by the organology and tuning of the instrument at the
time, as it was not until the latter decades of the 18th-century that the instrument’s bass register was
expanded with the addition of a sixth course3 and alterations to the tuning4. This earlier lack of bass
rendered schema such as the Romanesca particularly difficult, anti-idiomatic, or impossible to
convincingly execute beyond a provision of the chordal context.

However, to avoid diving one-sidedly into technological/organological determinism as an

explanation for the paucity of schema in the 18th-century guitar repertoire, one might also note the
perceived lower social position and allegations of inferior musical quality of the instrument in certain
circles, perhaps stated first by Praetorious5 - and yet simultaneously, respected composers in France,
Italy and Spain such as Francesco Corbetta, Luis de Milan and Gaspar Sanz championed the instrument
under royal patronage. Operating under the common contemporary misconception that the 6-string
classic guitar owes its life primarily to Spain, we might explain that the partimenti practices used in the
teachings of Neapolitan orphans had little chance to reach that music-world of the Spanish guitar, thus
explaining the schematic absence – yet it was in Italy where these refinements and alterations in guitar

Galant, Grove Online (Heartz & Brown) “Much galant literature, like much galant music, was intended to instruct
and entertain female amateurs.”
Described by John Weretka in (Weretka, 2008), p9, “The presence of the guitar [in Watteau] may indicate a
‘feminised space’ in which a gendered longing for the values of a lost age of galanterie may be being played out.
[…][18th century philosopher] Diderot notes that the guitar is ‘extremely graceful, especially in the hands of a
(Heck, 1970), p39.
(Britton, 2010), p26.
As quoted by Frederic V. Grunfeld in (Grunfeld, 1969), p2, Praetorious associates the guitar with “charlatans and
saltimbanques who use it for strumming, to which they sing villanelles and other foolish lumpen-songs
[shabby/inferior songs].”.
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construction first developed6, and likewise from Italy where many of the 19th-century guitar virtuosi who
gave the instrument its early 19th-century life hailed.

For whatever combination of reasons, then, Gjerdingenian schema are not readily apparent in
the 18 -century guitar literature I or my peers surveyed - but upon looking to the early 19th-century

guitar music of Mauro Giuliani, particularly those intended for amateurs, the score came alive with
them. I interpret Giuliani’s use of schema in these works as a commercial and aesthetic appeal to the
shared or admired musical idioms of the developing bourgeois class which constituted the sales base for
these publications, as well as a gesture reflecting his positioning of the guitar in a more consonant
relationship with the musical style of instruments of higher position in the art music sphere.


While Giuliani’s birthplace is not known with certainty, Viennese reviews in his lifetime
described him as a Neapolitan guitarist and there is evidence he was born near the village of Barletta in
1781.7 He initially studied the cello, later taking up the guitar. Perhaps his study of the cello enabled him
to recode the guitar into a higher classical fashion through his music. In 1806, he moved to Vienna and
established himself as one of the leading guitar virtuosi of the time, soon associating with some of the
highest musical names of the time, including Beethoven and Hummel. His eventual financial decline in
Vienna precipitated a permanent return to Italy in 1819, where he remained until his death in Naples in

In addition to performing and publishing high-quality and technically demanding works which
remain an essential part of the classical guitarist’s repertory to this day, Giuliani published a high volume
of lower-level works he himself did not perform, intended for amateur performance. While some of
these have been criticized for lesser inventiveness or self-plagiarism, we might also expect them to
contain a clear musical language comprehensible to the vernacular of the amateur – the kind of musical
language where the deployment of schema might be abundantly useful. With this in mind, we travel to
Vienna, 1816, some ten years after Giuliani’s arrival, to the publication of his 71st opus, a set of three
sonatines with the title inscription “d'una facilità progressiva ad uso dei principianti.” These amateur
works of progressive difficulty remain valuable and common repertoire for the 21st-century classical
guitar student for their pleasant musical quality and technical simplicity on the instrument. As we shall
see, they sing in a simple musical language abundant with Gjerdingenian galant schema.

ANALYZING OP. 71, 1816

The first sonatine comprises a theme and variations movement, a minuet and trio, and rondo.
From the opening measures of the first movement, the influence of Galant schema reveals itself in the
straightforward presentation of a Do-Re-Mi melody over a Durante bass in mm1-2 (Ex. 1).

(Heck, 1970), p 19. “Every item of testimony and evidence points to Italy as the country of origin of both the
musical idiom and the instrument in question,” regarding the transition from 5 doubled courses to 6 single strings
and the early 19th-century guitar style.
(Heck, 1970), p. 66-69.
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Example 1: Op 71, No 1, i mm1-4: Do-re-mi to prinneresque half cadence.

Through a Prinneresque descending bassline in mm3-4 (ex. 1), the phrase turns back around to a
half-cadence which leads (in mm.4-8, not shown) to a repeat of the opening bars with a tonic cadence.
Measures 9-12 introduce another idea of clear Galant familiarity, shown in Example 2; the presentation
of a fonte as a bridge section following a perceptual/structural double bar line (though no barline is
actually written here). With the following restatement of the opening four measures, the basic ternary
16-bar unit for this movement is established. For the fonte material, Giuliani expands on the martial
dotted-eighth-sixteenth rhythms lightly touched upon in the final bar of the previous phrases.

Example 2: Op 71, 1, i mm9-11: Fonte.

mm1-4 Do-Re-Mi over Durante bass, Prinneresque descent to half cadence

mm5-8 Repetition to full cadence
mm9-12 Fonte connected to initial Prinneresque to half cadnece
mm13-16 Repetition of Durante Do-Re-Mi and Prinneresque to full cadence

The variations are then constructed on the process of increasing the subdivision of the beat in
the accompaniment through increasing arpeggiation of inner voices; because this process leaves the
melody and bass mostly unaltered, the clarity with which the schema are expressed in the opening
theme remains equally unobscured even as the texture changes to a continuous stream of arpeggiated
sixteenth notes in the final variation, demonstrated in Examples 3 and 4 below.
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Example 3: Op 71, No 1, I, mm49-50: Do-Re-Mi in sixteenth-note variation.

Example 4: Op 71, No 1, i, mm57-59: Fonte in sixteenth note variation.

While the minuet and trio constituting the second movement reveal little in the way of schema
aside from a brief ponte, the opening bars of the following rondo return us to a classical turn of phrase
with the first notes, demonstrated in Example 5.

Example 5: Op. 71, no. 1, iii, mm1-2. Opening Meyer.

The diversionary episodes of the rondo also present guitaristic and notable uses of the schema.
In Example 6, Mauro utilizes the guitar’s open 3rd string as an internal dominant pedal while outer voices
move in idiomatic tenths somewhat resembling a Fenaroli pattern.
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Example 6: Op 71, No 1, iii, mm26-32: Ponte in tenths, resemblance to Fenaroli.

In the middle of a later, more expansive diversionary episode in A minor, Giuliani introduces a
two-bar idea briefly tonicizing the fourth scale degree, D minor, before proceeding to a converging
cadence on E major to lead back to more material in A minor (Example 7). Later, Giuliani returns to the
motive tonicizing D minor as the fourth scale degree of A minor. Having set the perceptual expectation
of continued activity focusing towards E major and A minor with the previous material, Giuliani surprises
this expectation by reinterpreting the two-bar motive as the first stage of a hermaphroditic fonte
returning to the original key of C major (Example 8).

Example 7: Op 71, No 1, iii, mm49-52: Early material in minor section leads to converging cadence,
later reinterpreted as the opening section of a fonte returning to major tonic.
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Example 8: Op 71, No 1, iii, mm61-64: Material from Example 7 presented as a Fonte.

In keeping with the Opus’s titular inscription of progressive difficulty, the second sonatine
presents a somewhat more complicated musical texture – but one equally laden with schematic
allusions. The opening four bars of the first movement present a Pastorella with Alberti bass
accompaniment. Other scholars have noted the idiomatic use of Alberti bass in certain keys as a natural
consequence of the guitar’s tuning8 which allowed it to become a cliché or schema of later 18th-century
and 19th-century guitar composition. 9

Example 9: Op 71, No 2, i mm1-4: Opening theme as pastorella.

Later in the movement, Giuliani employs a sequence resembling a hermaphroditic Fonte

(Example 10), but with an irregular metric placement by which he turns the next measure back to the
subdominant, C, rather than remaining on the tonic. The following movement, a rhythmic variations
much like the first, again introduces a fonte with martial rhythms as the post-double bar response for its
basic theme before introducing a series of increasingly subdivided variations, the initial presentation
shown in Example 11.

(Tompkins, 2016), p1, “Three keys dominate the classical guitar repertory: C major, A minor, and A major. C major
is used for Alberti bass because it is the only key in which the open chord shapes of I, IV, and V are laid out in a
closed ˆ1, ˆ3, ˆ5 position.” In Example 8, this lack of the open chord shape of V in G major is compensated by first-
inversion voicing of the D major chord, a tactic Giuliani frequently employs.
(Britton, 2010) p23.
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Example 10: Op 71, No 2, I, mm36-37: Fonte-like progression with irregular metric placement.

Example 11: Op 71, No 2, ii, mm9-11: Fonte.

The third and final movement of the second sonatine makes use of the Do-Re-Mi in D major as its
secondary theme, presented in both a relatively standard format and also embedded within a
compound cadence, as shown in Examples 12 and 13.

Example 12: Op 71, No 2, iii, mm29-27: Paired Do-Re-Mi.

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Example 13: Op 71, No 2, iii, m30-32: Do-Re-Mi embedded in compound cadence.

The third and final sonatine in the movement is in D Major; this itself speaks to Giuliani’s
inscription of progressive difficulty in relation to the idiomatic qualities of the guitar. A set of guitar
works in C, then G, then D is set in order of increasing technical requirements on the guitar with regards
to the need to move past the first position on the neck to achieve common sonorities. Sonatine No. 1 in
Op 71, in fact never moves beyond the first position, while Sonatine No. 2 never moves past second, and
only rarely ventures there; by contrast, Sonatine No. 3 introduces the second position within the first
measure and spends a moderate amount of time as high as the ninth position in the Allegro finale. While
the key areas already imply some degree of graded difficulty in the context of the guitar, the musical
material of the final sonata is additionally of a greater complexity on its own consideration – but as we
shall see, Giuliani still finds musically satisfying and guitar-idiomatic solutions to offset these difficulties
for the amateur player, all while expressing clear and even exemplary cases of galant schema.

The third Sonatine opens with a quiescenza theme presented in two iterations, in a texture of
three to four voices with an increasingly chromaticized descending line from the root to the third of the
key (Examples 14 and 15). In just the span of measure 5 (first half of Example 15), the musical line
requires changing left-hand positions from second position, to third, back to second, then to first
position for the downbeat of measure 6, playing multiple voices at each stage. This more complicated
texture, both musically and in terms of technical requirements, demonstrates the progressive ordering
of the Opus, and yet with the clever use of an open string as the pedal tone for the quiescenza, Giuliani
reveals one of the primary devices by which the work’s later upper-fret excursions will be rendered

Example 14: Op 71, No 3, i, mm1-2: Quiescenza as opening gambit.

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Example 15: Opus 71, No 3, I, mm5-6: Quiescenza as opening gambit, second time.

Giuliani follows the quiescenza theme with a ponte, again using the advantage of an open string
to free the player’s left hand for the two-voiced ascending melody, coloring the upper lines with
chromatic passing and neighbor tones above a continuous pedal on the A string (Example 16) which
leads, after a transitory sequence, back to another open-string quiescenza on D leading to a perfect

Example 16: Op 71, No 3, i, mm8-10: Ponte.

Example 17: Op 71, No 3, i, mm17-21: Quiescenza outro in more typical structural position.

The second movement of the final Sonatine opens with a Do-Re-Mi with an altered bass line and
ornamented final stage, shown in Example 18. In seeking an explanation for this unusual bass-line (with
respect to the possibility Giuliani simply wanted it that way), it may be worth revisiting the topic of
idiomatic voicing on the guitar; had Giuliani moved the F# up one octave and thereby presented a more
typical voice-leading, the advantage of the open D-string would be lost, requiring the player to readjust
the hand between the anacrusis melody and the chords in the bass. After a martially-rhythmed post-
double-bar hermaphrodite fonte (Example 19) reminiscent of the martially-rhythmed post-double-bar
fontes examined in Examples 2 and 11, Giuliani employs a modified repeat of the opening material
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which emphasizes the Do-Re-Mi relationship through reduced ornamentation of the final stage
(Example 20).

Example 18: Op 71, No 3, ii, mm1-3: Semi-obscured Do-Re-Mi opening, clarified later.

Example 19: Op 71, No 3, ii, mm9-11: Fonte in traditional post double-bar position.

Example 20: Op 71, No 3, ii, mm21-23: Opening Do-Re-Mi with new figuration and clearer final stage.
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The third movement of the final sonatine opens with a scherzo. While the primary theme
doesn’t match well to a galant schema, the development manifests an interesting modulatory
permutation of the Ponte in which Giuliani uses the dominant pedal pitch as a pivot tone to a key a
minor third above the tonic of the Ponte (or a major third below the pedal), a common-tone modulation
to the mediant. Example 21 provides an instance in which a Ponte emphasizing D as the dominant
harmony of G Major thins to a repetition of simply the pitch D, which is then reinterpreted from this
sparser voicing as the mediant of the new key, Bb Major – one of the few tonal areas in the entire Opus
which not generally considered idiomatic to the guitar. Later, to return to the original material, Giuliani
employs the same technique to return from E minor to the original key of G Major (Example 22).

Example 21: Op 71, No 3, iii, mm23-34, Ponte becomes common-tone modulation to chromatic

Example 22: Op 71, No 3, iii, mm53-57, Ponte becomes common-tone modulation to mediant/relative
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The trio of the final sonatine’s third movement can be interpreted entirely with the
Gjerdingenian framework; as the tonic key of the scherzo, G major, is reinflected into a dominant
harmony for the trio, the opening eight bars reflect the ‘weak-measure’ Ponte variant10 with an internal
dominant pedal, followed by a post-double-bar Fonte and brief restatement of the initial Ponte.

Example 23: Op 71, No 3, iii, trio: Ponte, Fonte, Ponte.

While the final movement of the 3rd sonatine, like its first movement, opens with a theme
accompanied by a droning open-string D pedal, it is not one of specific resemblance to a Gjerdingenian
schema; however, after this theme has expressed itself, Giuliani returns to the Ponte on an open-string
A pedal which served him so well in that first movement also - here increasing its propulsive energy with
the addition of a chromatic lower neighbor tone to an off-beat dominant pedal (Example 24). A later
diversionary episode, shown in Example 25, comprises an inverted Fonte.

Example 24: Op 71, No 3, iv, mm15-21: Ponte.

(Gjerdingen, 2007), p200.
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Example 25: Op 71, No 3, iv, mm29-32: Inverted Fonte.

Example 26: Op 71, No 3, iv, mm74-88: Quiescenza on tonicized dominant yields to Ponte.

Certainly one of the more technically advanced, finest-sounding, and guitaristically-voiced

sections of the Opus is found in the late measures of the final movement of its third sonatine. Example
26, for example, contains a few curious voice-leading decisions which are best explicable through an
understanding of the nature of the guitar and it’s tuning. The octave displacement in mm79-80 in the
interior line descending from G natural to F# with the A major arpeggio overhead, and the similar
displacement of the D to C# interior line in mm81-82, may seem an inscrutable compositional choice
without the awareness of the physical convenience of using the open G string and the open D string
against the given figuration, and the impracticality (in the second instance) and impossibility (in the first
instance) of continuing those lines downward without octave transposition to facilitate the playing of
the other upper voices. And yet despite these idiomatic considerations and quirks of voice-leading, the
excerpt provided in Example 26 presents a clear Quiescenza around A Major, which eventually yields to
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a ponte for the final return of the movement’s primary theme in D major, before a typically Giulianian
show of scales and arpeggios (though here simplified to the beginner level of the publication) closes the
sonatine and the opus.


Thus, while we see how Giuliani utilizes the nature of the guitar in the composition and voice-
leading of his works, we also find clear evidence he directs it toward a musical style bearing strong
resemblances to certain Gjerdingenian Galant schema, reflecting the prevalence of their use and
established currency in the public conscious and musical discourse, to which Giuliani sought to appeal in
producing for sale these works for amateur enjoyment. The absence of such schema as the Romanesca
may be explained by the difficulty of producing this voice-leading on guitar, or perceptions of that
particular schema as outmoded by the time of Giuliani’s 19th-century publications. Future research
would do well to explore specific guitar schemas and idiomatic writing in the work of 19th-century
guitarist virtuosi like Moretti, Giuliani, and Sor. Comparisons of the deployment of schema in Giuliani’s
compositions intended for his own performance as opposed to those intended for amateur
performance, or the relative frequency with which Sor utilizes galant schema in his guitar writing as
compared to his orchestral writing, might well yield fruitful insight into the practical compositional
decisions and aesthetic sensibilities and intentions of these composers and better inform our
appreciation for their work and contributions to the instrument and its repertoire.
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Britton, A. (2010). The Guitar in the Romantic Period: Its Musical and Social Development, with special
reference to Bristol and Bath. Royal Holloway College, University of London Dissertation.

Gjerdingen, R. O. (2007). Music in the Galant Style. New York: Oxford University Press.

Grunfeld, F. V. (1969). The Art and Times of the Guitar. Toronto: The MacMillan Company.

Heartz, D., & Brown, B. A. (n.d.). Galant. Oxford Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Grove
Music Online. Oxford Music Online.

Heck, T. (1970). The Birth of the Classic Guitar and its Cultivation in Vienna, Reflected in the Career and
Compositions of Mauro Giuliani. (Yale University, PhD Dissertation).

Lee, A. M. (2013). Charlatans, Saltimbanques and Lumpen Songs: The Emergence of the Guitar from the
Ghetto of Western Art Music. Princeton University Dissertation.

Tompkins, D. (2016, April 19). Formal Aspects of Mauro Giuliani's Gran Sonata Eroica in A Major.
Retrieved from Academia.edu:

Weretka, J. (2008). The Guitar, the Musette and Meaning in the fêtes galantes of Watteau. Emaj, Issue 3.