Guárdame las vacas is a villancico more than half a millennium old. Its basic structure consists of a repeating bass part overlayed with a descant. A villancico. Here’s the music notation and TABs for Guardame las Vacas by Luis de Narvaez for Classical Guitar. Please feel free to download, print, and share it. Last weekend I spent some time trying to solve something that has puzzled me about Guardame las vacas for a while now. I have several.

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What I’ve learned is that Narvaez wrote two sets of variations, the one with four, that everyone plays, and then another, the otra parte, with three more in a different key.

Renotated using LilyPond, making some notational improvements along the way. Roman numerals in guardwme are not original and are provided for convenience only. As a side note, I would opt for guardams arrangement that doesn’t take liberties with octaves unless doing so were necessary for some reason.

It seems to me that while performing the otra parte after the first four variations is unsatisfactory from a modern musicological perspective, it also seems that both parts simply sound better in their respective keys on the guitar at least, i. I’m glad to see that I’m not the first to consider playing Guardame as a sort of musical conversation, and that someone else has not only considered it, but actually done it that way. I think today we all, men and women, can have a giggle at the old song and what they meant.


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Although it is certainly a valid artistic choice to arrange the music in such a manner, doing so has misled many a listener as to the nature of the original work in addition to depriving the world of hearing the two remaining variations from the second set. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. I can’t be the only person who’s ever thought of this, yet apparently I’m the only one promoting it!

The professionals of course improvised as always. Today, quatro is spelled cuatro. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Llas don’t like to feel calculating. A New Approach to Guardame las vacas?

Later revisions may correct discovered errors, change fingering, and add guitar-specific legato where appropriate. Changed last D in first voice of measure 8 to use finger 4. A minor and D minor, respectively.

Luis de Narváez – Wikipedia

At the time, the harmonic pairing of the bass part and the descant was associated with those names. What key that was nobody knows for two reasons: It was a popular song with a double entendre meaning. The most notable change is in measure 28, which I used to play with a fourth-position barre. The king would leave to go on a hunt or to battle, or who knows to visit his mistress at the summer palace, and he would entrust the safety and honor of the ladies of the court to a valiant and honest court official.

Variation 1 of otra parte somewhat pensive, more lyrical statement 3. This version turns the whole thing around as it is spoken in a woman voice: Volumes four to six have mixed content.

An old song and we can look at it as an instrumental piece without getting mired into the feminist critique of the sexist laas content. I can sympathize with Nelson Amos’s pet peeve a little taking liberties with this historically important piecebut a it really is musically unsatisfactory, to my ears at least, to perform the otra parte after the first set of variations, yet b the otra parte is beautiful and really enhances the attractiveness of the work.


As usual, fingerings are only suggestions; you may ignore them and choose your own.

Of course somewhere there is probably some dreary earnest version about a poor boy actually herding some prosaic old milk cows. Actively Maintained LilyPond Output. Is he really going to guard them? If you can play Message in a Bottleyou shouldn’t have a problem with gjardame fingering. Guardame las vacas and Conde clarosboth in volume six. What do you think? The collection begins with a preface, in which the composer dedicates the work to his patron Francisco de guardxme Cobos. It consists of a set of variations on a Spanish folk theme.

BTW, I think I found the reference to Amos’ article along with some insightful comments on this forum, so I should thank the folks here for their part in helping me solve history’s greatest mystery involving a song about cows: I don’t mind being kicked out of that imprinting if the player has juice and poetry.

I’m quite certain that you’re right about Narvaez response were guwrdame around today: