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Alfabeto Falso: When the letters hide something, a concert by Simone Vallerotonda & I Bassifondi



Alfabeto Falso: When the letters hide something, a concert by Simone Vallerotonda & I Bassifondi

The Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, DC, in collaboration with CIDIM (Comitato Nazionale Italiano Musica) and the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, invites you to a special concert by Simone Vallerotonda & I Bassifondi mirroring a typical instrumental session in 17th-century Italy, featuring some of the most representative works of that period performed in the same spirit of sharing and improvisation – a peculiar trait of the ancient way of making music together.

The treatise Nuova inventione d’intavolatura, per sonare li balletti sopra la chitarra spagniuola (“A newly invented tablature for playing balletti on the Spanish guitar”), published in 1606 by Girolamo Montesardo, radically revolutionized the way to write and perform guitar music. For the first time, an extremely practical guitar notation was proposed: the alphabet. It consisted in the correspondence between any chord, whether major or minor, and a letter. This simplified way of writing finally enabled any amateur or professional musician who owned a guitar to play a dance or accompany a voice, by performing the "letters" written on a single stave with superimposed rhythmic information.

The proliferation of works printed in alphabetical notation, including favourite tunes, ground basses, dances, was soon enormous. This "language" – conveying a precious and varied technique of rasgueado (aka “picco e repicco”, or quick strumming) capable of realizing any kind of rhythm – was a distinguishing feature for guitarists. Next to the ordinary alphabet, they used to employ a complementary alter ego of sorts: the false alphabet. It included the same chords as the former, but “dirtied” with extraneous and crushed notes (acciaccaturas).

The idea of using chords as harmonic color was therefore, for the first time, put into practice by Italian guitarists of the early 17th century, who made it their peculiar and unique element.


Embassy of Italy 
3000 Whitehaven Street NW 
Washington, DC 20008 




Alfabeto falso

Quando le lettere nascondono qualcosa


Gabriele Miracle - Percussions

Mirko Arnone - Bass Colascione

Simone Vallerotonda – Theorbo, Guitars and Conductor


Giovanni Paolo Foscarini (1600-1647)
Li cinque libri della chitarra alla spagnola , Roma, 1640
Gagliarda Francese
Aria di Firenze per la A e C
Passacaglio passeggiato sopra la O
Hieronimus Kapsberger (1580-1651)
Libro IV d’intavolatura di chitarone, Roma, 1640
Toccata arpeggiata
Corrente VII
Antonio Carbonchi (XVII sec.)
Le dodici chitarra spostate, Firenze 1642
Calata per ballare
Ferdinando Valdambrini romano (XVII sec.)
Libro I & II di chitarra, Roma 1646
Angelo Michele Bartolotti (circa 1682)
Secondo libro di chitarra, Roma 1655
Passacaglia per la D
Francesco Corbetta (1615-1681)
Varii capriccii per la ghittarra spagnuola, Milano 1643
Passacaglia per la X
Alessandro Piccinini (1566-1638)
Intavolatura di Chitarrone libro II, Bologna 1639
Toccata cromatica
Partite sopra l’aria francese
Santiago de Murcia (1673-1739)
Codex Saldìvar, Città del Messico, 1732
Folias gallegas
Zarambeque y muecas




Simone Vallerotonda & I Bassifondi

Led by Simone Vallerotonda, “I Bassifondi” is a period ensemble performing music for lute, archlute, theorbo and baroque guitar with  basso continuo.

Most of the 17th-18th-century music for lute, guitar, theorbo and archlute was conceived and written for ensembles composed of different instruments. Authors such as Kapsberger, Corbetta, Piccinini, de Visée, Granata, Weiss and many others either composed their solo pieces with an added continuo accompaniment or arranged them from the original tablatures into regular multi-part scores. Moreover, in some more explicit instances they wrote directly for an ensemble of lutes, or for lute and sundry instruments. Several period chronicles witness on how such multi-instrumental music used to be performed. Guitarists were typically accompanied by theorboes, colasciones, lutes – and vice versa.

Relying on written testimonies as well as on musical and iconographic sources, “I Bassifondi” aims at rediscovering and offering the audience that repertoire in a chamber format.

Born in Rome in 1983, Simone Vallerotonda started studying the classical guitar vert early. At age 18, he bought a lute without any idea on how to play it. Then he had lute tuition from Andrea Damiani at the "Santa Cecilia" Conservatory in Rome, where he graduated with the highest marks. He subsequently obtained a Master's Degree in theorbo and Baroque Guitar at the "Staatliche Hochschule für Musik" in Trossingen (Germany) under the guidance of Rolf Lislevand.

During his career, Simone performed in theatres and concert venues in the USA, Australia, South America, Far East, Europe, such as: New York's Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Conservatorium, Teatro de la Ciudad in Mexico City, Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile, the Singapore Lyric Opera, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, London’s Wigmore Hall, Theater an der Wien, Theatre de Champs Élysées in Paris, Opor to’s Casa da Música, the Liszt Academy of Budapest, the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome.

In 2014 he founded "I Bassifondi", his own ensemble offering a 17th-18th century repertoire for guitar, theorbo and lute with continuo.



Data: Ven 15 Dic 2017

Orario: Dalle 18:00 alle 19:30

Organizzato da : Italian Cultural Institute

Ingresso : Libero


Embassy of Italy