Who was the first to change key?

How many times have we heard a key change in a song – that extra lift before the final chorus? Or we’re trying to sing a song and it seems too high or low for us. So we shift the key perhaps moving the capo on the guitar or pressing the TRANSPOSE button on the keyboard. Yet who was the first person to to realise we could move everything up or down one fret at a time? It may well have been the blind visonary Gorzanis in 1567 who made lute improvisations on popular dances, one in the minor and one in the major, shifting up one fret at a time. In that era each popular dance had its own chord sequence which the musicians jammed on, like todays rock and jazz musicians. The dancers recognised the chord sequence of each dance. So far there is no recording of these pieces so I asked a luteneist well aquainted with Gorzanis’ work, Michele Carreca, to record them. With support from the National Early Music Association his beautiful rendition is now available on a CD which can be ordered online by clicking on the link below.

Here’s Michele. We were also planning to do a concert with dancers Ilaria Sainato and Bepi Santuzzo in St Cecilia’s Hall at the Edinburgh Festival 2020 as: Gorzanis’ Lute Dances on Every Fret 1567 but corona closed down the festival. We hope to reschedule the concert when live concets and travel become easier.

There is more background to Gorzanis Dances on Every Fret on the music theory page.

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