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16th-Century Keyboard Tablature as Performance Notation

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As a harpsichordist and HIP performer, I was so fascinated with 16th-century keyboard tablature notation on my first encounter some years ago. Since then, I have been inspired to explore playing from original notation as part of my HIP training. This research is a big part of this artistic endeavor, addressing 16th-century keyboard tablature notation from Spanish and German sources and finding answers for what it is, why it was invented, why it is not in practice today, and how one may bring it back to practice. At the beginning stages of this exploration, I noticed that keyboard tablature was not really in practice as performance notation in the current HIP dialogue. I wanted to investigate why and, through this thesis, present it as a relevant, stimulating topic. This research presents historical and theoretical analysis of this notation and the results of an extensive systematic experiment-survey I devised and conducted with 32 non-musicians and musicians of all levels. Personally, the contents of this thesis have greatly deepened my understanding of historical performance of keyboard music in the 16th century and enriched my experience as an Early Music performer.

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