Early Iberian Music and Sephardic Songs  /  Nelly van Ree Bernard

psalteries, clavichords & recitation

NvRB-54A.CD  |  Eurosound ES 47.166 CD



1. Tetrachord
3 variations on RE FA SOL LA   [3:15]   Nelly van Ree Bernard, 1983

2. Canon entero
a. De grant travail et de petit esploit   [2:22]  canción a la Virgen  |  TEOBALDO I de Navarra, 13th c.
b. Quen a Virgen ben servira   [4:35]   cantiga de Santa Maria No 103  |  ALFONSO el SABIO, 1221-1284   CSM  103

3. Medio canon   [7:58]
a. In sapiencia disponens omnia — Prosa XIII  |  Codex Huelgas, 13th c.   Hu  62
b. Soltar pode muit' agynna — cantiga de Santa Maria No 176  |  ALFONSO el SABIO, 1221-1284   CSM  176

4. Citara
a. Santa Maria amar devemos   [3:46]   cantiga de Santa Maria No 7  |  ALFONSO el SABIO, 1221-1284   CSM  7
b. Una pastora yo amí   [3:20]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic song
c. Por qué llorax blanca niña   [3:48]  Anonymous  |  Sephardic song

5. Ala entera
a. Ay ondas que eu vin veer   [2:00]   cantiga de Amigo No 7  |  Martin CODAX, 13th c.   ca  VII
b. Mia yrmana fremosa   [2:55]   cantiga de Amigo No 3  |  Martin CODAX, 13th c.   ca  III

6. Semichromatic octochord
Els quintos quan se'n anaren   [1:55]   Anonymous  |  folk song from Alicante

7. Salterio 'Minguet'
Entrad pastores entrad   [3:51]   Anonymous  |  folk song from Alicante

8. Chromatic psaltery
a. Mi vino tan querido   [0:25]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic poem
b. No vo comer ni vo beber   [1:05]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic song
c. La rosa enflorece   [2:48]  Anonymous  |  Sephardic song
d. Mi suegra la negra   [3:12]  Anonymous  |  Sephardic song


9. Keyed Monochord
a. Paxarico sos mi alma   [0:42]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic poem
b. Una ramica de ruda   [3:42]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic song
c. Por una caza chica   [3:44]   Anonymous  |  Sephardic song

10. Tangent tetrachord
a. Ma mare me dona quertos   [2:23]   Anonymous  |  early romance   [+ instr. No 0]
b. Albuquerque, Albuquerque   [2:42]   Anonymous  |  early romance

11. Monachordio 'Bermudo'
a. Pues que ya nunca nos veis   [0:25]   Juan del ENSINA, 1468-1529  |  four-part villancico
b. No puedo apartarme de los amores, madre   [0:25]   Juan VASQUEZ, 1560  |   four-part villancico
c. Conde Claros   [0:25]  Anonymous, 1557  |  four-part romance

Nelly van Ree Bernard
psalteries, clavichords & recitation
with improvisations and variations
instrument designs and musical arrangements

Recording engineers: Ernest Scheerder, Taco van der Werf,
EUROSOUND STUDIO'S, Herveld - Holland
Cover photos: Max van de Poll
Layout [Atari: Calamus]: Nelly van Ree Bernard
Edition Muziekcentrum 'HET DUINTJE'

℗ © 1995 Nelly van Ree Bernard

Nelly van Ree Bernard was born in the Netherlands in 1923 and grew up in Spain, where she gained her piano diploma at Academia Marshall in 1945 [Barcelona]. She finished her studies in Interior Design in 1949 [Amsterdam]. She studied harpsichord with Jaap Spigt [Amsterdam] from 1960 onwards and spent a year [1968/69] in India studying Hindustani music with Dr Premlata Sharma [Varanasi]. After her return from India she gradually changed from harpsichord to clavichord and she began to concentrate on 16th century Spanish music, greatly helped by Dr Santiago Kastner [Lisbon]. She formed the vocal-instrumental ensemble MUSICA IBERICA and began to re-design 'lost' early instruments [various types of psaltery and very early clavichords], which were built after her working drawings by different instrument-makers in Germany and Holland. She reconstructed the playing methods of the 'reborn' instruments, recording the different aspects in publications and on LPs, cassettes and CDs. She has been giving lectures and courses on Early Iberian and Hindustani music at different Universities and Conservatories in the Netherlands and abroad. Since 1966 she has been organizing concerts, lectures, courses, exhibitions and demonstrations of instruments, at her music centre 'HET DUINTJE' [Bennebroek, Holland], where about 70 European and non-European instruments, including her own reconstructions [three clavichords and eight psalteries], were permanently on show for visitors until 1993. From 1986 to 1993 she has been a board member of HET NEDERLANDS CLAVICHORD GENOOTSCHAP [The Dutch Clavichord Society, founded in 1986]. Besides in Holland, Nelly van Ree Bernard has presented musical activities in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States of America.

The songs recorded on this compact disc belong to the Sephardic repertoire of the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain by the Inquisition in 1492. They settled mostly as communities in countries around the Mediterranean, such as Morocco, Turkey and Greece, or emigrated to Portugal from where they had to flee again some years later, in 1497. Many of them then went into exile in Amsterdam. The Sefardim maintained Old Castilian as their language for a very long time, the pronunciation of which is slightly different from present-day Spanish. The melodies and the texts were influenced by the music and languages of the various host-countries, so that certain songs are now preserved in different versions.


• Anglès, H., La Música de las Cantigas de Santa María del Rey Alfonso el Sabio, II, Transcripción Musical, Diputación Provincial de Barcelona, Biblioteca Central, Barcelona, 1943 [Nos 2b, 3b, 4a].
• Anglès, H., Juan Vasquez, Recopilación de Sonetos y Villancicos a quatro y a cinco, Sevilla, 1560, MME IV, CSIC, Barcelona, 1946 [No 11b].
• Anglès, H., La Música en la Corte de los Reyes Católicos, III, Polifonía Profana, Cancionero Musical de Palacio, s. XV-XVI, MME X, vol. 2, CSIC, Barcelona, 1951 [No 11a].
• Anglès, H., La Música de las Cantigas de Santa María del Rey Alfonso el Sabio, III, 2a parte, Diputación Provincial de Barcelona, Biblioteca Central, Barcelona, 1958 [sección I: Nos 10a, b; sección II: No 3a; sección IV: Nos 5a, b].
• Anglès, H., La Música en la Corte de Carlos V, con la transcripción del Libro de Cifra Nueva para Tecla, Harpa y Vihuela de Luys Venegas de Henestrosa, Alcalá de Henares, 1557, MME II, vol. II: Música, CSIC, Barcelona, 1965 [No 11c].
• Anglès, H., Historia de la Música Medieval de Navarra [obra póstuma], Excma Diputación Foral de Navarra, Ed. Aranzadi, Pamplona, 1970 [No 2a].
• Levy, I., Chants Judéo-Espagnols, World Sephardic Federation, 67/68, Hatton Garden, London Ed, 1959 [No 8a].
• Milner, Ch. & P. Storm, Sefardische Liederen en Balladen - Romanzas, Ed. Albersen & Co by, Den Haag, 1974 [Nos 4b, c, 8b, c, d, 9a, b, c].
• Seguí, S., Cancionero Musical de la Provincia de Alicante, Excma Diputación Provincial de Alicante, 1973 [Nos 6, 7].

For more information about the instruments and playing methods see by the author of this publication:
• THE PSALTERY - An annotated audio-visual review of different types of psaltery, NvRB-47, Frits Knuf Publishers, Buren - The Netherlands, 1989. With music cassette. ISBN 90-6027-610-8 [cloth], ISBN 90-6027-609-4 [wrappers].
• SEVEN STEPS IN CLAVICHORD DEVELOPMENT between 1400 & 1800 - An annotated audio-visual review, Frits Knuf Publishers, Buren - The Netherlands, 1987. With music cassette. ISBN 90-6027-520-9.
• THE KEYED MONOCHORD - rediscovery of a forgotten instrument - a hypothetical reconstruction - with musical examples, NvRB-62, ISBN 90-73018-45-5. With compact disc: REDISCOVERY OF THE KEYED MONOCHORD, Medieval Melodies and Sephardic Songs, NvRB-62 CD, ES 47.094 CD. Edition Muziekcentrum 'Het Duintje', Binnenweg 6, F-209, 2121 GX Bennebroek - The Netherlands.


This recording is a compilation of a series of musical examples played on psalteries and clavichords which I reconstructed between 1975 and 1986. For the redisigns I made use of data from early manuscripts, including miniatures, drawings and texts.

The instruments were built after my working drawings in the workshops of:

Fred Bettenhaussen: Nos 1, 6, 8
Martin Sassmann : Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10
Koen Vermeij    : Nos 9, 11

The instrument types which we might assume to have been in use on the Iberian Peninsula are the canon entero [2], the medio canon [3], the citara [4], the ala entera [5], the salterio 'Minguet' [7] and the monachordio 'Bermudo' [11]. The tetrachord [1], the semichromatic octochord [6] and the tangent tetrachord [10] represent types in use in different parts of Europe. The keyed monochord [9] is meant to represent the most primitive form of the clavichord. The chromatic psaltery [8] is a fancy instrument designed for interpretation of folkloric music of different cultures.

Medieval instruments:

tetrachord [11th-15th c.]
canon entero, medio canon & citara [13th c.]
ala entera [13th/14th c.]
keyed monochord [14th/15th c.]
tangent tetrachord [15th c.]

Instruments of later periods:

monachordio 'Bermudo' [16th c.]
semichromatic octochord [16th/17th c.] salterio 'Minguet' [18th c.]
chromatic psaltery [20th c.]