Tomás de Santa María

Tomás de Santa María

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Fr. Tomás de Santa María O.P. (also Tomás de Sancta Maria) (ca. 1510 – 1570) was a Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 music theorist, organist and composer of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

. He was born in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 but the date is highly uncertain; he died in Ribadavia
Ribadavia
The town of Ribadavia is located in the southwest of the province of Ourense, Autonomous Community of Galicia, Spain. The urban area lies on the right bank of the Miño and the last course of the Avia. It is considered to be the capital of the comarca of the Ribeiro...

. Little is known about his life except that he joined the Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 order of friars in 1536, he was employed as an organist in various locales in mid-century, and he published his major work, Arte de tañer fantasía, in Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

 in 1565.

This book is a comprehensive work on keyboard technique of the time. Its principal aim is to teach how to improvise in a fugal
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 style, but to get to that point, difficult to the most accomplished musicians of any age, he includes detailed treatments of the rudiments of music, the eight church modes, ornaments, touch, articulation, fingering, and counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

, including a categorization of four-note chords, rather similar to what Pietro Aron
Pietro Aron
Pietro Aron, also known as Pietro Aaron , was an Italian music theorist and composer. He was born in Florence and probably died in Bergamo .-Biography:...

 had written several decades before in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (which work he may have used as a source). The classification of chords is especially significant for this is the period in music history during which composers began to think in terms of harmonic progression as a generative mechanism rather than purely the happenstance of intersecting, independent melodic lines. Santa María's book also gives instruction for creating music using the paired imitation
Imitation (music)
In music, imitation is when a melody in a polyphonic texture is repeated shortly after its first appearance in a different voice, usually at a different pitch. The melody may vary through transposition, inversion, or otherwise, but retain its original character...

 technique of Josquin des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, who he clearly held to be the master of the style.

Santa María's writings were influential both inside of Spain and throughout the rest of Europe, as can be seen by the numerous early Baroque music
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 theorists (for example Dámaso Artufel and Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone
Pietro Cerone was an Italian music theorist, singer and priest of the late Renaissance. He is most famous for an enormous music treatise he wrote in 1613, which is useful in the studying compositional practices of the 16th century.-Life:...

) who plagiarized him. The preface to the 1565 edition mentions that the influential clavichord
Clavichord
The clavichord is a European stringed keyboard instrument known from the late Medieval, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. Historically, it was widely used as a practice instrument and as an aid to composition, not being loud enough for larger performances. The clavichord produces...

ist and organist Antonio de Cabezón
Antonio de Cabezón
Antonio de Cabezón was a Spanish Renaissance composer and organist. Blind from childhood, he quickly rose to prominence as performer and was eventually employed by the royal family...

(and his brother Juan de Cabezón) examined the treatise and approved it.

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