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Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz

Luz y norte (1677)

Spanish, South American, Italian & African dances

6 performers:
Spanish baroque harp, guitars, voice,
viola da gamba, percussion, dance




A Lantern and Guiding Star, by which one may travel through the music of the Spanish Guitar & Harp.

Ribayaz's collection of Spanish, Italian, South American and African dance-music evokes the spirit of an age of exploration. His book records the standard repertoire of a 17th-century Spanish dance-band, from popular bailes and military tournaments to elegant courtly danzas

As singer Clara Sanabras and the instrumentalists of The Harp Consort improvise their ornamented melodies - diferencias -  to the Latin rhythms and African harmonies of Spanish 17th-century dances, so dancer Steven Player improvises his mudanzas (moves) from the choreographies of 17th-century dance-manuals.

The most remarkable concert of 17th-century music I have ever heard!
The audience too were wildly excited;
after the concert, the ensemble’s CDs
were bought up by the box-load.

Helsingor Dagblad, Copenhagen

(Luz y Norte)
(Luz y Norte)

Recorded in 1994, Luz y norte became an international cult hit  and re-defined the sound-world of Hispanic baroque music. In concert, Andrew and The Harp Consort have improvised their way around the world from the Wigmore Hall, London; Berlin Philharmonic & Spanish National Auditorium to Casals Hall, Tokyo; Sydney Opera House; Mexico’s Palacio de Bellas Artes and Lincoln Centre, New York.


We’ve explained to countless radio producers that the sound of dancing feet is part of Ribayaz’s music, and the show has been televised in Japan and Scandinavia.   

Andrew Lawrence-King comments:

When I formed The Harp Consort in 1994, Luz y norte was one of our first projects. Back then, some musicologists and other performers were sceptical: could such a thrilling sound really be historically authentic?  But the key ingredients of the Luz y norte sound have now come to be accepted as the standard recipe for Hispanic baroque music:

Rasgueado: strummed (not plucked) baroque guitar. Steven Player led the way back in 1994, linking strummed rhythms to dance-steps. And now Xavier Diaz Latorre has beautifully integrated strumming and plucked punteado on his solo recordings, as well as in his appearances as continuo player for Jordi Savall and with The Harp Consort.  
Guitarras: Multiple guitars in different tunings. The renaissance concept of a consort of guitars at different pitches, preserved to the present day as a feature of Central and South American folk traditions, is obvious, once you think of it. Pat O'Brien thought of it first for The Harp Consort, and many other groups have now followed on, notably Mexico's Tembembe ensemble, with their consort of baroque/traditional central American instruments.   
Pasacalles: Not only variations on those particular harmonies, but the whole concept of improvised introductions and/or refrains. Ribayaz's book not only gives sample diferencias, but encourages musicians to improvise their own, spontaneous variations.
Ayre: the characteristic groove of Hispanic baroque music, carefully explained by Ribayaz, with Good notes on the first and second beats of triple time. Often the second beat is more important than the first. All the improvised variations - melodic diferencias, strummed repicos, danced mudanzas - fit within the same underlying groove. Percussionists, guitarists, singers, dancers and harpists all 'speak the same language'.
Luz y norte: Ribayaz's beautiful title characterises his book as a 'Light and a North-star' to guide you through what was back in 1994 the terra incognita of Hispanic baroque performance practice. It's not just a book of cool tunes, nor even just a blue-print for stylish improvisations. Maurice Esses’ book on Spanish dance-types and Louise Stein's work on Hispanic baroque music-drama define the wider cultural context.
The sound of Luz y norte is linked in a complex web of connections and citations to the movements  of dance; to the drama of renaissance theatre and baroque opera; to the powerful sensuality underlying each dance-type; to the interplay of high art and popular styles, sacred and secular; to Spain's historical contact with Jews and Moors and on-going exploration in South America:, northwards to Europe and southwards to Africa; to the glorious literary and musical heritage of the siglo de oro: indeed to every possible aspect of 17th-century Hispanic culture. 
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