Last updated

Tiento (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈtjento] , Portuguese : Tento [ˈtẽtu] ) is a musical genre originating in Spain in the mid-15th century. It is formally analogous to the fantasia (fantasy), found in England, Germany, and the Low Countries, and also the ricercare, first found in Italy. By the end of the 16th century the tiento was exclusively a keyboard form, especially of organ music. It continued to be the predominant form in the Spanish organ tradition through the time of Cabanilles, and developed many variants. Additionally, many 20th-century composers have written works entitled "tiento".



The word derives from the Spanish verb tentar (meaning either to touch, to tempt or to attempt), and was originally applied to music for various instruments. In the early eighteenth century, some composers also used the term obra, originally a more general term meaning "work", to refer to this genre. [1]

Formal aspects

The tiento is formally extraordinarily diverse, more a set of guidelines than a rigid structural model such as fugue or rondo. Nearly all tientos are imitative to some degree, though not as complex or developed as the fugue. This has led to their being associated with the other embryonic imitative forms cited above. Similarly, it is difficult to assign a single texture to the form, since it underwent a considerable amount of evolution from its inception to its decline in the late 18th century. The earliest tientos (such as those of Cabezón) were stylistically quite close to the ricercare in their extended use of the strict, motet-style counterpoint. Later (especially in the works of Cabanilles), tientos would frequently alternate between the older style of strict counterpoint, and virtuosic, affective figuration typical of the toccata and some fantasias. The evolution of the form was in part conditioned by the evolution of the Spanish organ, and it eventually came to include several variants or sub-forms, several of which are listed below:


Contemporary composers


  1. Root, Deane L., ed. (2001). "obra". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Oxford University Press.[ full citation needed ]
  2. https://imslp.org/wiki/3_Tientos_(Ferrari%2C_Carlotta)

Related Research Articles

Fugue Contrapuntal musical form based on a subject that recurs in imitation

In music, a fugue is a contrapuntal compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and which recurs frequently in the course of the composition. It is not to be confused with a fuguing tune, which is a style of song popularized by and mostly limited to early American music and West Gallery music. A fugue usually has three main sections: an exposition, a development and a final entry that contains the return of the subject in the fugue's tonic key. Some fugues have a recapitulation.

Antonio de Cabezón Spanish composer and organist

Antonio de Cabezón was a Spanish Renaissance composer and organist. Blind from childhood, he quickly rose to prominence as a performer and was eventually employed by the royal family. He was among the most important composers of his time and the first major Iberian keyboard composer.

A fantasia is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, the fantasia, like the impromptu, seldom follows the textbook rules of any strict musical form.

Johann Caspar Kerll German composer and organist

Johann Caspar Kerll was a German baroque composer and organist. He is also known as Kerl, Gherl, Giovanni Gasparo Cherll and Gaspard Kerle.

The year 1695 in music involved some significant events.

Manuel Rodrigues Coelho was a Portuguese organist and composer. He is the first important Iberian keyboard composer since Cabezón.

Juan Bautista José Cabanilles was a Spanish organist and composer at Valencia Cathedral. He is considered by many to have been the greatest Spanish Baroque composer, and has been called the Spanish Bach.

Girolamo (Hieronimo) Cavazzoni was an Italian organist and composer, son of Marco Antonio Cavazzoni. Little is known about his life except that he worked at Venice and Mantua, and published two collections of organ music. These collections only contain music written before about 1549, but are of high quality, and established the traditional form of imitative ricercars and canzonas.

Pablo Bruna was a Spanish composer and organist notable for his blindness, which resulted in his being known as "El ciego de Daroca". It is not known how Bruna received his musical training, but in 1631 he was appointed organist of the collegiate church of St. María in his hometown of Daroca, later rising to choirmaster in 1674. He remained there until his death in 1679.

Sebastian Aguilera de Heredia was a Spanish monk, musician and composer.

Musica ricercata is a set of eleven pieces for piano by György Ligeti. The work was composed from 1951 to 1953, shortly after the composer began lecturing at the Budapest Academy of Music. The work premiered on 18 November 1969 in Sundsvall, Sweden. Although the ricercata is an established contrapuntal style, Ligeti's title should probably be interpreted literally as "researched music" or "sought music". This work captures the essence of Ligeti's search to construct his own compositional style ex nihilo, and as such presages many of the more radical directions Ligeti would take in the future.

Fiori musicali collection of organ music by Girolamo Frescobaldi

Fiori musicali is a collection of liturgical organ music by Girolamo Frescobaldi, first published in 1635. It contains three organ masses and two secular capriccios. Generally acknowledged as one of Frescobaldi's best works, Fiori musicali influenced composers during at least two centuries. Johann Sebastian Bach was among its admirers, and parts of it were included in the celebrated Gradus ad parnassum, a highly influential 1725 treatise by Johann Joseph Fux which was in use even in the 19th century.

Francisco Correa de Arauxo Spanish organist and composer (1584–1654)

Francisco Correa de Araujo (1584–1654) was a Spanish organist, composer, and theorist of the late Renaissance.

In music a voluntary is a piece of music, usually for an organ, that is played as part of a church service. In English-speaking countries, the music played before and after the service is often called a 'voluntary', whether or not it is titled so.

The following is a chronological list of classical music composers who have lived in, worked in, or been citizens of Spain.

Antonio Martín y Coll was a Spanish Franciscan, composer and musician.

Montserrat Torrent i Serra is a Spanish organist.


A Partimento is a sketch, written out on a single staff, whose main purpose is to be a guide for the improvisation ("realization") of a composition at the keyboard. Partimento differs from simple basso continuo accompaniment in that the result is a complete, fully-realized composition. Partimenti were central to the training of European court musicians from the late 1600s until the early 1800s. They had their greatest influence first in Italian conservatories, especially at the music conservatories of Naples, and then later at the Paris Conservatory, which emulated the Neapolitan conservatories.

Francis Chapelet the son of painter Roger Chapelet, is a French classical organist.