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Consider following score of Monteverdi's Sì dolce è 'l tormento for soprano and continuo (SV 332) from IMSLP. What is the meaning of the capital letters above the soprano part? They do not seem to correspond to chord names.

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    @PiedPiper maybe? and "E" over a pair of D notes seems odd, as does a "D" over an A and E note pair. – Carl Witthoft Jun 10 at 12:45
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    @ PiedPiper: it can't be this. a) what chords? b) later in the sheet there are O and other letters. – Albrecht Hügli Jun 10 at 12:46
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    Any chance they indicate organ stops? I don't know what organ music indicators look like – Carl Witthoft Jun 10 at 18:35
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    Very interesting. I couldn’t find any source about this notation. – Albrecht Hügli Jun 11 at 14:52
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+50

The letters correspond to particular tablature of the 5-sting guitar popular at the time. Here's one tablature translation from: http://www.patriciadixon.net/guitar-lit-html/italianbaroque.htm

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  • Now that you've identified the answer perhaps you should delete all of the earlier speculation or at least relegate it to a footnote. Also, if the letters are editorial, they are the work of a 17th century editor, as you can see by looking at the first link in the IMSLP page. – phoog Jun 15 at 4:09
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    It's also worth noting that the 5-string guitar would have been tuned E-B-G-D-A like the top five strings of the modern guitar, and the diagram is inverted compared to modern tablature notation. – PiedPiper Jun 15 at 7:31

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