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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  • 1
    @PiedPiper maybe? and "E" over a pair of D notes seems odd, as does a "D" over an A and E note pair. Jun 10 '20 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. Jun 10 '20 at 12:46
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    Any chance they indicate organ stops? I don't know what organ music indicators look like Jun 10 '20 at 18:35
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    Very interesting. I couldn’t find any source about this notation. Jun 11 '20 at 14:52

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


  • 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 '20 at 4:09
  • 2
    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 '20 at 7:31

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