According to Peter Ward Jones in his article for Grove Music Online William Bates was active between 1750 and 1780 and "wrote much music for the theatres and pleasure gardens of London" during that period. The set of 18 duettinos presented here are minor works by any standard, yet they have their charms. The fact that they are presented as suitable for the Guittar, French Horn and Clarinett indicates that Mr. Bates was an enterprising gentleman indeed.
The "guittar" is listed first on the title page and is most certainly the instrument that is often called a cittern, gittern or "English guitar" today. I would argue that all of the pieces composed for the "guittar" in the 18th century are fair game for the modern mandolin, especially duets like these and those of James Oswald which have only single notes in each part. Although the tuning of the older instrument is not in fifths (or even fourths) it was strung with wire and is closely related to the bandurria still played today in Spain and the Portuguese guitar still in use in modern Portugal. As is common with 18th century music for this instrument, all of Bates' duettinos are in the key of C major, they all share the same modest range and are full of passages of parallel thirds.
I have first transcribed these pieces as they appear in their original publication, "printed for J. Longman & Co. at the Harp & Crown No. 20, Cheapside", and I present them both in PDF format and as Scorch sheet music. I have also transposed the entire collection down to the key of G major for possible performance on the modern mandolin. Of course the pieces are perfectly playable on the mandolin in the key of C but I prefer the lower range. I also feel that this is more in keeping with the composer's apparent intention to make these pieces easy and convivial. Possibly the ideal modern instrument for this music would be a CGDA mandola or an octave mandola capoed at the fifth fret. Using the original music in C major I believe this would put the player and his/her instrument close to the sound world envisioned by the composer in London so long ago.
As this music is over two hundred years old it is currently in the Public Domain. The current "copyright Everything, Forever" madness has yet to extend back to the 18th century. Feel free to copy and make use of these pieces as you see fit.
John Goodin, July, 2006
Created on ... July 19, 2006 : last updated on November 26, 2013