Lute

Lute

Overview
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck
Neck (music)
The neck is the part of certain string instruments that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings at different pitches. Guitars, lutes, the violin family, and the mandolin family are examples of instruments which have necks.The...

 (either fret
Fret
A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck. On most modern western instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard...

ted or unfretted) and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes.

The European lute and the modern Near-Eastern oud
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

 both descend from a common ancestor via diverging evolutionary paths. The lute is used in a great variety of instrumental music from the Medieval to the late Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 eras and was probably the most important instrument for secular music in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.
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Encyclopedia
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck
Neck (music)
The neck is the part of certain string instruments that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings at different pitches. Guitars, lutes, the violin family, and the mandolin family are examples of instruments which have necks.The...

 (either fret
Fret
A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck. On most modern western instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard...

ted or unfretted) and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes.

The European lute and the modern Near-Eastern oud
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

 both descend from a common ancestor via diverging evolutionary paths. The lute is used in a great variety of instrumental music from the Medieval to the late Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 eras and was probably the most important instrument for secular music in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. It is also an accompanying instrument, especially in vocal works, often realizing a basso continuo or playing a written-out accompaniment.

The player of a lute is called a lutenist, lutanist or lutist, and a maker of lutes (or any string instrument) is referred to as a luthier
Luthier
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments. In the United States, the term is used interchangeably with a term for the specialty of each maker, such as violinmaker, guitar maker, lute maker, etc...

.

Etymology


The words "lute" and "oud" derive from Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 al‘ud (العود; literally "the wood"). Recent research by Eckhard Neubauer suggests ‘ud may in turn be an Arabized version of the Persian name rud, which meant "string", "stringed instrument", or "lute". It has equally been suggested the "wood" in the name may have distinguished the instrument by its wooden soundboard from skin-faced predecessors. Gianfranco Lotti suggests the "wood" appellation originally carried derogatory connotations because of proscriptions of all instrumental music in early Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

.

Soundboard


Lutes are made almost entirely of wood. The soundboard is a teardrop-shaped thin flat plate of resonant wood (typically spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

). In all lutes the soundboard has a single (sometimes triple) decorated sound hole under the strings called the rose. The sound hole is not open, but rather covered with a grille in the form of an intertwining vine or a decorative knot, carved directly out of the wood of the soundboard.

Back


The back or the shell is assembled from thin strips of hardwood (maple, cherry, ebony, rosewood, gran, wood and/or other tonewoods) called ribs, joined (with glue) edge to edge to form a deep rounded body for the instrument. There are braces inside on the soundboard to give it strength; see the photo among the external links below.

Neck



The neck
Neck (music)
The neck is the part of certain string instruments that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings at different pitches. Guitars, lutes, the violin family, and the mandolin family are examples of instruments which have necks.The...

 is made of light wood, with a veneer of hardwood (usually ebony) to provide durability for the fretboard beneath the strings. Unlike most modern stringed instruments, the lute's fretboard is mounted flush with the top. The pegbox
Pegbox
A pegbox is the part of certain stringed musical instruments that houses the tuning pegs....

 for lutes before the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 era was angled back from the neck at almost 90° (see image), presumably to help hold the low-tension strings firmly against the nut, which is not traditionally glued in place, but is held in place by string pressure only. The tuning peg
Tuning peg
A tuning peg is used to hold a string in the pegbox of a stringed instrument. It may be made of ebony, rosewood, boxwood or other material. Some tuning pegs are ornamented with shell, metal, or plastic inlays, beads or rings....

s are simple pegs of hardwood, somewhat tapered, that are held in place by friction in holes drilled through the pegbox. As with other instruments using friction pegs, the choice of wood used to make pegs is crucial. As the wood suffers dimensional changes through age and loss of humidity, it must as closely as possible retain a circular cross-section in order to function properly, as there are no gears or other mechanical aids for tuning
Musical tuning
In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:* Tuning practice, the act of tuning an instrument or voice.* Tuning systems, the various systems of pitches used to tune an instrument, and their theoretical bases.-Tuning practice:...

 the instrument. Often pegs were made from suitable fruitwoods such as European pearwood, or equally dimensionally stable analogues. Matheson, ca 1720, stated "if a lute-player has lived eighty years, he has surely spent sixty years tuning."

Belly


The geometry of the lute belly is relatively complex, involving a system of barring in which braces are placed perpendicular to the strings at specific lengths along the overall length of the belly, the ends of which are angled quite precisely to abut the ribs on either side for structural reasons. Robert Lundberg, in his book "Historical Lute Construction", suggests ancient builders placed bars according to whole-number ratios of the scale length and belly length. He further suggests the inward bend of the soundboard (the "belly scoop") is a deliberate adaptation by ancient builders to afford the lutenist's right hand more space between the strings and soundboard. The belly thickness is somewhat variable, but hovers between 1.5 and 2 millimeters in general. Some luthiers tune the belly as they build, removing mass and adapting bracing to ensure proper sonic results. The lute belly is almost never finished, but in some cases the luthier may size the top with a very thin coat of shellac
Shellac
Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes , which are dissolved in ethyl alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish...

 or glair in order to help keep it clean. The belly is joined directly to the rib, without a lining glued to the sides, and a cap and counter cap are glued to the inside and outside of the bottom end of the bowl to provide rigidity and increased gluing surface.

After joining the top to the sides, a half-binding is usually installed around the edge of the belly. The half-binding is approximately half the thickness of the belly and is usually made of a contrasting color wood. The rebate for the half-binding must be extremely precise to avoid compromising structural integrity.

Bridge


The bridge, sometimes made of a fruitwood, is attached to the soundboard typically at 1/5 to 1/7 the belly length. It does not have a separate saddle but has holes bored into it to which the strings attach directly. The bridge is made so that it tapers in height and length, with the small end holding the trebles and the higher and wider end carrying the basses. Bridges are often colored black with carbon black in a binder, often shellac and often have inscribed decoration. The scrolls or other decoration on the ends of lute bridges are integral to the bridge, and are not added afterwards as on some Renaissance guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s (cf Joachim Tielke
Joachim Tielke
Joachim Tielke was a German maker of musical instruments. He was born in Königsberg, Prussia, and died in Hamburg.A publication was dedicated to him by Günther Hellwig...

's guitars).

Frets


The fret
Fret
A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck. On most modern western instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard...

s are made of loops of gut
Gut (zoology)
In zoology, the gut, also known as the alimentary canal or alimentary tract, is a tube by which bilaterian animals transfer food to the digestion organs. In large bilaterians the gut generally also has an exit, the anus, by which the animal disposes of solid wastes...

 tied around the neck. They fray with use, and must be replaced from time to time. A few additional partial frets of wood are usually glued to the body of the instrument, to allow stopping the highest-pitched courses up to a full octave higher than the open string, though these are anachronistic and do not appear on original instruments. Given the choice between nylon and gut, many luthiers prefer to use gut, as it conforms more readily to the sharp angle at the edge of the fingerboard.

Strings


Strings were historically made of animal gut, usually from the small intestine of sheep (sometimes in combination with metal) and are still made of gut or a synthetic substitute, with metal windings on the lower-pitched strings. Modern manufacturers make both gut and nylon strings, and both are in common use. Gut is more authentic for playing period pieces, though unfortunately it is also more susceptible to irregularity and pitch instability due to changes in humidity. Nylon offers greater tuning stability, but is seen as anachronistic by purists, as its timbre differs from the sound of earlier gut strings. Such concerns are moot when more recent compositions for the lute are performed.

Of note are the "catlines" used as basses on historical instruments. Catlines are several gut strings wound together and soaked in heavy metal solutions which increase the mass of the strings. Catlines can be quite large in diameter by comparison with wound nylon strings for the same pitch. They produce a bass which differs somewhat in timbre from nylon basses.

The lute's strings are arranged in courses
Course (music)
A course is a pair or more of adjacent strings tuned to unison or an octave and usually played together as if a single string. It may also refer to a single string normally played on its own on an instrument with other multi-string courses, for example the bass string on a nine string baroque...

, of two strings each, though the highest-pitched course usually consists of only a single string, called the chanterelle. In later Baroque lutes two upper courses are single. The courses are numbered sequentially, counting from the highest pitched, so that the chanterelle is the first course, the next pair of strings is the second course, etc. Thus an 8-course Renaissance lute will usually have 15 strings, and a 13-course Baroque lute will have 24.

The courses are tuned in unison for high and intermediate pitches, but for lower pitches one of the two strings is tuned an octave higher. (The course at which this split starts changed over the history of the lute.) The two strings of a course are virtually always stopped and plucked together, as if a single string, but in extremely rare cases a piece calls for the two strings of a course to be stopped and/or plucked separately. The tuning of a lute is a somewhat complicated issue, and is described in a separate section of its own below. The result of the lute's design is an instrument extremely light for its size.

History and evolution of the lute



The origins of the lute are obscure, and organologists disagree about the very definition of a lute. The highly influential organologist Curt Sachs distinguished between the "long-necked lute" (Langhalslaute) and the short-necked variety: both referred to chordophones with a neck as distinguished from harps and psalteries. Smith and others argue the long-necked variety should not be called lute at all because it existed for at least a millennium before the appearance of the short-necked instrument that eventually evolved into what is now known as the lute. It also was never called a lute before the 20th century.

Source of our knowledge about these instruments is since the ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 Mantineia
Mantineia
Mantineia was a city in ancient Greece that was the site of two significant battles in Classical Greek history. It is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat...

 marble (4th century BC), now exhibited at National Archaeological Museum of Athens
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek...

, depicting the mythical contest between Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Marsyas
Marsyas
In Greek mythology, the satyr Marsyas is a central figure in two stories involving music: in one, he picked up the double flute that had been abandoned by Athena and played it; in the other, he challenged Apollo to a contest of music and lost his hide and life...

, where ancient Greek Pandura
Pandura
The pandura is an ancient Greek string instrument from the Mediterranean basin.It is derived from pandur, a Sumerian term for long-necked lutes...

 is being played by a muse seated on a rockdocumenting that lutes have been first present in ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, since the Akkadian era.

Various types of necked chordophones were in use in ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 (in the Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

), Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n, Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Armenian/Cilician cultures. The Lute developed its familiar forms as Barbat
Barbat (lute)
The barbat or barbud is a lute of ancient Persian origin. The Arabic Oud is derived from an ancient Persian barbat. Today's barbat, however, is essentially the same thing as today's oud: the instrument is often called the barbat when played in a Persian tradition, while called the oud when played...

 in Persia, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, and Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 beginning in the early 7th century. These instruments often had bodies covered with animal skin, and it is unknown exactly when it became replaced with a wooden soundboard.

As early as the 6th century, the Bulgars brought the short-necked variety of the instrument called Komuz
Komuz
The komuz or qomuz , Azeri Gopuz, Turkish Kopuz, is an ancient fretless string instrument used in Central Asian music, related to certain other Turkic string instruments and the lute....

 to the Balkans, and in the 9th century, Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 brought the Oud
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

 to Spain. The long-necked Pandura
Pandura
The pandura is an ancient Greek string instrument from the Mediterranean basin.It is derived from pandur, a Sumerian term for long-necked lutes...

 had previously been a quite common variety of the lute in the Mediterranean. The quitra did not become extinct, however, but continued its evolution. Besides the still surviving Kuitra of Algiers and Morocco, its descendants include the Chitarra Italiana
Chitarra Italiana
Chitarra Italiana is a lute-shaped plucked instrument with 4 or 5 single strings, in a tuning similar to that of guitar. It was common in Italy during the Renaissance Era....

, Chitarrone and Colascione.

In about the year 1500 many Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese lutenists adopted vihuela de mano, a viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

-shaped instrument tuned like the lute, but both instruments continued in coexistence. This instrument also found its way to parts of Italy that were under Spanish domination (especially Sicily and the papal states under the Borgia pope Alexander VI who brought many Catalan musicians to Italy), where it was known as the viola da mano.


Another important point of transfer of the lute from Arabian to European culture might have been in Sicily, where it was brought either by Byzantine or later by Saracen musicians. There were singer-lutenists at the court in Palermo following the Norman conquest of the island, and the lute is depicted extensively in the ceiling paintings in the Palermo’s royal Cappella Palatina, dedicated by the Norman King Roger II in 1140. By the 14th century, lutes had disseminated throughout Italy. Probably due to the cultural influence of the Hohenstaufen kings and emperor, based in Palermo, the lute had also made significant inroads into the German-speaking lands by the 14th century.

Medieval lutes were 4- or 5-course
Course (music)
A course is a pair or more of adjacent strings tuned to unison or an octave and usually played together as if a single string. It may also refer to a single string normally played on its own on an instrument with other multi-string courses, for example the bass string on a nine string baroque...

 instruments, plucked using a quill as a plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

. There were several sizes, and by the end of the Renaissance, seven different sizes (up to the great octave bass) are documented. Song accompaniment was probably the lute's primary function in the Middle Ages, but very little music securely attributable to the lute survives from the era before 1500. Medieval and early-Renaissance song accompaniments were probably mostly improvised, hence the lack of written records.

In the last few decades of the 15th century, in order to play Renaissance polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 on a single instrument, lutenists gradually abandoned the quill in favor of plucking the instrument with the fingertips. The number of courses grew to six and beyond. The lute was the premier solo instrument of the 16th century, but continued to be used to accompany singers as well.

By the end of the Renaissance the number of courses had grown to ten, and during the Baroque era the number continued to grow until it reached 14 (and occasionally as many as 19). These instruments, with up to 26-35 strings, required innovations in the structure of the lute. At the end of the lute's evolution the archlute
Archlute
The archlute is a European plucked string instrument developed around 1600 as a compromise between the very large theorbo, the size and re-entrant tuning of which made for difficulties in the performance of solo music, and the Renaissance tenor lute, which lacked the bass range of the theorbo...

, theorbo
Theorbo
A theorbo is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second pegboxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the French théorbe des pièces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angélique or angelica. The etymology of the name...

 and torban
Torban
The torban is a Ukrainian musical instrument that combines the features of the Baroque Lute with those of the psaltery. The Тorban differs from the more common European Bass lute known as the Theorbo in that it had additional short treble strings strung along the treble side of the soundboard. It...

 had long extensions attached to the main tuning head in order to provide a greater resonating length for the bass strings, and since human fingers are not long enough to stop strings across a neck wide enough to hold 14 courses, the bass strings were placed outside the fretboard, and were played "open", i.e. without fretting/stopping them with the left hand.

Over the course of the Baroque era the lute was increasingly relegated to the continuo accompaniment, and was eventually superseded in that role by keyboard instruments. The lute almost fell out of use after 1800. Some sorts of lute were still used for some time in Germany, Sweden, Ukraine.

Lute in the modern world


The lute enjoyed a revival with the awakening of interest in historical music around 1900 and throughout the century. That revival was further boosted by the early music
Early music
Early music is generally understood as comprising all music from the earliest times up to the Renaissance. However, today this term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises,...

 movement in the twentieth century. Important pioneers in lute revival were Julian Bream
Julian Bream
Julian Bream, CBE is an English classical guitarist and lutenist and is one of the most distinguished classical guitarists of the 20th century. He has also been successful in renewing popular interest in the Renaissance lute....

, Hans Neemann, Walter Gerwig, Suzanne Bloch and Diana Poulton
Diana Poulton
Diana Poulton was an English lutenist and musicologist. A leading member of the Early Music Revival and associate of Arnold Dolmetsch, she played a key role in the revival of the popularity of the lute and its music. She was married to the illustrator Tom Poulton.- References :*...

. Lute performances are now not uncommon; there are many professional lutenists, especially in Europe where the most employment is to be found, and new compositions for the instrument are being produced by composers.

During the early days of the early music movement, many lutes were constructed by available luthiers, whose specialty was often classical guitars. Such lutes were heavily built with construction similar to classical guitars, with fan bracing, heavy tops, fixed frets, and lined sides, all of which are anachronistic to historical lutes. As lutherie scholarship increased, makers began constructing instruments based on historical models, which have proven on the whole to be far lighter and more responsive instruments.

Lutes built at present are invariably replicas or near copies of those surviving historical instruments that are to be found in museums or private collections. They are exclusively custom-built or must be bought second hand in a very limited market. As a result, lutes are generally more expensive than mass-produced modern instruments such as the guitar, though not nearly as expensive as the violin.
Unlike in the past there are many types of lutes encountered today: 5-course medieval lutes, renaissance lutes of 6 to 10 courses in many pitches for solo and ensemble performance of Renaissance works, the archlute of Baroque works, 11-course lutes in d-minor tuning for 17th century French, German and Czech music, 13/14-course d-minor tuned German Baroque Lutes for later High Baroque and Classical music, theorbo
Theorbo
A theorbo is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second pegboxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the French théorbe des pièces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angélique or angelica. The etymology of the name...

 for basso continuo parts in Baroque ensembles, gallichons/mandora
Mandora
A mandora is a type of lute. The terms referred to different instruments at different periods in history.-Treble instrument:During the Renaissance, the term mandore was applied to the treble lute and in such usage it is difficult to distinguish from the mandola, the simple lute that is the ancestor...

s, bandoras, orpharion
Orpharion
The orpharion or opherion is a plucked instrument from the Renaissance. It is part of the cittern family. Its construction is similar to the larger bandora. The metal strings are tuned like a lute and are plucked with the fingers. Therefore, the orpharion can be used instead of a lute...

s and others. Lutenistic practice has reached considerable heights in recent years, thanks to a growing number of world-class lutenists: Robert Barto
Robert Barto
Robert Barto is an American lutenist specializing in the music of the Baroque and Empfindsamkeit periods, in particular the oeuvres of Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Bernhard Joachim Hagen. He is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, having majored in historical lute performance...

, Eduardo Egüez
Eduardo Egüez
Eduardo Egüez is a lutenist, theorbist, and guitarist acclaimed for his interpretations of music by J.S.Bach....

, Edin Karamazov
Edin Karamazov
Edin Karamazov is a renowned Bosnian musician-lutenist . He studied lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis....

, Nigel North
Nigel North
Nigel North is an English lutenist and guitarist.-Student days:He studied guitar on a scholarship to the junior department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama , taking up the lute in 1969, at the age of 15. He maintains he was more or less self-taught on the instrument...

, Christopher Wilson, Luca Pianca
Luca Pianca
Luca Pianca is a Swiss musician-lutenist whose specialty is archlute. In 1985 he co - founded Il Giardino Armonico, a pioneering Italian early-music ensemble based in Milan...

, Pascal Monteilhet, Lex van Sante, Ariel Abramovich, Evangelina Mascardi, Luciano Contini, Hopkinson Smith
Hopkinson Smith
Hopkinson Smith is an American lutenist.Born in New York, he graduated from Harvard with Honors in Music...

, Yasunori Imamura
Yasunori Imamura
is a Japanese lute musician. His teachers included lute with Eugen Müller-Dombois and Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where in 1981 he received his soloist's diploma...

, Paul O'Dette
Paul O'Dette
Paul R. O'Dette is an American lutenist, conductor, and music researcher specializing in early music.O'Dette began playing classical guitar, and while in high school also played electric guitar in a rock band in Columbus, Ohio, where he grew up...

, Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem is a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player.Composer and lutenist Jozef van Wissem is devoted to what he terms “The Liberation of the Lute”...

 et alii.
Singer-songwriter Sting has also played lute and archlute, in and out of his collaborations with Edin Karamazov
Edin Karamazov
Edin Karamazov is a renowned Bosnian musician-lutenist . He studied lute with Hopkinson Smith at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis....

, and Jan Akkerman
Jan Akkerman
Jan Akkerman is a Dutch guitarist. Akkerman is a distinctive guitarist, constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. Akkerman's distinctive guitar sound is characterised by his pioneering use of volume swells which produce a smooth, fluty, sustained tone, and other complex techniques...

 released two albums of lute music in the 1970s while he was a guitarist in the Dutch rock band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

 Focus
Focus (band)
Focus is a Dutch rock band which was founded by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the instrumental pieces "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia"...

. Lutenist/ Composer Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem is a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player.Composer and lutenist Jozef van Wissem is devoted to what he terms “The Liberation of the Lute”...

 composed lute music and vocals for the Sims Medieval video game.

Lutes of several regional types are also common in Greece: laouto
Laouto
The laouto is a long-neck fretted instrument of the lute family, found in Greece, and similar in appearance to the oud. It is played in most respects like the oud .- Construction :...

, and outi
Oud
The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

.

Lute repertoire



Although lutes were in widespread use in Europe at least since the 13th century, and documents mention numerous early performers and composers, the earliest surviving music for the instrument dates from the late 15th century. Lute music flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries: numerous composers published collections of their music, and modern scholars have uncovered a vast number of manuscripts from the era—however, much of the music is still lost. In the second half of the 17th century lutes, vihuelas and similar instruments started losing popularity, and almost no music had been written for the instrument after 1750. The interest in lute music was revived only in the second half of the 20th century.

Improvisation was apparently a highly important aspect of lute performance, and so much of the repertoire was probably never written down. Furthermore, it was only around 1500 that lute players started the transition from plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

 technique to that of the right hand: the latter allowed for complex polyphony, for which notation had to be developed. During the next hundred years three schools of tablature
Tablature
Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches....

 notation developed gradually: Italian (also employed in Spain), German and French. Only the latter survived into the late 17th century. The earliest known tablatures are designed for a six-stringed instrument, although evidence of earlier four- and five-stringed lutes exists. Tablature notation depends on the actual instrument for which the music is written, and to read it, it is necessary to know the tuning, the number of strings, etc. of the instrument.

Renaissance and Baroque forms of lute music are more or less similar to those of keyboard music of the periods. Intabulation
Intabulation
Intabulation, from the Italian word intavolatura, refers to an arrangement of a vocal or ensemble piece for keyboard, lute, or other plucked string instrument, written in tablature. It was a common practice in 14th-16th century keyboard and lute music...

s of vocal works were very common, as well as various dances, some of which disappeared during the 17th century, such as the piva
Piva (dance)
Piva is an Italian Renaissance dance that may have originated from a peasant dance to the accompaniment of bagpipes. In 15th century sources it is described as a fast version of the Basse danse. The term appeared also in 16th century, applied to compositions for lute...

 and the saltarello
Saltarello
The saltarello was a lively, merry dance first mentioned in Naples during the 13th century. The music survives, but no early instructions for the actual dance are known. It was played in a fast triple meter and is named for its peculiar leaping step, after the Italian verb saltare .-History:The...

. The advent of polyphony brought about fantasias: complex, intricate pieces with much use of imitative counterpoint. The improvisatory element, present to some degree in most lute pieces, is particularly evident in the early ricercares (not imitative as their later namesakes, but completely free), as well as in numerous preludial forms: preludes, tastar de corde ("testing the strings"), etc. During the 17th century keyboard and lute music went hand in hand, and by 1700 lutenists were writing suites of dances quite akin to those of keyboard composers. The lute was also used throughout its history as an ensemble instrument, most frequently in songs for voice and lute; these were particularly popular in Italy (see frottola
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

) and England.

The earliest surviving lute music is Italian, from a late 15th century manuscript. The early 16th century saw Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci was an Italian printer. His Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons printed in 1501, is commonly misidentified as the first book of sheet music printed from movable type. Actually that distinction belongs to the Roman printer Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum of 1476...

's publications of lute music by Francesco Spinacino
Francesco Spinacino
Francesco Spinacino was an Italian lutenist and composer. His surviving output comprises the first two volumes of Ottaviano Petrucci's influential series of lute music publications: Intabolatura de lauto libro primo and Intabolatura de lauto libro secondo...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1507) and Joan Ambrosio Dalza
Joan Ambrosio Dalza
Joan Ambrosio Dalza was an Italian lutenist and composer. Nothing is known about his life. His surviving works comprise the fourth volume of Ottaviano Petrucci's influential series of lute music publications, Intabolatura de lauto libro quarto...

 (fl. 1508); together with the so-called Capirola Lutebook
Vincenzo Capirola
Vincenzo Capirola was an Italian composer, lutenist and nobleman of the Renaissance. His music is preserved in an illuminated manuscript called the Capirola Lutebook, which is considered to be one of the most important sources of lute music of the early 16th century.-Life and music:He was...

, these represent the earliest stage of written lute music in Italy. The leader of the next generation of Italian lutenists, Francesco Canova da Milano
Francesco Canova da Milano
Francesco Canova da Milano was an Italian lutenist and composer. He was born in Monza, near Milan, and worked for the papal court for almost all of his career. Francesco was heralded throughout Europe as the foremost lute composer of his time...

 (1497–1543), is now acknowledged as one of the most famous lute composers in history. The bigger part of his output consists of pieces called fantasias or ricercares, in which he makes extensive use of imitation and sequence, expanding the scope of lute polyphony. The second half of the century saw no composers equal in stature, but in the early 17th century Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger
Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger
Johann Hieronymus Kapsberger , was a German-Italian virtuoso performer and composer of the early Baroque period...

 (c.1580–1651) and Alessandro Piccinini
Alessandro Piccinini
Alessandro Piccinini , was an Italian lutenist and composer.Piccinini was born in Bologna into a musical family: his father Leonardo Maria Piccinini taught lute playing to Alessandro as well as his brothers Girolamo and Filippo...

 (1566–1638) revolutionized the instrument's technique and Kapsberger, possibly, influenced the keyboard music of Frescobaldi
Frescobaldi
The Frescobaldi are a prominent Florentine noble family that have been involved in the political, sociological, and economic history of Tuscany since the Middle Ages;. Originating in the Val di Pesa in the Chianti, they appear holding important posts in Florence in the twelfth century...

.

French written lute music began, as far as we know, with Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant was a French music printer, active in Paris.-Life:Attaingnant is considered to be first large-scale publisher of single-impression movable type for music-printing, thus making it possible to print faster and cheaper than predecessors such as Ottaviano Petrucci...

's (c.1494–c.1551) prints, which comprised preludes, dances and intabulations. Particularly important was the Italian composer Albert de Rippe
Albert de Rippe
Albert de Rippe was an Italian lutenist and composer. He was born in Mantua and worked there before 1528, when he left for France. There, he joined the court of Francis I...

 (1500–1551), who worked in France and composed polyphonic fantasias of considerable complexity. His work was published posthumously by his pupil, Guillaume de Morlaye
Guillaume de Morlaye
Guillaume de Morlaye was a French Renaissance era lutenist, composer and music publisher. He was a pupil of Albert de Rippe and lived and worked in Paris...

 (born c.1510), who, however, did not pick up the complex polyphony of de Rippe. French lute music declined during the second part of the 16th century; however, various changes to the instrument (the increase of diapason strings, new tunings, etc.) prompted an important change in style that led, during the early Baroque, to the celebrated style brisé
Style brisé
Style brisé is a term for broken, arpeggiated texture in instrumental music. It usually refers to French Baroque music for lute, keyboard instruments or the viol. French Baroque musicians referred to this type of texture as style luthé , since it originated in lute music...

: broken, arpeggiated textures that influenced Johann Jakob Froberger
Johann Jakob Froberger
Johann Jakob Froberger was a German Baroque composer, keyboard virtuoso, and organist. He was among the most famous composers of the era and influenced practically every major composer in Europe by developing the genre of keyboard suite and contributing greatly to the exchange of musical...

's suites. The French Baroque school is exemplified by composers such as Ennemond Gaultier
Ennemond Gaultier
Ennemond Gaultier was a French lutenist and composer. He was one of the masters of the 17th century French lute school....

 (1575–1651), Denis Gaultier
Denis Gaultier
Denis Gaultier was a French lutenist and composer. He was a cousin of Ennemond Gaultier.-Life:...

 (1597/1603–1672), François Dufaut (before 1604–before 1672) and many others. The last stage of French lute music is exemplified by Robert de Visée
Robert de Visée
Robert de Visée was a lutenist, guitarist, theorbist and viol player at the court of Louis XIV, as well as a singer, and composer for lute, theorbo and guitar.-Biography:...

 (c.1655–1732/3), whose suites exploit the instrument's possibilities to the fullest.

The history of German written lute music started with Arnolt Schlick
Arnolt Schlick
Arnolt Schlick was a German organist, lutenist and composer of the Renaissance. He is grouped among the composers known as the Colorists. He was most probably born in Heidelberg and by 1482 established himself as court organist for the Electoral Palatinate...

 (c.1460–after 1521), who published in 1513 a collection of pieces that included 14 voice and lute songs and three solo lute pieces, alongside organ works. He was not, however, the first important German lutenist, because contemporaries credited Conrad Paumann
Conrad Paumann
Conrad Paumann was a German organist, lutenist and composer of the early Renaissance. Even though he was born blind, he was one of the most talented musicians of the 15th century, and his performances created a sensation wherever he went...

 (c. 1410–1473) with the invention of German lute tablature. However, this claim has yet to be proven, and no lute works by Paumann survive. After Schlick, a string of composers developed German lute music: Hans Judenkünig (c.1445–50–1526), the Neusidler family (particularly Hans Neusidler
Hans Neusidler
Hans Neusidler , was a German composer and lutenist of the Renaissance.-Life:...

 (c.1508/9–1563)) and others. During the second half of the 16th century, German tablature and German repertoire were gradually replaced by Italian and French tablature and international repertoire, respectively, and the Thirty Years War (1618–48) effectively stopped publications for half a century. German lute music was revived much later by composers such as Esaias Reusner
Esaias Reusner
Esaias Reusner was a German lutenist and composer....

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1670), however, a distinctly German style came only after 1700 in the works of Silvius Leopold Weiss (1686–1750), one of the greatest lute composers, some of whose works were transcribed for keyboard by none other than Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 (1685–1750), who composed a few pieces for the lute himself (although it is unclear whether they were really intended for the lute, rather than another plucked string instrument or the lautenwerk).

Of other European countries, particularly important are England and Spain. English written lute music only began around 1540, however, the country produced numerous lutenists, of which John Dowland
John Dowland
John Dowland was an English Renaissance composer, singer, and lutenist. He is best known today for his melancholy songs such as "Come, heavy sleep" , "Come again", "Flow my tears", "I saw my Lady weepe" and "In darkness let me dwell", but his instrumental music has undergone a major revival, and has...

 (1563–1626) is perhaps the most famous. His influence spread very far: variations on his themes were written by keyboard composers in Germany decades after his death. Dowland's predecessors and colleagues, such as Anthony Holborne
Anthony Holborne
Anthony Holborne was a composer of English consort music during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.-Life:Holborne entered Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1562. He was admitted to the Inner Temple Court in 1565. Holborne married Elisabeth Marten on 14 June 1584. On the title page of both his books he...

 (c. 1545–1602) and Daniel Bacheler
Daniel Bacheler
thumb|right|250px|Daniel Bacheler from an engraving by [[Thomas Lant]] of the funeral procession of Sir Philip Sidney in 1586Daniel Bacheler, also variously spelt Bachiler, Batchiler or Batchelar, was an English lutenist and composer...

 (1572–1619), were less known. Spanish composers wrote mostly for the vihuela
Vihuela
Vihuela is a name given to two different guitar-like string instruments: one from 15th and 16th century Spain, usually with 12 paired strings, and the other, the Mexican vihuela, from 19th century Mexico with five strings and typically played in Mariachi bands.-History:The vihuela, as it was known...

; their main genres were polyphonic fantasias and differencias (variations). Luys Milan (c.1500–after 1560) and Luys de Narváez
Luis de Narváez
Luis de Narváez was a Spanish composer and vihuelist. Highly regarded during his lifetime, Narváez is known today for Los seys libros del delphín, a collection of polyphonic music for the vihuela which includes the earliest known variation sets...

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1526–49) were particularly important for their contributions to the development of lute polyphony in Spain. Finally, perhaps the most influential European lute composer was the Hungarian Bálint Bakfark
Bálint Bakfark
Bálint Bakfark ; 1507 – August 15 or August 22, 1576) was a Hungarian composer and lutenist of the Renaissance...

 (c.1526–30–1576), whose contrapuntal fantasias were much more difficult and tighter than those of his Western European contemporaries.

Lute revival and composers


The revival of lute-playing in the 20th century revitalized the interest of composers in the instruments of the lute family. One of the first such composers was Johann Nepomuk David
Johann Nepomuk David
Johann Nepomuk David was an Austrian composer.He began his musical career in the monastery of Sankt Florian, and was a composition student of Joseph Marx....

 in Germany. Composer Vladimir Vavilov was a pioneer of the lute revival in the USSR, also the author of numerous musical hoaxes. Sandor Kallos
Sandor Kallos
Sandor Kalloś is a Russian composer , a noted proponent of musical Minimalism, an influential pioneer of the Early Music Revival and electronic music in the USSR, lutenist, and a prolific author of incidental music for film, animation, theater and ballet.-Biography:Sandor Kalloś was...

, Stefan Lundgren, Toyohiko Satoh
Toyohiko Satoh
- is a Japanese lutenist and composer.At Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Satoh studied music history with Tatsuo Minagawa and guitar with Kazuhito Ohosawa. He gave his first guitar recital in the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan concert hall in 1965...

 applied modernist
Modernism (music)
Modernism in music is characterized by a desire for or belief in progress and science, surrealism, anti-romanticism, political advocacy, general intellectualism, and/or a breaking with the past or common practice.- Defining musical modernism :...

 idiom to the lute, Elena Kats-Chernin
Elena Kats-Chernin
Elena Kats-Chernin is an Australian composer.Elena Kats-Chernin was born in Tashkent , and migrated to Australia in 1975.-Europe:...

, Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem
Jozef van Wissem is a Dutch minimalist composer and lute player.Composer and lutenist Jozef van Wissem is devoted to what he terms “The Liberation of the Lute”...

 and Alexandre Danilevsky
Alexandre Danilevsky
Alexandre Danilevsky is a Russian-French composer of classical music, lutenist, viola da gamba and vielle player, active in France ....

 minimalist and post-minimalist idiom, Robert Allworth serial composition, composing the first modern Concerto for the 11 course lute in his romantic 12-tone style, Roman Turovsky-Savchuk
Roman Turovsky-Savchuk
Roman Turovsky-Savchuk is an American painter and lutenist-composer born in Ukraine.-Biography:Turovsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1961, when it was part of the Soviet Union. He studied art from an early age under his father, the painter Mikhail Turovsky and at the Shevchenko State Art School...

, Paulo Galvão
Paulo Galvão
Paulo Galvão - is a composer, lutenist, theorbist and guitarist, noted in particular for his compositions for 5-course baroque guitar published under the allonym "AdC"...

, Robert MacKillop
Robert MacKillop
Rob MacKillop is a Scottish composer, lutenist, theorbist, vihuelist, and guitarist. He is an important performer of Early Music in Scotland....

 and Maxym Zvonaryov historicist idiom, and
Ronn McFarlane New Age.

Tuning conventions








Lutes were made in a large variety of sizes, with varying numbers of strings/courses, and with no permanent standard for tuning. However, the following seems to have been generally true of the Renaissance lute:
A 6-course Renaissance tenor lute would be tuned to the same intervals as a tenor viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

, with intervals of a perfect fourth between all the courses except the 3rd and 4th, which differed only by a major third. The tenor lute was usually tuned nominally "in g" (there was no pitch standard before the 20th century), named after the pitch of the highest course, yielding the pattern [(G'G) (Cc) (FF) (AA) (dd) (g)] from the lowest course to the highest. (Much renaissance lute music can be played on a guitar by tuning the guitar's third string down by a half tone.)

For lutes with more than six courses the extra courses would be added on the low end. Due to the large number of strings lutes have very wide necks, and it is difficult to stop strings beyond the sixth course, so additional courses were usually tuned to pitches useful as bass notes rather than continuing the regular pattern of fourths, and these lower courses are most often played without stopping. Thus an 8-course tenor Renaissance lute would be tuned to [(D'D) (F'F) (G'G) (Cc) (FF) (AA) (dd) (g)], and a 10-course to [(C'C) (D'D) (E♭'E♭) (F'F) (G'G) (Cc) (FF) (AA) (dd) (g)].

However, none of these patterns were de rigueur, and a modern lutenist will occasionally be seen to retune one or more courses between performance pieces. Manuscripts bear instructions for the player, e.g. 7e choeur en fa = "seventh course in fa" (= F in the standard C scale).

The first part of the seventeenth century was a period of considerable diversity in the tuning of the lute, particularly in France. However, by around 1670 the scheme known today as the "Baroque"http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~lsa/aboutLute/Baroque.html or "d-minor" tuning became the norm, at least in France and in northern and central Europe. In this case the first six courses outline a d-minor triad, and an additional five to seven courses are tuned generally scalewise below them. Thus the 13-course lute played by http://slweiss.com Weiss would have been tuned [(A"A') (B"B') (C'C) (D'D) (E'E) (F'F) (G'G) (A'A') (DD) (FF) (AA) (d) (f)], or with sharps or flats on the lower 7 courses appropriate to the key of the piece.

Modern lutenists tune to a variety of pitch standards, ranging from A = 392 to 470 Hz, depending on the type of instrument they are playing, the repertory, the pitch of other instruments in an ensemble and other performing expediencies. No attempt at a universal pitch standard existed during the period of the lute's historical popularity. The standards varied over time and from place to place.

Quotations


Instruments



European Lutes:
  • String instruments
    • Angélique (instrument)
      Angélique (instrument)
      The angélique is a plucked string instrument of the lute family of the baroque era. It combines features of the lute, the harp, and the theorbo....

    • Archlute
      Archlute
      The archlute is a European plucked string instrument developed around 1600 as a compromise between the very large theorbo, the size and re-entrant tuning of which made for difficulties in the performance of solo music, and the Renaissance tenor lute, which lacked the bass range of the theorbo...

    • Cittern
      Cittern
      The cittern or cither is a stringed instrument dating from the Renaissance. Modern scholars debate its exact history, but it is generally accepted that it is descended from the Medieval Citole, or Cytole. It looks much like the modern-day flat-back mandolin and the modern Irish bouzouki and cittern...

    • Laúd
      Laúd
      The word laúd is the Spanish word for lute. It is most commonly used to refer to a plectrum-plucked chordophone from Spain. It belongs to the cittern family of instruments. It has six double courses , similarly to the bandurria, but its neck is longer...

    • Chitarra battente
      Chitarra battente
      The chitarra battente also known as "chitarra italiana" is a musical instrument, a chordophone of the lute family. At a casual glance, it is similar to the everyday classical guitar, but larger and typically strung with four steel strings...

    • Cobza
      Cobza
      The cobza is a Romanian and Moldovan folk instrument of the lute family . It is distinct from the Ukrainian kobza, an instrument of a different organology and origin....

    • Gallichon
    • Kobza
      Kobza
      The kobza is a Ukrainian folk music instrument of the lute family , a relative of the Central European mandora...

    • Mandore
      Mandore (instrument)
      The mandore was mentioned as a new instrument in French music books from the 1580s. It was a small member of the lute family, teardrop shaped, with four, five or six courses of gut strings and pitched in the treble range. It is considered ancestral to the modern mandolin and has also been called...

    • Mandora
      Mandora
      A mandora is a type of lute. The terms referred to different instruments at different periods in history.-Treble instrument:During the Renaissance, the term mandore was applied to the treble lute and in such usage it is difficult to distinguish from the mandola, the simple lute that is the ancestor...

    • Torban
      Torban
      The torban is a Ukrainian musical instrument that combines the features of the Baroque Lute with those of the psaltery. The Тorban differs from the more common European Bass lute known as the Theorbo in that it had additional short treble strings strung along the treble side of the soundboard. It...

    • Theorbo
      Theorbo
      A theorbo is a plucked string instrument. As a name, theorbo signifies a number of long-necked lutes with second pegboxes, such as the liuto attiorbato, the French théorbe des pièces, the English theorbo, the archlute, the German baroque lute, the angélique or angelica. The etymology of the name...

    • Vihuela
      Vihuela
      Vihuela is a name given to two different guitar-like string instruments: one from 15th and 16th century Spain, usually with 12 paired strings, and the other, the Mexican vihuela, from 19th century Mexico with five strings and typically played in Mariachi bands.-History:The vihuela, as it was known...

    • Tablature
      Tablature
      Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches....

  • Early music
    Early music
    Early music is generally understood as comprising all music from the earliest times up to the Renaissance. However, today this term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises,...

    • Medieval music
      Medieval music
      Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

    • Renaissance music
      Renaissance music
      Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

    • Baroque music
      Baroque music
      Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

    • Classical Music
  • Greek Music
    Music of Greece
    The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds...

    • Cretan Music
      Music of Crete
      The music of Crete is a traditional form of Greek folk music called κρητικά . The lyra is the dominant folk instrument on the island; there are three-stringed and four-stringed versions of this bowed string instrument, closely related to the medieval Byzantine lyra. It is often accompanied by the...



African Lutes:
    • Gonje
    • Xalam
      Xalam
      Xalam, also spelled khalam, is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. The xalam is thought to have originated from modern-day Mali, but some believe that, in antiquity, the instrument may have originated from ancient Egypt...



Asian Lutes:
    • Barbat
      Barbat (lute)
      The barbat or barbud is a lute of ancient Persian origin. The Arabic Oud is derived from an ancient Persian barbat. Today's barbat, however, is essentially the same thing as today's oud: the instrument is often called the barbat when played in a Persian tradition, while called the oud when played...

    • Biwa
      Biwa
      The is a Japanese short-necked fretted lute, often used in narrative storytelling. The biwa is the chosen instrument of Benten, goddess of music, eloquence, poetry, and education in Japanese Shinto....

    • Dramnyen
    • Dombra
      Dombra
      The dombura is a long-necked lute popular in Central Asian nations...

    • Kutiyapi
      Kutiyapi
      The kudyapi, is a Philippine two-stringed, fretted boat-lute. It is the only stringed instrument among the Maguindanao people, and one of several among other groups such as the Maranao and Manobo. It is four to six feet long with nine frets made of hardened beeswax...

    • Laúd
      Laúd
      The word laúd is the Spanish word for lute. It is most commonly used to refer to a plectrum-plucked chordophone from Spain. It belongs to the cittern family of instruments. It has six double courses , similarly to the bandurria, but its neck is longer...

    • Oud
      Oud
      The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths...

    • Pipa
      Pipa
      The pipa is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments . Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12–26...

    • Setar
      Setar (lute)
      Setar is a Persian musical instrument. It is a member of the lute family. Two and a half centuries ago, a fourth string was added to the setar, which has 25 - 27 moveable frets...

    • Sitar
      Sitar
      The 'Tablaman' is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages...

    • Tanbur
      Tanbur
      The term tanbūr can refer to various long-necked, fretted lutes originating in the Middle East or Central Asia. According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, "terminology presents a complicated situation. Nowadays the term tanbur is applied to a variety of distinct and related...

    • Dotar
    • Tar
      Tar (lute)
      The tār is a long-necked, waisted Iranian instrument. It has been adopted by other cultures and Azerbaijan. The word tar itself means "string" in Persian, though it might have the same meaning in languages influenced by Persian or any other branches of Iranian languages like Kurdish...

    • Veena
      Veena
      Veena may refer to one of several Indian plucked instruments:With frets*Rudra veena, plucked string instrument used in Hindustani music*Saraswati veena, plucked string instrument used in Carnatic musicFretless...

    • Qinqin
      Qinqin
      The qinqin is a plucked Chinese lute. It was originally manufactured with a wooden body, a slender fretted neck, and three strings. Its body can be either round, hexagonal , or octagonal. Often, only two strings were used, as in certain regional silk-and-bamboo ensembles...

    • Yueqin
      Yueqin
      This article is about the Chinese Yuequin. The Vietnamese Đàn nguyệt is also often referred to as a 'moon guitar'.The yueqin is a traditional Chinese string instrument...

  • Stringed instrument tunings
    Stringed instrument tunings
    This is a list of tunings for stringed musical instruments. Strings or courses are listed from low to high pitch, reading from left to right facing the front of the instrument standing vertically...


Lute makers

  • Joachim Tielke
    Joachim Tielke
    Joachim Tielke was a German maker of musical instruments. He was born in Königsberg, Prussia, and died in Hamburg.A publication was dedicated to him by Günther Hellwig...

  • Cezar Mateus
    Cezar Mateus
    Cezar Mateus is an American lutenist, composer and luthier working in Princeton, New Jersey. He specializes in lutes, archlutes, theorbos and other related instruments...

  • Andrew Rutherford
  • Nico van der Waals
  • Michael Lowe
  • Stephen Murphy
    Stephen Murphy (lutemaker)
    Stephen Murphy, born Sydney, Australia, May 26, 1942, is a lute maker located in Southern France at Mollans-sur-Ouvèze.He makes lutes, archlutes, theorbos, Renaissance and Baroque guitars and vihuelas....


Lute societies


Lute music online and other useful resources


Photos of historic lutes

Instruments et oeuvres d'art – search-phrase: Mot-clé(s) : luth
Facteurs d'instruments – search-phrase: Instrument fabriqué : luth
Photothèque – search-phrase: Instrument de musique, ville ou pays : luth

Articles and resources

Original: Over de pioniers van de luitrevival; Luthinerie / Geluit no. 15 (september 2001) and no. 16 (december 2001)