Lute Anyone?

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
jcampbell

Lute Anyone?

Post by jcampbell » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:41 pm

I was wondering if there are many classical guitar artists who have an interest in learning or currently play the lute? I am working my way through the Bach Lute Suites pieces (which are a challenge) and thought it would be fun to try them on the lute. Is it that much different than the guitar? Is the technique the same for both left and right hand? Are lutes readily available (I believe I've heard they are somewhat expensive?). How does one choose in terms of the number of courses?
If there are any lute players out there that could provide any guidance on branching out to this new instrument I would appreciate hearing from you.
Best regards
Jeff

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:06 pm

@Jeff, I share your passion of lute music. We are fortunate to have a few members on this forum who are expert lutenists: kidneykutter, Valéry Sauvage, SteveM and isabelle. Check their recordings and videos in 'Our recordings of Early music'. The right hand technique is very different from CG, as well the tuning on different types of lutes. Any of these members can answer your questions better than I.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by GuitarVlog » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:21 pm

I study and play Renaissance lute but a little more in the fashion of Julian Bream. I use flesh and short-nails. I use the ring finger. I don't do runs with just my thumb. I don't anchor my pinky on the soundboard. My lute is played at about a 45 degree angle (with the use of a strap).

It's my own style but not unheard of both historically and among a few modern lute players. I'm happy with the tone that I produce and am particularly happy with the comfort of my playing style.

If you choose to play lute in the historical fashion that most lutenists prefer, then there will be a good deal of adjustments that you will need to make.

A 6-course lute is enough to play most Renaissance lute tablature (supposedly 95%). I have an 8-course lute (and sometimes wish that I had a 10-course lute). A good used second-hand lute may run you about $500-$900. The Pakistan-made lutes sold on e - b a y can work but would still require the work of a knowledgeable luthier to make them acceptably serviceable. That may add another $150-$500.

Among the better lute forums is lutegroup.ning.com.

Among the lute builders who can make a very good affordable lute in the US (affordable being a relative term), I would recommend Mel Wong in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hope to commission a student baroque lute from him if my "lucky" stars ever align.

Ironically, Mel tried an experiment in offering affordable 6-course lutes and got but a lukewarm response.

Good luck!

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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:38 pm

I have also been curious about the lute, and on the "lute society dot org" website they explain (to one such as me who knew almost nothing about the instrument and its different manifestations), the differences between lutes and the lute repertoire (that is, what repertoire can be played on what lutes). It's good information to know, if you're serious about buying a lute.

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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by pogmoor » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:59 pm

jcampbell wrote:I am working my way through the Bach Lute Suites pieces (which are a challenge) and thought it would be fun to try them on the lute.
If you're thinking of trying a lute don't start with Bach. For a start it's very unlikely that Bach wrote his "lute" suites for the lute (as is illustrated by the discussion in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=67283). Secondly, if you do play Bach on the lute it would be more historically accurate to use a Baroque lute, whereas most newcomers to the lute would start with a renaissance lute. This has a tuning like a guitar with the third string tuned doen to F sharp - the baroque lute has a different and unfamiliar tuning.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Valéry Sauvage » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:29 am

jcampbell wrote: and thought it would be fun to try them on the lute.
I agree with Eric, fun is not the word about playing Bach on the baroque lute... But playing lute is a real experience, either you play it in a guitar way, or if you try an "historical inspired" manner.
Avoid cheap lute on the bay, better to start saving money and have a real instrument.
(look the Wayne Cripps lute page for used lutes)
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Praeludium » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:51 am

I like the lute. There's a lutenist (Persival Castro. He's studying with Hopkinson Smith) coming at my conservatory every month or so, and it's really extremely interesting as a guitarist to discuss with a lutenist. I plan on trying to work a bit on the renaissance lute during the year - not enough to be lutenist, but it'd be fun to learn a few doable pieces with the peculiar technical and musical approach of the lute.


I think the best part of the lute is its repertoire. It was really a major instrument back in the XVIth and XVIIth century. I particularly like Renaissance Fantaisies - it's a quite huge and dense repertoire, and on the top of that it's perfectly playbale on the guitar 95% of the time ! And I'm beginning to get interested in French baroque music - Vieux Gaultier's Tombeau de Mezangeau has really made a huge impression on me.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by pogmoor » Fri Feb 08, 2013 3:46 pm

Praeludium wrote:...I'm beginning to get interested in French baroque music - Vieux Gaultier's Tombeau de Mezangeau has really made a huge impression on me.
A great piece - one that I've just arranged for guitar and posted here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=75229#p819034.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:09 pm

I play some of the Bach Lute suites on my 8 course renaissance lute. I find the lack of enough bass strings a somewhat limiting factor even with 8 courses. However, that doesn't stop one from moving the problematic notes up an 8va. where needed. Just the same as transcriptions to 6 string guitar. I think a 10 course or archlute (neither of which I have at this time) would cure the problem.

Technique wise it's not a big shift from the guitar for the left hand and I find the dropped third course (G to F# on guitar) helps with some passages. The right hand is not so different either unless one adopts the renaissance lute technique of the thumb under hand position. For guitarists, there seems to be a big learning curve on that one although a few friends who play both guitars and lutes professionally have little problem switching hand positions at will. I use more of a early romantic guitar or Baroque lute technique (thumb out) which is not so different from modern technique to cause any issues. Basically it just dropping the elbow and wrist a bit to get a more angular approach to the string/course. Rest strokes don't work well on the double string lute so they are probably out.

The one unsatisfying thing for me, about playing Bach on a renaissance lute is that the wonderful bold resonance of the Baroque lute, which Bach would have had in his ear, is missing. But as Valery says, it's an experience anyways.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by SteveM » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:14 pm

Hi
I play renaissance lute. Most renaissance music can be played on a 6 course instrument, although some later pieces require 7 or 8 courses. For the renaissance lute the right hand technique is different to C.G. and uses no nails and with the thumb inside the fingers with 4th finger resting on the belly or bridge of the lute. The right hand is held in a position which you are told not to use on the guitar. The renaissance lute is tuned like a guitar (with the 3rd string down to F#) but a minor 3rd higher.
The baroque lute generally has 13 courses and is tuned differently - there are e few different tunings but most commonly the strings are tuned to a D minor chord. Historically on the baroque lute the right hand thumb was held outside the fingers pointing towards the peg box (head stock) more like C.G. although the 4th finger still rested on the soundboard.
A big difference between lutes and guitars is that lutes are built much lighter and the string tension is much less than a modern guitar. The lowest course of my 8 course lute (D below bottom E on the guitar) is thinner than the first string on my classical guitar.
Playing lute is great fun and gives you a different perspective to the pieces as opposed to playing them on guitar.
Steve

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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Wellstrung » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:54 am

Hi - I'm new to the forum, have played CG for a long time (it may not show!), and was recently given a used Pakistani lute (in pretty battered condition). I found this thread relating to lute, and wonder if any classical guitarists who have wanted to try lute have found *any* lute method books, or sheet music for lute, that is written in staff notation _for lute_ (not the common transcriptions of lute music for guitar, which are often in staff notation).

I've borrowed some books by interlibrary loan hoping they would be what I want, but they are all in lute tablature. Until I know I'm serious about lute, I don't want to have to learn lute tablature plus lute (I know there are many lutenists who swear by tablature, but I'm so used to staff notation I want to stick with it for now).

Anyone know of any method books or sheet music for lute in staff notation? Many thanks!

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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by GeoffB » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:22 am

Hi Wellstrung, welcome to the forum. Could I ask you to introduce yourself here?

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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:18 pm

Here's a few sites with lots of different selections;

http://www.guitarloot.co.uk/

http://imslp.org/wiki/List_of_Compositi ... uitar/Lute (Have to look through as some are in tab, some notation, some reproductions of original books)

Also check in the "free sheet music for classical guitar" above...there's enought to keep one busy for quite a while.
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:26 am

There is a possibility I might get a lute one day. I was hoping for a "what lute should I buy?" thread, a bit like the 327 "what guitar should I buy?" threads.
I've got a nice book of Weiss music arranged for the guitar. He was a lutanist contemporary with Bach, and there's a link to him at the top of this page.
Julian Bream recorded a two-volume set of Lute Music: a) English Lute, b) European Lute. The European Lute one contains no Weiss, but more than one piece by Dowland, Doh!
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Re: Lute Anyone?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:17 pm

AndrewF wrote:Julian Bream recorded a two-volume set of Lute Music: a) English Lute, b) European Lute. The European Lute one contains no Weiss, but more than one piece by Dowland, Doh!
Actually, these were two separate albums, assuming that you mean "The Golden Age of English Lute Music" and "Lute Music From The Royal Courts of Europe." Bream also recorded a lot of other lute albums. But the reason there is no Weiss on his lute albums (although you can find a few pieces by Weiss on his "Baroque Guitar" album) is because Weiss wrote for Baroque lute, and Bream plays a Renaissance lute. One cannot play (or properly play) baroque lute music on a Renaissance lute, which is why all of Bream's lute albums feature Renaissance music.

Oh, and England is in Europe, so Dowland fits just fine on an album of European lute music.

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