lute frets

Discussion of all aspects of early instruments, lutes, theorbos, vihuelas, Renaissance guitars and Baroque guitars.
Polifemo de Oro

Re: lute frets

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:39 pm

and the only reason to use one is historical authenticity
No. There is so much beautiful music that has been written for lute; both Renaissance and Baroque. However--and this is especially true of the Baroque lute--you do spend a LOT of time trying to keep it in tune. But, the music of those periods lies more idiomatically on the instrument for which it was written and it actually sounds better.

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Re: lute frets

Post by Scot Tremblay » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:01 pm

Polifemo de Oro wrote:
and the only reason to use one is historical authenticity
No. There is so much beautiful music that has been written for lute; both Renaissance and Baroque. However--and this is especially true of the Baroque lute--you do spend a LOT of time trying to keep it in tune. But, the music of those periods lies more idiomatically on the instrument for which it was written and it actually sounds better.
I agree with Poli. The lute in all its forms is a marvellous instrument and is only limited by ones imagination. There are some very good modern composers for the instrument as well. It's not just relegated to long dead antiquated repertoire. Look up Roman Turovsky, Konstantin R. Bozhinov, Ronn McFarlane or check these sites for more.

http://www.modernlutemusic.com
http://contemporaryandmodernlutemusic.doomby.com

As to tuning, the modern guitar is not exempt from tuning issues. Just sit in the audience of any classical guitar concert and I wager that up to 15+/-% of the actual time the performer sits on stage is spent in tuning the instrument. Whether it is a lute or a classical guitar, tuning is never exact but a study in compromise. Lute just has earned a reputation for being the more difficult of the two to tune...a largely unfounded reputation I would suggest.
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"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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David Norton
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Re: lute frets

Post by David Norton » Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:15 pm

Scot Tremblay wrote: Lute just has earned a reputation for being the more difficult of the two to tune...a largely unfounded reputation I would suggest.
I disagree. 6 strings with precision mechanical tuners wins out over 15 to 25 strings (8 to 13 courses) with friction pegs every time.

For myself, I prefer playing (renaissance) lute music on an 8-string guitar. All the notes are there, and the fuss with tuning and gut frets is non-existent. I play very little baroque lute music, and what little I play is done on 6-string. LOTS of compromises to be made there, which is why I play so little of it. Bach's violin and cello music, Scarlatti and Purcell's keyboard music, and guitar music of Visee and Sanz pretty well fulfills my "baroque cravings".
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Re: lute frets

Post by Lovemyguitar » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:00 pm

2handband wrote:... I just wish there was a place where I could spend some serious time with the lute. One thing... a lot of you are talking as if you feel the lute isn't really a very good or practical instrument, and the only reason to use one is historical authenticity. Anyone wanna comment further on that?
As for your first point, indeed, it is difficult (or nearly impossible, depending on where you live) to find a lute that one can just try out. If you really want one, you pretty much have to buy one, and hope you love it!

As for your second point, not at all! I do not "use" a lute, I play it! Once you get to know it, it is just an instrument that you pick up, tune, and play (and enjoy!). Most of the time, I don't even think about its gut frets, and as for tuning, it really isn't that big a deal (even though others make it sound like it is! Maybe for them it is/was -- we're all different!).

Incidentally, please bear in mind that people who have given up on the lute because of idiosyncrasies that they can't stand will of course tell you that it isn't worth the trouble, whereas those of us who love our lutes will say: Go for it!

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Re: lute frets

Post by Scot Tremblay » Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:48 pm

David_Norton wrote:...I disagree. 6 strings with precision mechanical tuners wins out over 15 to 25 strings (8 to 13 courses) with friction pegs every time.

For myself, I prefer playing (renaissance) lute music on an 8-string guitar. All the notes are there, and the fuss with tuning and gut frets is non-existent. I play very little baroque lute music, and what little I play is done on 6-string. LOTS of compromises to be made there, which is why I play so little of it. Bach's violin and cello music, Scarlatti and Purcell's keyboard music, and guitar music of Visee and Sanz pretty well fulfills my "baroque cravings".
I guess it is just what one gets used to. I've played lutes of various configurations for almost as long as I have played guitars of various configurations. As a result I don't really consider one more difficult than the other to tune or play, just different. I will concede that there is occasionally a higher lever of "acceptable" in a lute being in tune than a guitar...part of the charm. I think modern guitarists are seriously too hypersensitive to pitch and tuning than need be. This is fine, it keeps all the electronic tuner companies making money and their employees earning pay checks. :?

My personal objection to playing the lute, vihuela or Baroque guitar repertoire on the modern classical guitar is that this music is arguably much more than just the notes on the page. The odd idiosyncrasies inherent in the double strings (courses) and tuning of the instrument, important elements in the style of music, is most often ( just short of always) lost when transcribed to the six string, single string classical guitar. This is especially true for the Baroque guitar or Baroque lute to classical guitar. But that is the same problem when transcribing anything written for one instrument to be played on a different instrument. The sounds that make the original instrument and it's music unique no longer matters, just the raw pitches and the relationship between those pitches. That is OK too, except I cannot help feeling that listeners loose much of the original composers and his/her audiences experience of the music. To many of us today that might not be important, and again that's OK, I just prefer to hear the "odd idiosyncrasies" of the instrument along with the tune.

This is also why I think that a lute with fixed frets being played from modern standard notation is not really a good idea. For the convenience of the player these things might be preferable but if serving the convenience of the performer is paramount then why is it I very often hear the argument that the performers number one priority is to serve the music? Should not the instrument also be designed to serve the music first and the player second?
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"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

Polifemo de Oro

Re: lute frets

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:27 pm

I guess it is just what one gets used to. I've played lutes of various configurations for almost as long as I have played guitars of various configurations. As a result I don't really consider one more difficult than the other to tune or play, just different.
Excellent commentary here. I agree with David from a guitarist's point of view; but I also agree with you, Scot. I suppose much of this does, indeed, come down to familiarity. I've been to very intimate recitals by Hopkinson Smith, Miguel Yisrael, and others and these excellent players do not seem to fret much (excuse the pun) with tuning their instruments. Still, there is a lot more to maintain on an historical instrument--you deal not only with all those extra strings but there is also the matter of the pegs themselves which you are constantly doping up (or so it seems; I guess this depends on ambient humidity, etc).

One thing is for sure: once you play period music on the instrument for which it was written, it simply does not satisfy to play this same music on the guitar. I used to play quite a few Weiss suites on guitar. I far prefer the lute for this music now.

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Re: lute frets

Post by Scot Tremblay » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:50 pm

Polifemo de Oro wrote: I've been to very intimate recitals by Hopkinson Smith, Miguel Yisrael, and others and these excellent players do not seem to fret much (excuse the pun) with tuning their instruments....
Speaking of Miguel Yisrael, he has come out with a line of Chinese made lutes which are quite affordable and are receiving rave reviews from players and luthiers alike (well, some of the luthiers are a little choked... :nerveux: ). He doesn't profess that they are to be replacing a hand made instrument by a top lute maker but are designed to fill the very big need for a high quality student/entry level professional instrument. Much the same as the Cordoba guitars or some of Kenny Hill and others, student model guitars made off shore. A good product for new and amateur to semi-pro players that won't break the bank. I would strongly suggest checking out his site for more information. Look for Le Luth Doré.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Miguel is a cyber friend of mine but I do not have any connection to the product. I just believe it is a superb instrument and is well worth looking at if one is interested in getting into the lute to supplement the classical guitar.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

Polifemo de Oro

Re: lute frets

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:24 am

Miguel is a cyber friend of mine
He plays the most exquisite de Visée and Gaultier (Ennemond) on the planet! He is a player of very uncommon refinement. :D

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Re: lute frets

Post by 2handband » Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:34 am

You guys have given me a lot to think about. Right now I'm considering getting an 8 string guitar (I was planning on a new instrument this fall anyway), getting into late Renaissance lute tuning and immersing myself in that music for awhile. If it seems like the right thing I may then consider a lute.

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pogmoor
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Re: lute frets

Post by pogmoor » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:40 am

Polifemo de Oro wrote: He plays the most exquisite de Visée and Gaultier (Ennemond) on the planet! He is a player of very uncommon refinement. :D
+1
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mc1
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Re: lute frets

Post by mc1 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:00 pm

i have miguel's "the court of bayreuth" cd which i really enjoy. i'll have a look for the de visee and gaultier.

Polifemo de Oro

Re: lute frets

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:49 pm

Taken at a small recital in Berkeley, California.
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MartinCogg
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Re: lute frets

Post by MartinCogg » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:21 pm

Once upon a time I was perfectly happy playing lute music on guitar (3rd = F#) but curiosity it was, rather
than discontent, created me a lute... which was fun for a few years, though I never quit sometimes playing lute music
on cg - specially for more difficult pieces - then gradually found myself playing lute less and less. Last few years it's only
been seeing the light of day once in a blue moon and really needs re-stringing and re-fretting but I can't be
bothered - I really prefer playing the modern guitar.

Then having been prompted to pick up my lute yesterday, and it annoying me on account of needing a lot of
re-whatsittings, I picked it up again today so it could annoy me some more (scratching an itch)...

Decided to go fretless for a while, chopped them all off - suddenly it's lots of fun again :)

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MartinCogg
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Re: lute frets

Post by MartinCogg » Tue Jul 21, 2015 11:14 pm

Oh well, that was fun, almost a week dreaming of Araby - fretless got me enjoying my lute again at least - today I put new
frets on... new strings tomorrow.

And, relevant to OP - I may become indifferent to my lute at times, but I've never wished it had metal frets.

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Tonyyyyy
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Re: lute frets

Post by Tonyyyyy » Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:06 pm

I just read an interesting article http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/a ... ng/402205/
We could compare the old style nib pen - with its leaks and inconveniences but the potential for great calligraphy - to the olde instruments. Its unfair to the modern guitar to compare it to something as inexpressive as a ball pen . But if we think about the way that the two pens with their different principles lead us change our writing style, we might also agree that that the relative weirdness of the lute (and the baroque guitar) really forces us to modify our playing . Disturbing at first, but not really a bad thing.It can lead to strange and interesting results, an expansion of our sound-world and our approach to interpretation

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