Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

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gilles T
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Location: Paris, France

Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by gilles T » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:49 pm

Hello all,

I'm seriously considering converting my student archlute into a baroque lute. I know I'll have to change the strings of the "petit jeu" to accomodate the D minor tuning, but my concern is the basses, or diapasons which will remain single strings. Are there any evidence that some baroque lutes were strung with single basses ? Or is it totally irrelevant ?

Thanks in advance,

Gilles

edwardsguitar
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Location: Oregon

Re: Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by edwardsguitar » Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:28 pm

Interesting question. I recently got an 11 course Baroque lute, and have done some reading up on strings then and now. There's still a lot we don't know apparently about what they used for bass strings and how they were made. One thing which makes sense is that gut strings as they get thicker (and duller sounding) for use in the lower registers, need the octaves to clarify the pitch. Wound strings, which were available sometime in the 1660's (though they took awhile to catch on) have a strong fundamental and don't need the octaves (to my ear anyway) to have the pitch sound distinct. However, there is tradition. I'm thinking of leaving the octaves off on the 7th-11th courses because I find it easier to stop the basses when appropriate without the octave string there. But most likely I will stay with the octaves if it still sounds better with them. Theorbos of the period often had single strings. I'm sure there is someone out there with more detailed information. I haven't heard evidence of Baroque lutes with single strings beyond the 1st and 2nd course, which is traditional.

gilles T
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:11 pm
Location: Paris, France

Re: Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by gilles T » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:01 pm

Thank you edwardsguitar for your kind and useful answer ; that's exactly what I'm waiting for : personnal experiences, advices.
I did quite a lot of research on that subject — and I think I have a decent knowledge of lute history — but didn't find any certainty.
It's quite difficult to make up my mind between "historically informed performance" and what I can do with my own limitations (of course, it would be much more simple to purchase an average Baroque lute ; but I can't afford it for now).

Other comments are welcomed,

Cheers,
G.

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RobMacKillop
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by RobMacKillop » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:35 pm

Here's an interesting picture of Adam Falkanhagen. Make of it what you will.

Image

gilles T
Posts: 155
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:11 pm
Location: Paris, France

Re: Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by gilles T » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:48 am

Dear Rob MacKillop,

Thank you for the interesting and curious picture. Looks like an "angelique" to me. What do you think ?
regards,
Gilles

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RobMacKillop
Posts: 2015
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:24 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Baroque lute with single strings as basses?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:01 pm

It's an oddity, for sure. There are enough pegs for 13 courses, eleven pairs, but only single strings. The artsist might have been taking liberties. On the other hand, it could be an example of a player using a double-strung instrument, but using only single strings.
Angelique? Hard to tell. Certainly there survives no music by Flakenhagen for Angelique. Old instruments were, though, adapted by luthiers. Who knows? Not I.

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