Nephthysalis wrote: ↑
Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:29 pm
Just got a question and thought it would probably fit here better than making a new thread...
Can you string a baroque lute as a 10+ course Renaissance tuning? Hypothetically, is there any reason why you couldn't?
As far as I am aware, some of the baroque lutes in museums are just renaissance lutes that have been adjusted/adapted to fit the addition of new strings (bass riders, altered bridges etc)
I'm no expert; Rob is far more knowledgeable than I. I don't even own a lute. But my thoughts are as follows:
First, the French baroque Dm tuning evolved because the mostly 4ths tuning was never a good idea for solo instrumental music on a longer-scale instrument. Look at the guitar repertoire; you either get brutal stretches or a lot of compromises. It may also be possible to improve on the French tuning. Andre Burguete from the Liuto Forte company recommended to me a modified version which tunes the 6th string to Bb instead of A. I'm going to try it.
With an eye to all of this I've arranged several CG pieces for the French Dm tuning, and for the modified tuning I above described. I've only been able to test them with a six string guitar (I have an 8 string on the way) but based on that limited model they all work. I can give you a better report soon, but I'm already optimistic. I find it curious that most lutenists seem to consider the Dm tuning and it's derivatives only suitable for the performance of 17th and 18th century music; I think the potential might expand far beyond that. Consider this: so far I've managed to come up with arrangements for four guitar pieces in the tuning, with 100% note for note fidelity to the original and I believe completely playable on an instrument with as few as 8 strings. By contrast, I have never heard a guitar arrangement of a Weiss piece that did not sound completely mangled.
A logical corollary: if the CG pieces are playable in French baroque tuning, Renaissance era lute pieces ought to be equally transcribable. I haven't tried it yet, but I have a couple of Dowland pieces on my short list of things to attempt. I have further transcriptions on hold till I get my 8 string in a couple of days.
Any tuning is a compromise, but I think some are more so than others. I've been doing a lot of historical research on the lute recently, and have been struck by the extent to which the instrument was in a constant state of evolution, both in the expansion of its resources and the refinement of its tuning. By contrast the guitar has been in relative stasis for a couple of centuries. My theory... and that's all it is: the history of plucked instruments since the middle 18th century has been dominated by the guitar. And the history of the guitar has been dominated by its primary role as a folk instrument. Attempts to expand or modify the guitar's resources have either fallen by the wayside or been relegated to fringe status because nothing that interferes with the ability to play major and minor chords across most or all of the strings in a variety of keys will be tolerated.
Rob or anybody else: if I am full of it on any point, please correct me.