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Igor Varfolomeev's site about lute and guitar music


Touching hand to
strings of the lute

A Brief History
of the instrument

Lute music story
A Brief History of the instrument
Translated by Google Translate

Lute - ancient stringed musical instrument. The word "lute" is probably derived from the Arabic word «al'ud» («tree»), although recent studies prove that Eckhard Neubauer 'ud is just one Arabized Persian word rud, having a value string, string instrument, or lute. At the same time, Gianfranco Lotti believes that in early Islam "tree" was a term with a dismissive connotation due to its existing ban on any instrumental music. Artist lute called lutenist and master manufacturers - Luthier.

Lute made almost entirely of wood. Deck, made of a thin sheet of wood (usually spruce) has an oval shape. In all types of lute deck contains a single or sometimes triple outlet instead of a sound hole. Sockets are usually richly decorated.

Lute body assembled from separate ribs solid wood (maple, cherry, ebony, rosewood, etc.). Unlike most modern stringed instruments neck lute mounted flush with the deck, and does not hang over it. Neck lute usually made of light wood with a coating of black wood.

Lute origin is not known. Various embodiments of the tool used since ancient times in cultures of Egypt, Hittite, Greek, Roman, Bulgaria, Turkey, China, Cilicia. At the beginning of VII century, similar in shape lute versions appeared in Persia, Armenia, Byzantium and the Arab Caliphate. In the VI century, thanks to the Bulgarians, short-necked lute spread across the Balkan peninsula, and in the VIII century was introduced by the Moors in Spain and Catalonia culture, thus displacing dominated earlier in the Mediterranean with a long neck lute, cittern and Panduru. History of the past on this, however, was not the end based on them having Italian guitar, and kolashone kitarrone.

At the junction of the XV and XVI centuries many Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese luteists along with lute became vihuela de mano use ("manual vihuela"), a tool that form close to the viola da gamba and whose order corresponds to the ranks of a lute. Vihuela called "viola da mano" later spread in Spain were under the power regions of Italy, especially in Sicily, Kingdom of Naples and the Papal States under Pope Alexander VI.

Perhaps the most important "transit point" between the Muslim and European Christian cultures in this case it should be considered as Sicily, where the lute was brought Byzantine or later Saracen musicians. Due to the fact that these singers luteists were court musicians in the period following the revival of Christianity on the island, lute more than any other musical instruments depicted in paintings on the ceiling built in 1140 the church Cappella Palatina (Palermo, Italy), osnovannnoy Norman king Roger II. By XIV century lute already spread throughout Italy and was able to get from Palermo in German-speaking countries, probably due to the influence exerted on the cultures of the neighboring states of the Hohenstaufen dynasty.

Medieval lute had four or five pairs of strings. Sound production was carried out using a plectrum. Lute size varied: there is documented evidence that the end of the Renaissance, there were up to seven sizes (includes the bass lute). Apparently, in the Middle Ages mostly lute used for accompaniment. Number of surviving scores of music written before the XVI century, which with a high degree of confidence can be attributed to the specially composed for lute, - very little. Most likely, this is due to the fact that in the Middle Ages and in the early era renessasa lute accompaniment wore requiring no musical notation improvisational nature.

In the last decades of the XV century, luteists phased out in favor of finger plectrum ways to play more suitable for the performance of polyphonic music. Number of pairs of strings increased to six or more. In the XVI century lute became the main solo instrument of his time, however, continued to be used for backing singers.

By the end of the Renaissance the number of pairs of strings increased to ten, and in the Baroque era reached fourteen (sometimes reaching up to nineteen). Tools, numbering up to 26-35 strings, required changes in the very structure of the lute. At the time of completion of the history of the development tool arhilyutnya, theorbo and torban were fitted with extensions built into the main peg head, creating extra length rezoniruyushuyu bass strings . Human palm unable to reach fourteen strings for clamping, so the bass strings were hung outside the neck and never pinched left hand.

In the era of Baroque Lute functions were largely relegated to the basso continuo accompaniment, and she was gradually displaced in this ipostasti keyboards. Since the XIX century lute almost fell out of use, but several of its varieties continued to exist in Germany, Sweden and Ukraine.