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Sarge Gerbode's Lute Page

Here you will find more than 3000 lute pieces in French tablature in the following formats: Fronimo (ft2 and ft3), from , TAB from , midi, and PDF (which you can read using Acrobat Reader). (Why the different formats?).  I apologize to those who prefer other formats, such as Spanish or Italian, but I believe French is the most widely used format, though it is easy to change to another format -- even German tab (not that anyone would really want to do this…)!

I have collected these pieces over the years from the internet or have entabulated and/or arranged or realized them myself. I have edited all of them and formatted them to fit nicely on US letter size paper (8.5 x 11 in), though some are formatted for US legal size (8.5 x 14 in). I have not formatted any for A4, as life is too short. Again, if you have Fronimo, it is pretty easy to reformat these to taste.  I have tried to create performable copy in all cases. These pieces are mostly for renaissance lute, but quite a few are for baroque lute and archlute, and a very few for theorbo, cittern, bandora, guitar etc. Other pieces include songs and continuo pieces, listed by composer. Under Lute ensemble in the list of composers, you will find pieces for two or more lutes.  Source facsimiles are now grouped together in one place.

This material is now mirrored at lute.omerkatzir.com, thanks to the good offices of and on www.lute.ru/gerbode, thanks to , who has also translated the site into Russian at  www.lute.ru/gerbode/ru.  I will try to keep these sites as updated as possible, but gerbode.net is likely to be the latest and greatest.  If anyone wants to contribute stuff to my site, I now have an ftp directory dedicated to lute.  Details here.  I also keep a compressed tar file (very large) of the entire composer list in this location, with the date in the filename, for those who might want to download it (latest was 16Jun09).  I feel more secure with these data in several different places.

I have some idiosyncratic notational conventions.  I hope they are helpful rather than confusing.

I am happy to announce that I have finished a complete re-editing and reformatting of all the Fronimo files in my collection (6778 of them).  All are now in the latest Fronimo 3 format, so you will need a current version of Fronimo to open them.  I have also updated the pdf files.  In editing these files, I have tried to use "canonical" titles and composer names and to eliminate spelling variations wherever possible, and have inserted the names of the "original composers", where known, in parentheses under the title.  For instance, where Albert de Rippe intabulates "Douce memoire", de Rippe is given as the composer and (Pierre Sandrin) as the original composer.  In my footnote credits, I have included credits for Intabulator, Arranger, Editor, Contributor, and Encoder, where known and where appropriate.  "Intabulator" is the one that puts the music into tab format, and "Encoder" is the one who actually does the data entry to create the Fronimo, TAB, or Django file that I work from.  In all cases, as I said, I have edited and formatted each piece and take responsibility for any errors therein.  I hope you will continue to notify me of any errors found.  I have updated the Excel spreadsheet to reflect the approximate current state of the data.  It also contains hyperlinks to Fronimo, midi, TAB, and pdf files for each entry.  If also has other data, such as key and (in some cases) type of piece.  A lot more data entry is needed to make it complete, but it's a start.  If you can read the Excel file, that is probably the easiest way of finding things.

NEW

04Mar12:    Completed work on Luis de Narváez'  Los seys libros del Delphin (1538). I also have a cleaned-up version of the source.  The first two books consist of an exploration of the 8 Modes.  Highly contrapuntal and interesting stuff, and fairly easy, reminiscent of Francesco da Milano, which is not surprising since Narváez studied with Francesco. Book 3 has three intabulations of masses and five French chansons. Book 4 has two sets of variations on Hymns.  Book 5 contains Spanish pieces:  romances and villancicos.  Book 6  has three sets of variations.  Books 3, 4, and 5 have melody lines in the tab highlighted in red, with underlying text, much more carefully done than in Fuenllana.  I have put these melodies into mensural notation.

18Feb12:    Completed work on Book 6 of Orphenical Lyra, which completes the entire work.  Book 6 consists of a hodge-podge of stuff : liturgical intabulations, villancicos, ensaladas, fantasies, tientos.  The three ensaladas are the longest lute works I have yet encountered.  Book 6 also includes works for 5- and 4-course instruments; for each of these, I have added an arrangement for 6-courses.  For the vocal pieces, I have added a mensural part, as I did for Book 5.

28Jan12:    Completed work on Book 5 of Orphenical Lyra, again, adding mensural parts to the tab, following the red tab characters.  Book 5 consists entirely of intabulations of secular vocal pieces -- strombottos, sonetos, villancicos, villanescas, and romances (ballads)  by French, Italian, and Spanish composers. The pieces are uniformly of good quality and amazingly free of errors.  Although there is no errata sheet, it looks as though some knowledgeable person has written in the corrections, perhaps a long time ago. Often, as was the case elsewhere, Fuenllana has chosen to highlight the bass part (e.g., in Tant Que Vivray) and, rarely, one of the inner parts, maybe because he thought everyone should know the top part anyway.  To make a proper lute song, one would need to tease out the top part.  I have not tried to do this, but it would be a good exercise. Most of his stuff is strictly contrapuntal, which should make the job easier.

01Jan12:    Completed a new version of Book 2 of Orphenica Lyra, adding mensural vocal parts to the tab.  This was quite an undertaking.  In most cases, I did not have access to the original vocal models, which did not necessarily match the tab or text very closely, and the duration of the notes and the text underlay, particularly the latter, required some judgments which the reader might not agree with, but I gave it my best shot.  On note durations, I believe I came pretty close, although sometimes a note restruck in the tab is meant to be held in the vocal part, and (rarely) the reverse is true.  The text underlay is fairly arbitrary, so there are a lot of judgment calls..  I tried to give more duration to accented notes than unaccented ones. Anyway, for someone who wants to sing these religious motets, it's a start.  I also attempted to translate the Latin texts into English, with varying success. It was fun trying to dust off my Grammar School Latin. Between my Latin dictionary and the internet, I think I did OK.

24Dec11:    Quite awhile back, I did a partial edition of Fuenllana's Orphenica Lyra.  I have now completed work on Book 3 of this tome, consisting of 5- and 6-part motets.  In this edition, I have rendered in mensural notation the parts given in red tab numbers in the original, as well as the mensural parts contained in the original. Since Fronimo does not, as yet, produce colored tab characters, this edition places a dot next to the notes colored red in the original to indicate a part that may be sung, as in Daza, but I have also added a mensural part made out of these dotted tab characters.  The text underlay involves considerable guesswork, as the positioning is very approximate in the original.  In most cases, I have not had access to a vocal model to check note durations and text positioning, and where I have found a vocal model, its notes do not exactly correspond to those given by Fuenllana, but I have given it my best shot.   I have had some valuable help in deciphering clef signs from Art Ness and David Tayler, as well as from a useful article by David Ward in JLSA v.15, which argued convincingly that these signs bear no relation to pitch and exist only as an assist to transposition. I have also posted the original facsimile on my site, so it should be easy to spot any errors I have made in my edition.

30Nov11:    Edition of Estaban Daza's El Parnasso (1576) posted.  These are amongst the best Spanish pieces, in my opinion.  For each piece, Daza has placed dots next to a particular voice in the piece, in case someone wants to sing that line.  He places text more or less under the dotted notes, but the exact duration of each note and the positioning of the text, where present, is somewhat indeterminate.  Also, some dots appear to be missing and others extraneous, requiring a lot of judgment calls. Otherwise, there are almost no errors in the entire work (maybe five, total), after correcting with Daza's quite exhaustive errata sheet.

Book 1 consists of fantasies by Daza; Book 2 consists of motets by various composers, and Book 3 consists of songs by various composers -- a romance, villanescas, villancicos, one Spanish cancion, and two intabulations of French songs.  In Book 3, I have attempted to reconstruct the vocal line from the tablature. In Book 2, I punted on trying to reconstruct it, as it was too indeterminate, and I lacked a crib sheet consisting of a separate vocal model.  I contented myself with placing the text under the line of tablature, as it was in the original.  Someone with access to the vocal models could take it from there.

19Oct11:    Source for Estaban Daza's "El Parnasso" (1576) posted.

18Sep11:    Sources for  Cambridge University Library MS Dd.3.18, as well as CUL MS Dd.9.33.c posted.  Fronimo editions should  follow in awhile.  I am slowly cranking my way through the more legible and complete microfilm sources.

16Sep11:     Complete Cosens Lute book posted.  This contains a host of excellent lute pieces, mostly by English composers.  These were written for 7-course lute, but I am also made arrangements for 8 courses, where it seemed appropriate.  And I have made the sources available as well.

07Jul11:    Fronimo edition of the John Sturt Lute Book, posted, by request of Sylvain Bergeron. This contains 85 high-quality pieces, including six duets.  The last of these is an allemande with a very strange tuning.  I struggled with the tunings until , kindly did the detective work and solved the mystery for me.  I also have the Sturt sources for comparison.

05Jun11:    Fronimo edition of the Jane Pickering lute book posted.  This is yet another treasure trove of the very best lute music, mostly English.  Included are 16 of the most famous of lute duets, and the rest are solos.  The latter part of the Pickering book is in a different hand, not as precise and pretty, but still readable.  These are early baroque tunes in a variety of different tunings.  It is meticulously fingered with both right- and left-hand fingerings.   On the whole, both parts of the Pickering book are relatively free of errors, compared to printed sources (which actually isn't saying much).  I also have the Pickering sources.

07May11:    Major data-entry project completed, consisting of entering database information into the Fronimo "Section Annotations" text field which otherwise I do not use.  These data do not appear in the PDF's and are used only to specify certain parameters about each of the 7125 Fronimo files in my site, especially key, type, difficulty, entire ensemble, particular part within an ensemble, piece name (such as "Suite in C minor"), section of a piece's name (such as "2. Minuet"), etc.  In all, there are 27 different parameters.  Any parameter connected to the file  can be specified in the "Section Annotations" field, but most are mined out of the title, subtitle, and footnote fields, which also follow a strict format.  Here you will find more data on the various formats I am using within each Fronimo file.

I have done minor reorganization of  the files in this collection, gotten rid of some cruft, and made some corrections, so you may experience a few broken links from other sites until these links are updated.  All the PDF, midi, and TAB files should now correspond 1 to 1 with the Fronimo files.

The data from the existing Fronimo files on this site is contained in an excel file for your convenience, pending the creation of an actual database with search capabilities.

07May11:    Added several excellent pieces by Daniel Bacheler.  Most are quite difficult, but rewarding.

27Apr11:    Angelo Gardano's Balletti Moderni Facili (1611) and Cesare Negri's "Inventione" (1604) posted, as well as cleaned-up facsimiles of the same (Gardano, Negri). These two are logically done together, because most of the pieces in Gardano's book are direct copies of  pieces in  Negri's book, including misprints, with a few more misprints added on.  These are mostly pretty easy pieces,. Some, though are fairly famous, such as Bianco Fiore.

I have recently posted a cleaned-up facsimile of Attaignant's "Tres breve et familiere introduction (1529)", as well as a Fronimo edition of the same, containing 120 pages of vocal and non-vocal lute music and a translation of the introduction itself.  The original is fraught with errors and inconsistencies and required a lot of editorial attention.

I have posted a set of lute songs and solos by Arnolt Schlick (1512), including the famous "Maria zart".  These were kindly contributed by .

Following Arthur Ness's suggestion, I completed an edition of Michelagnolo Galilei's First book of Tablature (1620).  These are pieces for 10-course renaissance lute in a later style, such as you would see at the end of Varietie of Lute Lesson's.  They are quite pretty and reasonably easy to play (insofar as a 10-course lute is easy to play at all).  Included in this edition are also ten pieces that were handwritten into the original book.

I completed my work on Bésard's Thesaurus Harmonicus (1603).  A lot of good stuff, there, though there are a large number of errors (average about 3-4 per piece), some spotted by the composer in his errata sheet, most not.   In most cases I think I have been able to suss out what the composer meant.  For now, I am leaving these pieces under "Bésard" in the directory tree, though eventually I will split them out by their actual composers (a minority are by Bésard himself).  Included also is a cleaned-up version of  most of the books of Thesaurus.  The quality of the material in Thesaurus Harmonicus is of the same high standard as Varietie of Lute Lessons, but there is much, much more of it.  Varietie has 7 each of fantasies, pavans, galliards, almains, corantos, and voltas.  In contrast, Thesaurus has 37 preludes, 41 fantasies, 20 madrigals and villanellas, 26 Airs de cour, 17 passamezzi,one bergamasca, one pavan, 35 allemands, 8 Polish dances, 26 branles, 17 "ballets", 32 courantes, 35 voltes, and more.

Bésard, or his publisher, was not exactly modest.   The first part of Book 1 consists of a sizeable collection (in Latin -- sorry; it's not my native language) of poems praising Bésard and his teacher Laurencini.  A particularly silly item is a "Dialogue between a Muse and Apollo", in which the writer has Apollo giving up his cithara in shame -- plectrum, strings and all -- because he has to acknowledge that Bésard is superior to him.

Book 1 consists of preludes, many by Laurenzino Tracetti and Diomedes Cato, Book 2 of Fantasias, Book 3 of villanellae and madrigals, Book 4 of Airs de Cour, most of which are not in the Verchaly volume, Book 5 of passamezzi, one pavan, and one bergamasco.  These amazing "passamezzi on steroids" are somewhat difficult, but they truly set a new standard for the art form. Book 6 consists of 52 galliards, Book 7 of allemandes and Polish dances.  The latter seem to be fairly short and simple, except for one elaborate set of variations on "Une jeune fillette". Book 8 consists of branles and ballets, Book 9 of "courantes" (AKA correntes or corantos) and voltas. These are short, very light, mostly easy pieces.  Some in Book 8 and in Book 10 are written in a scordatura tuning.  I have arranged these also for normal tuning.  Book 10 contains miscellaneous pieces.  It seems like a bit of an afterthought.

In the shorter pieces, throughout Thesaurus Harmonicus, I have inserted repeats where the repeats were not already written into the body of the piece (for instance, as diminutions).  I have also renumbered the pieces from 1 to 404 and have modified all the files to reflect this numbering.  I have made a Table of Contents as well.

To Err is Human; to Correct, Divine

Although I have tried to be as accurate as possible, I'm sure many errors remain. I have cited the original source (MS or otherwise) whenever I knew it, and the original contributor/entabulator, though over the years much of this data has been lost. If you feel you are the one that originally contributed a particular piece and have not been acknowledged in a footnote for having done so, or if you know the source of a particular piece for which a source is not cited or wrongly cited, please email so I can update the footnote. Also, if you find errors in any of the pieces, can you please email me and, if possible, attach the modified version?  Click here for correction acknowledgments.

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I hope you get and give a great deal of pleasure from playing these pieces!

Sarge Gerbode

You can email me at: with any comments, corrections, or special requests.

If you are curious about my other identity as a psychiatrist and philosopher, you can find out more about me by clicking here.



Romanian translation of this web page