Theory and practice of play
Lute fingering

More on topic :


Library «Tabulatures and notes»

GO >>


Video «Lute instruments»

GO >>


Forum

GO >>





Holding of the instrument

Till the end of the XVth century the lute was played exclusively by the plectrum. Approximately near 1500 the kind of sound producing changed for the fingers playing. The appearance of the instrument changed too. At first sounds were produced by the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, later were added the third and the fourth fingers. With the changing of sound producing technique the luteist plays sitting.

Left Hand

In most cases sign (+) was used for the left hand, it was on the left of the letter (note) and indicated that this note must hold max long until the movement is finished. Cross was used in German tabulature. Like it is the application of the sign (*) which was set before or after the letter.

Indication for the left hand fingering are seldom in tabulatures. In most cases they are only in textbooks.

For example, Neusidler uses for left hand indications points above the letters:

fingersatz - forefinger
fingersatz - third finger
fingersatz - fourth finger
fingersatz - little finger

Ganassi (Lettione Seconda 1543) uses also points but in the following way:

fingersatz - forefinger
fingersatz - third finger
fingersatz - fourth finger
fingersatz - little finger

Ganassi uses in the tabulature the left and the right hand simultaneously as the single fingering set, what makes the decoding not easy.

At the same time into the French tabulature are entered numbers (1 - forefinger, 2 - third finger etc.)

Judenkunig doesn't use fingering versions for the left hand, he explains theoretically which fingers must press strings (see the illustration).

Right hand

The best pinch, by the words of Baron is: Centro spatii - between the stand and the star, approximately 1/5 mensure.

Right hand designations:

fingersatz - thumb
fingersatz - forefinger
fingersatz - third finger
fingersatz - fourth finger

Right hand designations (Ganassi):


fingersatz - forefinger
fingersatz - third finger
fingersatz - fourth finger

In Judenkunigs tabulatures, the spur in the above cross line of the rhythmical symbol is placed for the forefinger designation:

Pinch of the third and forefinger..

Ornamentic signs and other.

Different decorations were practically not indicated in tabulatures. They were presented in playing practice. The performer applied them and enriched the playing with such decorations according to his taste, experience and playing practice.