Theory and practice of play
Lute pitch. Strings

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  • Renaissance lute. From the XVIth till the middle of the XVIIth century.
    During the XVI century existed seven dimensions of the lute, their mensure fluctuated within 30-90 cm. Small octave lute, small discant lute, discant lute, alto lute, tenor lute, bass lute, contrabass lute. The main lute in the period of the XVIth century to the middle of the XVIIth century was the tenor lute.

    Bass strings were often doubled into the sonority.

  • Baroque lute. XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. Lutes pith in the first years of the XVIIth century, a period when the lute receives ten-eleven choirs and the pith in D-moll key.

    Approximately in 1720 in Germany were added two new choirs and the total number becomes thirteen.

  • Theorbo, Chitarrone, Archilute... (there is a certain confusion in designations)
    Lute family differed by a constant evolution, this gave a ground for the creation of different instrument kinds. Our ancestors of the XVIIth - XVIIIth centuries were not unanimous by the determination of different instruments and it is difficult now to give an exact description of every type. For example, "Chitarrone" and "Theorbo" are the italian designations where they were invented. Practically this is one and the same instrument. Archilute differs from Theorbo only by its dimension and its pith. Easier to say, all these instruments can be named as "derivatives of the lute".
    By origin of these instruments can be supposed: earlier the lute had natural strings (sinews) which were good in the upper register and in the low register they hadn't enough power. Musicians and makers who was disturbed by this circumstance, added low strings to the lute, they must be longer than high strings. The elongation of lute neck made inconvenience in the playing. It was decided to give the expansion of the mensure in the low register in form of the additional neck head. Now appeared more distinct, clear and strong bass, and the instrument became more even. This decision was satisfactory and it was accepted. Since that time exist different lute dimensions provided by those heads. Low register expansion gave positive moments in the ensemble playing too.

  • Archilute.
    Very small size, pith of the first six strings is similar to the lute.

  • Theorbo.
    Bigger and even very big with the special pitch, two first strings lowered on octave.

  • Lute strings.
    At present time all lute performers use nylon strings (full nylon and bass strings: nylon with copper thread). Obviously this is a recent practice. All lute performers of the past used sinew strings (natural). Sounding difference between nylon and sinews is very noticeable. Every luteist, every lute amateur natural strings. He would feel differences in lute sounding which we know today and how it differs from that which heard our ancestors.