minstrel: Lutes and Dances

Stephen Fryer sfryer at prcn.org
Thu Nov 4 20:27:33 PST 2004

Recently, after playing several 16th century Italian dance pieces, I was asked
the question "Since the lute is not a very loud instrument, would it be
appropriate to accomapny dancing?"

This is something I rather wonder about myself and the best answer I could
give was that a number of Italian dance manuals give the dance music in lute
tablature.  Caroso in "Il Ballarino" (1581) and Negri in "Nuove inventioni di
balli" (1604) give the melody of the dance in "standard" notation plus a fully
realized version in lute tablature.  Caroso in "Nobiltà de dame" give fully
realized vesions in both "standard" notation and lute tablature.

It would seem from this that the lute was in fact used for accompanying
dancing in Italy in the late 16th century in spite of its limited volume.

Perhaps someone here has some further insight into this question?

Stephen Fryer
Lund Computer Services

The more answers I find, the more questions I have

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