minstrel: guitar lute & others

Lutr Ruckstaendewerfer lutr at betahelix.net
Tue Jul 15 02:04:55 PDT 2008

Lisa and Ken Theriot wrote:
> Lutr wrote:
> [Yes, lutes were strummed in period.  It wasn't common,]
> That's why I said "in general", which I added after reviewing my post
> and thinking that someone was going to say, "But..."

Fair enough. 

>   I'm sure you agree that tuning a lute and playing it like a guitar is a bad idea.

A bad idea?  I'm not sure what you mean.  If you mean that there isn't 
any evidence (*) of the "standard" modern guitar tuning being used on 
historical instruments pre-17th century and that therefore someone 
interested in performing music from that period would be making more 
work for themselves by trying to perform it in modern tuning, I'd agree 
with that.  Or if you mean that someone wanting to strum the hell out of 
some power chords should avoid using a lute to do so, yes, I definitely 
agree.  But I can certainly think of other goals, for which modern 
tuning could serve as well or better than renaissance tuning:  composing 
original music in a period style, say, or filking.  If I wanted to work 
out some Chuck Berry on my lute, I'd have no hesitation in tuning the 
third course up half a step and playing straight from the guitar tab.  
If I planned to do it often, I would probably ask a good luthier if I 
should use a different size string to avoid unequal tension across the 
strings, but I'd be surprised if he or she didn't tell me not to worry 
about it. 

(*) read:  I'm not aware of any evidence.  But I'm hardly an expert, I'm 
fairly new to historical plucked instruments.

I like the quote from Luis de Briceño.  I'll have to hang on to that. 


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