Forms of the Lute
Baroque Lute
    This late Baroque lute design has two pegboxes, with the second one on a curved extension of the neck sometimes called a “swan neck.” It has 13 courses, 8 in the main pegbox and 5 in the second one. Only the strings from the main pegbox pass across the fretboard. The length of this shorter set of strings is usually a little over 70 cm. Click on the picture to view a larger version of it.

    The normal tuning scheme for a 13-course Baroque lute is shown below. The first two courses are single-strung. Tuning is in unison for the pairs of strings in the remaining fretted courses and in octaves for the basses. The tuning of the unfretted bass strings may be altered to suit the key of a particular piece, raising or lowering one or more courses by half a step, as indicated by the accidentals in parentheses.


    The most prolific composer of music for the Baroque lute was Silvius Leopold Weiß (1687 – 1750). Others who wrote primarily for this late form of the instrument include Ernst Gottlieb Baron, Adam Falkenhagen, Joachin Bernard Hagen and David Kellner. Johann Sebastian Bach designated a small number of compositions for the lute; a copy of the manuscript of one of the Bach Lute Suites (BWV 995) is available on another website.

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Last updated 8 September AD 2005 – DFH