CONSTRUCTION AND TUNING
PATRONAGE AND EMPLOYMENT
LEARNING THE LUTE
THE LUTE IS ONE OF the most attractive and delicate of all Renaissance musical instruments. Its principal charac teristics are an exceptional lightness of construction, a rounded back constructed from a number of ribs and the peg-box set at an angle to the fingerboard.
The play of light on the polished back of a lute, and the delicate detail of its construction fascinated painters throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond, and it is always to be found in depictions of collections of instruments, and often in the background of a portrait or group, particularly where the objects had symbolic significance. The lute or lutenist was often used to portray the sense of hearing in allegorical representations of the five senses. It was a physical example of geometric perfection and scientific precision in its shape, dimensions and the positions of its frets, and was frequently used as the representative of all music and artistic invention. Its geometrical accuracy and symmetry were also seen as symbolic of the perfection of nature. More than any other instrument, the lute has come to symbolise the renaissance in the modern mind.
In 1581 Vincenzo Galilei described the lute in the most basic terms as a 'simple piece of hollow wood over which are stretched four, six, or more strings of the gut of a dumb beast or of some other material.' This description could be applied to virtually any of the family of fretted string instruments from the period 1500-1700. By 1550, virtually all lutes were strung with six courses of strings, and seven courses were not unusual in 1580. Originally there would have been only five courses, and iconographic evidence indicates four-course instruments from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Gut was tied around the neck of the instrument for frets, but the length of the neck limited the number of this type of fret that could be used, although even very early lutes seem to use wooden frets glued to the soundboard. Nevertheless, the pitch range of the instrument was limited by the length of the neck.
With the addition of the sixth course and wooden soundboard frets, the range of the instrument was gradually increased upward. At probably about the same time, there was a desire to increase the range downward, a development only made possible by the production of higher-quality gut strings. Lutes with up to 10 course s on a single pegbox gave basses down to a certain pitch, but the range could then be increased downward without any major improvement in gut string technology by adding a neck-extension that would provide the player with the extra length necessary for the string to vibrate at a low enough frequency to produce low notes while still retaining a reasonable tension.
Extensions to the neck and bridge meant that the added courses did not necessarily lie over the fingerboard, and were therefore not stopped with the fingers of the left hand, resulting in large numbers of courses tuned diatonically in the basses. By 1600 it was common for lutes to have one or two added courses over the fingerboard, as this was feasible without making drastic changes to the neck or peg-box, and 10-course lutes were in use by 1610, though the added courses were rarely stopped. These changes were sufficient to circumvent the necessity of re-tuning the bass course of the old 6-course lute.
Typical eight-course tunings add low F and D to the basic six-course tuning. 10-course lutes were usually tuned diatonically down from the 6th course, and the music was notated below the 6 lines of the existing tablature system. By 1630, lutes with 12 or more courses were not uncommon, and luthiers were beginning to build instruments with widened fingerboards so that even the lowest bass courses could be stopped in the same way as the original six.
All changes to the notation of lute music can be traced to developments in the musical style, though it is possible to argue that the developments in musical style could not have taken place before the lutes were altered to allow them. Originally the lute was a relatively simple instrument with four or five courses, and was not clearly differentiated from other plucked string instruments. All but the treble course were strung in pairs, though there are references to double top strings,and many surviving old lutes are fitted for a double chanterelle. A sixth course was added probably around 1500, though different countries show varying traditions in instrument building. The most important period of development and growth for the lute repertory, particularly in England, revolves around this basically six-course instrument.
The terminology surrounding the instrument is often vague. The term 'lute' is frequently used to describe the generic family of plucked string instruments that includes the various sizes of lute, archlute, theorbo and chitarrone. The terms theorbo and chitarrone seem to be interchangeable in the eyes of most players, though not to quite such an extent in the eyes of builders. Music written for the theorbo or chitarrone before 1650 is all Italian, and although the music written in tablature for this family of instruments seems generally interchangeable, music for an instrument with a re-entrant tuning is not playable on an instrument without the re-entrant strings. This is particularly true towards the middle of the seventeenth century, when the bigger instruments became more common. In England the 'lute' repertory up to c1630 was almost certainly played on the lute itself, and not its larger cousins. Thomas Mace (in Mace 1676) was vociferous in his praise of the solo qualities of the instrument, and seems to have recommended it above the viol despite the latter's wider acceptance.
The reason for the undeserved obscurity of the lute repertory lies in the form of notation used for lute music. Tablatures were used for a number of instruments, but nowhere as effectively or consistently as for the lute. Rather than producing a notation representing the pitches and durations of the music, tablatures were basically a form of instructions telling the player where to place his fingers, but not what sounds to expect when he struck the notes. Modern notation represents the sounds the player should expect to hear, but not how to obtain them. Tablatures were not confined to lute music, and a number of other instrumental repertories used them, including viol and all other fretted plucked string instruments, keyboard instruments and some less commonly found for wind instruments. Since the sixteenth century all of these other repertories have also been transmitted using mensural notation, and by the end of the seventeenth century, virtually all music was using it. Any musician can interpret mensural notation on virtually any instrument he chooses. Where tablature is concerned, unless the musician is actually playing the correct instrument, the notation is meaningless, and it is only recently that musicians have again begun playing the lute. Most lutenists will play from tablature since it is a much more accurate notation for that particular instrument than modern mensural notation. That the system has survived and remains in use today says much, both about its appropriateness to the instrument and, more significantly, about its ability to convey all the information the player requires in order to perform the music.
French and Italian lute tablatures consist of a system of lines that represent the courses of the lute. German tablature was devised in such a way that every available note was allocated a different letter or symbol and thus did not require placement on a system of lines. Each line or course in French and Italian tablature represents a pitch and, although the precise frequency of the pitch intended is not fixed, it is the intervals between the courses that yield a particular pattern of pitches recognised as certain lute tunings. Virtually all music written for the lute before c1620 was intended for a lute tuned in vieil ton, or Renaissance-G tuning. This yielded the intervals: perfect 4th-perfect 4th-major 3rd-perfect 4th-perfect 4th, from the lowest sounding course to the highest, and the most common nominal pitch assigned to the bass and treble courses is G. After c1620 the harmonic demands of composers on their instruments required the alteration of one or more of those intervals, and a period in which a large number of different tunings came into use resulted. These tunings are now collectively described as transitional tunings, and are particularly associated with the French seventeenth-century repertory.
The frets along the fingerboard are spaced a semitone apart, and are represented in the notation by a consecutive sequence of letters or numbers depending on the type of tablature. The rhythm of the notes indicated is given by placing flags or mensural notes in the space above the stave.
French tablature is found in sources from France, England,the Low Countries and in seventeenth-century Germany, as well as being present in some Eastern European sources and one Italian source. French tablature usually employs six lines for a stave, the top line representing the highest-sounding course of the lute. The frets on the fingerboard are represented by the letters of the alphabet: a = open course, b = 1st fret and so on. The letters 'i' and 'j' were interchangeable during this period, but in tablature the letter between 'h' and 'k'usually resembles a modern letter 'y' more than either of these letters. In this system, the relevant fret is given the same letter on each course.
Time signatures are almost never indicated in French tablature sources before about 1620. They were irregularly used before that date on the continent in manuscript sources, but in English sources their use was comparatively rare even after 1620. Usually, the metre of the music was obvious from the position of the bar-lines that would be placed with the tactus, or by the grouping of the flags. When time signatures began to appear in these sources, they usually took the form of a number '3' to indicate triple division, or 'C' to indicate duple. The incidence of a source that uses neither rhythms nor bar-lines is very rare in England,and only found in the earliest sources, and only occurs in France after c1625 in pieces such as unmeasured preludes.
a /a //a ///a (11) (12) (13) (14)
Additional bass courses are indicated by writing a letter below the system of lines with short slashes to differentiate them from one another: a = 7th course, /a = 8th course, //a = 9th course, ///a = 10th course.
In later sources where more than ten courses are in use, the 11th and 12th courses are either indicated by using four or five slashes, or by numbers: sometimes '4' or '5' or alternatively, '11', '12', '13' or '14' below the lowest line, though this is most common in Italian sources and its appearance in French tablature is rather unusual. The advantage of the system of slashes meant that it was possible to write for stopped bass courses, though this requirement of the lower courses is relatively rare before 1630.
Italian tablature was generally used in Italy, Spain, southern France and southern Germany, as well as in some eastern European sources. It uses numbers to indicate the position of the fingers on the fingerboard, using (on the whole) the lowest line to represent the highest sounding course. Thus 0 = open course, 1 = first fret and so on up to 9 = ninth fret. The tenth fret is indicated by the letter X, with X surmounted by single and double dots appearing as early as 1508 for the 11th and 12th frets. Later standardisation of the tablature shows courses beyond the first six designated by various Arabic and Roman numerals or symbols written above the stave:
0 8 9 X 11 12 13 14
The use of symbols other than these usually reveals foreign input. Once again, the relevant fret is allocated the same number on each course, and the tablature usually employs a six-line stave. Italian sources also favoured mensura germanica for the indication of rhythm. Here also, bar-lines give the meter, but time signatures such as '3', 'C' or occasionally 'allabreve' are found. Unlike the French tablature sources, some entire manuscripts from the Italian repertory lack rhythms or barring, raising almost insurmountable questions of performance. Clearly these personal types of collections were not intended for general consumption, or as more than a reminder of the music for the scribe or lutenist who copied them.
German tablature is found in Germany, northern Italy, northern France, the Low
Countries, Czechoslovakia and some areas of the Baltic and Poland. German
tablature was devised to accommodate only five courses. When a sixth was added
the German type of shorthand was complicated by attempting to integrate a sixth
course into a definitively five-course system. Thus by 1600German tablature
was already heading for obsolescence. It had been conceived using a system of
different letters not only for the different frets, but also for the different
courses of the lute, making the use of a stave redundant (and in the process
greatly facilitating the printing of lute music), and had left no room for
expansion.The numerical sequence progressed across the courses rather than
along them, so that the open fifth course was '1', open fourth course was '2'
etc, up to the open first course which was '5'. The sequence then returns to
the fifth course where the first fret was indicate d by the letter 'a', and
first fret on the fourth course by the letter 'b' and so on. Once all the
letters of the alphabet were used up, two 'symbols' were introduced and then the alphabetical sequence was resumed
starting at 'a' again, with a line above all the letters. Since the sixth
course had been added after this system was already in place, its ciphers do
not fit into the overall sequence, and it required the introduction of a
further numerical or alphabetical sequence that did not overlap the ciphers
already in use. The open course was numbered
1, and the
subsequent frets were given capital letters A, B, C etc. Unfortunately, no
system for representing the sixth course seems to have become standard, with
the result that virtually every major publication from the 1550s on used a
different code for it.
The Italian system suffered from similar problems as the German by using numbers, thus limiting itself to 10 frets on the instrument although it was simpler to expand than the German system.
English lute music, almost without exception, is written in French tablature. Some foreign sources written in Italian and German tablature preserve one or two English pieces (usually one of them is Lachrimae), but the number of these is negligible.
In addition to the letters or numbers and flags of the tablature, there are numerous other signs that represent fingering or graces. Although right hand fingering signs in French tablature were simple, generally limited to one or two dots beneath the notes, and usually had the same meaning from source to source, graces display both a wide variety and complexity. The most commonly found signs were the '+'(sometimes 'x') or '#' signs, but even where a recognisably similar sign was in use, its interpretation could vary from scribe to scribe and player to player. Their lack of consistency makes an attempt at overall description impossible in the space available.
Most lute music from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is preserved in manuscript collections compiled by players and printed collections put together by publishers and editors. Although some lute fragments survive in the form of single pieces in sources devoted principally to music for another instrument and lute manuscripts often contain pieces for its close cousins, music for the fretted plucked string family and other instruments seems to be mutually exclusive. The types of manuscripts to be found in the English repertory are described in detail in Chapter 3, together with brief descriptions of their Italian counterparts. Like most hand-written documents prepared before printing had become commonplace, the lute sources exemplify the reverence the writer had for his hard-won skills and costly materials, and the prevalent attitude that the appearance of the book should be a reflection of the time, patience and skill that had gone into its preparation, and the value of the book itself. It is clear that the music was often less valuable than what it was written on.
By the end of the sixteenth century in Italy the virtuoso solo lutenist had reached a certain state of disfavour as the result of trends in philosophical-musical thought. Humanistic musical writings described both the admirable qualities of ancient music and the deplorable desire for virtuosity above a naturalistic simplicity. Coelho states that 'it is not a coincidence that the last decade of the sixteenth century in Italy witnesses an abundance of publications containing music for lute and voice, and relatively few books for solo lute.' Humanistic thought considered that technical virtuosity on the lute, which went against all the classical ideas of the Orphic lyre only being used to accompany the voice, was dangerous and contrary to nature. In spite of this, some of the most virtuosic lute music ever published was still appearing in late sixteenth-century Italian sources.
The printed sources, almost all originating outside England, are more difficult to define as they generally contain solo music (occasionally with some duets) with a comparably sized section of lute songs. This sort of mixture is never found in manuscript sources, suggesting that solo lutenists were not often performers of lute songs. That the continental printed sources contained such a large proportion of lute songs in tandem with the solo music suggests that the repertory chosen by these early editors may have been influenced more than a little by the need to sell the product to as wide a public as possible. Certainly the quantity and diversity of the music that these sources provide suggests that they were probably a sort of compendium from which the player extracted a selection of pieces to copy into his personal manuscript collection.
These printed sources, and also some foreign manuscript collections, are each more than three times the average size of an English manuscript source, though there are exceptions. Dowland 1610B has much in common as regards size and characteristics with the English manuscript collections, and it is probably significant that it is the only English solo printed source from the period under discussion. The inference is that for some reason English sources for solo lute tended to be on a smaller scale than those from central or eastern Europe, where manuscript collections, though they still do not mix solo music and lute songs, were almost as large as the printed collections.
SSPATRONAGE AND EMPLOYMENT
A lutenist could rarely, if ever, afford to exist exclusively on his playing. For one thing, itinerant musicians still to a large extent held a status only slightly higher than vagabonds, so unless an appointment at court or within one of the other institutions which offered cultural independence could be obtained, lutenists had to rely on the patronage of the nobility and gentry. Patronage could take several forms: either the musician was indentured and retained as a household servant, but allowed to work elsewhere when his local duties permitted, or else the patron simply agreed to allow his name to be used for some enterprise (usually publishing) to lend respectability to the venture. Between these extremes were a variety of shades, including supplying the musician with livery that he should wear whenever he was professionally engaged (thus reflecting well on the patron), but leaving him otherwise free to offer his services and earn his living as he chose. Having been employed by a nobleman, the lutenist thereby obtained a salary,sometimes little more than a retainer, and livery. Livery was the most important indication of the individual's status: liveried musicians did not spend all their time at the home of their employer--often the salary was not enough to support the player, and was not intended to be enough. The reason for giving a musician a livery and employment was that the employer thus had first call on his time, but when his services were not required, he carried your livery around the country looking for ad hoc work, at the same time advertising your affluence. He in turn was glad of the patronage, but particularly glad of the livery, since it was a passport enabling him to hawk his wares unmolested and un-arrested, and also provided him with a visible testimonial as to his talents and bona fides. Robert Dowland was appointed to the Cavendish household in 1612, but the household accounts show only a few one-off payments and the cost of livery between 1612 and 1616. Hulse concludes that 'Robert Dowland served more than one nobleman during these years, but was expected to wear Cavendish's livery when playing in the consort.'
John Dowland seems to have been apprenticed for 17 years, but was denied a place at the English court for the best working years of his life. He moved abroad, where the Danish monarch snapped up his talents, and remained in Christian IV's employment, with extended leaves of absence, for some years (1598-1606). However, he clearly spent enough time in England to establish a small teaching practice that included such English gentlewomen as Margaret Board and the owner of Folger. he petitioned most of his life for a position at Elizabeth's court, describing himself as 'Bacheler of Musick in both the Vniuersities' and using a series of well-connected patrons to supplicate for him, including Sir Robert Cecil. However, his eventual appointment seems to have had to wait not only for Elizabeth's death, but until James I (or whoever controlled the hiring and firing of his musicians) relented and the death of one of the royal lutenist s in 1612 freed a place for him. There was certainly no question of a special post being created for him as was the case with Daniel Bacheler. It was certainly neither a lack of talent (Dowland was renowned worldwide) nor unsuitability for a royal appointment that stymied Dowland for so long, as the King of Denmark was obviously justly proud of having secured the services of so great a man. Poulton suggested that Dowland's adherence to Catholicism may have hindered his preferment, but this did not seem to hamper William Byrd, and by 1572 Elizabeth had made clear her intention not to persecute Catholics unless they openly defied her. Dowland's history also shows a certain lack of rigour in maintaining his faith.
An appointment at court seems to have been the culmination of any lutenist's career,and was even recognised as such by the patrons for whom the lutenist already worked, otherwise they would not have supported applications for court posts. Perhaps there was some reflected glory to be had in passing one of your household retainers on to the monarch. Even with a court appointment,lutenists continued to work elsewhere, a practice obviously permitted, and possibly encouraged.
Despite a willingness to employ musicians, it was clearly not always financially viable for a household to do so, and some lutenists are known to have been attached to households as grooms or serving men rather than as musicians. In transferring the indenture of a servant to a new employer (either in the retinue of a newly married child, or perhaps in settlement of a debt or realisation of capital) his worth may be enhanced by the comment that he is also a passing good lutenist (or musician). There is clearly a divide between these servant-class musicians and those who would have described themselves as gentlemen. Cutting and Allison were both described as gentlemen musicians, so although it was considered slightly vulgar for a well-bred gentleman to be able to play to professional standards, it seems that being a professional musician or lutenist did not necessarily exclude one from being described as a gentleman. Daniel Bacheler is the only lutenist, however, known to have been granted arms, and his case seems to have been exceptional.
Bacheler is one of the few lutenists whose life is now extremely well documented. Thanks to one of his descendants, the history of his employment provides solid evidence for many previously hypothetical ideas about lutenists. Woodfill came to the conclusion that Elizabethan musicians were basically lower middle class. He summarized:
... professional musicians were, on the whole, little more than tolerated. Persons who subscribed to Castiglione's views regarded musical training as important in the fashioning of a gentleman, but required moderation, and therefore usually mediocrity. Most professional musicians found themselves regarded with suspicion: they could be citizens or burgesses. ... A few of them could subscribe them selves gentlemen and bachelor or doctor, but the appellations seldom indicated that they had a secure place in the upper strata of society. The men of the Chapel Royal were called gentlemen, and on the whole probably lived as gentlemen; the men of the King's Musick could afford to live as gentlemen, probably did, and probably thought of themselves as gentlemen.
Woodfill goes on to demonstrate that music was one way of climbing socially, giving the practitioner an excuse to learn to read, particularly through the church. The church itself was a considerable springboard from which musicians could progress to university degrees or clerical appointments that would raise their social status, and a good salary could ensure that status was passed on to their offspring. It is hardly surprising therefore that Dowland, described by Poulton as 'emotional and volatile' should have been so anxious to gain a royal appointment. Although Dowland's family has not been identified, all the known Dowlands seem to come from the upper ranks of the artisan class. John, however seems to have used his talents to gain entry into a totally different social stratum, being received with particular friendship by Henry Noel and the Landgrave of Hesse, and enabling Sir Robert Sidney to act as Robert Dowland's godfather.
Coats of arms and titles were exceptional, and clearly Bacheler was an exceptional musician. Like most musicians who descended from non-musical families, Bacheler came from the trade class. His father was a yeoman farmer who apprenticed him at the age of seven to an uncle who was a lutenist and dancing master at Elizabeth's court. This may seem young, but was not unusual.
some time between the ages of seven and fourteen children would normally be sent away from home, to be apprenticed, go into service or, among the upper classes, join another nobleman's household or go to school or university.
The apprenticeship was signed over to Sir Francis Walsingham when Daniel was 14, and it is clear that Walsingham felt he had gained not only a servant, but also a good entertainer, while Daniel would receive a better education and the chance to further his professional career. By the age of 16, in 1588, Daniel was writing accomplished consort music though he would remain indentured until 1595. In 1594 he is recorded in the household of the Earl of Essex, probably one of the closest appointments to the court without actually being one of the Queen's Musick, and by 1599 his position was such that he was entrusted with letters between Elizabeth and Essex while he was in Ireland. Daniel finally seems to have reached a court appointment in 1603 with the accession of James I, but he was not appointed as a musician. Possibly his obvious position of trust was the reason that he was appointed Groom of the Privy Chamber to the Queen, with a salary of [sterling]160, also occupying the most senior position among all the grooms. From here his life, though interesting, is clearly very exceptional, being a catalogue of gifts and graces including the grant of arms similar to part of the Walsingham arms. Even Elizabeth's favourite singer, Robert Hales, was only paid [sterling]60, but records of one-off 'gift' payments to many musicians indicate that they only had to please their employer or a visitor to receive additional remuneration. The Elizabethan nobility were particularly sensitive to status, and in some ways this type of low(-ish) salary coupled with dependency on gratuities may have been deliberately engineered to maintain the social status quo, perpetuating the musician's station and dependency on employment, and preventing his insinuation into the higher ranks. Dowland's social strategy may have been the most significant barrier to his appointment, while Daniel's appointment as a groom may have been a deliberate move to ensure him a position that meant playing the lute (at which he was obviously extremely gifted) was not his job, and afforded him both the status and a high enough salary to be able to refuse patronising and therefore socially demeaning gifts for his playing.
The most important patron of the lute in England seems to have been William Cavendish, first Earl of Devonshire (1551-1626).
Until 1608, Cavendish lived mostly on the Derbyshire estates of his mother, Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury ... His consort included the family chaplains, Starkey, Oates and Bruen, who also tutored his children on the lute and viol; the children's singing master, Thomas Banes, who probably served the Countess; and two other servants, William Hewett and a youth named Ham, whose precise musical status is unclear. Michael Cavendish, the composer and a relative of the Earl, was briefly employed in the household, as was a professional French lutenist called Lambert.
After ... 1608, the nature of Cavendish's musical patronage changed both in terms of its scale and location. He now spent several months of the year at his town house in London. His checkroll of permanent servants included Hewett and a lutenist named Molsoe, he continued to employ Cavendish and Oates on a part-time basis, and he patronised at least six lutenists resident in the capital during the years 1610 to 1616: Thomas Cutting, John and Robert Dowland, Mr Maynard, Mr Pierce and M Louis.
The unusually large collection of music books amassed by Cavendish probably represents the general tastes among the nobility of the day,and the instrumental music shows a preference for lute songs, viol consort, broken consort, lute and virginals. By 1622, he owned at least 12 books of lute songs, and his household inventories show that among his instruments were six viols, a bandora, several lutes and recorders, two virginals and a trumpet.22 The mention of the lutes is more unusual than might be expected in Elizabethan households. Up to about 1600, lutes either were not considered important enough to be mentioned,or else they really were not present in noble households. They may simply have belonged only to servants. After 1600, lutes appear in significant numbers in both wills and inventories.23 In view of the apparently widespread popularity and currency of the lute, speculation suggests that the reason lutes are not found in household inventories more frequently could be because they were considered commonplace, and therefore furniture and as such did not merit specific mention. However bandoras, citterns and viols, comparable both in size and cost, are mentioned, and we must conclude that lutes were neither as common nor as popular as these other instruments, though their relative fragility may also account for their absence from inventories where one might expect to find them.
Lumsden was probably the first writer to point out the huge difference in the number of pieces surviving for the lute and those surviving for the keyboard. He did not make the additional observation that there is no overlap between the composers who wrote for each instrument. Byrd, Bull and Gibbons wrote no idiomatic lute music, though a few keyboard or vocal pieces by them are to be found intabulated for the lute. Similarly, Dowland, Cutting, Pilkington, Holborne, Bacheler, Allison and the host of other names associated with the lute repertory seem to have bypassed the keyboard altogether.Apart from the vast differences in playing techniques, the only reason to have been advanced for this apparent polarity that seems plausible is that whereas the lute by its nature had to be equally tempered in tuning, keyboards still used unequal temperaments, and it is possible that the resulting differences in tonalities and key colours may have made them incompatible. Though there is no direct evidence for it, one additional possibility is that there was a social divide between the people who played the two instruments that was never crossed, the keyboardist having the greater respect and serious image, while lutenists were considered more frivolous. The lute and viol seem to have been instruments that anybody could (and did) play, while the keyboard was reserved for the serious musician. Whatever the reasons, the divide remains, and the fact that keyboard composers did not write lute music has contributed to the modern obscurity of the repertory.
It appears that a musician employed to teach the family women or children to play would be expected, unless they were teaching the keyboard, to teach them more than one instrument. The Cavendish accounts show that a Mr Maynard was paid [sterling]11 to teach Mrs Ellin and Mrs Aston both lute and viol, and Bruen, one of the family chaplains, tutored the children on both lute and viol. This apparently expected instrumental diversity within the fretted string group is also to be seen in the lists of musicians employed at court from Elizabeth's reign on. Although only a few lutenists were employed in her court, there were a number in the retinue of the young Prince Henry, but the real rise in numbers employed to play this instrument seems to have been in the court of James I, where the musicians are frequently listed as for the 'lutes, viols and voices' indicating that they were expected to be considerably more versatile than, for example, the trumpeters. It does seem, however, that most instrumental musicians may also have been expected to sing, so it is possible that the expected standard of these non-specialist singers was not prohibitively high. The constant pairing of the lute and voice in lists of royal musicians reflects the primarily accompanimental role that it was expected to occupy, a role emphasised by the lute-song industry. In fact, the quantity of lute songs with not only high quality affective poetry but also superb musical settings may suggest that the voice came first, and a good singer took up the lute to accompany himself, rather than simply for the purpose of playing a harmony instrument.
The absence of a printed lute repertory is discussed in Chapters 2 and 3. Why there should be such a proliferation of printed lute song sources without a correlative body of manuscript sources is a mystery. One possible answer may be that the main exponents of the lute song were the professional musicians, a body who may not even have been able to read, and who would have been trained from an early age in memorising music. The leisured classes seem to have been both the major consumers and the most usual exponents of solo lute music. They were the people who had the time and inclination to compile manuscript collections, and though some of them (such as Cavendish) clearly bought lute songs, the purpose of obtaining those books seems often to have been to expand on a household's consort repertory rather than for use by a lutenist and singer.
LEARNING THE LUTE
There were two potential types of lute pupil: first, the young (seven-year-old and older) aspiring professional who was apprenticed to a master in exactly the same way as an apprentice shoemaker or baker would have been. Evidence of aptitude would predispose the parents towards professional music, but it was not necessarily a pre-requisite. Only exceptional children can have shown particular aptitude at the age of seven, though like most trades, this one too could run in families, and a genetic or contextual predisposition was probably as good as any.
The second category of lute pupil is the member of the leisured classes who 'took up' the lute to entertain themselves and obtain a social skill. It is this second category that particularly concerns the question of how the lute was taught, since these were the people to whom many of the most important lute manuscripts belonged. The professionally apprenticed player would have learned by example and painstaking practice day after day from a very early age, and might have ended up as a city wait or theatre musician with apprentices of his own or, if he were lucky, a servant in the retinue of a large household. It is quite likely that it would not have been considered necessary to teach him to read or write, as the use of memory was still a more essential function of life than literacy. Some city waits may also have held positions as singingmen (who had to be literate) in the cathedrals of large cities and Matthew Holmes, principally a singingman, seems to have been an active instrumentalist as well. It would have taken particular skill and probably considerable connections to obtain a position at court and, though not essential, the gradual rise through the cultural ranks of these players would presuppose some degree of literacy. Any of these 'servants' may have ended up teaching young ladies such as Margaret Board, Margaret L., Jane Pickeringe, or young gentlemen such as John Welde, Edward Herbert or Francis Willoughby. Slightly higher in rank than these 'servant class' musicians were those who may have been of a slightly higher class, and who sought to learn the lute to improve their social standing or to play semi-professionally, supplementing their battery of skills to obtain a better position. These were the people like Raphe Bowle (the scribe of Stowe389), Richard Mynshall or the pupil taught by Thomas Dallis at Cambridge. Dallis's pupil may have been at the University, and clearly studied diligently to master this craft and copy a large selection of music from a very wide variety of sources. The student would have been higher in class than such as Holmes, but lower than a gentleman like John Welde or William Trumbull, and the various young lady lutenists for whom learning the lute was an affordable luxury.
>From the list of owners of surviving books, it appears that the most likely people to be learning the lute and compiling a lute manuscript along the way were young noblemen or young women of at least the lesser gentry prior to marriage (possibly for the purpose of attracting a husband). Servants may have been taught to play an instrument if their services were required in the family consort, but these pupils would not be supplied with their own instrument or book in which to copy music. Cavendish's musician, Ham, was supplied with a pen and ink horn 'to pricke forth lessons with' in November 1605, but was not actually taught to set music until the following summer.
The situation of lutenists in England today may not be dissimilar to that pertaining in London in the period 1580-1615. There are a considerable number of players in this country at present, perhaps 30-40 playing professionally (not all full-time), and many more playing more casually, though the instrument cannot be compared in popularity to the guitar. There is a fairly limited number of lute-makers worldwide, but a fair number of exceptional and some less significant builders in England, all of whom know each other well, and who also know viol and keyboard instrument makers. If an interested party wished to start playing the lute, they may approach a professional player after a concert who will send them to the best teacher and luthier (within their price-range and ambitions) that they know. This must also have been the case in the early seventeenth century, though perhaps more so, as luthiers and teachers did not have the advertising availability of the modern lute world. In addition just as the present writer, on embarking on this study, was directed to Robert Spencer for many English sources and photographs of others that he did not own, the seventeenth-century aspirant would have been directed to the one, or possibly two, booksellers in London who could supply them with a blank tablature book, or even a ready-copied one.
Mainly because of the lack of a native tradition of printed lute tutors,there is very little on which to base an assessment of teaching methods in England, and therefore the earliest age at which a pupil might begin instruction. Even the size of a pupil's hands may not have been very important, as lutes came in a large variety of sizes allowing a young pupil with small hands to begin on a small treble lute. Brought down to the absolute minimum of requirements, the amateur student had to be able to read or at least recognise letters if he wished to play from music (though memorization was still an indispensable skill in a society where literacy rates were still very low), and also to have sufficient motor control to manage the technical side. Naturally, there are no extant lute books that suggest that a child may have been taught to play before he could write, but it seems that for the middle classes, the process of being taught the lute required the pupil to have a certain level of writing skills, since copying music into a personal anthology under the direction of a tutor was a significant part of the teaching process and a vital tool in the acquisition of theoretical musical skills. This is indicated by the various tables in the books, and is also demonstrated by the examples of the different uses for a bass pattern in Folger. Thus the young player was provided not only with a written repertory, but also the techniques of intabulation and essential basic theoretical knowledge of rhythm and metre. This evident practice would account for the scarcity of sources bought ready-copied, and the habit of copying obtained at this early stage remained, and was probably used as an aid to memorizing or learning the music in order to play it. (See Chapters 3 and 7). Barley 1596 and both Le Roy 1568and Le Roy 1574 place emphasis on the intabulation of vocal or instrumental models as an integral part of learning to play the lute, so it seems likely that a child, unless he was apprenticed to a lutenist as a trade, would not have been expected to learn the instrument before he could read and write.
From the handwriting tutors it seems to follow that neither reading nor writing was taught to the very young. This, and the limit of six months intensive tuition before a student should be allowed to write without lined paper, suggests a probable average age of about 12-13 as being ideal for teaching a boy to write, though the age for learning to play a musical instrument suggested in Burwell (discussed below) is considerably less.
A scholar must begin at seven or eight years old; and look whether his hand be fit for it. For it must be neither too short nor too long but full enough and, above all, handsome.For it were better never to play of the lute than to play with an ugly hand, especially those who having naturally a fine hand will not preserve it.
The relatively low esteem in which women were held, and the secondary importance placed on their need for education would suggest a later age for teaching them, particularly as they were not considered to have the requisite powers of concentration for learning anything of even slight complexity. Scholars of this period seem to believe that as a rule literacy rates among women were extremely low, and more emphasis was placed on domestic and social skills as desirable marriageable commodities. In some cases even if a woman was taught to write, it may have been delayed until after marriage, and then only undertaken because the wife was required to take responsibility for household accounts and other business requiring writing skills. In this situation, the more affluent the household, the less likely the need for the mistress of the house to write, since a large estate would employ a bailiff or foreman to manage accounts and the running of the estate in the absence of the owner. This view of literacy among women seems to be contradicted by the numerous lute books compiled by young women who exhibit quite advanced handwriting and playing skills (to judge from the complexity of the music they copied), and who do not appear to have come from noble families but only from minor landed gentry. The families were affluent enough not only to allow and encourage the young woman the leisure to learn music, but also to employ both writing and music teachers and purchase an instrument and music book for her use, none of which could be said to utilise only petty cash.
Considering the number and variety of sources that have survived 400 years, ranging from the jottings of a clerk in Stowe389 to the comprehensive long-term collection of a professional musician like Matthew Holmes, it is odd that not one among the sources shows evidence of being a teacher's exemplar. Most of the evidence we have is negative; it is what we don't have and what we don't know that has to tell us about the teaching practices of the day: Dowland 1610B gives extensive advice on what sort of lute to choose, but not where or how easy or difficult it was to get it. Nor does it advise on the teaching practices an aspirant should expect or how long they might need to practise every day to attain the right degree of skill. There are two descriptions of the practices of lute teachers. The first is to be found in a letter dated 1707 about the expenses of setting up house and arranging tutors for the young Lord Danby and his younger brother, Peregrine. Although it is nearly a century after the period with which this study is primarily concerned, it is probably relevant to practices from the century before since, bearing in mind that they were being taught privately, the description of the boys' day seems not far removed from the summary of the Elizabethan schoolday by Briggs:
It began at six or seven in the morning, continuing until the children went home for their lunch at about 11.00. Work resumed at 1.00, and lasted till five or six in the evening,for six days of the week.
In any case, the Danby letters constitute the only unequivocal statement of the actual as opposed to the desired frequency and duration of a lute-master's visits to survive.
My Young Lords have already four masters that are come to them since Wednesday last; and Monday next they will have six, viz, the Riding Master in the morning & then the Latin Master till dinner time. At two of [th]e Clock comes the Mathematick Master (who also teaches them to draw two days of the week). At three the Dancing Master, at four the fencing Master, & at five the Lute & Harpsychords Masters. All these Masters come five days in the week, so that the Young Lords have no other days of rest but Sundays and Thursdays.
It seems then that the lute master would call every day rather than once a week and, judging by the practices of the immediately preceding masters, would probably stay for an hour, supervising the student's practice, as it seems unlikely that the boys could have found much time to practise earlier in the day. It is possible that the time following his teacher's departure would have been concerned with copying new music into his book, or consolidating the work he had covered during the lesson.
A probably more important source is Burwell, copied 1668-71 by Mary Burwell with some corrections in another hand, probably that of the master. This is a manuscript treatise copied again by a young woman, probably from a master's exemplar, and giving exhaustive detail on technique, playing style and, most importantly, how to teach (and learn) the lute. The chapters illustrate the matter that was considered important and an integral part of learning to play:
1. The origin of the lute or the derivation of the lute.
2. Of the increase of the lute and its shape.
3. [Of the masters of the lute.]
4. Of the strings of the lute, and stringing thereof, and of the frets, and tuning of the lute.
5. Of the several moods and tunings of the lute.
6. Of first the carriage of the hand, the comely posture in playing, and the striking of the strings.
7. For to take out a lesson, figure and value of the notes.
8. Of the way and manner for pricking lessons to the lute. Part two concerning the fingering of both hands.
9. Concerning the pricking of the marks and graces of the lute.
10. The way to teach and to learn to play well upon the lute.
11. Of the progress and how to attain the perfection of the lute.
12. Concerning the measure.
13. Of the usefulness of the lute and his advantages.
14. Of the enthusiasms and ravishments of the lute.
15. Concerning the art of setting lessons upon the lute.
16. Concerning errors and abuses that are committed about the lute.
Chapters 3, 10 and 13 are the most relevant, and as with the Danby documents, they appear to be relevant to practices 50 or more years earlier. The masters that seem to be favoured (Ch.3) were certainly present in sources dating from the early decades of the seventeenth century; Perrichon and Reys are described as 'furthest lutenists in the memory of man that deserved to be mentioned and to have a statue upon the mount of Parnassus', and Gaultier and Mesangeau 'hath drawn the admiration and the praises of all the world'. Pinel, Dufaut, Dubut, Lanclos, Vincent and Mercure also receive considerable praise. Somewhat disappointingly from the point of view of identifying the greatest English teachers, Burwell concentrates on foreigners:'
The first and most famous lute masters we confess were the Italians who were the first authors of the lute as all the world must acknowledge and that the French have been the most famous in that [art.] And although there is some confusion in the French to ackhowledge that they have been subdued by the Romans yet they must not be ashamed to acknowledge that they owe their skill to their conquest
Chapter 10 (The way to teach and to learn to play well upon the lute) is filled with admonishments toward obedience, both to parents and to the lute master, who should be given authority over the pupil. The attributes of the good master, however, seem to have much in common with the good thoroughbred:
... it is good to choose masters well bred and that are famous. ...
A master should not be too old nor too young.
The young one is foolish and hath little experience, the old one is peevish distasteful knows not or slights the new manner of playing and the new lessons, hath a bad hand and hath neither a good voice nor good action in playing, which is very dangerous for young scholars are like apes or like wax they take any impression by imitating their mast ers.
The voice for a master is very necessary to teach well to play upon the lute because whilst the scholar plays his lesson 'tis good the master should sing the same to give him the humour and the time of the lesson.
That method is better than to play together on another lute because one confounds the other, it hinders the master to hear the faults and makes the scholar negligent[,] hiding the faults of his playing under the good playing of his master[.] Yet it is requisite that the master should play well because he must sometimes play before the scholar[.] That formeth his ear and gives him the air and humour of a lesson[.]
The Art of Music is rather inspired and communicated than taught ... Likewise the scholar must always practise, and the master sometimes[,] having three things in all to do
The setting of lessons, the teaching and playing.
There follows a list of the order in which certain aspects of technique should be imparted to the student, with appropriate examples, all of which may be seen in a similar style in English and continental tutors from the early years of the century. The player is encouraged to play while looking at the book, and avoid playing from memory until the lesson is perfect. Playing before company should always be do ne from memory, with a 'pleasing countenance', and the student may also play walking about and looking around. The most significant statement about the lute master's practices is left to the end of this chapter:
I would not have a beginner play in the absence of his master; therefore the master must come to the scholar as often as he can, at least once a day, because of the tuning of his lute, and the keeping it well strung. For it is prejudicial to play on a lute that is in disorder; that spoils the ear of the scholar. As you must not play when the hand is weary, so you must not neglect your lute. ... It will be good also to learn many lessons ... for it is a deceit to make a scholar play some few trifles to please the parents. It is better to render oneself capable to play hereafter than to satisfy a present curiosity.
The author seems to bemoan the practices of young ladies who espouse the skill as a marriageable virtue, but forget it when that end is attained. It also appears from the designation 'at least once a day', that the master may have visited more frequently, and no doubt did if he was in residence.
To practise in the morning is better than at any other time in the day because the hand is at rest and the sinews softer and so more apt to be broken and receive good habits[.]
The lessons that are best to practise in the morning are preludiums passages and lessons full of hard strokes[.] Doing thus you plough and sow with hopes to have a good crop[.] The scholar must take heed to learn good lessons of his own choosing and not to learn of any but his master because he will neither play them well but will contract evil habits[.]41
Changing from one master to another is deplored, as is assuming that your own master must be the best at all aspects of the craft.
some poor players and worse setters are better to begin a scholar than the rarest lutenists[.]
Some are good for the progress, some only for the perfection[.]
A scholar must have the judgment to choose these masters according as he improves himself and never believe that a man is capable of those three degrees[,] for an excellent player will scorn to take the pains to begin a scholar[.]42
Despite the wealth of information Burwell provides, it is still frustratingly silent on the matter of the compilation of the lute sources that survive today. Spencer, drawing on his own experiences as a teacher and his familiarity with the sources, has reached the conclusion that a teacher would not have wasted any part of the lesson while either he or a pupil copied his next piece out, but would have spent the time working on music already in the pupil's book. At the end of the lesson, having gained a specific idea of the student's current level of skill, he would have left music of a suitable standard for the pupil to copy out for the next day's lesson. The value of the teacher's manuscript as a professional tool would have made it unlikely that he would have wished to leave it in the hands of a child or young woman, and the obvious corollary is that the lute teacher kept his repertory in the form of loose sheets, some of which may now survive as fragments. This type of source would undoubtedly disintegrate and be discarded far sooner than the carefully bound books owned by the pupils. John Dowland copied some music into his pupil's books himself, but may have been doing so because, being their composer, he had no hard copy and simply notated the music from memory. This would account for the rather untidy appearance of his tablature. His personal copies may have been tidier, and he may even have had pupils re-copy some of his music if they had a presentable and legible hand.
The sort of collection of loose leaves that might be expected to originate with a teacher is exemplified by Trumbull, which has the comment (written in Flemish) in the margins 'that I must have', implying that a second person was going through the music and copying it into their own source. Numerous other pieces are also marked with one or more of three signs that Spencer was unable to find a purpose for, and which may have been written by Trumbull or his pupils to indicate which pupils had copied the piece. Three other pieces are also marked exr which Spencer expands to 'examinatur', meaning 'it has been checked', all of which seem to imply very strongly that the sheets were being used to teach from. It may be that William Trumbull, who is assumed to have compiled the lute book as a pupil in his teens, also taught the lute to friends or colleagues in Brussels where he worked as a secretary and later as an envoy. This would account for the book never having been bound up, or even having been disbound to facilitate its use as an exemplar. The 19 leaves, some only half-sheets, are folded and stitched together into a single gathering and were only foliated in 1980, when the facsimile was made. Judging by its state of preservation, there are likely to be many pieces missing. Two types of printed papers and one hand-ruled paper are used and as many as six watermarks are miscellaneously distributed throughout the surviving leaves, implying that the present order of the music is quite likely not to have been the original, if indeed there was an original order. Its survival into the late 20th century without any binding at all is something of a miracle, and due entirely to the fact that the sheets remained in the same family. Since Trumbull was not a professional lutenist but originally a secretary his book seems to have survived while those of the professional players do not.
Trumbull is classified as a pedagogical book simply because we must assume that it was originally compiled when Trumbull himself was learning to play, even though the duets are scattered through the collection rather than organised at the beginning. The miscellaneous state of the leaves may account for this, as they may have lost their original order long before they were stitched together. In fact many of the now extinct professional's books may have originated in the same way, though since professional lutenists were unlikely to have been able to write at the time they were learning the lute--from the age of seven on--their books are probably less likely to look so much like pedagogical collections. However, since the pedagogical books were probably copied from a collection such as Trumbull, the exemplar sheets, if collected together would look exactly as Trumbull's sheets do, and would be almost indistinguishable from the copies.
Although there is no direct documentary evidence for the loose-leaf theory, the compilation of the bound lute books, the appearance of Trumbull, the absence of exemplars and stemmatic evidence for them seem to support it very strongly, and would explain why there is no surviving lute book that belonged to Dowland, Allison, Cutting or any of the other known masters.
 Burwell (1661-72), f.43.
 e.g. The Five Senses by Gonzales Coques, c1655-60; The Five Senses by Theodore Rombouts c1600, Allegory of the Sense of Hearing by Breughel, 1617-18.
 Coelho 1989 discusses this concept at length in relation to the decline of the lute in seventeenth-century Italy. See also Coelho 1992.
 Dialogo della musica e della moderna (1581), quoted from Oliver Strunk: Source Readings in Music History (New York, 1950), 313.
 That is: 11 gut strings, the lowest ten tuned in pairs at the unison (some sources advocate octave doubling for the lowest pairs), and the treble, sometimes called the chanter, usually, but not always, alone.
 In which the top two strings are tuned down an octave, the highest pitched course therefore being the third.
 See Appendix 6.
 In seventeenth-century French sources, the 11th course is indicated by a "4". In Dusiacki, both Italian and French systems--used separately and together--are used to designate strings in the "grand jeu".
 Joan Ambrosio Dalza Intabulatura de Lauto Libro Quarto... (Venice, 1508).
 The symbols for the words et and con usually represented in modern transcriptions or discussion by the numbers 7 and 9 respectively.
 Nicolao Schmall's lute book: Prague University Library, Ms XXIII.F.174 - c1610-15 still uses German tablature, though Adriansen 1584 and others had already changed to French tablature for their many printed collections.
 Coelho 1991, 6.
 e.g. Giovanni Antonio Terzi Intavolatura di liutto... (Venice, 1593) and Il secondo libro de intavolatura di liuto... (Venice, 1599).
 Hulse 1986A, 64; i.e. he was only required when the consort performed.
 Poulton 1982, 22.
 Poulton 1982, 40-44.
 Anne Batchelor: `Daniel Bacheler: The Right Perfect Musician' LSJxxviii (1988), 3.
 Woodfill 1969, 243.
 Poulton 1982, 19.
 Briggs 1983, 45.
 Hulse 1986A, 63.
22 Hulse 1986A, 68, n.29.
23 SeeWoodfill 1969, 276-9.
 `1561: Thomas Windebank to Cecil, from Paris. Mr. Thomas Cecil has no great taste for the lute, but likes the "cistern" (cittern?).' Woodfill 1969, 276.
 Hulse 1986A, 63-64.
 See Chapter 3.
 Hulse 1986A, 67, n.25.
 See Chapter 3.
 See Chapter 4, pp.107-8, Giovan Francesco Cresci.
 Margaret Wemyss began her lute book at the age of 13.
 Dart 1958, 38.
 See Chapter 4, p.119, Martin Billingsley.
 Briggs 1983, 109.
 Briggs 1983, 113.
 Tim Crawford: 'Lord Danby, Lutenist of 'Quality'' LSJ xxv/2 (1985), 56.
 A detailed description of the contents and partial edition of a diplomatic transcription made by Brian Trowell can be found in Dart 1958. For facsimile, see Spencer 1974A.
 The summary of the contents in Dart 1958 is abridged to form this list. Spelling is modernised.
 Burwell, 5-5v.
 Burwell, 5.
 Burwell 36-36v
41 Burwell, 39v.
42 Burwell, 40.
 The most likely candidates are 6402, Andrea, Edmund, Magdalen, and Och1280. See Chapter 3.
 See Chapter 7.
 dat mout ich hebben (3v and 14v).
 SeeSpencer 1980, introduction.
 The watermarks are partially obscured by repair material covering some of the sheets.
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