This is what the masters have never taught nor never set in writing and whereof they would never make no rules[.] The chapter is the golden key that openeth the cabinet of Apollo.

Mary Burwell.1












IN COMPARISON TO ITS FOREIGN counterparts, the English solo lute repertory includes only a negligible number of printed sources, as virtually all English lute music is preserved in manuscript form. This is perhaps odd in view of the vast number of lute song publications that were flooded onto the English music market in the years leading up to and immediately following 1600--the period that was also the most active in terms of the production of solo lute music. The implication is that the popularity and widespread use of the lute as an accompanying instrument was sufficient to sustain an energetic publishing industry, but as a solo instrument it was not. By c1670 the writer of the treatise copied in Burwell was able to state that

the French are in possession of the lute that it is their instrument[,] as the viol is the instrument of England, the guitar that of Spain[,] the theorbo that of Italy[,] the virginal or harpsichord that of Germany[,] the harp that of Ireland[,] and so of others according to the genius of each nation.[2]

The impression of the lute as a minority instrument is belied by the exceptional wealth of manuscript sources that survive from the period, ranging from single-line fragments of quickly jotted music on scraps of paper to carefully copied and bound manuscripts of 100 folios or more. The publication of instrumental music in England went through various vicissitudes in its infancy, and perhaps this had an effect on the willingness of a publisher to risk producing music for a public that clearly preferred accompanied vocal music to solo works. The keyboard repertory is similarly lacking in an early publishing history, though if one is to believe Burwell this should not be surprising.

Our present understanding of the sources makes several tacit assumptions about its origins and the state of the repertory during the period of its composition and transmission in manuscript form. The first of these assumptions is the very understandable one that, since music manuscripts were not particularly prized, and often the paper on which the music was written was considered more valuable than the music itself, what survives today is probably only a very small proportion of what was around at the time, and that it has survived is a simple accident of circumstances surrounding each source independently. This is particularly true of the lute sources, since the instrument declined in popularity to the extent that it virtually vanished during the eighteenth century, and the system of notation was often not even recognised to be music since it was not understood, thus leading, we might surmise,to the destruction of a greater proportion of lute sources than of, say, keyboard ones. The second assumption is that,since only a few of the sources survive, then almost certainly only a similar proportion of the music has been preserved, and there must have been more that is permanently lost.

Since these assumptions are never stated, they are never really challenged, though the second is patently inaccurate;at least where the main flowering of the solo repertory is concerned. The most obvious argument against it is that if the repertory were indeed originally much larger than that which survives today, we should expect to see a much higher number of unica in the sources. Instead, it is actually fairly unusual to find a piece that has no concordances, either in England if the music is English, or in continental sources if the piece originated abroad. What is still unknown is often the author of a piece, though even so, a surprisingly high percentage of the music is now ascribed through attribution in at least one of its sources.

The first assumption is not so simply put aside, but again, if the concordance position is examined, then the picture that emerges is not the one that might be expected. Scribal concordances are discussed in Chapters 6 and 7, and the picture that emerges is that at least 500f the sources in the central repertory are linked in one large group, and other, otherwise unrelated sources also have scribal concordances. If so many of the sources are linked, then have we really preserved 900r more of the original repertory, or is the surviving music determined entirely by the taste of a relatively select and geographically insular number of players?

John Ward remarks in passing that some lute books were bought with the music already copied into them.[3] However, only one of the surviving lute books, Welde, hints at this possibility; on the contrary, most of them show clear evidence that, even if the owner's name is not known, it was clearly the owner who was doing the copying, and not an anonymous scribe copying for an unknown buyer. There would have to have been a small but significant demand for lute books of this sort in England to warrant their production, but the large-scale production of lute song publications suggests that even this relatively minority repertory found a printing market, so a small publishing industry to supply the solo demand as well would not be unexpected. Though there was clearly a market for printed solo music on the continent, the publishing industry in England, although on a significantly smaller scale, shows no indication of sufficient interest in ready-copied or printed solo music to give credence to the idea, despite the popularity of printed collections of lute songs. It is clear that the lute was primarily considered an accompaniment instrument for the voice, and exclusively solo players were not particularly common.This lesser market might have attracted the scribal publishing industry were it not for the obvious preference of scribes to copy their own books probably as part of the process of learning to play the instrument.

Most published music during the 1550-1630 period had a particular consumer-orientated purpose, and the intended market for a printed source is rarely in doubt. The manuscript sources, on the other hand,present quite a different face to the world; that of the private collector and player whose selection of pieces, copied in his own hand, gives an insight into many aspects of Elizabethan and Stuart musical and domestic life.

The present chapter surveys these personal hand-written sources, and attempts to define those characteristics that enable the modern reader to understand the motivation behind the original compilation of the source. A manuscript, in this context, is defined as any piece of paper or parchment on which the music has been written by hand. Many of the substantial sources examined in this study originated as books of paper, ruled with a rastrum in systems of six lines, then bound in leather and sold blank. Some originated as loose leaves that were bound after copying, and a few others remain in an unbound state, or were bound by the libraries that acquired them. A substantial part of the lute music that survives from England in the period 1575-1630 is composed of these book collections. Earlier sources show a more diverse content: they are often only a few pages in a larger book containing not only music for other instruments, but also such material as recipes or poetry (for example), and sometimes are only a few loose leaves. Details of the size format of specific books and fragments and the relevance of this aspect is considered separately in Chapter 5. Size format does not bear any relation to the intended or eventual use of a manuscript.

The printed sources in which solo lute music appears are also listed below, in order to give a perspective on the English sources as a whole. The manuscripts themselves can be grouped under four main headings with respect to their intended function: Fragments; Professional Books;Pedagogical Books; and Household or Personal Anthologies. Two further categories are listed: Foreign sources that include activity by an English scribe and Teaching fragments.

The purpose of the book is the most influential factor in defining the scope of the repertory it contains, the musical characteristics of the repertory and also the layout of the manuscript. It also affects the dating of the manuscript, since a pedagogical book, for example, would be likely to contain a repertory with wide chronological origins, even though it was probably copied in a relatively short space of time. The whole repertory may even date from a period considerably earlier than the date of scribal activity, as is the case in Sampson.

These categories are not limited to the English lute repertory, or indeed to the lute, and the parallels between this tradition and that of the lute in seventeenth-century Italy are sometimes surprisingly close, sometimes remarkably diverse; the English Golden Age being paralleled in Italy by the repertory during the seventeenth century. Other repertories have been discussed under these, or similar, headings,[4] but the relationship between national lute repertories, being the most pertinent, is the one with which most parallels are drawn in the following discussion.

Some specific sources are discussed in more detail following each list, particularly where their classification is not immediately obvious, or may be disputed.


Le Roy 1568

Le Roy 1574

Barley 1596

Robinson 1603

Dowland 1610B

Maynard 1611 (various tunings including vieil ton)

Mathew 1652 (in transitional tuning)

Publications devoted principally to solo lute music (in date-order).

Dowland 1597 (one piece)

Pilkington 1605 (one piece)

Danyel 1606 (two pieces)

Dowland 1610A (two pieces)

Dowland 1612 (one piece)

Pilkington 1624 (Altus partbook, one piece)

Publications devoted principally to lute songs, but containing solo lute music (in date-order).

Handford (MS prepared in printed format but never published)

4900 (15 pieces, all intabulations of song accompaniments)

Lute song manuscripts not containing solo music.


Welde owned by John Welde

One of Lumsden's ghosts, this source is difficult to categorise since its overall appearance, and the lack of association of the hands it contains with the hands of the Welde family who owned it, suggests that it was bought with music already copied into it by a professional scribe, and the name of the new owner was stamped on the cover in the same way as initials were stamped on the covers of other books bought ruled but otherwise blank. There are large areas of folios left blank to allow the scribe to start each piece on a new opening, and in another type of book these spaces would have been filled. Evidence for the sale of manuscript collections of lute music seems to rest on a single entry in an account book of John Petre of Ingatestone,[5] '1567 Dec. To Mr. Petro for a booke for the lute and prickyng songes therein, xxs', which does not seem to refer unequivocally to a book of ready-copied tablature music. Spencer's reasoning is that since the publication of solo collections was so minimal in England, it would have been probable that the needs of this particularly small market would be met through the practice of what has been described as scribal publication.6 If the trade in scribally published lute music was of any significant size, one place where we might expect to see evidence of its purchase would be in the accounts of William Cavendish, one of the most important patrons of English lutenists. However, despite the continuous purchase of a vast number of music books for a private owner at that time, most of the evidence points either to printed music or to blank books for copying.[7]

Long after the establishment of music printing, scribal publication persisted for texts that were only required in very limited numbers, a financial imperative for many music texts with their limited market, and a picture that would account for the absence of more printed sources of solo music to match the explosion of lute song publications. Music as a whole, with its relatively limited specialist market, certainly utilised the trade in hand written books, particularly in the case of the consort repertory.

Viol consort music, along with the related lyra-viol repertoire and fantasia suites and airs for violin, bass viol and organ, circulated through an extensive and well-organized network of copyists to a scattered but enthusiastic amateur clientele to whom it offered both an aesthetic and, as suggested earlier, an ideological satisfaction. But this circulation represented only one aspect of a much wider participation by the families concerned in the culture of scribal publication.[8]

Whether the practice was at all widespread in the lute world is highly unlikely, since Welde is the only book out of a considerable number to have been a likely candidate for it, and the practice of players copying their own personal collections for the solo lute would have made scribal publication of lute music uneconomic to exploit. Scribal publication also assumes a sequence of 'events' which start with a single composer who wants to publish his music hiring a scribe and then selling the copied music on to his friends, pupils or colleagues. This would result in single-composer collections of the sort found in the viol consort repertory. There is no evidence that any composer for the lute followed or even attempted to follow this practice as every source is enormously diverse in its contents, even where substantial quantities of a particular composer's works are represented. The existence of Welde therefore is clearly not attributable to any of the composers it contains, placing it on the periphery of the scribal publishing industry. It may simply be the work of an entrepreneurial secretary or clerk, or a bespoke collection put together under the direction of John Welde himself. Handford, a collection of lute songs that appears to have been prepared for a printer, may actually be in the form originally intended, as a scribal publication. The copying hand and overall appearance suggest otherwise though, and considering the sizeable market for printed books of lute song, using scribal publication is this case would seem unnecessary unless, as Love suggests, the author was avoiding the social stigma attached to print. However, whether composers of lute music felt themselves to have sufficient social standing to have considered publishing the stigma that it obviously was to the upper-class literati is a moot point.

The only other books that betray the sort of exceptionally practised hand and copying style that one might expect a professional scribe to possess are Sampson (except that the scribe wrote his name in the book), perhaps ML (though the discussion in Chapter 7 indicates that it is unlikely to have been a scribal publication) and the most likely possibility, Wickhambrook. The similarity of this hand to the one in Welde and the presence of duets copied in 'table layout' (see example 20) in this book point to the publishing tradition,[9] but there are small variations and features of detail, and particularly the lack of a contemporary binding (hence some missing early folios), that suggest a more personalized compilation. Though a professional scribe would not have been precluded from copying in a more personal book, the presence of the Wickhambrook scribe in Folger also weakens its case somewhat. However, this seems to be one of those sources whose purpose will probably remain in doubt.

Wickhambrook f.15v, reduced to 71


Swarland John Swarland

41498 (loose sheet)

60577 (two pieces)

Northants (loose sheets)

Occ254 (loose sheet)

Mansell (one lute piece)

Fragments, in this context, may be broadly defined as pieces of lute music that survive on loose sheets, and do not appear to have been, or are no longer, part of a larger music manuscript book. This category lists only those sources that were intended as fragments when they were conceived, omitting those that may have had another intended purpose but have since been damaged or altered. The term 'fragments', therefore, also includes sources that are not in a fragmentary state, but which only contain lute music in th e manner of jottings, and sources where a section of lute music appears in a source that is not otherwise designated a 'music' or 'lute' source. As a rule, these pieces cannot be placed in any of the better-defined categories. One source that survives in a fragmentary state but enough survives to show characteristics that nevertheless indicate its original purpose is 2764(2) and this is included in the discussion of pedagogical books.

One further sub-category is included under this blanket heading, and that is the source which is basically a collection of lute-songs or other music, but which contains lute solo interpolations or additions. It is interesting to note that, among the vast corpus of lute song publications, the incidence of solo interpolations is very rare, suggesting a divide between the solo virtuoso and the lutenist who was principally an accompanist. If the printed music were listed among the manuscript sources, then the group of lute song publications that include one or two lute solos would come under the heading of fragments. Only one manuscript source adopts this practice, Swarland, and the source is therefore listed as a fragment. Perhaps the lute song performer considered himself primarily a singer. The growing ascendancy of the voice in Italy, and the reasons behind the decline of the Italian solo lute repertory may have had some influence in this area. In the major solo sources vocal music is occasionally represented in the form of an intabulation, sometimes with the words written below,[10] but more often not at all. Intabulations lacking their vocal line and words appear,[11] as do vocal intabulations without any words added, indicating that the piece was intended to be played as a solo.[12]

Apart from their ephemeral nature, the main characteristic of most fragments is that they are the work of a single scribe. The style of copying can range from quite neat and careful work to a slapdash appearance that was probably never intended to survive longer than it would have taken to copy the music into a more permanent collection, or commit it to memory. The system of lines is often hand-drawn without a rule, and this contributes to the sometimes wayward appearance, though the music almost always occupies all the lines drawn, without leaving blank unused staves.

Letters from lutenists to each other occasionally mention new pieces that they enclose for the interest of the recipient, but these pieces never survive with the letter. A large number of this type of 'letter-fragment' are in the collection of the Augsburg nobleman, Hans Heinrich Herwart (1520-83) described in Fenlon/Milsom1984:

A considerable number of partbooks and lute books in the Herwart collection are not integral manuscripts but consist of single leaves in a variety of hands made up into volumes at a later date. These single leaves are often written on one side only, and the way in which they were subsequently folded implies that they were enclosed in letters and so served as a way of sending compositions from one place to another. Innumerable documentary references suggest that this was an extremely common means of transmission, although inevitably few specimens of what would have been regarded as ephemera have survived.[13]

Some of the fragments in the list above may have been pieces transmitted in this manner. The most likely candidates are the Northants fragments that show a pattern of folds suggestive of inclusion in a letter.

ex.21: One of the
Northants fragments, reduced to 82

41498 is unlikely to fit this description partly because of the type of piece it preserves, and partly because of the manner in which it was notated, suggesting that it was not intended as anything other than an aide mèmoire. The Corpus Christi fragment, Occ254, looks like a 'letter' fragment, but on the reverse is a description of how to work out your horoscope, and it seems more likely that this is a leaf from a collection of personal papers that may have been bound up or otherwise collected together by a subsequent owner.

In the case of 60577 (see example 22), the two pieces are on consecutive folios of a very large literary manuscript whose compilation spans nearly 100 years, and in places dates from some considerable time prior to the addition of the musical contents of the book.[14] The two pieces--they appear to be dances --are written out using the original dry-point rulings intended for lines of literary text, and each seventh line is scored out.[15]

Mansell is a single piece of lute music in a book otherwise devoted to music for lyra viol. It appears to have been copied in a different hand and the style of flagging does not match that in use in the viol music, and is also copied with the book turned through 180deg. so that it is in the opposite orientation to the rest of the music in the book. Though this may suggest the table layout of a mixed duet, this is not the case. It may be that this single piece found its way into the lyra viol manuscript accidentally--mistaken for lyra viol music, which also uses tablature--though reversing the book and writing the lute music in `upside-down' makes it look as if it was a conscious decision. As a source, it is not entirely unique,as the mixture of lyra viol music with solo lute music was not unknown, though neither was it common. Ballet also mixes the two instruments, but in a more balanced proportion. The original compiler of Mansell may have intended to copy more lute works, but the intention was never fulfilled. It is slightly surprising that two instruments that had very little in common apart from their gut strings should have shared space in manuscripts, particularly as the technique of playing was sodifferent. There is nothing surprising in finding bandora music mixed with that for the lute, as in Dd.2.11, since a player could switch between these two instruments with ease. However, other instruments that could be similarly accommodated with very little change in technique,such as the orpharion, are not seen in lute sources, with the important exception of Barley 1596.


6402 (loose sheets)

Och1280 (fragments from binding paste-down)

Edmund (fragment from binding paste-down)

Magdalen (fragments from binding paste-down)

Andrea (loose sheets)

See also Trumbull in 'Pedagogical books'

A situation in which 'fragments'would perforce exist is that seen in the activity of lute teachers, discussed in Chapter 1. It seems highly likely, though there is no more than circumstantial evidence for it, that after his visit a lute teacher would leave a leaf of music with his pupil, to be copied into the pupil's manuscript before his return. This overall picture seems to fit the facts surrounding the absence of a 'Dowland' or 'Bacheler' lute book, for example, and also the likelihood that a master would have been reluctant to leave his entire valuable collection of music in the hands of a youngster for any period of time. We know that the pupils copied the music from somewhere, and this suggestion for the source seems plausible and borne out to some extent by evidence that would not otherwise suggest an answer to the question of pupil-teacher practices.

60577 f.190

Although Trumbull is not listed here, it is very likely that, had it not remained in the scribe's family for so many years, leaves from this collection would also be listed among these fragments. The book is listed as a pedagogical one as many of its features fit the profile of a pupil's collection, and it may indeed have begun life as a pedagogical book. However, what remains of the original is 19 fairly fragmentary leaves, some only half-leaves, that were stitched together in a single gathering in what may be a miscellaneous order. The fact that most pieces in the lute manuscripts often occupy only a single folio means that the order of the leaves in a book is not always important unless some pre-determined order is intended.. The proposition that Trumbull's later use of his collection may have been as a teaching exemplar is implied by comments in the margins of two of the pieces in a different hand from the tablature scribe to the effect that the second writer wanted to 'have' those two pieces, probably intending to copy them into his own book. The marks suggesting which pieces had been copied by which pupils and the note that some pieces had been 'checked' all conspire to put Trumbull in this category.

As was noted in Chapter 1, a pedagogical exemplar would be expected to look like its copies, and were it not for the fact that Trumbull's profession is known, and was not that of a lute teacher, this book would certainly be classified as a teacher's collection. It was apparently never bound, and contains ruled but otherwise unused leaves. It lacks pedagogical material in the form of tables or exercises, but these may have been lost or discarded. The music pre-dates Trumbull's time in Brussels, which is when it appears to have been used for teaching, and explains why most of the music copied in pedagogical books pre-dates the copying time. This is the only book that might be a teacher's exemplar, and is a significant piece of evidence in the diverse array pointing to wards teaching practices in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

At best, however, this must be a hypothetical category. There are four remaining fragments whose state does not allow much more than a guess at their original function. They do not appear to have originally been intended as fragments by their copyists, and the most likely interpretation for their appearance and even existence may be that they represent the undoubtedly vast corpus of music owned by lute teachers for their students to learn and build their own repertory from.[16] Fragments that have been lifted from paste-downs would have been at some time in a pile of scrap paper in a bindery. Whether a binder would always use loose sheets for his scrap, or whether he would take the trouble to dismantle complete books to obtain scrap is impossible to determine. Och1280 and Magdalen are too heavily cropped to see whether or not they were loose scraps, and of the four fragments Och1280 is the least justifiably included under this heading.

From their appearance, 6402, Och1280, Magdalen and Andrea could once have been part of larger manuscripts that do not survive, or may not even have reached a bound state at any time. They are unrelated in every other respect. The music is not only readable but also of reasonable quality, and does not share the characteristics of the jottings seen in true fragments. Unlike true fragments, these were not all copied in a single hand, although what survives suggests a short copying period. The Andrea fragments are interesting in that they could be part of a larger collection, or part of a teacher's collection. They originally came to light in 1989 in an eighteenth-century literary manuscript. They were folded in half down the centre, and bound apparently arbitrarily into the middle of the book. It is only since their removal (in 1991) that it has been possible to see the music that had been hidden in the gutter. The eighteenth-century book has now been sold, and so we are not able to say whether the fragments may have had any connection with its contents, though it seems unlikely at this stage. There is no evidence that these leaves were not previously bound up in a larger music or lute manuscript that has now been dismantled. Nothing seems to be missing, and they are in a large oblong format of odd dimensions that is unknown in surviving manuscripts, though its apparent completeness is not sufficient reason to discount the possibility that there were other sheets in (hypothetically) at least one more unbound quire that no longer survive. Unlike most other fragments, it is neatly copied and carefully titled in an elegant late sixteenth-century secretary hand.[17] The only other source to use a similar format is 31392 much later in date than the Andrea fragments.

6402 comprises a single loose sheet (f.1) and a single bifolium (f.2-3) in upright folio format, neither of which seems to have been previously bound, at the front of a copy of Balliol College Statutes dated 1610. The paper has been hand ruled without a rastrum on folios 1, 1v and 2. Folios 2v-3v are unruled, 3v has Balliol College Statutes copied in close-written Latin. The four pieces of music appear on the recto of folios 1 and 2. Neither the tablature hand nor the ink appears to have any relationship to the text on folio 3v. The copying hand is not consistent, but the scribe wrote for a seven-course lute, and uses graces, right-hand fingering and both bass and treble hold signs. The paper is the sort of high quality used in bound lute books, and may have originated in France. The music is clearly legible, without the appearance of curtailment or abbreviation that might suggest its owner was simply jotting, and seems to have been intended to have a useful lifetime. It shows no folds that might indicate that it was a letter fragment, and the blank ruled folios also argue against this purpose; it is more likely to be a surviving part of an unbound collection such as a teacher might own. The teachers who have been pinpointed did not write neat hands, partly because their social status implies that they may have come to writing later than their pupils would have done, and partly because their purpose in writing was not the same as that of their socially superior pupils. This would make the slightly irregular appearance of this fragment consistent with the possibility of its having been part of a teachers' collection.

Magdalen has much in common with 6402 though it is considerably more damaged through having been used as a paste-down. This fragment also shows unused staves, but the missing edges of the sheets make it impossible to tell whether it was previously bound. The same is true of Och1280 which is almost too fragmentary to be identifiable, and may in fact be one of the previous category of fragments.

The Edmund fragment, lifted from the paste-down in a binding, may also be a teaching fragment, but is difficult to classify. It is a bifolium of what appears to have been a sheet folded in upright folio format. The outer edges are cropped, there are blank staves, and the paper appears to have been ruled with a double-stave rastrum. The folios appear to be numbered consecutively 2 and 3 in the upper left hand corner, though these may be numberings of the pieces. Folios 2 and 3 are unlikely to have been in the centre of a gathering, and the centre fold of the bifolium does not appear to have been stitched.



Cosens C.K.

Dd.2.11 Matthew Holmes

Dd.3.18 Matthew Holmes

Dd.5.78.3 Matthew Holmes

Dd.9.33 Matthew Holmes

Nn.6.36 Matthew Holmes

Hirsch H.O.



This category is composed of manuscript sources copied by professional musicians as a way of preserving or extending their repertory. The copyists were not professional scribes who would have been copying at the behest of an employer. A large number of professional players were employed as musicians at court or at the principal noble houses. Still others spent their lives under the ægis of a number of wealthy patrons, and earned a living either as players or teachers, or both. Most lute players would also find some employment, if not most of it as teachers, and we have an excellent and otherwise uncorroborated insight into John Dowland's life as a teacher through Board and Folger.

Very few professional scribes (as opposed to professional musicians) are known to have been active among the surviving manuscripts in the English repertory, but among those who are known is the scribe of the Paston manuscripts,a secretary of Edward Paston, who transcribed vast quantities of vocal music into Italian lute tablature. He is never named in the music manuscripts, and his identity has only been discovered by locating his hand in other household documents not associated with music. This scribe does not appear in any other lute sources of the period, and there is no record of his being associated with other lutenists, with the court, or as a player.

Most professional books were bound after ruling and copying if they were bound at all, but this is not an absolute rule, principally because it is hard to find books that can be categorically classified as such. They are usually the work of a single scribe, though occasionally a group of scribes working concurrently can be seen. Where there are a number of scribes, there is usually evidence that one scribe was a principal, and was 'overseeing' the activity of the others. Tampering with the music by subsequent layers of scribes is almost unknown. The copying usually runs consecutively from start to finish, though there may be rare cases where the manuscript is divided into sections that were gradually filled. This is particularly prevalent in manuscripts copied from the third decade of the seventeenth century.

The format generally appears uncluttered, a necessity when facilitating the performer's use, and lacking the sort of marginalia that tend to accumulate in the more personal books, such as snippets of poetry, tuning tables or other theoretical matter and even shopping lists. The music is usually carefully laid out with the player in mind, so that occasionally blank lines or even, though rarely, whole folios are left in order to avoid an awkward page-turn. This type of tailoring often betrays a practised hand as the music fits exactly the space designated for it, but the script is not necessarily tidy. The standard of accuracy and musical literacy in these sources is usually high, though the number of titles and ascriptions for the music is often correspondingly low. This element is also visible in manuscripts in other categories, though non-professional scribes seem to have a more parsimonious attitude to paper that sometimes leads them into awkward corners. This attitude can also lead to the appearance of layers of scribal activity, as the scribe or scribes will return to empty lines to fill them with short pieces. Blank pages at the end of professional books are rarely found, indicating either that all the available space was used, or that only those gatherings that were filled were bound up into the final manuscript.

One other peculiarity of the professional sources that may simply be a fortuitous coincidence is that they all make use of printed paper. Hirsch has a fragment of printed paper stuck into it and Cosens uses printed paper throughout; Marsh,Dd.9.33 and possibly also Nn.6.36 from the Holmes books use printed paper in combination with hand ruling. Four other sources also use printed paper: the pedagogical books Dallis, 408/2 and Trumbull, and the personal anthology Herbert. Trumbull, however, may be another of the professional sources, since it seems to have been used as a teaching exemplar. Its position in the repertory is discussed above, and in Chapter 1.

Coelho's description of the Italian professional sources has much in common with the English sources in the same category. He states that because of their purpose, the books

therefore had short lives; there is a built-in obsolescence in professional books due to the commitment on the part of the copyist (who was probably the player) to provide "contemporary" music. By extension, these professional books are almost never anthological in nature. They contain music of a fairly limited time-frame and stylistic scope, and concordances are to similar manuscripts and printed books of roughly the same period. ... The works in these sources, as in most professional books, are more challenging than are found in non-professional books.[18]

The main difference between the two traditions seems to be that the English sources contain considerably more music. In the Italian sources, the contents are most often arranged by genre, but this practice is almost unknown in English sources. The reason for this arrangement in the Italian sources may have been that it allowed the player to construct suites easily or, in the case of dance music, to play a sequence of courantes or sarabandes without repeating himself musically, or requiring the dancers to form new sets.[19]

ex.23: Sample of the hand of John Dowland from
Folger 22v

Notable in the English sources is that professional lutenists (as distinct from professional scribes) often had quite 'poor' tablature hands, and a feature of professional books is the obvious speed at which they were written, sometimes occasioning 'shorthand' elements in the rendering of the tablature. Unlike the amateur, the professional did not have the leisure or incentive to develop an elegant but time-consuming script, and was probably not from a social background in which he would have been taught to write formally as a child. Apprenticed lutenists may have 'picked up' writing over the years, while musicians employed by the church may have been able to learn to write as adults. The theory that professional lutenists wrote the neatest hands is completely destroyed by examination of the hands of scribes whose history is known. Margaret Board and Jane Pickeringe (amateurs) both wrote extremely elegant and uniform hands, carefully laid out and executed, while Matthew Holmes (a professional) wrote a dramatically faster script which, although uniform, is still clearly written at high speed (his crossing-out bears witness). John Dowland possessed one of the messiest tablature hands surviving, shown in example 23.

Matthew Holmes appears to have been attempting to compile a comprehensive collection of all lute music current in England during his lifetime. Dd.3.18, as well as being one of the Holmes consort books[20] is also a major source for English duet music.

The manuscripts can be sub-divided into two types: in the first group, the music was more often for performing rather than for teaching purposes, and the repertory tends to be almost entirely contemporary with the copying time, rather than retrospective. There may also be divisions composed by the scribe to music by well-known composers, though this does not seem to extend to complete original compositions. In the second group the relationship between the quantity of old and new music is reversed: the contents of the manuscript seem to pre-date the copying period, sometimes by several decades, though more modern music is always included. This is not surprising, when we consider that this is also the case with the repertory in most of the pupil's books. In the first group the book was almost certainly used to perform from, while in the second the purpose of the construction of a complete manuscript seems to have been to preserve a particular repertory. A teacher's repertory probably existed on single sheets that could be left with a pupil overnight for copying, and the second group represents the preservation of this comparatively ephemeral type of collection. In this type of collection one would expect to find evidence of pre-determined organisation, and also of a principal scribe who had control over the work of the others. Marsh and, although its position here is controversial, Hirsch both appear to be this type of source. Marsh is particularly interesting from this point of view as, though there is clearly the intention of some sort of pre-determined organisation behind its gap-filled compilation, that organisation is now unrecognisable. In addition, as well as some pieces of considerable length that involve page-turns, the layout of many other pieces also requires page-turns and awkward jumps through several pages. Basic grammatical errors such as whole chords displaced by one course and the hand itself suggests that the music was copied very quickly without checking back, and it seems unlikely, despite its being perhaps the most legible of all the sources, that the book was originally used for playing from.

The books that can be described with some certainty as being 'professional' books are very few in number, and even fewer when it is taken into account that all the Cambridge University manuscripts listed above, with the exception of Cosens, were written by the same scribe, Matthew Holmes. Information about the life of Holmes confirms the professional purpose of his manuscript collections.[21] Cosens is not one of Holmes's manuscripts, but seems to fit the criteria of this category because of the similarity in the type of its contents to that of the Holmes books. Like them, it is written out by a single scribe, and fills the manuscript almost entirely. He uses his own well-crafted divisions for many pieces in preference to those written by the composer, further supporting the suggestion that he is a professional player. The scribe of Cosens also deliberately arranges some of his pieces by genre, putting an exceptionally large collection of foreign preludes (for an English source) together, just as the compiler of Hirsch did when separating his dance and non-dance genres. The purpose and provenance of Hirsch is highly controversial, but it has been placed in this category mainly because of the clear evidence that the principal scribe was ordering the contents of the book, and that the music seems to pre-date the copying by a substantial lapse of time.[22] The most plausible reason for this type of activity on the part of one scribe is that the book was a fair copy being made of a collection of ephemera.

The Holmes books are the most important in the entire English lute repertory for many reasons. Holmes's residence in the two cities (Oxford and London) that would have been the first to hear newly composed music, and also his being a professional musician ensure that the likelihood of his copying new music into his books very shortly after it was composed is extremely high. In addition the exceptional size of the collection and the number of years it spans (1580-1615) provide us with a superb picture of the repertory as it emerged and developed during its most active years. Naturally there will be numerous older pieces to be found among Holmes's more modern copying, but even this gives a clear idea of the music that he would have considered contemporary and fashionable enough to warrant its preservation in his collection. This may account for the slightly confusing appearance of some pieces more than once. In fact this is common enough in the first type of professional book to be a feature of its compilation, and is also seen in Cosens. It may be that the copying in these books only just remained abreast of new compositions, and the compilers may not have had a chance to play the pieces more than once, if at all, before copying in further music. In this case it would not be surprising to have forgotten a piece to the extent that hearing or seeing it again with, perhaps, a new set of divisions would have prompted its re-copying without checking back in the manuscript to see if it was already there.

The inclusion of Marsh in this list is also hard to justify on purely physical evidence. It could almost as easily be one of the household or personal anthologies, but it is listed here for a number of reasons. The hand is extremely fast, fluid and neat, there are very few copying errors, there is an almost total absence of titles or ascriptions, and the layout and overall appearance of the copying suggests a practised and confident scribe. In addition, the book seems to provide virtually a compendium of different types of music, the most unusual being a group of equal-pitched lute treble-ground duets that include both parts. This is unusual as grounds were not usually copied as they were so easily memorable. The layout of the pieces suggests that, like Hirsch, this manuscript may be an archive collection.

Unlike the other professional books in this category, Wickhambrook includes numerous ascriptions. However, the book was unbound, and is now stitched into an eighteenth-century white paper wrapper. Despite its unbound state, it is in good condition, though some leaves are clearly missing. The scribe appears to have been associated with John Johnson, and possibly also his son Robert, as the music in his hand in this book and in Folger, includes some pieces signed by John Johnson, and in Wickhambrook one piece (f.17v) apparently also signed by one of the Johnsons, though possibly by Robert in this case. The lack of grading of the pieces and the unusual table-layout of the duets make it unlikely to be a pedagogical book, and the lack of binding also excludes it from this category and that of household or personal anthologies. The scribe may have intended it to be a scribal publication, but the notation is slightly flawed, and some of the ascriptions were written by a different hand. The most likely explanation for the book's features and its contents places it in this category.



Two sub-categories: 1. Music copied to preserve a performing repertory, and 2. Music copied for 'archive' purposes.

PHYSICAL: Book usually bound after ruling and copying. May be some connection with printed paper. Sources are often larger than those in any other category.

SCRIBES: Usually a single copyist who does not sign the book, but occasionally one or two pieces may have been inserted within the original layer, also by anonymous scribes. One copyist is always clearly the principal, and his social status may be of a servant or artisan. Standard of accuracy and musical literacy high, though personal 'shorthand' elements may be present. Accuracy may be patchy in 2. where some errors may be seen in notation. Handwriting always appears to be fast, may not be particularly polished, but is usually clear and legible. Performing indications are far less common in 2. than in 1. Blank folios are uncommon in 1. but not in 2.

REPERTORY: Generally, all the music is of a similar (high) standard. 1. Repertory is usually contemporary with copying period, unless 2. when it is likely to be retrospective. Format clear and uncluttered, lacking marginalia, and often also lacking ascriptions. Some pieces may be copied more than once, and though the scribe's own divisions may be apparent (usually very competent), there are unlikely to be pieces composed by the owner.

LAYOUT: 1. Copying runs consecutively from start to finish without pre-arrangement, pieces need not start at the top of a folio, but page-turns are always avoided, thus some unused lines may be seen. The book may have been copied over a substantial period of time. 2. Shows evidence of pre-determined organisation, page turns are not consistently avoided, and some basic uncorrected errors may be apparent. Usually copied fast and over a short period of time




2764(2) (reconstructed from fragments, incomplete)

Trumbull William Trumbull (see above, 'Teaching fragments')


Wemyss Lady Margaret Wemyss

ML Margaret L.

Pickeringe Jane Pickeringe

Stowe389 Raphe Bowle

Board Margaret Board

Mynshall Richard Mynshall

Sampson Henry Sampson

FolgerRowallan Anna Hay and Sir William Mure of Rowallan

Pedagogical books are those written by students of the lute, almost always under the direction of a tutor. In almost all cases, the identity of the teacher is unknown. There are two types of pedagogical book: the most common is that compiled by a young woman, or less usually a young man, from the leisured classes learning the instrument as part of their social armour, and easily forgotten when more important matters (such as marriage) took over. The second type was compiled by a man with a lower social status, who may have intended to use the skill either semi-professionally, or as an attempt to improve his social standing by complementing his other professional skills. The musical and textual standard of the contents in the first type is generally high: the copious ascriptions are usually accurate, as are the versions of the pieces copied--sometimes in a simplified form compared to versions found elsewhere. Though the general attributes of the second type of scribe are similar--copious ascriptions, gracing etc., the accuracy is quite different if the scribe's youth, musical illiteracy or lack of experience leads to textual errors and untidy copying practices. Mynshall and Dallis are both of the second type, and are significantly less skilled and meticulous in appearance and layout from the elegant and superbly presented collections of Board, Pickeringe,ML and Sampson.

Despite the existence of various types of contemporary literature mentioning music and musicians, there are no descriptions of a lute lesson or of the matters surrounding it that were taken for granted. There are quite detailed descriptions of the attributes expected of the nobility or gentry relating to music, and documents exist to support the reality of these somewhat idealised images: household accounts listing musical instruments and payments to both players and teachers for their services and for the supply of instruments and the peripheral consumables associated with their use. We know about the physical technique required to play the lute--where and how to place the fingers--often from continental tutors printed as a preface to music collections; even some basic information on how to tune the lute, but we have no information relating how the required skills were passed from teacher to pupil. The absence of any type of information in primary sources is partly due to the paucity of printed music tutors or collections of solo music, but is also usually the result of a practice being so widespread and generally accepted that any contemporary description of it is considered superfluous by those who practise it. Contemporary writers rarely have either an eye to posterity,or an appreciation of the possibilities of the future obsolescence of their subject to the extent that the teacher-pupil inheritance might be lost. This seems to be particularly true of music as opposed to other subjects--contemporary writing tutors for instance answer many questions that it would be desirable to answer in relation to the lute: what might a prospective pupil expect from his lessons, and what did the teacher expect from the pupil and his employers? For how long would you engage a teacher if he was not already one of your servants? Were there differences in practices between teachers who were already household servants, and those employed from outside? Did the teacher supply the instrument or the books? How old or young should the ideal pupil preferably be? Who were the great teachers of the day? How long would it usually be before you were likely to be a competent player, or considered fairly good? How good could you become before you were vulgar? Was it a relatively expensive skill to acquire? One passing comment by Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) implies that it could have been quite costly to some parents, and--far from indulging a whim--they consider the attainment of the skill hard won, and worth paying for:

Our young women and wives, they that being maids took so much pains to sing, play and dance, with such cost and charge to their parents to get these graceful qualities, now being married will scarce touch an instrument, they care not for it.[23]

It is probably reasonable to assume that tried and tested methods of teaching in other spheres were applied to the teaching of music, and from this assumption comes the generally accepted probability that music lessons took the form of supervised practice sessions each day, in between which the student would copy music provided by the teacher into his or her personal collection, and practise the previous day's exercise. This form of intensive teaching is still employed today, though rarely as a way of acquiring musical skills, since there is unlikely to be the urgency in learning to play that there is in, for instance, learning a new language.

The type of book compiled by a student under the supervision of a teacher is usually bound after ruling but before copying. They are almost always written by a single scribe, but as the compilations often leave part of the manuscript unused, there are sometimes subsequent layers of scribes active. In some cases the teacher does appear to have been active, and this is the case in Sampson, Board, Folger, ML and Dd.4.22. The incidence of a group of concurrent scribes is relatively rare unless the second scribe is the owner's tutor. Often the only evidence that a teacher existed is in the graded difficulty of the music. Where several layers of scribes appear, the purpose of the book has usually changed. Sometimes a book that started out as being compiled under the direction of a tutor becomes a household or personal anthology, sometimes of a different owner. Where this is the case, the book is categorised by its original purpose.

Clues to the pedagogical purpose abound: in some cases such as Board, ML and Folger the teacher has been active scribally, correcting the music of the principal scribe and occasionally adding music themselves. Sometimes simply the progressive standard of the music from simple short pieces to more complex works betrays its origins. In almost all cases, the principal scribe, the pupil, has written his or (more often)her name in the book. Other evidence of a learning process can sometimes be seen in tables of graces, tunings, rhythms or solmization etc., and in the case of Folger a demonstration of techniques of varying a bass pattern. The presence of duets, particular ly treble-ground types invariably indicates a teacher-pupil relationship within the book, particularly where it is not possible to play the duets from the parts as they are laid out. Duets were an ideal teaching tool, and the pupil would probably have learned both parts at some time. Pickeringe is a notable example of this practice, preserving a large proportion of the extant lute duets in the repertory in the first folios of the manuscript. It is perhaps odd that the duets are often copied in such as way as to make it impossible for two lutenists to play them from the same manuscript, implying that in this situation the second lutenist might play from memory or from another source, possibly the exemplar. This is not the case with Wickhambrook, where the second part of the duet is copied at the bottom of the same page or on a facing page, with the book inverted.[24] (It is probably significant that in other respects this book does not appear to be a pedagogical collection.) Treble-ground duets often lack their grounds, particularly where they were undoubtedly well-known ones that any lutenists might have been familiar with. Watching modern duettists play, the ground player will read the music perhaps for the first two statements of the ground, and then his eyes will begin to wander and the music ceases to be necessary.

Pedagogical books make up by far the largest category among the Italian manuscripts, and many of them were written by noblemen. One of the main characteristics of the Italian books seems to be the plurality of hands--the opposite of the situation usually found in the English sources. The teachers are also far more obviously active in the compilation of the books, probably indicating differing teaching practices between the two countries, and their identity is often well known and documented.

A plurality of hands is one of the main characteristics of these books, for most of them were used by a succession of owners over a long period of time. Consequently, the repertory contained in these manuscripts is quite diverse in both style and in chronology. A table of contents was often started but rarely finished .... Unlike professional books, one finds in these sources a profusion of fingerings and other aids for the student lutenist. Usually, these books also contain pages of a purely didactic content, such as tuning charts, simple exercises in realizing figured bass, exercises in playing scales, chords and arpeggios, and in one case, transposition. One can usually distinguish the hand of the teacher from that of the student(s). The clearest example of this is in Perugia, in which the steady hand of Falconieri (?) is contrasted with the tentative hand of the student, whose quill technique (like his lute technique, judging from the pieces in this hand) was neither clean nor secure. ... in Rome 4145, pages are consistently left blank after passacagli, probably to leave space for the student to compose his own variations.[25]

The English sources are also chronologically diverse, but not for the same reason that the Italian ones were. In the English manuscripts, this sort of diversity is probably attributable to the tutor having collected his teaching material over a substantial period of time or using his own pedagogical book as an exemplar, as is the case with Trumbull. He offered the music to his student in an order of difficulty that had little to do with its currency or present popularity. One of the identifying features of the English pedagogical sources is that their repertory is often very old-fashioned. Dallis is an extreme example. It is clearly dated by the scribe 1583, and to judge by the copying was probably written over only a very short period of time. It has been dated by its repertory 1565-80, disregarding the scribal indication and the fact that some pieces are undoubtedly copied from Adriansen 1584. Much of the repertory is emphatically early, with music copied from continental prints dating from the early 1500s right up to the clearly very up-to-date Adriansen print; but the inscribed date indicates the true period of the book. Dallis has other interesting features that set it aside from the mainstream of English lute manuscripts: it makes use of time signatures long before they became common in English lute music, and also incorporates lute songs and a number of psalm settings, neither of which genre made any impact on English taste. This type of mixture would more usually be found in foreign collections such as Vilnius and undoubtedly appear in Dallis as the result of the scribe copying much of his music from foreign printed collections. Sampson also shows a discrepancy between the date of the repertory and the date of copying, though in this case not quite such a significant discrepancy because Henry Sampson was not copying a repertory drawn mostly from continental prints, but from a more specifically English tradition. To judge by some of the contents, the book could easily date from the late 1500s or the very early years of the seventeenth century. The watermark, though, is dated 1609, and the book is accordingly dated c1610.

Tables of contents are not particularly common in any English manuscripts, and they are no more so in this category. In general, French tablature sources do not contain a great deal of fingering. What there is, is usually limited to indication of the right hand index finger, and where this appears, it is consistently notated through the work of a scribe. The right hand thumb and middle finger may also be indicated. Fingerings are not limited to pedagogical sources, neither are graces, which often vary from scribe to scribe in both range and interpretation.26 Hold signs are often added to the copying of a scribe by a teacher, but the practice is invariably not taken up by the pupil following the teacher's example. The use of hold signs seems to be a particular feature of the duct of some scribes, and the rare treble hold sign is a significant feature of only a few scribes. Some scribes indicate neither graces nor fingering, but there is no correlation between their use and the purpose of the manuscript. As for the professional sources,we should be wary of assuming that a scribe is inexperienced because his writing is messy. Even the young Richard Mynshall can be excused for his awkward italic tablature hand when we examine his index to the book, for which he uses a secretary script with considerably more fluency and consistency than we might expect, given the state of his tablature pages.

ex.24: Illustration from
Krakow flyleaf, reduced to 71

The English pedagogical manuscripts are not the largest category in this group of sources, and none seem to have been written by noblemen.[27] Herbert[ ] These books belonged predominantly to women, and none of those in the period 1530-1630 came from a noble family. As well as Robert Burton's comment on the desirability of the quality gained in learning to play the lute and to dance (see above), another indication of the usefulness of the instrument is illustrated by one of the end-papers of Krakow, shown in example 24, and the matter is confirmed by the author of Burwell:

All the actions that one does in playing of the lute are handsome, the posture is modest free and gallant ... The shape of the lute ... sets [the body] in an advantageous posture.

The beauty of the arm, of the hands and of the neck are advantageously displayed in playing of the lute. The eyes are employed only in looking upon the company. ... Nothing represents so well the consort of angelical choirs and give[s] more foretastes of heavenly joys and of everlasting happiness. For the advantages of marriage how many bachelors and maids have we seen advanced by this agreeing harmony. When persons of both sexes have neither considered wealth nor beauty of the person, but suffering themselves to be drawn by the charms of this sweet melody.

Some hath believed that they should possess an angel incarnate, if they could unite themselves by a marriage to a person that enjoys this rare quality.

... Of all the arts that I know there is none that engages more the inclination of men than the lute. For ravishing the soul by the ear and the eyes by the swiftness and neatness of all the fingers.[28]

Perhaps this explains why those books written by young unmarried women seem to date only from their pre-marital years, with no evidence that they were still learning or adding music after marrying. Even the later additions to sources such as Board or Pickeringe seem to bear no relation to the original owner.

Trumbull is included here mainly because of the high proportion of duets it contains and the known history of the scribe. However, William Trumbull clearly also used his collection of loose leaves as a teaching exemplar, and its overall appearance does not match those of the books compiled by the higher classes, which were bound before copying. 2764(2) is also in this category because of the proportion of duets, though it is difficult to get a reasonable idea of the original use for a manuscript that survives in such an incomplete and damaged state, and it may have been a teaching exemplar as Trumbull became later in its life. In this type of collection, the duets nearly always appear at the beginning of the compilation, though they are scattered through Trumbull, possibly because the book was never bound and the original order may have been disturbed. Collections in which there are a group of duets later in the book are often not pedagogical. Other books with large numbers of duets are Ballet, Folger, Marsh, and Wickhambrook. If bound teachers exemplars existed, it is likely that a pedagogical book would look like the exemplar from which it was copied. If this is the case, then some of the books in this category may be exemplars. Trumbull and 2764(2), both unbound collections, may be this type of book, particularly as the assumption that Trumbull was originally a pedagogical book rests entirely on the fact that he originally worked as a secretary. Someone of this social class would be unlikely to have employed a lute teacher while he was learning the skills of his adult trade, though he may have been fortunate enough to have had a lute-playing friend or relation who taught him for little or nothing when he was a child (as was the case with Daniel Bacheler). Since there is almost never any evidence giving the name of lute teachers, it may be wrong to assume they were the well-known composers of the day, and more of them than we currently suppose may have been well-meaning amateurs like William Trumbull. The ladies who compiled books such as Board, Pickeringe and ML seem to have been taught by masters of the calibre of Dowland, but their books reach a considerably higher standard, and are noticeable better crafted as a whole than the collections of such as Dallis's pupil, Richard Mynshall and Henry Sampson.

It is unusual to be able to name the teacher as well as the pupil in a book, but Board is an exception. In it, the hand of John Dowland is apparent, not only copying whole pieces of music but also adding a solmization table to the book's flyleaf and adding hold signs to some of Margaret's copying (see example 25).

Dowland's activity however,is limited to only a part of the book, and it is quite likely that he was not her first, nor her principal teacher.No other scribe seems to have intruded on Margaret's copying though. This is not, however, the only source to show the signs of the teacher's input. Dowland makes a similar contribution to Folger, both copying music of his own and adding hold signs to the copying of one of the other major scribes. The discussion of Richard Allison in Chapter 7 shows a scribe active in a large number of otherwise very diverse sources, in a manner that also suggests him to be a teacher.

ex.25: Folio 13 of Board showing hold signs added by

Folger, once believed to have belonged to the Dowland family, has been dismissed as having been Dowland's book after a comprehensive examination by John Ward.29 Its contents and their layout indicate amateur origins on the whole, though Dowland was clearly one of the scribes and was undoubtedly acting in a pedagogical capacity just as he was in Board. However, the scribe that Dowland appears to be teaching, despite having been the copyist of the majority of the contents, is not the original scribe, and the large number of other hands makes this source unusual among the pedagogical books. John Ward discusses the pedagogical activity in this book in great detail and with convincing clarity. Although he describes some treble hold signs as slurs etc., he has nevertheless correctly identified the fact that many of these performance marks were added by a scribe other than the copyist of the tablature. His discussion of the demonstration of different forms of notation and the exercise in a varied bass pattern shows perhaps the clearest example of teaching activity in any pedagogical source.[30] It appears from the signatures of both John Dowland and John Johnson that the Scribe B, who completed music written by the original scribe, Scribe A, not only invited acquaintances to contribute pieces but also had the eminent professionals of the day autograph their compositions and, in Dowland's case,copy his own music and offer some performing advice for some other music. It is possible that the Scribe B was the teacher of Scribe A, who wrote simple dumps and other duets and gave their titles in a youthful hand. Scribe B may have been acquainted with masters such as Dowland and Johnson, and may even have been an eminent composer himself. Whatever their relationship, the repertory in this book is also unusual among others in the category in that it is relatively up to date.

The three books written by Jane Pickeringe, Margaret L. (ML) and Margaret Board are the principal representatives in this category; a group of manuscripts copied by young gentlewomen in immaculate scripts, and with great pride in their presentation. As Spencer points out, these manuscripts are all 'large, wide-ranging collections containing quite difficult pieces, reminding us of the playing standard reached by these amateur lady lutenists'.31 Despite the high playing standard they reached, none of the pedagogical scribes seem to have written their own music or divisions.

Sampson does not show the didactic tables found in the other sources, but instead offers an unusual instance of a single piece ('Mrs Whites Choice') written out twice consecutively in different keys and with slightly altered divisions (see example 26). This seems to be an exercise in transposition: essentially the pieces are the same, but the divisions on each strain are slightly altered, leading the proud intabulator to ascribe the first version to its composer, John Dowland, and the second to himself, Henry Sampson.

This small clue gives a valuable insight into the attitude of the Elizabethan lutenists towards authorship of a piece. Clearly when a composer or player invented new divisions to an old tune, then it was the practice to write his own name at the end of the piece, thus appearing to claim authorship for the whole. This practice would explain why, not infrequently, one piece may be ascribed to a variety of composers through a group of sources. The copyist was not ascribing the original composition but only the divisions. In its turn, this is a reflection of the prevalent attitude towards eclecticism in any form of invention--literary or musical--in Elizabethan life, though the practice and the philosophy behind it was already in decline by the middle of Elizabeth's reign. Quoting a pre-existing and usually recognisable work lent authority to the new music, as well as imparting a sub-tle added dimension for the initiate. A musical practice that has declined since that time is the writing of variations or sets of divisions on a well-known tune or ground, originally considered an important part of a composer's education.

ex.26: Sampson folio 7, reduced to 60

Trumbull, discussed above and in Chapter 1, has some features in common with the professional books but, like Mynshall, is well supplied with ascriptions.Mynshall is included in this category, though it seems surprising that a teacher should have allowed so many grammatical errors to creep into the copying. On the other hand, the age of the scribe (15) and the layout, which matches most of the features of the other pedagogical books, places it here. Richard Mynshall later became a town musician, but even without the date (1597)[32] this book was clearly compiled in his youth when his copying betrays his lack of musical literacy and unease with the new italic hand, coupled with an exuberant but uncontrolled decoration (see example 27).

ex.27: Sample of the hand of Richard Mynshall

408/2 is difficult to categorise as its binding and end-papers (if it was originally bound up) are missing. The retrospective repertory and the standard of the music make this category far more likely than any of the others for this book, though, and the added similarity in layout to Sampson makes its presence here justifiable. Wemyss may also be misplaced, but the age of the scribe alone justifies its inclusion, as a scribe who started to compile at 12[33] would be unlikely to be working on a household or personal anthology. This manuscript dates from the middle of the seventeenth century, but is included in this study as it contains much vieil ton music. It seems to have become a household book later in life, when a number of scribes added music to Margaret's beginnings. Anna Hay, the scribe of Rowallan, joins the ranks of young lady lutenists who wrote a lute book before their marriage. The simple style of the music in her hand and that of her sister, Mary, and the age and station of the scribe make it highly likely that this was a pedagogical book, though its original purpose has been obscured by the activity of a subsequent owner, Sir William Mure of Rowallan, who used it as a commonplace book, entering poetry and music, including some arrangements of his own. From this time on it became a household or personal anthology.

In the case of 2764(2), a great deal survives of a source that was probably originally a reasonably large and comprehensive lute book. It has been reconstructed by removing leaves from bindings of a group of manuscripts in Cambridge University Library. Some of the leaves are quite badly damaged, but the source is not classed as a fragment as much of its original character is evident.



Two sub-categories: 1. Main group, copied by young women (or, less often, men) from the gentry or minor nobility learning for leisure, and 2. Copied by lower class men who may use the skill semi-professionally later.

PHYSICAL: Book is usually bound after ruling but before copying.

SCRIBES: Compiled under the direction of a teacher. 1. Handwriting and presentation generally elegant and textual standard generally high. 2. Musical literacy, handwriting and layout of noticeably lower standard. 1. & 2. Identity of teacher usually unknown, though evidence of his activity may be seen in corrections or performing indications. Fingerings and graces may be used. These sources are sometimes heavily graced by the pupil. Scribe almost always writes his/her name in the book, and initials are likely to be stamped on the cover. Didactic material is likely to be present in the form of tables or different settings of single pieces. Usually written by a single scribe, though this scribe may be interrupted or emended by a teacher.

REPERTORY: Copious ascriptions, usually accurate. Progressive in musical standard from simpler pieces (usually duets, often only one part is copied) to sometimes quite difficult works, depending on the length of the copying period. Where both duet parts are present, they may not be on the same opening. Some easy versions of difficult pieces may be found. Repertory is likely to range from very old-fashioned to contemporary, and may be entirely retrospective. Music composed by the owner is not included.

LAYOUT: Later layers may be present, as these books often leave blank folios at the end of the collection, and sometimes passim. 1. Music usually carefully fitted into the available space, and some gaps may be filled with very short pieces. New pieces usually start at the top of a page. 2. Pieces may have missing bars or strains that are written in wherever there is space. Sometimes confusing and corrupt versions of pieces. 1. & 2. Unused lines are generally avoided, and the scribe may make awkward compressions to facilitate this. Copying span of the original scribe is likely to be very short--usually for the duration of their teaching only, though later layers may continue for some decades.


Ballet William Ballet


Herbert Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury


Thistlethwaite John Bam...





Willoughby Francis Willoughby


Lodge Giles Lodge

This category covers the books containing the personal collection of amateurs who played the instrument as a pastime. Many pedagogical books ended up becoming personal anthologies, but the manuscripts listed below were originally begun as private collections. As household books, they were often added to by guests in the house, or visiting lutenists, as well as resident players in a large household. It is not unusual to find a large number of scribes active, often concurrently, but also in layers as the book was passed on to subsequent owners. Thus the scribal activity can be divided into two categories: either the manuscript is the work of a single scribe, with any gaps possibly filled in by a further scribe (or, rarely, scribes) at a later date (e.g. Herbert), or the manuscript is the work of a group of scribes, all working together, or within a very short time span (e.g. Willoughby, Thistlethwaite[34]). Characteristically, with groups of scribes in this category, their activity is not limited to single sections of folios, but is spread among the work of the other scribes. There is no impression of an arrangement in order of technical standard, but this is sometimes difficult to define in any case. Significantly, this is the only category of book in which compositions by the owner-scribe are likely to appear. They are rarely of a standard, however, to compete with the professional repertory.

Large sections of unused (often ruled) folios at the end of a book are frequently found in this category. Oddments of additional information also accumulate, scribbled in margins or on end-papers, though pedagogical material is almost unknown. Tables of graces may find their way into this sort of source. Sometimes, the book ended up as more of a musical or general commonplace book than being strictly confined to lute music, and intabulations are more common in this type of source, particularly if music for other instruments, or combinations of instruments, is included. Rowallan, although it began life as a pedagogical book, came into the hands of Sir William Mure of Rowallan, who used it as a commonplace book for poetry and lute music. He may also have played the simple pieces left by Anna and Mary Hay. He added music of his own, as did Lord Herbert and the last scribe of Thistlethwaite, none particularly accomplished, but a typical practice of scribes in this type of book.

The repertory can be extremely diverse, reflecting changing fashions and differing personal tastes, as well as some unusual features that can only be explained as additions made by a visiting player with a particular repertorial interest or background that sets him apart from his peers. He may, for instance, have been an Italian musician from the royal household. The source may have been copied over a fairly long period of time, and may contain music of more than one chronological layer.

Non-professional scribes or copyist-players tend to lack the element of critical judgement that allows the professional or more experienced compiler to copy a piece very precisely into a designated space. The amateur hand may look very professional because the amateur has more time to devote to the way his book looks, but many of them find that pieces are running off the end of lines or pages, or ending with only one or two bars on the last line. Professionals would always avoid these 'widows and orphans'.

Once again, the Italian repertory shows far more activity by noblemen than by the landed gentry who seem to comprise the greatest part of the lute-compiling public in England.

The owners of this kind of manuscript were often noblemen or even students, who wrote down pieces in their lute book as they discovered them. A good example of such a book is K81, part of which was copied during the Italian trip of Johann Sebastian von Hallwil. ... Berkeley 757, 759 and 761 are all "personal" anthologies belonging to Carlo Banci, whose status as an upper-class Bolognese student is established by the inscription "Ego Carlolus Bononiensis Ex.Nobillium Bononiae" contained in Berkeley 759. Even the appearance of Berkeley 757, with its parchment bindings and silk ribbon clasps - a format rather inappropriate for either the middle-class student or the professional musician - gives the impression of a book intended for the wealthy dilettante.[35]

As can be seen from the list above, household or personal anthologies make up a large portion of the manuscripts surviving in the English repertory. However, this may be a misrepresentation. As was noted above the main reason for categorising a manuscript as a professional book is information about its owner. Most, though not all, of the manuscripts listed above represent biographical 'black holes', and their place here occasionally has more to do with the absence of evidence to the contrary than any more specific reason. The most controversial books in this respect are Straloch, Euing and 31392. The number of titles and ascriptions seems to vary too, and if we were to take their lack as evidence that they were professional collections, then several might have to be 're-categorized'.

Brogyntyn is highly decorative and immaculately copied and contains ascriptions in a private alphabet, not a practice one would expect a professional to use (see example 28).

ex.28: Part of a page of
Brogyntyn showing the private alphabet, enlarged 130

The history of Herbert places it firmly in this category, while it is the lack of history for the Straloch manuscript that places it here. Willoughby was copied by Francis Willoughby and various other scribes, many of whom are known, and range from household servants to personal friends. 31392 is unusual in many ways, the most immediately noticeable being its large oblong folio format. It is the work of three scribes who all wrote very elegant, neat and fluent tablature hands. Whether they were working in the same period is difficult to ascertain, as their work falls into three distinct fascicles. It is painstakingly supplied with ascriptions by all the scribes and includes an unusual quantity of music by Francis Pilkington. For this reason, it is tempting to link him to its compilation in some way. The presence of a large number of pieces by Alfonso Ferrabosco and Lodovico Bassano may also link the manuscript with the court.



Two sub-categories: either (most often) a large number of scribes have been active in a short space of time, sometimes only copying single pieces, or the book is the work of a single scribe with gaps filled by others.

PHYSICAL: Usually bound after ruling and before copying, and may have the owner's initials on the cover.

SCRIBES: Usually amateur, members of the landed gentry or minor nobility, playing the instrument as a pastime. Identity of the owner is not common; though some do write their names into the book, most do not. Marginalia unrelated to the music may accumulate (household accounts, shopping lists, poetry, recipes, etc.) and music for other instruments, intabulations and/or vocal music. There may also be tables of graces. Hands vary from very neat and stylish to quite poor and irregular.

REPERTORY: No apparent arrangement by technical standard, and may be extremely diverse in chronology and origin. The number of titles and ascriptions varies from scribe to scribe within a book. There are likely to be pieces written by the owner (not necessarily very high quality).

LAYOUT: Activity is likely to be mixed, with no sectionalization or clear layering between scribes. Some pieces may be placed apparently arbitrarily among otherwise blank folios. Pieces do not always fit precisely into the spaces designated for them. Books can be quite large, with a sizeable collection of music, but are rarely completely filled.


Richard D. Richard


These manuscripts could be placed in the above categories, but have been kept apart because it is clear that the circumstances of the compilation of a manuscript can be affected by its environment, political or domestic.

Richard is the work of a single scribe, and may be a professional collection or a personal anthology. Most English scribes working abroad were there as professional lutenists attached to a foreign court or noble household, and often found their way there through having travelled in the retinue of an English nobleman. Apart from its present residence in Poland, it is clear that the scribe was an expatriate Englishman from his inscription: 'Modus tendendi neruos testudinis / D. Richardi Angliis natione'.

Vilnius has a more eclectic background. It originated in Königsberg,36 the capital city of Brandenburg, which was a principal gateway to central and eastern Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By 1560, Königsberg had become one of Europe's most illustrious musical centres,and saw an almost constant traffic of musicians and actors' troupes travelling to and from the continent from England and the Low Countries. The manuscript reflects the cosmopolitanism of the Brandenburg court, containing music from all over Europe, Prussia, Poland and modern Lithuania and containing the music of at least one English lutenist, John Hoskins, not found in any native source. The ascriptions are written in German, English and various combinations of these and other languages, while the handwriting, although all in French tablature, reflects a variety of European traditions.Although some of the scribes have been identified as professional lutenists resident at the court, its layered compilation is difficult to categorize satisfactorily. In common with foreign sources in German tablature, there are a large number of psalm settings in the collection, and lute songs may also be found. As might be expected, the ready availability of the European solo lute publications increases the number of concordances with these sources when compared with the contents of English manuscripts, and notation styles, even from the latter decades of the sixteenth century, usually incorporate features such as time signatures that are only found in England in exceptional cases at this time.


Etwall Hall MS

Straloch MS (copy surviving)

Travel book of Hans von Bodeck: liber amicorum

Occasionally a source is described by a writer cataloguing a library or private collection, but later researchers are unable to locate it. For many years the collections that had been housed in Berlin before World War II were lost, but were subsequently re-discovered, many in Krakow, to where they had been moved when Berlin was in danger from bombing. Lumsden described a number of sources that he could not trace, many of which have now come to light. These included Welde, the Braye book now owned by Robert Spencer, The Scyence of Lutynge (1565), Robert Ballard: Exhortation to play the Lute (1567), William Barley: New boke of Tabliture (1593 and 1599) and Thomas Robinson's Medulla Musicae (1603). He did not know of Board, Krakow, Richard, Sampson, Trumbull,Wemyss or the fragments 2764(2), 41498, 60577, Andrea, Edmund, Genoa, Magdalen, Mansell, Northants, Occ254, Och1280. Despite locating several of the sources that were known of but otherwise lost, there are still at least three known manuscript 'ghosts' about which no current information is available.

The Straloch Manuscript was mentioned in letters from the scribe of a partial copy, indicating that the original manuscript dated 1627-9 was sent to a number of friends who had been interested. The partial copy (Straloch), made in the eighteenth century, contains some of the more esoteric contents of the original manuscript, but also gives an index to the remaining music, indicating quite a substantial repertory. None of the known sources fits his description of the original, and it is now presumed lost, though since it had survived into the eighteenth century, it is unlikely to have been deliberately destroyed, and may still be preserved in the library of a country house.

The Etwall Hall Manuscript was described by Rimbault[37] in 1851 as a lute manuscript in Etwall Hall Derbyshire, but he does not describe or inventory it. Lumsden was unable to trace it, and its whereabouts remain unknown.

Hans von Bodeck (1582-1658) was sent from Elbing on the Baltic on a European diplomatic tour in 1597 to study and establish trade connections with people of importance. His travel book was filled with autographs, proverbs, drawings and other personal ephemera to remind him of the people he befriended. There were apparently 256 entries made between 1597 and 1609 from Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and England. Bodeck stayed in Oxford, Cambridge and London between April 1602 and September 1604 and English additions to his liber amicorum include entries by Campion, John Dowland and Philip Rosseter, who all lived in the same district of London at the time when Bodeck met them (the Campion entry is dated 1604). Dowland copied a short lute piece and autographed it 'Jo. Dowlande' on 9 May 1604. An extensive inventory of the book was made by Hans Bauer in 1929[38] and published with a description of Bodeck's journey. In 1987, Kenneth Sparr attempted to publish facsimiles of the relevant pages, but found that the book had disappeared. He concluded that,

Elbing was severely damaged during the Russian invasion at the end of World War II, the library was completely destroyed, and its collection had not been evacuated. There is, of course, a very slight possibility that Bodeck's book was dispersed and may turn up some day.[39]

Unless the book has indeed been deposited in another library or private collection as were the Berlin manuscripts, it must be assumed lost, though Bauer's detailed description preserves considerably more than is usually the case with ghosts.[40]

1 Burwell, 18.

[2] Burwell, 6.

[3] Ward comments in passing on scribal publication of lute books in a manner that suggests the practice was considerably more widespread than the evidence implies. See Ward 1992 Vol.I, 66.

[4] Gustafson 1979, Silbiger 1980,Coelho 1989.

[5] Essex Record Office, Chelmsford. D/DP A17, cited in Spencer 1959B.

6 Love 1993.

[7] The following extracts are taken from Hulse's transcription of the inventory of Cavendish's music books, Hulse 1986A, 69-72, and are the only references given to non-printed instrumental music books: 1601 - 2 litle ruled playing or singing bookes;1605 - ruled bookes... 2 of 6 lynes & one of 5 lynes; a ruled paper booke; 2 bookes for the vyall [pricked by] Mr Edneis man; 1606 - 6 viall bookes to be prickt; a booke to prick voyall lessons in; musicke bookes; 1612 - a sett of ruled song bookes binding and stringes; 1613 - 2 bookes for 2 vyolls; three bookes for three lutes. Only the last two entries must refer to ready-copied music, though they could have been specifically prepared at Cavendish's request.

[8] Love 1993, 27.

[9] Duets are also copied in table layout in Ballet.

[10] As in Thistlethwaite f.32r.

[11] Brogyntyn pp.125 ff.

[12] Thistlethwaite f.81v-84.

[13] Fenlon/Milsom 1984, 143.

[14] An investigation of the music in the book was undertaken by Iain Fenlon shortly before the publication of the entire manuscript in facsimile. There is a group of dances in the latter part of the manuscript, apparently not associated, either by scribe or by repertory, with the earlier lute music. These dances were the main focus of the study by Fenlon included in the introductory material for the facsimile (Cambridge, 1981) by Edward Wilson.

[15] Fenlon mistook these scorings for 'rudimentary rhythm signs', but they bear no relation to the music.

[16] SeeChapter 1.

[17] See also Appendix 1: Inventories of English Sources.

[18]Coelho 1989, 7.

[19] Very little is known about the use of lutes for accompanying social dancing. It is clear that the lute was too quiet an instrument, on its own, to provide a solid basis for dancers, but iconographic evidence such as Hermann van der Mast (1550-1604): Henri III and his court at a ball celebrating the marriage of Anne, Duc de joyeuse to Margaret de Lorraine-Vaudémont, c1581-4 (Musée National du Chateau de Versailles) suggests that quite a small group of instruments may have been sufficient for a relatively large gathering. Even here, however, the gathering are not clearly dancing to the three lutenists, but only being entertained by them. At present, there is no research that might lead to a better understanding of the use of the lute for accompanying dancing. Most depictions of lutes, particularly in the early 1600s are of single instruments and very small groups of people. Larger groups including a lute (or lutes) are usually of broken consorts or posed family portraits, while Dutch genre paintings frequently include a lutenist among social gatherings grouped about tables. Pictures of groups dancing to the lute are far rarer, and imply that its use was usually confined to a more intimate arena--it may have been used by dancing masters when teaching single pupils the steps.

[20] Set of part-books for broken consort copied by Matthew Holmes: Cambridge University Library, Dd.3.18 (Lute); Dd.5.20 (Bass viol); Dd.5.21 (Recorder); Dd.14.24 (Cittern).

[21] See Chapters 2, 6 and 7 for discussion of the Holmes books and their peculiar position in the repertory as a whole.

[22] The arguments surrounding this manuscript are described in detail in Chapter 7.

[23] Cited in Boyd 1973, 4 where he states that 'Richard Mulcaster also made this observation in his Positions..., 1581'.

[24] ff.15v and 16.

[25] Coelho 1989, 8.

26 Graces and their interpretation are discussed in Spencer 1976C and EMc iii (1975) by various authors.

[27] The only book known to have been written by an English nobleman that has survived is [and this does not appear to be one of the pedagogical sources. Francis Willoughby became a nobleman some time after the compilation of his lute book, ]Willoughby[.

28] Burwell, 43v-45.

29 Ward 1976B.

[30] Ward 1976B, 8-9.

31 Spencer 1976C.

[32] f.5v.

[33] Margaret Wemyss (1630-49) signed the second folio 'Begunne june 5 1643'.

[34] John Ward (Ward 1992) describes this book as 'a professional's miscellany', and dismisses the anomalies that this idea gives rise to as quirks, exceptions or oddments. His main reason for marking the book as the work of a professional player is the length of the pieces, though the fact that he is comparing this manuscript with earlier sources with quite substantially different histories could easily account for this. The problem seems to be one of context - the purpose of the books under discussion has not been adequately codified, neither has the date been sufficiently justified, thus giving rise to many facts that seem anomalous, but which are not so when viewed in the correct light. In fact, the book fits so well into the category of Household or Personal anthologies without any manipulation of apparent anomalies, that it seems Ward made a decision on the purpose of the book without consideration of the repercussions of his conclusion, or any examination of the whole area of the intended use of a book discussed here,and thus ended up trying to force a square peg into a round hole. His arguments are further confused by his basing the scribe's amateur or professional status on the appearance of the handwriting as well as its accuracy, though this argument seems to be put forward when desirable, but not when it would cause contradictions. Comparison of the tablatures written by young amateurs and mature professionals shows that usually the more neat and accurate a hand is, the more likely the writer was to have been an amateur writing under the tutelage of a professional, while the more cryptic and inaccurate texts probably belonged to the professionals, who had no particular need of an immaculate display copy, and relied on memory to make up for the deficiencies arising from the lack of leisure-time required to copy neatly. Consistency in his ap proach to and use of evidence seems to be the main problem in this work (and some others), and many weighty conclusions are questionable, while others are substantially inaccurate.

[35] Coelho 1989 , 9.

36 Now Kaliningrad.

[37] Edward Francis Rimbault: Little Book of Songs and Ballads (1851).

[38] Hans Bauer: 'Alt-Elbinger Stammbücher in der Stadtbücherei' ['libri amicorum from old Elbing in the City Library'] Elbinger Jahrbuch viii (1929), 151 ff.

[39] Kenneth Sparr: 'Some Unobserved Information about John Dowland, Thomas Campion and Philip Rosseter' LSJ xxvii (1987), 37.

[40] One further manuscript known to have been destroyed by fire during the war is Danzig. Fortunately a microfilm survives, owned by Wolfgang Boetticher.

The Lute Page Julia Craig-McFeely's Thesis Appendix 2