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I've just refurbished my old 4c renaissance guitar that up until now has been used only for chordal accompaniment.

I'm tackling some of the Morlaye and Le Roy pieces now that the instrument is greatly improved, and have a simple question that may have no simple answer:

Would these solo pieces have been played with lute technique, or is it likely that some chords  might have been strummed, as is done with baroque guitar music from the next century?  Certainly some of the pieces seem to lend themselves to strummed chords, but I don't want the authenticity cops bugging my home . . .


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I think the issue of whether the Le Roy instructions are garbled is an important one. Comparison of the only Le Roy tutor surviving in its original state, the cittern tutor, with the English versions of the lost Le Roy lute material show clearly that Le Roy's tutors followed a clear pattern, and often simply transposed blocks of text from one tutor to another. So, for example, there are passages in the LUTE tutor, as rendered in English, that can be read as word for word translations of material in the CITTERN tutor in French. So there is a good prima facie case for assuming the translations are accurate and indeed that their fault is to be over literal. The point about strumming on the lute is certainly an important one.

Can we just clarify a point of method? I am not trying to claim that we know how the gittern was played everywhere and at all times, nor do I wish to argue that it was always played in the same way. I am just trying to establish, in an essentially philological process, what one crucial source can be taken to mean and what its credentials are.

On Laneham, Peter makes a good point.

Not necessarily as cittern technique is certainly different from lute.  Phalese' "Selectissima elegantissimaque" includes introductory material which is taken from Leroy.   The sections of text which are common to all the instruments - such as how to read tablature, note values and time signatures  are transferred from one source to another but information specific to different instruments - like how the instrument is strung and tuned  has to be adapted to suit particular circumstances.  Phalese has actually mixed up the guitar stringing with that for the cittern. What has survived of Rowbottom's guitar tutor includes tuning charts which as JamesTyler says are baffling because they imply that the guitar was much larger and tuned to a lower pitch than is usually assumed.  These are on p.29 of his book - but the date is wrong - it should be ca.1568.   I haven't seen the original so quite possibly Jim has got it wrong.  In the 17th century Foscarini, Bartolotti, De Visee, Grenerin and Campion were all both lutenists and guitarists.   They would probably  have used different righthand techniques when playing the guitar.  Just because players played several diferent instrument it doesn't mean that they would have played them in exactly the same way.

I have images of the originals of all Rowbothum gittern fragments, i.e. those in London (the Duckers leaves) and in the US, making eight pages in all. Jim did not get that wrong. And I am sure guitarists and lutenists did not play the two instruments in 'exactly' the same way. I think I am done with this now; this is essentially an upgraded form of email, and we all know what a hazardous medium that is. One can so easily give the wrong impression, and agreement can be so very difficult to secure. Far better to talk face to face! May it be so.


I´m study guitar for a short time and I like to know were I can fin a method to play Renaissance guitar



do we have any consensus as to whether the renaissance guitar had the 4th course octave on the treble or bass side? :D

You may want to refer to this discussion started by me some years ago:




Hope this helps!


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