Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas



Could anyone help me? I'm a singer and I'm researching on renaissance and baroque songs with plucked strings instrument accompaniment. However, I'm going to perform these songs with a modern guitar accompaniment, so I need to know the tuning of each antique instrument of which I will transcribe to modern guitar, such as baroque guitar, renaissance lute etc.


I looked for especialized material that could help me, but found nothing in my University, so I'm asking your help, please. Most of the scores have only the TAB notation, what makes the transcribing even more difficult to me.


I'll be very grateful for any help!



Marcus Ouros

São Paulo/Brazil

Views: 214

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hello Marcus

Welcome to the EG&V Network. Maybe you could be more specific about a particular piece you want to transcribe and we can try and advise you?


Tunings of historical instruments you should be able to find in general music encyclopedias such as the New Grove etc., or Wikipedia. For instance for baroque guitar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque_guitar


Best wishes, Jelma

Dear Jelma and Martyn,


I'm working on a repertoire of renaissance and baroque assorted songs with fretted instruments acompaniment. I was actually concerned with knowing what should be the note of each string of those instruments, got it? Thanks to your advices, now I know the "standard stringing" of the renaissance lute (G-C-F-A-D-G) and baroque guitar (A-D-G-B-E). The problem is that these are only standards, and very often the stringing doesn't follow that patterns, without previous notes of the editor on the scores. If re-entrant tunings are not stated, I can't know how the courses should sound (in unison or in octaves).


It seems that, in such situations, the way is analyse the music's counterpoint/harmony along with the singing part, only then I'll be able to develop a consistent set to the modern guitar, am I right?


Thank you both for the help, and sorry for the poor english!



Marcus Ouros

Hello Marcus, the following  is in reference to the Baroque Guitar and not the lute but...

One of our members Monica Hall, has written a paper on Baroque Guitar stringing, look under "Stringing" at the top of the page. It might help you get a better idea of the different tunings.




Frank Koonce in his book "The Baroque Guitar in Spain and the New World" has a few pages dedicated to "Interpretation and Performance" and "Editorial Procedures" that give a good insite into his transcribing philosophy. I don't know if you have access to the book but it might be helpful. You can purchase the book from his site but, even though it is a very good book and well worth having for the music inside, if you needed to read only a few pages it might not be worth it.



I guess with the ren guitar and lute music the guitarist could just play from the tablature, maybe translated into modern tab or score depending on what the guitarist prefers. Some of this translation might have been done already, and I guess someone here would know about them - take care of mistakes of course and check with the originals if you can . If you do a few more and share them you will be popular !
With baroque guitar ... we seem to have a little (!!) controversy, but I am sure that if you ask here on a composer by composer basis you will get very sound information.

Back in 16th and 17th centuries the accompanist(s) would no doubt have felt free to use the score as a basis for some degree of personal interpretation, and  improvisation maybe. And I guess that if extra musicians were around they would have joined in. Percussion? A flute or string player maybe?


© 2022   Created by Jelma van Amersfoort.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service