The lute is a plucked string instrument with a long neck bearing frets. The instrument is characterized by a rounded body and a flat front that is shaped somewhat like a halved egg. Lutes have been used in a great variety of instrumental music from the Medieval to the late Baroque eras. Indeed, they were the most important instrument for secular music during the Renaissance.
Lutes have been popular in Europe since the 13th century, though the earliest surviving compositions date from the late 15th century. Many composers published collections of their music during the 16th and 17th centuries. Sadly, much of the music is still lost. In the second half of the 17th century, lutes and similar stringed instruments declined in popularity. Very little music was written for the instrument after 1750. It wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that music historians prompted a renewed interest in lute music.
More Lute Facts
A person who performs on this string instrument is called a lutenist.
Notable lutenists include Peter Croton, John Dowland, Jacques Gallot, Joachim Held, Hubert Hoffmann, Lutz Kirchhof, Nigel North, Valéry Sauvage, and Christopher Wilson.
Marilyn Monroe with a Lute
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Performed by Valéry Sauvage
Accomplished string musician Valéry Sauvage plays the timeless classic “Greensleeves” on an instrument constructed by Stephen Murphy. Initially he plays the anonymous version from William Ballet’s Lute Book (late 16th or early 17th century). Valéry believes this to be the first known version for solo lute of “Greensleeves.” He segues into a version by Renaissance period composer and lutenist Francis Cutting, then back to the first version. Visit his YouTube channel, Luthval.
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Roosebeck 7-Course Descant Lute
- Beautiful short-necked instrument
- Bowl back of lacewood staves
- Eight tied nylon frets on a lacewood neck
- Rosewood fret board
- Lacewood peg box with tuners of rosewood
- European spruce soundboard
- Rosewood bridge and rosewood end pin
- 13 nylon strings in 7 courses
- Scale length of 19.75 inches
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