Name of Instrument:
How to Play:
In its early form, the lute was played with a pick. Later on, in the 15th century, it was played by striking the strings with the fingers. A lutist holds the instrument much like a guitar, the fingers of the left hand covers the fretted fingerboard and the fingers of the right hand (except the pinky finger) struck or plucks the strings.
The lute is shaped like a pear, it has a fretted fingerboard, a short neck, a soundhole carved with a rose pattern and strings that varied in numbers until the 16th century when it achieved its classic form (having 6 courses of strings). A distinct feature of the early lute is the pegbox which was angled back. During the 18th century the lute was overtaken by interest on the keyboard, but many composers still preferred the lute. During the 20th century interest on the lute was revived. Based on the Sachs-Hornbostel System, the lute is a chordophone, thus instruments like the sitar of India is considered a lute.
First Known Lutes:
It is believed to have emerged during the 14th century. The lute was especially popular during the 16th to 17th centuries. The 'ud or oud, which originated from the Middle East and used in Islamic music, is an early type of lute. It was brought to Spain by the Moors and interest on the instrument spread throughout Europe.
Composers Who Used Lutes:
Notable composers who used lutes in their compositions include John Dowland, Johann Sebastian Bach and Luis Milán.
Music Sheet/Midi Sample:
Sheet music from the Musica Viva Lute Archive