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Learning to play a musical instrument requires dedication, method and thoroughness, but also offers moments of playfulness, joy and passion. A few well-chosen and carefully practiced notes can fully satisfy the beginner or even the advanced musician. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the baroque lute was confined to a tight-knit circle of aristocrats and noblemen who shared an inclination for the delicate, exquisite and sublime. Today’s baroque lute has lost none of those qualities. What has, however, changed radically is the fact that nobility is no longer a matter of owning a title, but is a question of spirit and culture, and thus the fine and delicate sound of the baroque lute may be enjoyed, as well as played, by a far wider audience.
Considerations of both a technical and an aesthetic nature differentiate the practice of the baroque from that of the renaissance lute. The latter is an instrument that lends itself to solo playing as well as accompaniment, whereas the baroque lute is above all a soloist instrument. This very significant difference implies an equally different approach. Let’s take, for example, the “supreme” instrument in Western music: the human voice! A singer must first and foremost work on the quality of his/her timbre, since it is through this timbre, unique to each singer, that he/she will charm and convince the audience. The same concept applies to the baroque lute: the quality of the timbre our fingers produce when plucking the strings is the most important aspect, to be mastered from the very beginning. In this respect, be very patient and perseverant, and keep in mind that we are striving for elegance, refinement and delicacy, qualities that should help guide you in your attempts to master the sound of the baroque lute. Sound is the mirror of the soul!
Those who come to the baroque lute from the classical guitar know not only that the two instruments belong to distinct families, but that the approach to sound production for these two distant cousins is radically different. Double strings, with their greater number and lower tension, as well as a rounded body, make the baroque lute a completely different instrument. The conscientious guitarist must there- fore approach it with modesty and patience. Even those who have mastered difficult pieces on the guitar must have the humility to start from scratch, and to try to apprehend the distance separating them from the universe of the lute.
In all so-called traditional cultures, musical instruments were taught orally. Today, thanks to ground- breaking research by many musicologists, but also to great lutenists such as Hopkinson Smith, we can once again benefit from first-hand teaching of the baroque lute. Nonetheless, we encourage you to look into the historical sources available, in order to pursue the development of the “new lute tradition”, interrupted over 200 years ago.
No book or method can ever replace the role of a teacher. A teacher with a practiced ear can help a student the perceive the structure and shape of sounds he would not otherwise be capable of hearing. This capacity for discriminating sounds and structure, indispensable to the mastery of a musical instrument, can never be summed up in a few lines cast on paper. (1) That is why this method, like all those written previously and those yet to come can never fully teach you the art of becoming a musician! In this respect, the musicologist Frederick Neumann wrote in 1965 that at one time “... treatises were either unknown or neglected. Then, the enthusiasm surrounding their discovery toward the end of the [19th] century caused musicologists to overestimate their importance.
Our Method for the Baroque Lute can, however, provide you with the technical and musical foundations required for a solid and comprehensive approach to playing the baroque lute. That is indeed the purpose, and challenge, of this book: to reach out to as many lute-lovers as possible, and give them the opportunity to express themselves via the baroque lute, however advanced they may be in their musical education. Its audience includes not just those who have never played a musical instrument, but also seasoned guitarists desirous of initiation into the mysteries of the baroque lute!
Our Method for the Baroque Lute is divided into three parts.
The first, mainly theoretical part, will help you better understand the way baroque lute music is to be played. We think it is necessary for the lutenist to possess some elementary knowledge of Western musical notation as well as of tablature (form of notation specific to the lute). This theoretical knowledge would not be complete if acquired by itself. We have therefore added an explicative lexicon as well biographies of most of the composers of music for the 11- and 13-course baroque lute.
The second part contains an entire chapter devoted to the study of lute technique and sound production. With a wealth of photographs and details regarding all the technical problems to be overcome, this chapter is undoubtedly the most important for achieving an understanding of the baroque lute’s acoustical properties. This is followed by 21 elementary exercises, presented in order of increasing difficulty, accompanied by several pieces. You are asked to play the melodies first, add the bass lines next, and only then begin working on the ornaments.
The third part contains 250 selected pieces for the 11- and 13-course baroque lute. The pieces are divided into three levels of difficulty: elementary, intermediate and advanced. In keeping with practice in the baroque era, the pieces are arranged by key and title. We preferred to limit ourselves to a small number of different keys, so that beginners may devote their time to the instrument, rather than to retuning it or to playing pieces far too complex for their level. There is no such thing as bad music, but sometimes there are bad musicians! Making music cannot amount to merely playing the notes, or per- forming often pointless acrobatics. A “mature” musician most often takes pleasure in playing a simple melody and enjoying the exquisite sounds of their instrument.
We hope this method can be of assistance to those who do not have access to a teacher (although we advise them to work with one on as regular a basis as possible), but also to teachers lacking sufficient material to allow their pupils to work with in a systematic way.
(1) “The development of a musical ear should consist in a gradual sharpening of the perception of the movement of sound, from a global and imprecise perception to a subtle perception of the slightest inflexions of sound.” Maurice Martenot, Principes fondamentaux d’éducation musicale et leur application.
(2) Frederick Neumann, Revue de musicologie, T. 51e, No. 1er (1965), pp. 66-92.
© 2008 Miguel Serdoura
History of the Baroque Lute
The“FrenchLute”:The Golden Age of the Baroque lute in the Grand Siècle
The German Baroque Lute
The Lute Repertoire
Scordatura (bass string tunings)
Character of the pieces
Description of the instrument
The Lute and its Luthiers
Maintenance and Other Tips
Tuning the Baroque Lute
Pieces Group 1
Pieces Group 2
Pieces Group 3
Pieces for the Baroque Lute
Level 1 - Beginner
Level 2 - Intermediate
Level 3 - Advanced
Index by keys
Index by composer
Lute music in general
Teaching and Methods
Tunings and temperaments
French music for the Baroque Lute
German Music for the Baroque lute (including Austria and Bohemia)
Sources and Libraries
Miguel Serdoura was born in Lisbon, where he began his musical and artistic career, earning his Diploma in Classical Guitar in 1994.
From 1999 to 2004, after studying the lute at the Paris Conservatoire, with Claire Antonini, Miguel Serdoura completed his musical education with Hopkinson Smith in Basel, Switzerland, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
As a soloist, Miguel Serdoura has given recitals in France, Portugal, United Kingdom, Austria, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, China and USA.
In 2000, he took part in a television documentary devoted to the lutenist Hopkinson Smith, broadcast by Mezzo, Classica, RTBF and TSR.
Miguel Serdoura has recorded 4 solo CDs for the Dutch Label Brilliant Classics, in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014, earning a "Diapason d'Or Découverte" for his CD "The Court of Bayreuth", a 4 Stars Audioclásica for his CD "Austria 1676", a "5 Diapason" for his CD "Les Baricades Mistérieuses" and "Le Clic" for his CD "Les Rois de Versailles".
He is also the author of a major treatise on the baroque lute called "Method for the Baroque Lute", published in Italy by Ut Orpheus in 2008. In 2010, he created, for the same publisher, a new collection of music scores for the Baroque lute called "La Rhétorique des Dieux".
In 2015 Miguel Serdoura founded Le Luth Doré®, a french company dedicated to honoring and preserving the musical legacy of European early plucked instruments such as lutes, mandolins and early guitars, by creating high quality inexpensive instruments, urtext music editions, accessories and educational programs.
Miguel Serdoura performs on lutes built by Cezar Mateus, USA ; Renzo Salvador, Belgium ; Le Luth Doré®, France.
He currently lives and teaches Renaissance and Baroque lute in Paris.
• Éditeur(s) : Miguel Serdoura
• Période musicale : Baroque
• Instrument(s) : Luth Baroque
• Notation : Tablature française
• Édition moderne : Urtext
• Éditeur : Éditions Ut Orpheus
• Année de publication : 2008
• Collection : Lute/Theorbo
• Volumes: 2
• Pages: pp. 364
• Dimensions : 230x310 mm
• Poids : 1,152g
• Reliure : Dos carré collé cousu
• ISMN : 979-0-2153-2457-2
Les Éditions Urtext Le Luth Doré
Les Éditions Urtext Le Luth Doré s’adressent aux musiciens et aux musicologues du monde entier et leur offrent des textes musicaux fiables et faisant autorité. Ils sont caractérisés par :
• l’impression de la musique qui est superbe et esthétique,
• l’optimisation qui rend l’utilisation pratique (tourne des pages, doigtés),
• les livres de tablature italienne qui sont édités dans les deux modes de notation : tablature italienne et française,
• la haute qualité qui est faite pour durer (couverture, papier, reliure),
• les préfaces originales et modernes qui sont en anglais, français, italien, allemand...
À propos des Éditions Urtext Le Luth Doré
Nos éditions sont urtext : nous nous efforçons de fournir des textes musicaux fiables qui soient aussi fidèles que possible aux sources existantes et aux intentions des compositeurs. Bien sûr, nous sommes conscients qu'il n’est pas possible de reconstituer un texte original urtext unique. Souvent, plusieurs sources manuscrites existent pour une même pièce, et peu d'indications fiables nous permettent de déterminer la version qui représente au mieux les intentions du compositeur.
Bien que nous ne puissions pas dissiper entièrement les incertitudes historiques, nous avons comparé les textes et avons pu corriger les erreurs évidentes qui parfois peuvent même se trouver dans des manuscrits autographes. Les sources ont été méticuleusement examinées, note par note, signe par signe.
Les observations les plus importantes et les décisions éditoriales sont élucidées dans les préfaces, dans le commentaire critique, dans les notes, ou indiquées en tant que telles dans le texte musical. C’est pourquoi, il n’est pas surprenant qu'un éditeur investisse beaucoup de patience, de connaissances et de temps pour construire un document urtext qui soit fidèle à la source, ainsi que, nous l'espérons, aux intentions des compositeurs. Des experts reconnus, ayant des connaissances approfondies et une longue expérience préparent nos Éditions Urtext Le Luth Doré, en étroite collaboration avec notre pôle éditorial.
Chaque partition, attentivement vérifiée, préserve les doigtés originaux et la notation de l'ornementation et, en l'absence d’indications originales manuscrites, présente également des suggestions concernant des doigtés et des ornements, formulées par des maîtres modernes fidèles au style historique, qui sont utiles pour mener des réflexions avancées et qui peuvent constituer un point de départ pour la démarche des élèves vers la performance.
Nous sommes profondément reconnaissants à tous les musicologues talentueux, les enseignants musicaux et les artistes qui mettent leurs connaissances et leur expérience à notre disposition pour les Éditions Urtext Le Luth Doré.
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