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Accessible Lute Music

 Sarge Gerbode's Lute Page

Here you will find more than 8000 lute pieces (60,000 files) in French tablature in the following formats: fronimo (ft3), from , midi, and PDF (which you can read using Acrobat Reader). (Why the different formats?).  I apologize to those who prefer other formats, such as Spanish or Italian, but I believe French is the most widely used format, though it is easy to change to another format -- even German tab (not that anyone would really want to do this…)! These pieces are mostly for renaissance lute, but quite a few are for baroque lute and archlute, and a very few for theorbo, cittern, bandora, guitar etc. Other pieces include songs and continuo pieces, listed by composer. Under Lute ensemble in the list of composers, you will find pieces for two or more lutes.

The latest fronimo files (since December, 2015) were created with a new version of Fronimo, obtainable now on my site.  The new version corrects some minor bugs and adds tabbed files when you open more than one fronimo files at once, a convenient way to switch back and forth between the files. It is also possible, with the new version, to insert colored notes, as used in Narvaez to display a melody line.  I will try to keep the latest version of fronimo on my site for your convenience.  Suggestions for using it efficiently are also on my site, as well as a description of the format I follow  in all the postings on this site.

Mirror Sites
This website is now mirrored at the following sites:

https://www.dolcesfogato.com/gerbode , thanks to
https://gerbode.lautenlust.de, thanks to
www.lute.ru/gerbode ,  thanks to , who has also translated the site into Russian at  www.lute.ru/gerbode/ru.  At present, the latter site is not fully updated with the latest postings but hopefully will become a full mirror shortly.

Site Structure

There are three main directories under http://gerbode.net:

/composers

This is a listing by composer, but some items that were under "composers" (like "Besard") actually belong under "sources", because they are anthologies or compilations. The intention is to gradually pare down the contents of this directory and post as much as possible under "sources". Once the database is up and running, you will be able to search by composer (or any other parameters). 

/facsimiles

These are facsimiles of source documents.

/sources

These are complete fronimo editions of sources.

Spreadsheet

This is an Excel spreadsheet with a comprehensive list of all the fronimo files on the website. It should reflect the approximate current state of the data.  It also contains hyperlinks to fronimo, midi, and pdf files for each entry.  For each piece listed, it has 26 fields that contain other data, such as key, type of piece, instrumentation, source, and difficulty.  If you can read this file, that is probably the easiest way of finding things.
If you don't have a spreadsheet program installed on your computed, you can obtain a free one from "LibreOffice".  LibreOffice does what MS Office does, with just a few differences, and it can open MSOffice files. In addition, the following links may be helpful:

Lute links

This is a list of other websites with related information.

Latest Postings

07Nov19: Finished first 50 pieces from the Fabricius lute book. Mostly intabulations of lieder, but a few dances thrown in.  The tab is surrounded by a great deal of text, apparently mostly addressed to a variety of women. Work was slowed down by power outages from the California fires. We were evacuated for a week, but all is good.

19Oct19: Completed Berlin State Library ms. 40588 (1552).  A disappointing collection of 62 fairly primitive pieces, but does contain some intabulated Martin Luther hymns.  A lot of very easy pieces here, though, for the new lutenist.

14Oct19: Revised Milan El Maestro vocal pieces to show colored notes in the tab and correct a few errors.

08Oct19: Completed edition of the Willoughby Lute Book, containing  a version of the "Goodnight" lute duet by John Johnson, and 45 other pieces, mostly of high quality. It also contains 8 consort parts for cittern.

17Sep19: Finished the rest of the Herwarth pieces, bringing the total to 170, most of them of very high quality.

20Aug19: Completed another 50 pieces from Herwarth, mainly vocal intabulations of chansons by Sandrin, Sermisy, etc. Most of these pieces were initially encoded and edited in fronimo by Harald Hamre. On these items, I simply did some proofreading against the original and reformatted them in my favored format.  I also received substantial help on locating composer names from Tristan von Neumann, and also from Art Ness's 1984 dissertation specifically on the Herwarth MS, which goes into great depth on the MS. 

04Aug19: I have just started work on the Herwarth Lute MS #266.  Just completed up to item #50. Most of the MS so far appears to have a minimum of errors compared to Wurstisen.  The first part has most of the extant dal'Aquila ricercars, plus other ricercars, miscellaneous dances, popular pieces (like Cara Cosa and La Traditora), etc..  The material is mostly of very high quality. Oddly, all of the Aquila pieces and many of the others appear to have been crossed out in the MS (diagonal lines through them), but I have included them anyway. Fingerings, including occasional left hand fingerings, are in the original.

15Jul19: Completed v.8 of Wurstisen, which consists mainly of hymns and psalms, some by Martin Luther, who apparently was also a lutenist. There are also a few  allemands, galliards, and pavanes, which are mostly of  high quality. Kemp's jig appears in a couple of places. John Robinson helped me to identify this piece.  That concludes Wurstisen.

07Jul19: Completed v.7 of Wurstisen, which consists mainly of galliards, with a few other types of pieces thrown in.  In contrast to the less interesting pieces in v.6, many of the galliards are really quite beautiful and mostly unique to this source. John Robinson helped me identify the cara cosas from this volume.

20Jun19: Completed Wurstisen v.6. Mostly German dances/allemands, but a few galliards, pavanes, voltes, etc. 174 pieces.

06Jun19: Finished another 50 pieces from Wurstisen v.6.  Same type of pieces.

03Jun19: On a suggestion from Michael Stover, I took a break from Wurstisen to compete work on Robert Dowland's A Musicall Banquet. This contains a Dowland galliard and 20 excellent English, Italian, Spanish, and French songs, many of which were not previously on my site.

21May19: Completed 1st 50 pieces from Wurstisen v.6.  This volume consists of dances, mostly very simple ones but challenging to edit because of their many errors. Nothing earth-shattering.

12May19: Completed Wurstisen v.5.

26Apr19: Finished the 1st 53 pieces from Wurstisen v.5, consisting of  passamezzos, often paired with galliards or saltarellos. These are generally of moderate difficulty. While these pieces contain a similar number of errors to those in earlier books, they are easier to correct because the strict passamezzo pattern in them gives helpful guidance.

09Apr19: Completed v.4 of Wurstisen, consisting of mostly vocal intabulations of European composers, with a few ricercari, battles, and entradas thrown in.  Again, the profusion of errors make this a slow process.  It is especially challenging to suss out unica with no or faulty barring and rhythm flags.

16Mar19: Completed v.2 of Wurstisen, consisting of 4 motets, 3 by Lasso and one anonymous.  the Lasso ones are particularly beautiful.  All the pieces required major error corrections.  The presence of many line errors and overstrike errors leads me to believe that they were rather carelessly copied over from Italian or French tab sources.

10Mar19:Completed v.1 of the Wurstisen Lute Book, consisting of mostly very simple preludes and preambles, an exception being one by Vincenzo Pinti (the Knight of the Lute).

24Feb19: Completed work on v.3 of the Wurstisen Lute book. This volume, one of 8, contains 22 fantasias by various composers, including some by Milano. This is a massive work of German tab.  Although the notes are quite clear, there are many mistakes, reminiscent of the Cavalcanti Lute Book. Most of these are in rhythm flags.  John Robinson was very helpful in tracking down composer attributions.

04Feb19: Completed work on  Hans Gerle "Ein newes sehr künstlichs Lautenbuch" (1552). Most, if not all, of the pieces in this book appear to have been taken from Italian tab sources and rendered into German tab. Many were taken from Rotta (1546), Crema (1546), Bianchini (1546), Gintzler (1547), and especially Casteliono (1536). But obviously Gerle put a lot of time and thought into his editions, which are not merely copies but  display his own hand in adding some embellishments, filling out some chords, and putting in some different musica ficta, as well as correcting obvious errors, so that the Gerle version of many of these pieces  are, in my opinion, actually better than the sources they were taken from. The book starts with 31 "preambles", which in other editions are called ricercars or fantasias, and then "Italian pieces", consisting of dances: passamezzoz, padoanas, galliards, and saltarellos, and a couple of pavanes.

12Jan19: Completed work on Sulzbach MS, v2 (1556), another primary Milano source.  This one is in Neapolitan lute tab (Spanish tab with all numbers one higher). The Sulzman sources are sometimes more error free than others, such as the Siena Lute Book, Paris MS.rés.429, and Milano (s.d).  Thanks to Arthur Ness, who told me that ties across a bar line are indicated in the Sulzman sources as a simple repeat of the chord in the second bar. He also helped me identify a piece (16.ricercar in Sulzbach) as Ness #95.

04Jan19: Completed work on the Sulzbach MS, v1 (1556), a primary source of Milano works. 

31Dec18: Completed work on Benedikt Drusina, Tabulatura continens... (1556), a German tab source.  The source is extremely clear and relatively error-free.  Arne Keller and Jason Kortis intabulated the work in fronimo format several years ago, saving me a great deal of work. For my part, I proofread the work against the source, did some minor editing, and changed it over into the preferred format for my website. So kudos to Arne and Jason for this and their many other major contributions to getting lute music out.

16Dec18: Corrected version of Thistlethwaite, based on the John Ward's inventory, which identifies most of the pieces and gives a careful account of each. Many thanks to Andre Nieuwlaat for turning me on to this inventory and for locating a title that is not in the inventory.

12Dec18:    Posted the Thistlethwaite Lute Book.  Mostly high-quality English stuff.  A few anonymous fantasias that are really nice, plus a couple by Francesco da Milano.  John Robinson and Art Ness were very helpful in producing this edition..

15Nov18: Completed work on Welde Lute Book, not widely available.  This contains iconic English pieces, some very virtuostic. Included are some lovely fantasias by Alfonso Ferrabosco I, and three John Johnson duets.

20Oct18: Completed work on Berlin State Library mus.ms.40632,.  This is a MS in German tab, with fairly high quality stuff, including some interesting pieces by Senfl, Lasso, Isaac, Segni, Milano, etc.  It mostly consists of vocal intabulations for 6-course lute  of sacred works, chansons, German songs, and madrigals, all of fairly moderate difficulty.  Particularly of note are a couple of anonymous fantasias, which are quite fun. Helpfully, the rhythm notations are completely regular, and there are only a noderate number of errors. Often, it seems the scribe intabulated vocal works without putting in all the musica ficta, so a large number of my emendations consisted of putting them in. 

19Oct18: I've been offline for awhile because I have been downsizing from a 3000 sq ft house to a 1000 sq ft cottage, which is charming but cramped. But now that I am back, I have made several corrections on Paris Réservé 429, based on valuable information from Arthur Ness. I have also renumbered the pieces.

19Jul18: Just completed work on Paris Réservé 429, consisting of 494 pp. of lute solo music in Italian tab.  The quality of the music is very high, and relatively free of errors compared to many other sources. This source also contains many ricercare by Milano, as well as several intabulated chansons and madrigals, and passamezzi, galliards, and saltarellos. In the facsimile I have, many pages are difficult to read because they are extremely faint, but paying for the effort in eyestrain, and using a very large screen, I believe I was able to suss them out correctly. Again, Art Ness was extremely helpful with this project.  Any errors, however, are my own.

31May18: Just completed Cavalcanti.  Whew!  I received significant help from Art Ness, who corrected several errors in titling and attribution of composers.

27May18: I got some very significant help from Richard Falkenstein on the one missing piece from Bossinensis v2 (1511), namely "Quando andaratu al monte". That was the one piece that completely stumped me, but Richard totally figured it out.  It turns out to be a very racy dialog between a shepherd and shepherdess.  It would be a lot of fun to perform--for an adult audience.

16May18: Posted another 50 pieces from Cavalcanti. This lot contains some excellent fantasias by Francesco da Milano, various dances, and several vocal intabulations with underlaid text. As usual, there are many errors, including many that appear to be due to the fact that Cavalcanti copied from vocal scores and failed to put in the appropriate musica ficta. At other times, he put in inappropriate ficta. I have been greatly helped by , who kindly sent me portions of his 1997 PhD dissertation on the Cavalcanti MS.   This dissertation contained valuable information on composer names and the location of vocal models.

22Apr18:  Posted another 50 pieces from Cavalcanti. Most of these are vocal, with text underlay below the tab and extra stanzas scribbled in the margins or at the end of the page. The text seems to follow the bass line. The text was very difficult to read.  In some cases, I found the text elsewhere, but otherwise I gave it my best guess.  The tab and rhythm indications in many of these were fairly unreliable, so more guesswork was involved to try to make sense of them.

31Mar18: Got some great help from on #27 and from , on #63. Mysteries solved!

28Mar18: Posted the next 50 pieces from Cavalcanti. I had to punt on #63, a contrapunto that appears to be in 12/8 time, but it's hard to make it fit.  Again, any help is appreciated. Many pieces in Cavalcanti are noted as being by "Giovanni".  Others are probably by Giovanni B. Boronno.  Could this be the same Giovanni?

15Mar18: Posted the first 50 pieces from the Cavalcanti Lute Book. As mentioned below, it has been a major  problem to edit this material.  In one case, I punted on trying to rationalize a piece (Canario, #27) and come up with something plausible.   helped me figure this out. Most of the pieces in this first part of the MS are short dances of one kind or another. has been very helpful in providing his table of contents for the MS.

08Mar18: Posted a cleaned-up facsimile of  the Cavalcanti Lute Book (c. 1600).  This is a 210 p. document, containing many fantisias and ricercars of Francesco da Milano, plus many dances of one kind or another, in Italian tab.  Cleaning up the MS was a considerable challenge.  Although the notes and staff lines are fairly clear in most places, they are also festooned with multiple random scratches and scribbles, smudges, dots, and inkblots.  Rarely, notes are lost off the edge of the page, and the last ½ of the MS looks as though it were subjected to a gray watercolor wash.  I believe, however, that my result is fairly readable.  I plan to do an edition of the MS next.  The absence of bar lines in most of the MS will probably make that more difficult.


Other new postings 

This is a list of recent additions to the website, with commentaries on them.

Editorial Policy

I feel strongly about making a large quantity of lute music accessible to all for free. See my "manifesto" on the subject", published in LSA Quarterly in 2014.  Over the years, I have collected the pieces on this site from the internet or have entabulated and/or arranged or realized them myself. I have edited all of them and formatted them to fit nicely on US letter size paper (8.5 x 11 in), though some are formatted for US legal size (8.5 x 14 in). I have not formatted any for A4, as life is too short. Again, if you have the fronimo software, it is pretty easy to reformat these to taste.  I have tried to create performable copy in all cases. In editing these files, I have tried to use "canonical" composer names and to eliminate spelling variations wherever possible, and have inserted the names of the "original composers", where known, in parentheses under the title.  For instance, where Albert de Rippe intabulates "Douce memoire", de Rippe is given as the composer and (Pierre Sandrin) as the original composer.  In my footnote credits, I have included credits for encoder and editor. The encoder is the one who actually does the data entry to create the fronimo, TAB, Midi, or Django file that I work from.  Other credits, and other important information, are contained in the "Section Annotations" within the fronimo file. For a detailed explanation of these and other editing practices of mine, see my writeup on fronimo formats. Credits, and other information contained in the fronimo files, are also present in the spreadsheet I have created for the website. I update the spreadsheet frequently to reflect the approximate current state of the data.  It contains hyperlinks to fronimo, midi,and pdf files for each entry.  It also has other data, such as key, type of piece, instrumentation, and difficulty.  If you can read the Excel file, that is probably the easiest way of finding things until an actual searchable database is created.

To Err is Human; to Correct, Divine

In all cases, I have edited and formatted each piece and take responsibility for any errors therein. Although I have tried to be as accurate as possible, I'm sure many errors remain. I have cited the original source (MS or otherwise) whenever I knew it, and the original contributor/encoder, though over the years some of this data has been lost. If you feel you are the one that originally contributed a particular piece and have not been acknowledged for having done so, or if you know the source of a particular piece for which a source is not cited or wrongly cited, please email me at so I can update the footnote. Also, if you find errors in any of the pieces, can you please email me and, if possible, attach the modified version? I maintain a  Corrections and Contributors Honor Roll to credit all who have contributed to this effort. You can also email me at with any comments or special requests.

Notes

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I hope you get and give a great deal of pleasure from playing these pieces!

Sarge Gerbode

If you are curious about my other identity as a psychiatrist and philosopher, you can find out more about me by clicking here.