Lute Society of America


2018 LSA Festival at Case Western University

Class schedule for LSA 2018 : 

Warm-up – 7:00AM

Morrongiello : Tai Chi / Chi Kung for Musicians

Early AM Class – 9:00-10:0AM

Young : Early Renaissance Ideas: A Humanist Fakebook

Kenny : French lute (and theorbo) music from chanson to Weiss

O’Dette : Renaissance Lute Master Class

Morrongiello : Elizabethan & Jacobean Ballads & Popular Music

Late AM Class – 10:30-11:30AM

Freundlich : Lute Ensemble for Clef Readers

Barto : Baroque Lute Topics / Masterclass

North : Bach and the Lute

Diaz-Latorre : El cancionero de Palacio

Morrongiello : Fundamentals of Renaissance Lute Playing

Lunch – 11:30-12:30PM (on your own)

Afternoon Concert/Workshop or free time 12:30-1:20PM

Early PM Class – 1:45-2:45PM

Young : The Rise of Ensemble Music

Barto : German tablature for beginners

O’Dette : Secrets of the Muses Revealed: The Fascinating Repertoire for 10-course lute

Hargis : Master Class

Rutherford : Lute Building and Repair

Late PM Class – 3:15-4:15PM

Freundlich : Intabulators’ round table

Kenny : English Song 1597-1649

North : The Good Accompanist

Diaz-Latorre : Terpsichore

McFarlane : Renaissance Lute Master Class

POB Lecture Period – 4:30-5:30PM

Hargis : Tooth and Nail : Collaboration between plucks and voices

Dinner – after 5:30PM

Evening Concert – 7:30PM

Class Listings Descriptions :

Crawford Young 

Early Renaissance Ideas: A Humanist Fakebook

What were the standards of the 15th and early 16th century? Which were the tunes that one simply had to know? This class looks at all the hits and more – songs, dances, and ricercare – found in music collections of the late Quattrocento. An attempt will be made to distinguish between “good” and “bad” arrangements for lute of the first two genres, and how to know which is which.

The Rise of Ensemble Music

This class looks at principles of ensemble arrangements from different periods, taking the music of the 15th-century as mainstream repertory, but also working backwards and forwards from there. We will look at the function of different Voice parts and how to realize this on the lute. What were the aesthetics behind the music, and why does it matter at all to understand them in modern performance?

Douglas Freundlich 

Lute Ensemble for Clef Readers:  Enjoy graceful lines, intricate rhythms, and artful counterpoint from the Age of Josquin. Staff notation, modern treble and bass clefs, fingers or plectrum welcome. The class will explore evidence that many chansonniers ca.1500 were intended for instrumental performance, particularly by lutenists.

Intabulators’ round table. Share your experiences and strategies as we maintain the tradition of creating arrangements of vocal and instrumental repertoire for the lute. Discussion topics include historical context, lute ensembles, ornamentation, and compromises found in surviving repertoire, along with insights from music cognition research on the perception of polyphony. Bring your own projects and questions!

Robert Barto

Baroque Lute Topics / Masterclass

I’ll begin each class with a 20-30 minute presentation on an aspect of baroque lute technique or repertoire. The remainder of the period will be free for the students to perform in a master class format.

Some of the topics may be:

  • Right hand technique from Reusner to Hagen
  • Technical exercises
  • Easy repertoire
  • Ornamenting the repeats

German tablature for beginners

The German repertoire of the early 16th century offers the modern player a treasure trove of wonderful pieces ranging from the easiest drinking songs and dances to the most complex fantasies and vocal transcriptions. Learning the original notation enables one to freely search this immense repertoire, much of which is now accessible online in very attractive facsimiles.

After a quick overview of the notation and repertoire, we will start playing immediately with easy ensemble pieces arranged in single line German tab. By the end of the week everyone will have a good start reading from this notation and have a collection of beginner’s pieces. 

Liz Kenny

French lute (and theorbo) music from chanson to Weiss.

This class is covers a very broad time span, which I’ve set to encourage players of renaissance, baroque lute/guitar and theorbo to come together to ask the question: what is “French style” and how does it manifest itself in music from different places at different times?  Players of sixteenth century music – Le Roy, settings of French chansons – are welcome so we can start to identify the features that would emerge more clearly in seventeenth century lute technique.  Music from post-Elizabethan English sources as well as the publications of Robert Ballard and Nicholas Vallet will help us track the emerging patterns of right hand fingering, rhythmic fluidity and ornamentation that create a “French” sound.  We can then apply this to the music of Robert de Visée,  Gaultier et al, and even to some pieces of Weiss and Reusner. Continuo players guitar and theorbo are welcome to work on the staff notation versions of music in de Visée’s Livre de Guitarre.  (1686).

English Song 1597-1649

This class will explore the strangely named “lute-song” repertoire (why is lieder not called “piano song”?) starting with  Dowland’s First Book of Songes or Ayres, 1597. The cut off date is a literal one, the year in which Charles I was executed in a masque-like ritual at the Banqueting House.  We will look at the glorious repertoire by Dowland, Campion, Robert Jones, John Daniel, and then examine how much the lute parts and strategies used by players changed as professional players became familiar with staff notation and playing from bass lines (unfired or figured).  Did amateur players follow suit, or did they continue to use in tabulations such those in Robert Dowland’s A Musicall Banquet, 1610? Whatever the song, we’ll play with ideas such as, how much should the lute player know the text? Should the singer modify their sound to the lute?  What is the relationship between musical rhythm and poetic meter?  To sit down or not to sit down?  Self-accompaniment, were they all at it?  Why did Henry Lawes write so many songs, and are they all good?  And so on.  

Singers, renaissance lute players and theorbo players all welcome.

For those who wish to do a bit of light reading, this may be a good place to start:

The uses of lute song: texts, contexts and pretexts for ‘historically informed’ performance

Elizabeth Kenny

Early Music, Volume 36, Issue 2, 1 May 2008, Pages 285–300

Paul O’Dette

The Secrets of the Muses Revealed: The Fascinating Repertoire for 10-course lute

With one foot in the Renaissance and another in the emerging Baroque, the 10-course lute combines stylistic elements of both periods. The class will explore this rich repertoire and the sources that divulge how to play it. Music to be discussed includes that of Ballard, Vallet, Robert Johnson, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s Lute Book”, Kapsberger, Michelangelo Galilei, and Cuthbert Hely. Much of this music can be played on fewer than 10-courses, so that players with 7- and 8-course lutes are encouraged to attend.

Renaissance Lute Master Class

Open to all levels, this class will address technical, musical, and stylistic issues. We will take apart the music in detail to find out what makes it tick, exploring all aspects of interpretation, performance practices and technical issues.

Nigel North 

Bach and the Lute

A new look at the Bach Lute Works BWV 995-1000, and 1006a. A look at the sources and their context in Bach’s life with a glance towards the violin and cello works BWV 1001-1012

The class is open to all interested and will take the form of lecture, demonstration and discussion. Possible room for student performances too.

The Good Accompanist 

What makes a good accompanist?

This class is for lutenists who have singers to accompany in a workshop form. Any repertoire is appropriate and we will work at music making from the lutenists perspective.

Xavier Diaz-Latorre

El cancionero de Palacio

This class will be based upon a study of the Cancionero de Palacio in a broken consort style and it will run as a topic class as well as giving students an opportunity to play in an ensemble setting. Plucked instruments, flutes, viols, drummers and singers are invited to join. 


Terpsichore is a compendium of more than 300 instrumental dances, written by the composer Michael Praetorius. This class will run as a topic class as well as giving students an opportunity to play in an ensemble setting. Plucked instruments, flutes, viols and drummers are invited to join. 

Ellen Hargis

Master Class

English and Italian 17th century continuo song, including works by such composers as Caccini, Monteverdi, Peri, Wilson, Lawes, Purcell

Tooth and Nail : Collaboration between plucks and voices

These lecture sessions will explore the different kinds of collaborative repertoires common to lute and voice ensembles, focussing on rhetorical analysis, understanding each others’ technical vocabulary, and understanding historical style through our two lenses.  We’ll work through examples of strophic song (English ballads, frottole, Italian monody, voix de villes), dramatic recitative song (Italian 17th c. laments),  English lute song, and airs de cours to follow the process from programming to performance.  Gesture, ornamentation, and improvisation will all be part of the mix.

Chris Morrongiello

Tai Chi / Chi Kung for Musicians

An early-morning class (just stop by) in which participants perform together an easy-to-learn, forty-minute exercise routine to help relieve stress, improve posture and breathing, strengthen the legs, realign the back, and loosen the neck, shoulders, wrists, arms, and fingers.

Fundamentals of Renaissance Lute Playing

A hands-on course covering the basic physiological mechanics involved in playing the Renaissance lute well. Chris will deal with the fundamentals of right-hand thumb-under technique, the principles of left-hand finger placement (with special emphasis given to the thumb and little finger), and the “order,” or method, of choosing felicitous fingerings. He will also provide a checklist of problems to avoid, while offering insights into various ways of holding the lute, practicing, producing good tone, and playing in a relaxed, focused manner.

Elizabethan & Jacobean Ballads & Popular Music

“Neither is there anie tune or stroke which may be sung or plaide on instruments, which hath not some poetical ditties framed”

—William Webbe, A Discourse of English Poetrie (1586)

In this course, Dr. Morrongiello will delve into the fascinating social, cultural, and musical backgrounds of the period’s most popular tunes— how composers set them and used them as a stimulus to invention.  Explore instrumental and vocal versions of dance tunes, imported tunes, those commonly used in black-letter broadside ballads, tunes associated with grounds, and so on. Participants will be given many diverse settings for study and performance. Suitable for Instrumentalists and singers.

Andy Rutherford

Lute Building and Repair

I’d like to use this class to finish the work we began two years ago, trying to turn a pretty-bad student lute into a decent instrument. This will include removing and re-barring the soundboard; gluing the soundboard back down; monkeying around with pegs; action; bridge-hole-spacing; the nut; and everything else.

I will be working on various repairs over the course of the week, and participants will be able to help-out/observe while I re-drill bridges, glue down loose bars, plane fingerboards and try to encourage players to learn how to tie their own damn frets.

(English guitars and Thomas Mace may come up over the course of the week)

It would be great if attendees would get in touch with me ahead of time so I can get an idea what people want to work on. I’ll have my whole operation with me, so no lute building/repairing topic will be off the table:

Ronn McFarlane

Renaissance Lute Master Class

For all levels.  Bring your pieces-in-progress, problem passages and questions about expressive playing or technique.   From the basics of holding the lute, through posture, right and left hand & arm movements, touching the strings, to subtle angling of the fingers and advanced concepts ~ this class offers something for everyone.

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