• Author(s): Peter Croton
• Title: A Method for the Baroque Lute
• Sub-title: Based on Historical Sources
• First Publisher: Le Luth Doré, Paris
• Language: English
• Year of edition: 2022
Today more and more lutenists wish to perform 17th and 18th century music in an expressive manner reflecting stylistic practices of that era. Additionally, many are aspiring to play in a healthy, balanced, and efficient manner based on physiological and psychological research. The purpose of the present tutor is to help them discover and develop essential tools for achieving these goals.
This book is an intensive tutor for the baroque lute, intended for those with previous experience on a lute-family instrument or the classical guitar. The emphasis is on the learning process rather than developing a large repertoire. There are a substantial number of pieces available in print edition as well as on the internet, and at each step along the way the learner is encouraged to supplement the material in this tutor with additional pieces if needed. Supplementary material can be found at www.leluthdore.com.
There are several good modern methods available for the baroque lute, including the voluminous “Method for the Baroque Lute” by Miguel Serdoura (Ut Orpheus, 2010). I cover some similar ground while additionally emphasizing anatomical principles, mental imagery, rhetorical expression in performance, historically based right-hand techniques, original source material and thoroughbass. The music and preparatory exercises contained within are based on original material taken primarily from historical sources in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Much of the text in Parts I – III is excerpted and adapted from my previous publications A Method for the Renaissance Lute, with a supplement for the archlute (Le Luth Doré, 2019) and Performing Baroque Music on The Lute & Theorbo: a practical handbook based on historical sources (Kindle Direct Publishing, 2016). I find this background material useful for understanding rhetorically-expressive playing and healthy, balanced body use; knowledgeable or impatient readers may, however, wish to skip to Part IV, the actual baroque lute method.
This tutor is structured as follows: Part I explores historically inspired, rhetorical performance; Part II is an introduction to anatomy & biomechanics as they relate to music making; Part III concentrates on mental and physical preparation for playing; Parts IV-VI present an approach to developing the physical and musical tools necessary for a high level of playing on the baroque lute. Progressive exercises and pieces based on historical sources are included. There is initially much instruction and guidance, for example in Stage 1 there are numerous preparatory exercises and suggestions for fingering and expression. In Stage 2, however, there are fewer editorial suggestions and in Stage 3 these are reduced to the essential minimum. Part VII is an introduction to basso continuo on the d-minor tuned baroque lute.
In this tutor I shall use the term “baroque” music but do so with misgivings for, originally derogatory, it was not consistently used to signify the music of the period in question until the 20th century. A key to performing this music is rhetorical expression. The manner in which this was realized varied from era to era and place to place, but difference in national style notwithstanding, rhetoric was the driving force. I also have some misgivings about using the designation “baroque lute”, for it is a modern term used to distinguish lutes of various epochs from each other. A more appropriate designation, albeit longer, would be “11-course or 13-course lute in d-minor tuning”.
Translation is a thorny issue, but – many of the sources quoted here not being in English – an essential one. Unless otherwise noted in the footnotes, the translations are my own, in consultation with my editor Roger Harmon (musicologist and philologist) as well as with native speakers of the languages in question. I strive to translate into idiomatic, easy to understand English, and occasionally modernize those texts written originally in English (as indicated in the footnotes). Most of the original texts are included in the section “Original language quotations” (available at www.leluthdore.com), so readers can consult them and draw their own conclusions. I find this essential, because many ‘standard’ translations into English include interpretations worthy of discussion and debate, and mine are no different! Furthermore, I retain the wording and emphasis of the original sources, even including the odd error, preferring not to take the responsibility of correcting the works of past masters. I also retain their spelling which, in the vernacular languages of the baroque era, had yet to be standardized.
The study of historical performance practice gives us more understanding, and – in bringing us closer to the essence of the music – more possibilities for moving our listeners. Rather than leading to a truly ‘authentic’ performance, which is impossible to attain, I feel that gaining this knowledge can lead us to more choices in interpreting the music. In addition to striving to play in a stylistic manner, therefore, we must keep in mind the goal of rhetorical performance: to communicate passions and elevate the lives of our listeners. It is with this goal in mind that this book has been written.
I will be producing video clips to clarify certain points found in these pages. Please check the following playlist: Baroque Lute Method.
© 2022 Peter Croton | Le Luth Doré ®
• Editor(s): Roger Harmon & Peter Croton
• Music period: Baroque
• Instrument(s): Baroque lute
• Notation: French tablature
• Modern edition: Urtext
• Publisher: Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
• Year of publication: 2022
• Collection: Didactic Music Collection
• Pages: pp. 350
• Dimensions: 230x310 mm
• Weight: 0,000g
• Binding: Section sewn glue binding
• ISMN: 377-0-0017-8840-1
Peter Croton grew up in the USA, lives in Switzerland and is an active performer and recording artist on various lutes and romantic guitar. He teaches lute and continuo at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, as well as lute, historical performance practice and guitar continuo at the Conservatories of Basel and Bern. His musical activities, however, are not limited to early music. At six he began performing as folk guitarist and singer. At twelve he began classical guitar with Leon Atkinson, and later played guitar in various jazz ensembles. Starting in 1979 he studied lute and classical guitar with Dr. Loris Chobanian (Oberlin Conservatory of Music) and lute with Eugen Dombois and Hopkinson Smith (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis). He won first prize at the Erwin Bodky Competition for Early Music in Cambridge MA (1984) and has also won prizes at other international competitions. He has recorded numerous CDs and appeared on television and radio as soloist and chamber musician. Peter’s regular duo partners have included the singers Derek Lee Ragin and Theresia Bothe, and he has appeared at many international festivals.
His instruction manual Figured Bass on the Classical Guitar: a practical approach based on historical principles was published by Amadeus Verlag (2005). Six of his compositions for lute and voice were published by the German Lute Society (1999), and four new settings of texts by William Shakespeare for lute and voice by Tree Edition (2009). His book Performing Baroque Music on the Lute and Theorbo: a practical handbook based on historical sources was published in 2016 on Amazon/Createspace. His book Performing Baroque Music on the Classical Guitar: a practical handbook based on historical sources was published in 2015 on Amazon/Createspace. David Russell calls it a “fabulous book – it will be a great help and inspiration to many guitarists”. In 2019, LLD published his A Method for the Renaissance Lute, with a supplement for the archlute. Homepage: www.peter-croton.com
Excerpts from reviews (Performing Baroque Music on the Lute and Theorbo)
“… this book is a gem, it’s a joy to find all relevant information in one volume, clearly explained, with a practical aim and always focused on the one overriding aim: playing with rhetorical expression.” LUTE & EARLY GUITAR SOCIETY OF JAPAN
“… this book is one of the most useful, easy to read and thoughtful texts written on baroque-performance practice. What makes this book special is the exhaustive use and citation of original sources juxtaposed with the authors personal experience from his life as a player of historical-plucked instruments.” THE LUTE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
“In his book Peter Croton passes along many tips and thoughts leading to an historically appropriate but individualized approach to baroque music. Despite its orientation to historical sources, this well-grounded handbook points us above all toward an informed, yet passionate and simultaneously effortless performance. Between the lines we sense time and again the engaged musician and teacher who wishes to share his knowledge of this music and the joy it gives him. Indeed, one cannot thank Peter Croton enough; in my opinion, this essential book belongs in the hand of every musician, professional or amateur, interested in baroque music on instruments of the lute family.” THE GERMAN LUTE SOCIETY
Excerpts from reviews (concerts and recordings)
“… Peter Croton put on a dazzling performance as a soloist, playing with breathtaking virtuosity works by Alessandro Piccinini and Giovanni Zamboni, as well as a romantic piece by Giuliani.” CONCERTO MAGAZINE
“These are intelligent, sensitive and lyrical performances of some of the most challenging and expressive music ever written for the lute.” WWW.NEW-CLASSICS.CO.UK (CD – Bach on the Italian Lute)
“... his performances have a uniquely expressive, rhythmically flexible quality.” ALLMUSICGUIDE.COM (CD – Bach on the Italian Lute)
“[Croton’s] approach emphasizes a spoken, rhetorical manner of playing and use of suitable affects in dance movements. This results in a very warm, lively interpretation that often allows the music an astonishing amount of breathing space, while lending the dances a feeling of supple and spirited movement. The result is an extraordinarily differentiated recording.” THE GERMAN LUTE SOCIETY (CD – Bach on the Italian Lute)
“How beautiful Bach’s lute suites can sound on the Italian lute is demonstrated by the present recording by Peter Croton, which from beginning to end is an exquisite listening experience. … [His] exceptionally refined and singing manner of playing is especially highlighted.”
CONCERTO – Das Magazin für Alte Musik (CD – Bach on the Italian Lute)
“Not surprisingly, Croton, who is also known for his contemporary and jazz-related musical projects, explores this beautiful musical world with the heart of a true improviser, sparkling with creativity.” HUFFINGTON POST (CD – The Two Francescos)
“The lutenist Peter Croton pulls off an absolutely ideal recording of the works of two ‘Renaissance-stars’. Compared with similar recordings … the present CD deserves the very top ranking ... One cannot play Francesco da Milano more convincingly...” KULTURRADIO BERLIN (CD – The Two Francescos)
“As may be expected the pieces are played in a technically brilliant manner, but the real strength of the recording lies in the rare vitality which Peter Croton breathes into them.” MUSIKANSICH.DE (CD – The Two Francescos)
“[Croton's] playing has a freedom and musicality usually heard only from improvising jazz and pop musicians. Pretty much every item here is a gem.” INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW (CD – Remembrance of Things Past)
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.
Le Luth Doré ©2015