How did music of the distant past sound? In order to answer this question, musicians and instrument makers have had to ask a whole series of further questions, such as: What were the precise characteristics of the instruments they used and, in the case of stringed instruments, what kind of strings did they use? How did they actually play these instruments – what techniques did they develop and how do they differ from “modern” instrumental techniques? How did they think about the music they wrote and played?
The Early Music movement, born out of the “arts and crafts” movement of the late nineteenth century, attempts to answer these questions. We find ourselves today, over a century later, in a fully formed musical field that extends throughout the world. However, alongside great success, we sometimes lose sight of the original questions that lie at the heart of our project. Expedience and the desire to appeal to wider audiences sometimes lead us to ignore, deviate from or reject knowledge of the past, and thus to blur the distinction between an understanding of ancient music and the creation of a completely modern practice unmoored by historical considerations.
The lute course in Lotteno is offered as a corrective to this situation, in order to help lute players who are truly interested in the original goals of the Early Music movement: to discover how music of the past really sounded, through knowledge of historical sources and, most importantly, through the development of performance styles and techniques as they were practiced by the musicians who actually created the music we play.
We will concentrate in five areas of study:
- Understanding historical lute techniques
- Reading original sources and understanding the kinds of information found in them
- Establishing a repertoire illustrative of historical techniques
- Studying original lutes and lute construction
- Developing an awareness of our goals as musicians