Soundboard, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3, 2012, p. 78 (David Grimes)
Andreas Schlegel and Joachim Lüdtke (editors): The Lute in Europe 2. Menziken: TheLute Corner, 2011. ISBN 978-3-9523232-1-2. Hardbound. 447 pp. No price marked.
Since the first edition (2006) sold out quickly, the editors have prepared a new and greatly-expanded second edition of this valuable reference work. Beautifully illustrated, it is a book that could grace your coffee table, as well as your bookshelf. In addition to treatment of the instrument itself, there is a wealth of informative material covering notation, string technology, tuning and many other topics.
The second edition includes a substantial discussion of European instruments related to the lute (vihuela, guitar, bandurria, mandolin, cittern, etc.) and an extensive historical overview from the Medieval period to the present day. Several of these instrumental sections were contributed by various authorities in the particular fields: Carlos González (vihuela de mano), Renzo Salvador (Renaissance and Baroque guitars), Pepe Rey (bandurria), Peter Forrester (cittern), Lorenz Mühlemann (later cittern and Halszither), Pedro Caldeira Cabral (guitarra portuguesa), Kenneth Sparr (Swedish lute) and Roman Turovsky (torban).
All the text is in parallel German and English. This would be an essential book for anyone teaching a course in lute/guitar history or for anyone interested in the background for either instrument.
As a bonus, there is a lovely and most useful poster that gives a timeline of lute development on one side, and the same for guitar and cittern on the other. It has illustrations of all the instruments in use at a particular time, along with associated milestones in construction and repertoire. -David Grimes
Lute Society of America Quarterly 1/2012, p. 45-46
The Lute in Europe 2: Lutes Guitars, Mandolins, and Citterns
Andreas Schlegel and Joachim Lüdtke
The Lute Comer: (2011)
Bilingual, German and English 447 pp ISBN: 978-3-9523232-1-2
Available in the US at Harp Guitar Music, P.O. Box 573155 Tarzana, CA 91357
The Lute in Europe 2 has exciting potential as a general introduction to the organology and history of the lute and guitar families over most of the past millennimn. "Exciting" because no book that I know of approaches that scope until now. The opportunity to compare these instruments–and to some extent their music and their histories–in close proximity yields the kind of broad sweep of comparative understanding that a monograph can't accomplish. But only "potential," because important parts of the story are still incomplete.
Andreas Schlegel's The Lute in Europe: A History to Delight (1st edition), published by The Lute Comer in 2006, was a good beginning and a kernel of the 2011 edition. Many of the most valuable aspects of the 2nd edition began with the 1st edition: it is bilingual in German and English, and filled with plentiful and detailed illustrations of mostly instruments and tablature. Captions and notes are also generously detailed.
The second edition is more comprehensive in both topic and detail, and substantially heftier than the slimmer 1st edition. Through primary author Schlegel's leadership, the second edition becomes a group project: he shows his openness to bring other experts aboard for the sake of depth and accuracy. Joachim Lüdtke is the 2nd edition's coauthor, and nine contributors provide focused sections on various instruments such as Carlos Gonzàlez on the vihuela de mano and Kenneth Sparr on the Swedish lute. (The complete list of contributors is available on the website, above.)
But this isn't all: another twelve experts are credited for information that appears on the large, richly detailed, two-sided poster that comes with the 2nd edition. It is chronological, with comparative timelines. One side shows the "Lute Family" and the other presents "Guitars and Citterns." This poster displays timelines with photos of a great variety of instruments; lists of sources–comprehensive when possible–accompany the photos with flags that represent countries of origins. An incredible amount of information is packed into this valuable chart.
The 2nd edition is divided into the "Systemic Section," which describes organology, notation, and musical temperament; and the "Historical Section," which is comprised of "Individual Instrument Types" and "The History." Most of the additional contributors' commentaries appear in the "Individual Instrument Types" portion of this book. The historical section surveys a broad swath of history from medieval Al-Andalus to the present day, and ends with a lutenist's "who's who" in early music of the 20th century to the present day.
A factual error appears in the systemic section, in a part entitled "Music and Proportion" on page 46, in which Schlegel maintains that equal temperament "...began to be accepted only in the 19th century." (Rameau 's advocacy of equal temperament in the early 18th century quickly attracted followers.) But he makes interesting points about Bach's Das wohltemperirte Clavier (The Well-tempered Clavier), which is not in equal temperament as some might assume. His section on temperament and tunings is valuable, with helpful charts on the harmonic series and illustrations of fret patterns.
[Commentary AS: Equal temperament did not replace the earlier systems instantly. It became accepted only gradually, and unequal temperaments were employed even as late as the mid-19th century. Ibo Ortgies’ study of „The practice of organ tuning in North Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its relationship to contemporary musical practice“ (Die Praxis der Orgelstimmung in Norddeutschland im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert und ihr Verhältnis zur zeitgenössischen Musikpraxis, PhD-Dissertation, Göteborg 2004 / revised 2007; all references in the following are to the PDF on https://sites.google.com/site/iboortgies/phd-dissertationiboortgies) points to a number of examples for the conversion of church organs from unequal to equal temperament in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among these examples are the organs of St Bavo in Haarlem converted in 1836 (p. 132) and of the Grote Sint-Michaëlskerk in Zwolle converted on year leater (p. 142). Ortgies also points to the continued use of meantone temperaments in organs even after their split keys had been removed or put out of function (p. 163), and he cites a passage from Joseph Gall’s Clavier-Stimmbuch, Vienna 1805, where equal temperament is described as a new system, which was everything but universally employed in his days and found the dissaproval of many who thought the sounding results to be harsh an inharmonious (p. 211).
Compare also the Emmental Halszither, dated 1848, by Johannes Bütler pictured on p. 271 of my book, the frets of which are set in meantone tuning.]
The historical descriptions are brief, but many interesting aspects are touched on, such as Germany's 16th and 17th century export of lute-makers to its European neighbors (223-224), a survey of the lute's popularity in the Habsburg territories (288-300), and renewed interest in classical antiquity during the Enlightenment and the resulting development of the lyre-guitar (326). Schlegel presents a fascinating theory regarding the Jewish Iberian musicians' role in disseminating lute music and performance in pre-16th century Europe, which he defends well (188-ff).
Comparatively more weight is given to lute music after 1600 and the new tuning (Nouvel accord ordinaire) in France than on other topics. He defends his deeper coverage on page 262, and it must be remembered that this is one of Schlegel's specialties after all (as can be seen on his website), which is a valid defense in itself.
"The Guitar, 1810 to the Present Day," however, is a mere ten paragraphs, and only six of those inform us about the classical guitar. The post-1800 guitar focus is on organology, with very little about musical style. This absence of classical guitar coverage is what prevents me from using this as a lute and guitar literature course textbook for my college students. At first glance–that is, when looking at the title and the cover illustration–this book seemed to be an excellent match for this type of course at the college level. In fact, many instructors who teach plucked string literature might be tempted by the strengths of this well-illustrated book anyway. After all, with Tyler's and Turnbull's books other options strictly about guitar history do exist. But most guitar literature courses only run for one semester, and the expectation is usually for the student to buy either no book at all or only one for this course; as it stands, with such a brief section on classical guitar, this book wouldn't be feasible for classical guitar students, thus keeping valuable knowledge about lute and early guitar still just out of reach for most mainstream classical guitar students. I hope that the authors have plans to increase this book's coverage of classical guitar musical styles and composers in a future edition, to better connect modern guitar students with the history of a large part of their own repertoire.
[Commentary AS: It was exactly the existence of literature like the valuable books by Tyler and Turnbull mentioned be the reviewer which prevented us – the two main authors of the book text – from writing more about guitar music from c 1800 on.]
Smaller sections at the beginning and end of the book are especially worthy of note: the "Gallery of lnstruments" on pages 8-23 includes photos, tunings, and string lengths. This is followed by a thoughtful commentary on the way we name and refer to musical instruments; especially the less common varieties. In the last pages of the book we find more brief but valuable sections: the first two convey lute and classical guitar construction with labeled illustrations of lute and modem classical guitar, followed by "Nomenclature of Instruments" featuring an illustrated, annotated list of the wide variety of plucked instruments covered throughout the book. (Perhaps the authors would consider labeling these helpful reference sections as "Appendices" to clarify their presence in the table of contents, and to help reference these sections throughout the rest of the book.)
The illustrations and graphics are a great strength of both editions (the 2nd edition adds many new illustrations and does not incorporate many of the 1st edition photos, which is a selling point for the 2nd edition even among owners of the 1st edition). Nearly every facing page displays an image; most of these are instrument photos, but charts, tablature, title pages, and maps are included, as well. A wide variety of instruments are pictured, including the gallichon, mandolin types, Emmental Halszithers, jazz guitars, and even a modem traveling theorbo that breaks down into a cello-sized case. Captions for instrument photos, and the photos themselves, are carefully detailed ("The little finger of the player's right hand has left clearly visible traces around the bridge…" is an excerpt of a lengthy caption for a photo of a 14 course cittern, pictured on page 144).
[Commentary AS: The instrument pictured on p. 145 – with the caption on p. 144 – is a 14-course archlute by Martinus Hartz, Rome 1665]
Although the illustrations themselves are a strong point of this book, their placement is problematic. Since the musical instrument pictures are in somewhat of a chronological order and usually take up the entire right-hand facing page, they are not concentrated within their own topic area, so throughout the book the illustrations don't relate to their facing pages. This is distracting, forcing readers to tum to another section of the book for a visual point to be made. Imagine reading about Ziryab, the 8th century Arab ud player who brought his 5 course 'ud to Andalusia, with a beautiful photograph of a 13-course Baroque lute on the facing page. It leaves one, well, emotionally confused. In another example, I wish the torban illustration on page 265 would be facing Roman Turovsky's description of the instrument on pages 182-186 instead of the diatonic cittem or a 13 course Baroque lute. Notated music and tablatures are also often pictured far away from their textual topics. A late 18th century sonata tablature is pictured on page 243 facing text about 16th century music, and de Visée lute and theorbo tablatures on pages 170-171 surround Caldeira Cabral's text about the Guitarra Portuguesa. In some spots the illustrations are right where they should be: the graphs and illustrations about temperament and tunings on pages 48-62 are thankfully–and very helpfully–located with their corresponding texts. Two intriguing maps showing printed publications in Europe are placed in the range of their texts as well, on pages 226 and 290.
[Commentary AS: We harbour the hope that with our explanation of the book’s structure – that is: illustrations with their detailed captions in strict chronological order; book text running independently from the illustrations (as much as possible); detailed information for “Those who go beneath the surface” in the notes – in its preface distraction and confusion resulting for the reader may be avoided.]
The English translation has some difficulties in general with punctuation, grammar, spelling, and occasionally word choice; for instance on page 376: "Mudarra was the first to demand the Renaissance guitar in 1546–as a Vihuela de mano reduced to four courses." (Italics are mine; the analogous term used in the German column was verlangt.) These editorial concerns are relatively minor, however; I greatly appreciate–and I'm sure I'm not alone–the bilingual format, which brings the wealth of this book to a much larger audience than it would have otherwise.
Lute players of all levels and interested listeners would benefit from and enjoy this well-illustrated text, but it is much more than a coffeetable book. It can be considered a reference work for scholars, a worthy text for college level courses on lute literature, or as a supplementary text for lute and guitar literature courses. With the detailed descriptions and commentary on so many varieties of instruments this would also be a useful introduction for luthiers who are considering early instruments. The web page listed above provides helpful information for the prospective buyer. Overall, this book is a strong general introduction to the organology, history, and to some extent the music of the lute and guitar instrument families. I'm happy to recommend this book, and I look forward to future editions.
[Commentary AS: We welcome critic, demands, and ideas for making a possible future edition an even better book but have to keep in mind that this project was largely financed from private funds, and that it became possible to realize it only with the generous help of the Berta Hess-Cohn foundation. To make “The Lute in Europe 3” a reality, its forerunner has to be refinanced by sales. Hopefully, this review will help in this respect, too!]