This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Performance for hire is, however, permitted.
Here you will find more than 7000 lute pieces 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.
This material is now mirrored at www.lute.ru/gerbode , thanks to the good offices of , who has also translated the site into Russian at www.lute.ru/gerbode/ru. I will try to keep the mirror site as updated as possible, but gerbode.net is likely to be the latest and greatest.
30Sep15: Completed work on the Siena lute book (ca. 1590). It contains 155 pieces, mostly by Francesco da Milano and contemporaries with a similar polyphonic style -- a truly wonderful collection. I am greatly indebted to Jason Kortis, who encoded the vast majority of the pieces in 2003 -- a major piece of work taking more than four months -- to Arthur Ness, John Robinson, and others, who helped me finding source documents for the pieces and helped identify many of the untitled or unattributed pieces. Most of the pieces are fantasies or ricercars, but there are 22 intabulations of French chansons and a very few dances. Only some of the pieces are titled or attributed, but many have been identified from other sources. All the pieces are for 6-course lute, except at the end of the MS there are several unmeasured pieces for 7-course lute which present a considerable interpretive challenge, as they also contain many puzzling rhythm notations. I did the best I could, but I also included unmeasured versions of these pieces that are unedited apart from a few corrections of wrong notes.
05Sep15: Posted an edition of John Danyel "Songs for the lute, viol, and voice" (1605), with its facsimile. These are songs of amazing quality, quite comparable to Dowland at his best. It is a shame that so little of Danyel's music survives. His lyrics are very interesting and intelligent , and his settings display an excellent sense of counterpoint, in which each part has its own interest, yet all easily playable. Also, his text underlay is meticulous; the poetry fits the words perfectly, in all the parts. A couple of the pieces use alternate tunings. I have made arrangements of these in standard tunings.
27Aug15: Completed work on Corkine's Second book of ayres (1612), containing 18 lute songs and 12 pieces for lyra viol, including one duet. I made arrangements of these for 7-course lute. This includes one rather extraordinary lute song, and which the singer tries to dissuade a maiden from her vow of life-long chastity. The argument is that if she does not put out, she is doomed to the eternal shame of dancing in hell with bob-tail apes, and that she would be better off lying with every passing peasant than to suffer that fate. There is also a vocal intabulation of the popular tune "Come live with me and be my love", with words attributed to Christopher Marlowe. I took the liberty of creating a lute song version of this piece.
20Aug15: Posted an edition of William Corkine's First booke of ayres (1610). This contains 12 lute songs and 12 solo works for lyra viol, all high quality and relatively free of errors. I also made arrangements for 7-course lute for the lyra viol pieces. I also posted facsimiles of his first and second book of ayres. These are of quite poor quality, necessitating some judgment calls in making the edition.
08Aug15: Posted Sixt Kargel's book (Novae Elegantissimae... 1574) in French tab, and a very clean facsimile of same in Italian tab. The book has very few errors in the original. It starts with 4 fantasies by the composer and proceeds with vocal intabulations of chansons, madrigals, napolitane, motets, and passemezzi. Most are by Ordando di Lasso. All are somewhat challenging to play because of the diminutions and occasional high positions they contain, but of high quality. It includes an interesting version of Susanne ung jour, written in a major "key" instead of the customary minor.
19Jul15: Completed edition of Antoine Francisque's Trésor d'Orphée. It starts with a highly ornamented version of Susanne un jour and contains a few passamezzos, preludes, fantasies, gavottes, and a number of voltes and courantes. Some pieces are in an alternate tuning. I also have the original facsimile, which is in excellent shape.
10Jul15: Completed work on all but one frottola from Bossinensis Tenore e Contrabassi, v.2, 55 in all. The one I have not yet been able to figure out is #40 Quando andaratu al monte, by G.B. Zesso.The structure of this piece is hard to figure out, partly because it has 2 "da capos" in it, and it is not clear what should be done about them. Anybody have any ideas?
Of course I, and the entire lute community, owe Arthur Ness a great debt for the excellent scholarship found in his 1971 edition of Milano's works. Ness has also been very helpful to me in answering several queries I have had in connection with the work on the Milano project.
This is a list of recent additions to the website, with commentaries on them.
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.
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.
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).
These are facsimiles of source documents.
These are complete fronimo editions of sources.
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. In addition, the following:
This is a list of other websites with related information.
I hope you get and give a great deal of pleasure from playing these pieces!
If you are curious about my other identity as a psychiatrist and philosopher, you can find out more about me by clicking here.