The liuto attiorbato was a lute of 7 or 8 double courses of stopped strings, with 6 or 7 single or double courses of unstopped diapasons. This instrument was used principally for solo music, but was also called for (as liuto) to provide continuo. Courses 1 and 2 were at correct lute pitch, not lowered an octave as on the tiorba or chitarrone. This implies an instrument with a smallish body and a stopped string-length no longer than that of a normal lute. Many instruments made by Matteo Sellas in the 1630s seem to have the right proportions for a liuto attiorbato. (Fig. I3).
Left: ? Liuto Attiorbato by Matteo Sellas (Venice, 1638). 7 double stopped courses 58. 8cm, 7 double contrabassi 84.3,cm, overall length 112cm:381/8. Paris Conservatoire, Musée Instrumental, no. E 1028 C 1052
Centre: Testudo Theorbata (detail from plate XVI) with its scale in Brunswick feet, from M. Praetorius Theatrum Instrumentorum (Wolfenbüttel, 1620). Its tuning from M. Praetorius Syntagma Musicum, Tomus 2: De Organographia (Wolfenbüttel, 1619) p 27.
Right: ? Liuto Attiorbato (anon, undated). There are 8 holes in the capping strip for hitch-pins. 7 stopped courses (13 strings) 54.7cm, 5 contrabass courses (8 strings) 84.0cm, but the neck has probably been shortened. Paris Conservatoire, Musée Instrumental, no. E 528 C 229.
Piccinini (1623) says he invented this type of instrument in Padua in 1594. He calls it arciliuto because the name liuto attiorbato suggests that it was derived from the tiorba which he knows to be untrue because he invented it45 His book also gives very full instructions on the technique of playing the liuto attiorbato, including recommending the use of right-hand nails.46 Graces are explained in Meli (1614) and Piccinini (1623). The liuto attiorbato is named in printed music between 1614 and 1623 only: but after about 1611 (Kapsberger's Intavolatura di lauto, which is for l0-course lute) liuto means with few exceptions liuto attiorbato in Italy. The old G tuning was carried right through the l7th into the 18th century while other European countries experimented with new tunings, culminating in the D minor and Flat French' tunings.
Solo music in tablature was printed by Saracini in 1614 (14 courses); Meli in 1614, 1616, and 1620 (13 courses); Piccinini in 1623, 1639 (13 courses); and Gianoncelli in 1650 (14 courses). L. Theorbato is called for in a manuscript of Italian tablature in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (Rés 1108). Eleven courses are used on f. 14V-15, and 12 on f.42. Other manuscripts of Italian tablature for 11 or 12-course Liuto are: Nuremberg, Staatsbibl., Mus. MS. 271/3; Florence, Bibl. Naz. Cen., Mus. Codex. XIX.105 (dated 1635); Venice, Bibl. Naz. Marciana, Codex 1.IV. 1793 (dated 1657-8). The anonymous Conserto Vaga (Rome, 1645) for tiorba, liuto and chitarrino implies that the liuto is tuned in A, but only 8 courses are used.
Praetorius (1620) illustrated a Laute mit Abzügem (extension) oder Testudo Theorbata (Fig. 14). This shows an instrument smaller than his Paduanische Theorba, with strings taken over or through the bridge to the capping strip, which would only be necessary if they
were made of metal. An instrument of this type survives in the Paris Conservatoire Musée (Fig. 15), on which the soundboard is bent' to withstand the tension of metal strings. Praetorius (1619) is speaking of the testudo theorbata when he says that the lute of his day has seven or eight double courses on the fingerboard and six single diapasons alongside.47 . His theorba differs from it in having single strings throughout and courses 1 and 2 lowered an octave. He gave this tuning for Lautte mit eim langen Kragen [long neck]:48
Arciliuto and its tuning, detail from the engraving in M. Mersenne Seconde Partie de LHarmonie Universelle: Livre Premier des Instrumens (Paris, 1637) p46.
In the text he called this instrument (Fig. 16) Tuorbe, but in his errata he wrote that the Italians called it Arciliuto though he would have preferred Luth à double manche. He gave this tuning for the 11 courses, though in the text he implied that others tuned the arciliuto a tone lower:49
However, the word arciliuto did not gain universal acceptance until thg 1680s, by which time two importanr new factors called for a continuo instrument to replace the tiorba. First, covered strings had been invented in the middleof the century (first mentioned in print in 1664)50 which enabled a fuller sound to be produced on a string length shorter than that of the tiorba. Secondly, Corelli and his contemporaries were writing wide-ranging bass lines that stretched the theorbist: both his fingers, and the upper register of his instrument, so that he had no higher strings for the harmony above the bass. Or if he did try to play harmony on the upper two strings, it sounded below the bass because of their octave transposition. The arciliuto solved both these problems. It carried on the tuning of the liuto attiorbato with the upper strings at lute pitch, thus enabling the bass to rise higher and still have at least one string left for a harmony note above it. And the shorter stopped string-length (say, 67 instead of 90cm) made it feasible to play with greater facility. Corelli named the arcileuto as a possible alternative to the violone in his trio sonatas from 1681. It would have played the bass line and added harmony to that of the organo. Many other composers, e.g. Sammartini,
Notice how close the stringing and measurements are so the Harz instrument illustrated above, A manuscript of c 1680 contains on f11v-20v Italian songs with tablature accompaniment for either archlute or theorbo, Tbe two solo 'Menuetts on f16V seem ts call for the upper strings to be at the upper octave. If so, this would be a very early use of the archlute in
England.56 Between 1703 and 1708 Thomas Dean
advertised London concerts in which he played the archlute to accompany in turn the violin, the German flute and the voice.57 John Blow scored for lute' (probably intending archlute) in an anthem to celebrate the Battleof Blenheim (1704).58 John Walsh the publisher listed the archlute for continuo in nine of his music books 1705-17.59 In 1715 a lutanist was appointed to the Chapel Royal.60 This was John Shore the trumpeter, whose archlute Talbot had measured some years earlier, and who, according to Hawkins, invented the tuning fork 'to tune his lute by'.61
In the following year John Weldon specified the arch-lute' to provide continuo for his anthems in Divine Harmony, and the lutenist can be seen in the frontispiece view of the Chapel. Handel wrote a figured bass part for archilute' in Gentle Airs' from Athalia (Oxford, 1733),62 but its range and style is indistinguishable from his teorbe parts (London, 1724-39). It is possible that his choice of instrument was governed by the availability of particular players and the instruments they played. After Shore's death in 1752 the archlute is mentioned only in histories (Hawkins, 1776) and dictionaries (Hoyle, 1791), but these merely repeat earlier writers.
Music for arciliuto, figured bass changing to solo, from Concertino Per Cammera Con Arciliuto obligato, Violini e Basso (c. 1720) owned by R, Spencer.
Chitarrone, Theorbo & Archlute
Chitarrone, Theorbo & Archlute
Chitarrone, Theorbo & Archlute
45 Piccinini, op. cit., p 8 Cap XXXIIII Dell Arciluto, e dell Inuentore desso: Doue hò nominato il Liuto, hò voluto intendere ancor dell Arciluto per non dire, come molto dicono, Liuto Attiorbato, come se linuentione fosse cauata dalla Tiorba, ò Chitarrone, per dir meglio, il che è falso, e lo so . . . io lAnno MDLXXXIIII . . . andai à Padoua alla Bottega di Christofano Heberle . . . & li feci fare per proua un liuto . . . tal che ne feci farun altro con la Tratta al manico. Back
50 J. Playford A brief Introduction to the Skill of ~Musick 4th edition (London, 1664), 2nd pagination, p 45v: There is a late invention of strings for the Basses of . . . Lutes, which sound much better and lowder then the common Gut String, either under the Bow or Finger. It is small Wire twisted or gimpd upon a gut string or upon Silk. I [i.e. John Playford, 1623-86] have made tryal of both, but those upon Silk do hold best and give as good a sound. . . . Back
52 Brossard, op.cit., Toutes ces Chordes sont ordinairement simples, mais il y a en a qui doublent les Basses dune petite Octave, & les Chordes du petit Jeu dun unisson, à la reserve de la Chanterelle; & pour lors, comme il a beaucoup plus de rapport an Luth que le Théorbe à lordinaire; les Italiens le nomment Archleuto ou Archiluto, & les François Archiluth. Back
56 Tokyo, Japan. Ohki collection of Nanki Music Library. N-4/42. The manuscript could have been written out possibly by Cesare Morelli who spent some time in Rome before coming to England in 1675. He was employed by Samuel Pepys the diarist, so comparison with his music manuscripts in the Pepys Library at Magdalene college Cambridge should resolve this possibility. Back
58 Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Music MS. 240 (31.H.1) f. 9-19v Awake, utter a Song. Blow also used the lute in the anthem Let the Righteous be glad ibid, f.21-29v. I am grateful to Dr Watkins Shaw for these references. Back
60 E. F. Rimbault, The Old Cheque-Book . . . of the Chapel Royal (London, 1872), p 28: Aug. 8 1715 . . . there were added in King Georges establishment . . . a second composer . . . Mr John Welldon . . . ~A Lutanist, which place Mr John Shore was sworn and admitted to. Back