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The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste Besard Author(s): Julia Sutton Source: The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 51, No.

2 (Apr., 1965), pp. 345-362 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/10/2013 17:28
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gundian gentlemaneducated in Italy who workedin Germany,was a man of wide interests;he seems to have been at once a jurist, a for five books, two pubphysician,and a lutenist.He was responsible lished in Cologne in 1603 and 1604, and threepublishedin Augsburg in 1617. The volume of 1604 was part of a seriesof collectedhistorical documents: Mercurii Gallobelgici,sive rerumin Gallia et Belgio potissimum Hungaria quoque: Germania, Polonia, Hispania, Italia, Anglia, orbisRegnis,& Provincijsab Anno 1598 usq; ad alijsqu [sic]; Christiani Annum gestarum.' One of the volumes of 1617, the Antrumphilosophicum, was a large compendium of medical knowledge of the time. The otherthreepublicationsconcernus here. The first is Besard's Thesaurusharmonicus diviniLaurenciniRomani, nec non praestantissimorum musicorum,qui hoc secolo . . . excellunt, selectissimaomnis generis cantus in testudine modulamina continens ... (Cologne, 1603).2 It is a major collectionof lute music in French divided into ten books according tablaturecontaining403 compositions to genre.The musicis forsolo lute,or lute and voice (threecompositions different are for two lutes), and represents twenty-one composers. In addition to the ten books of music, Besard appended to the Thesaurus on how to play the lute, the De Modo in testudine a set of instructions
1 This collection of European treaties and internationallegal documents enacted between 1598 and 1604 was one of a series brought out by Gerhard Grevenbruch,the most prominent printer of his time in Cologne. Grevenbruch had printed Besard's Thesaurus harmonicusin 1603 at Besard's expense, and one may speculate that Besard, acting on the basis of his trainingas a lawyer (he had been granted a Licentiate and Doctor of Laws by the Universityof D1le in 1578), undertook the editing of these historicaldocumentsin order to pay forthe Thesaurus. 2 Joseph Garton, J. B. Besard's Thesaurus harmonicus (unpublished doctoral dissertation,Universityof Indiana, 1952), has transcribeda portion of the contentsand made a studyof the Thesaurus.


BurEAN-BAPTISTE BESARD (c. 1567-c. 1625), a peripatetic


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The Musical Quarterly

libellus.As mightbe expected,the music fromthe Thesaurus found its way into many othercollectionsof the period, both printedand manualso attained script.What is ratherunusual is that the lute instructions considerableimportance.In 1610 Robert Dowland included an English translationof them in his Varietie of Lute-Lessons.3The instructions also appeared in various MSS, e.g. Hainhofer's collectionfor lute of 1603 and 1604, with the examples transcribed into Italian tablature.4 The success of the Thesaurus and its instructions apparentlyled the Besard to publish anothercollectionof lute music with instructions, The siue concertationes . . . Novus partus, mvsicae (Augsburg,1617).5 collection,in French tablature using the G tuning,consistsof only 59 but it is of considerableinterest because 24 of them are compositions, forlute ensemble (twelve forthreelutes and two voices or viols, twelve for lute duet), forminga major contribution to this rather unusual are also significant: medium.The lute instructions theyare an emendain the Thesaurus, under a tion and expansion of Besard's instructions different title: Ad artem Testudinisbreui, citraque magnum fastidium hisce subiecit." capescendam,facilem & methodicaminstitutionem The Novus partus,with the Ad artem,was publishedin September 1617. Earlier in the same year, in June, Besard had brought out a Das ist: Griindtlicher pamphlet called Isagoge in artem testudinariam. das Kiinstliche Saitenspil der Lauten.7 Despite Underricht/uber [sic]
3 Facsimile ed. published by Schott, London, 1958. Dowland entitled his translation "Necessarie ObservationsBelonging to the Lute, and Lute-playing." This is a good followsthe original of the De modo, withveryminorchanges,but its floridity translation to understand. to such an extentthat it remainsdifficult 4 Philipp Hainhofer, a prominentcitizen of Augsburg,a European diplomat, and an indefatigablediarist and correspondentto whom we are indebted formuch information on this period, wrote (or more probably had someone write for him) a large and beautifullyillustratedcollection of lute music which was never printed.The titleof the collection is Lautenbiicher, darinnen begriffen gaystl.Hymni, Psalmen, Kirchengesting und Lieder so von vilen gueten Maistern in italienischertabulatur auf der lauten zu spielen. It consistedof twelvebooks of varyingsizes in two volumes (564 pp.), in Italian tablature. Wilhelm Tappert, Philipp Hainhofer's Lautenbiicher, in Monatshefte fur IV (1885), 29-34, reviewsthe collectionverycritically;its chiefclaim Musikgeschichte, to fame was apparentlyover two hundred finecopper engravingswhich by the time of his writinghad been removed and placed in various museums.Hainhofer may have had with their author. Besard's instructions copied into his collection because of friendship In the dedication of the AntrumphilosophicumBesard states that he left Cologne for in the arts. Augsburg to be with Hainhofer, his friendand formerfellow-student 5 New Volume, or, Musical Concerts ... 6 Short and Methodical Instructionsin the Art of Lute-playing: Brief, and to Be Learned Without Great Weariness. 7 Method in the Art of the Lute. That is: Basic Instructionin the Art of Playing the Lute.

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The Lute Instructions Besard of Jean-Baptiste


the Latin in the title,it is a set of lute instructions in German. Although it has an earlier publication date than the Novus partus, it is a free translationand emendation of the instructions therein (the translator, known to us only as "I. N.," was obviouslyalso a lutenist, and added of his some own commentsto Besard's). statementshave been made with regard to the inaccurate Many lute two Augsburg e.g. that the Isagoge is a second edition publications, of the entireThesaurus harmonicus;sthat the Isagoge is Besard's second treatiseon lute pedagogy;9 that Robert Dowland's Necessarie Observations is a translation of the Isagoge;`o and that the Isagoge was published in 1614.11The exact musical contentsof the Novus partus have been known to a few scholars (Chilesotti among them),12 but even here we can still find errorsin recent publications-e.g. Boetticheris wrong in his comparisonbetween the composersin the Novus partus and the Thesaurus13-whilein older articlesthe errorsare legion. To recapitulatebriefly:Besard included in his Thesaurus of 1603 set a of lute instructions, the De modo in testudinelibellus. This was translatedinto English, with minor changes, by Robert Dowland in 1610 as "Necessarie Observations Belonging to the Lute, and Luteplaying,"whichappeared in his Varietieof Lute-Lessons.In 1617 Besard included in his Novus partus a revisionof the De Modo, the Ad artem, which also appeared at the same time as a separate pamphlet in German, the Isagoge. of the Novus partus may be considered to Since the instructions on lute techniques,theywill formthe Besard's final thinking represent As we read them today, we discoverthat basis of our discussionhere.14 theirapplicabilityto modern lute and guitar playing is still fresh,and their commentson the foibles of teachers and studentsare universal.
8 Auguste Castan, Note sur Jean-BaptisteB&sard de Besangon cdlebre luthiste,in Mdmoires de la socidtdd'dmulation de Doubs, Ser. 5, I (1876), 27 f. 9 L. de la Laurencie, Les Luthistes, Paris, 1926, p. 96. 10 Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance, New York, 1954, p. 844.

11Wolfgang Boetticher,Besardus, in MGG, I (1949-51), 1815. 12Oscar Chilesotti, Musiciens frangais: Jean-BaptisteBesard, et les luthistes du XVle sidcle,in Congras internationald'histoirede la musique, Paris, 1900: Documents, memoires et zoeux, Solesmes, 1901, pp. 179-90. 13Boetticher,op. cit., col. 1816.
14 This article is based on a modern English translationby Dr. Virginia Moscrip (Universityof Rochester) and the author. Every attemptwas made in the translation to simplify the floridBaroque styleof the original in favor of clarity.

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The Musical Quarterly

They are of course by no means unique,15 and like many of the other of the Renaissance and Baroque theyconstitute sets of instructions priextensive are most the manual. a Nevertheless, they marily fingering two decades of the instructions to appear on the Continentin the first to appear in instructions the 17th century,and they represent only England between Thomas Robinson's Schoole of Musicke (1603) and Richard Mathew's The Lutes [sic] Apologyfor her Excellency (1652) ." completewithintheirgenre,and They are eminently practicaland fairly in lute music."7 a period of changingstyles reflect

manner in a somewhat are organized instructions Besard's pyramidal intoeightsections:"

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) remarks introductory Purely a lute How to choose Practice techniques Left-hand techniques techniques Right-hand carriage Tempoandbody Ornaments remarks Concluding

4 and 5 sections in character; 1-3are essentially Sections introductory secandareofconsiderable ofthetext, matter main the contain length;

fundamentals no timediscussing Besardwastes 6-8 againare short. tions understands the reader that of music.It is assumed principles rhythmic and "diminutions" as dottedrhythms and such things and notation, thathis reasonfor Here Besardexplains remarks. 1) Introductory is the success instructions the of edition out another original bringing

thestart. from appear passages) (i.e.sixteenth-note

that hiscritics of 1603.He forestalls edition byexplaining ofthefirst the totake instructions these intend hedoesnot placeofa liveinstructor,
nor indeed are they nor are theymeantfor anyonebut beginners,
W. Prynne,in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., London, books, beginningwith Vir1954, V, 437-38, gives a selected list of eighteen instruction und dung's Musica getutscht(1511) and ending with Baron's Historisch-theoretische praktischeUntersuchung(1727). According to Daniel Heartz, Les premieres'Instructions' pour le luth, in Jean Jacquot, ed., Le Luth et sa musique, Paris, 1958, p. 77, most lute collections published up to 1550 contained instructions. 16 Thurston Dart, La Methode de luth de Miss Mary Burwell, in Jacquot, op. cit., 121. p. 17 Karl Scheit, Ce que nous enseignentles traitesde luth des environsde 1600, in Waissel Jacquot, op. cit., pp. 93-105, compares the De modo with Robinson (op. cit.), Besard's workin general agreementwith the others. (1592), and Le Roy (1574), finding He does not, however, discuss the Besard in detail. 18These divisionsare mine, but are based upon the major subheads of the original.
15 M.

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ofJean-Baptiste Besard The LuteInstructions


to represent theone-and-only lutemethod:"Do notthink intended ... in anywayfrom different to thelute thatI wishto detract approaches skill."He than mine,whichmanyplayers may use withconsiderable and forsuccess in lutestudy-youth to listthe requisites thenproceeds the unlimited talent,practice ("not healthyphysicalcharacteristics, butwithin limits and without torture themselves, many bywhich practice and patience. muchintermission"), lutesuited a ten-course a lute.Besard recommends 2) How to choose in order than to force smaller to the student's hand,but largerrather for exercises various of the hand."'He goeson to discuss thestretching which fails to the he the of hand; specify although increasing flexibility it is obviously theleft. handhe means, thelute; even without often thefingers pullandlengthen forcibly, Many players a table on hand the ofthem individual while some sideways fingers resting spread I saw In Italy oiloftartar. orthey anoint the with orsimilar fingers support; may lute. the while thick leaden rather andheavy practicing rings wearing many players of I not do even while Andsome disapprove all Though playing. gloves,20 apply as as clean I should hands often and them rather to wash this, keep you urge your therepeated which thegoodlooks besides moistening please everybody, possible; ofthe totheagility ofthemuscles as a result, tothe is a great and, help strength exercises inviolent never tobecome involved Takecare, hand. however, requiring hand. the useofthe the of developing methods extreme Here we see somepopularand fairly a to with extension and styleof polyphonic necessary cope strength Besard'sstrong with a wide fingerboard. playingon an instrument difrather reflects forfrequent recommendation hand-washing quaintly exercises" "violent ours. from of physical customs ferent By hygiene as we learn meanssuchgentlemanly Besardprobably gamesas fencing, outbythetranslator.2' itis spelled where theIsagoge, from is quite pragmatic discussion Besard's Practice here, techniques. 3) He student. and would strikea familiarnote for any instrumental before and regular recommends goingto "especially practice, frequent but onlywhenone is in the morning," and after bed at night arising forhard in the mood,forthenone can capitalizeon the inclination it is until to stick one the student that He work. suggests composition the whole book or skipping insteadof "running mastered, through the One shouldnotpractice abouthereand there." by "goingthrough
19The instructions in the Thesaurus are for an eight-course lute, as is all the music. 20Original: chyrotecae. 21 "But you must also make sure that you refrainas much as possible fromall such exerciseby which the hands are exercisedtoo much (as forexample fencingor any other such hard work)."

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The Musical Quarterly

compositionfrom beginningto end without repeating anything,"but should "examine each section carefullyand practice it, if necessary repeatingit a thousand times." Obviouslystudents'bad practice habits were much the same in 1617 as theyare now! Practicingby memoryis what is recommended,"for while the mind is intenton investigating its duties." Our on the printedpage the hand is less ready to perform pieces is accepted custom of proceeding from easier to more difficult suggested,but Besard's passage here reveals that this method was not accepted by everyonein his day:
in orderto passages first Though thereare manywho practicethe more difficult forfearthat I do notrecommend thisto beginners have an easiertimewiththerest, to give up the and in consequence such difficulty may cause themto feel disgusted acrossthe neck. stretched frequently

in which at first an easypieceofmusic I should to prescribe instead, prefer, study; doesnothaveto be thefinger there arenotso many . . . , so that [i.e.chords] grifs or changing should notbe many there Alsoin thisfirst complicated composition

cannothave adheredto,thelearner are notstrictly For ifrhythmic changes rhythms. and if he does not have thishe cannotderive of the melody, a good understanding and of all attract - and it is pleasurewhichmustfirst any pleasurefromthe study arousethebeginner.

4) Left-hand techniques.In this section Besard firsttakes up the of runningpassages, includingthose that require movinginto fingering higher positions-i.e. placing the firstfingeracross the second fretor fret ("f") or more (in higher,in order to be able to reach the fifth the Novus partus the twelfth fret,"n," is required at one point). The for passages with low frets followingexamples illustratea) fingering with for high frets(Ex. 2). When (Ex. 1) and b) fingering passages
Ex. 1

a bi

d4 a b


bl d4 a b! d3

a b!d3l b c2d3 a2 d3 a



a c2



frets higherthan "d" are used, and no open stringis required,the first

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Besard The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste


as in Example 2, or across may be placed acrossseveral courses,22 finger the entirefingerboard(Ex. 3).
Ex. 2 h~ f2 01 f2 ha 1 f2 e1




f2 e1

f2 h

01l f2 e1



f2 ha- eh



.h4 h4.Q..





11 d2 f4

d2 e3

1 cl p3 f4


c2 es



o fi c1 I3




_3_4_2_3 4 4 1

chords is handled by dividing The complicated matterof fingering fret ("b"), the this subject into sectionsfor chords containingthe first second fret("c"), and the thirdfret("d"). In each case the fingering, realizaworkedout, is designedto make possiblethe polyphonic carefully tion of the tablature. Besard makes a specific plea for this kind of performanceat the end of this section:
there is nothing more pleasant and tasteful than for the parts which create the harmony to be maintained, keeping a balanced proportion. This cannot be done if since the voice is lost as soon as it ceases to be are removed fromthe strings, the fingers fingered . .. Hold your fingersdown whenever possible, therefore,especially when playing a bass note, which should be held while the other fingersare busy on other strings,until another bass note occurs. Also, hold both bass and treble notes, if possible, while there is motion in the inner voices. If this is impossible, owing to lack of fingers,it is preferable to release the fingerthat is playing the treble note, for it is usually better to lose this voice than the bass . . . In short, consider it as a basic "French: barrie.

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The Musical Quarterly

rule that the fingersought not to be released from the stringsunless necessary.23

Ex. 4

With regard to chords containingthe first that fret,Besard statesfirst, when a chord contains two "b's" on neighboring high courses,the tip of the first should be placed on both "b's" at the same time; if finger occur bass coursesthe whole finger on should be laid they neighboring across the entirefret,or theyshould be played by the first and second between them,they Second, if the two "b's" have open strings fingers. must be played by two fingersrather than one. Third, fingering of these chords should be so planned that a note or notes (other than open strings) that follow can be played withoutremovingthe fingers fora polyphonic sound (Ex. 4; an S fromthe chord-again a provision means that the first must be across the strings). placed finger

c2 ., bi ,.e

b....k 4bbIb hi h

E DJ1 []
d d3 3i a bl "2 bih . .b



- I

In the next set of examples Besard shows us the complicatedacroBesard is carefulto point out here thatit is not appropriateto hold fingers down in running passages ("diminutions") or where improper dissonances would result; here he cites the example of major or minorseconds,xhich, he says,are not allowed to sound simultaneously except "in certain cases, such as at cadences, etc." (obviouslya reference to cadential suspensionfigures). Cf. Mace, Musick's Monument, London, 1676, II, 85, "take notice of This, for a General Rule (both in Lute, and Viol-Play) That you never take up any Stopt Finger, (after you have struck it) till you have some necessaryUse of It or that your holding of it so Stopt, may be inconvenientfor some other performance. ."

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The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste Besard


batics necessary to the fingeringof the early-17th-century chordal cases of chords with the vocabulary.These examples,he says, illustrate first fretfor which there can be no formalrules (Ex. 5).
Ex. 5

d! d31 . d

bi d3 d3

bi -2 d3

Hh 4 d3

bi 1

bi d d Q3 d2 bi S be d3

bi l @4 d2 bi S



d2 bl S blS

c2 03

bi S

bi S

ea S

bi 3 62 s4 S

hi c2

b -e2 d3 S

b1 z2 d4 d3

a bi

d4 a bi 42

h b1 d2 bb S

f l d2

d4 hi a

c3 a a bl,,

rc 2 a





bl "&



I s



Besard then enunciatesthe principlethat chords should be so fingered that single notes beforeor afterthe chords may also be played easily; thus identicalchordsmay be fingered differently, dependingupon what them. precedesor follows In discussing the fret"c," Besard pointsout the differences of opinion on fingering chords that involve two or more "c's" and open strings. As ever, he is courteousto those with whom he disagrees (those who use second and third fingers on two "c's"), while recommending his own method of using first and second fingers for such chords. In this, and in other matters, Besard consistently favois moving up into higher positionswhereverpossible, so that the firstfingeris usually on the

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The Musical Quarterly

Ex. 6

lowest fret called for in a chord, leaving the other fingersfree for higher frets (Ex. 6).


c2 cl

c3 c2 cl

c2 a cl

c3 a b: c2

a a e2c1

bm c2

a a bi 42

a bI c2

c2 d d3 a

d3 b2 d2 4d

c2 d3 c1 a

d3 cl


d a c2

a c



a el d2

c el d2

f dl

f4 r1 d2

1d g4


fI Gl

2 f2 f4

e2 f

d2 M fa3

ci l d2 ar1 cl S f4

Q Eb

8A a



cl S





i A

As for the fret"d," Besard's examples are clearer than his words, and follow the principleshe has laid out before.One point is emphasized,however: thatwhen two "d"'fretsare to be played simultaneously, and . . . the "the 'd' on the lower stringis played by the fourth finger, from It is obvious third the is the finger." 'd' on upper string played by to the his examples that Besard is referring actual, physicalpositionof his "upper string"actuallybeing the lower in pitch (Ex. 7). the strings, for the "b" or in this matterwith fingerings Besard is also consistent to this called attention not had but point (see "c" frets, previously calls as he the "lower them,by Ex. 4). For chords involving letters," which he means those closer to the bridge (higher in termsof pitch on each course,lower physically),Besard advocates the same methods; he states,however,that in most cases these chords will require placing

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Ex. 7

The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste Besard




r a


d3 d3



bl a a


a-Q a


i dl M d dA


l ft

l gi






dl S


f2 dl dl

-gi f2



dl f2

H1 d dl
uel 3

1 1J dl dl
02 fQ

dl f2

1 d! IM dl fi4d3 e2 3 cl br


a [J] b

b l &



[d] blI bl


h3 4


I: , . -. 1_W. ,_LA.

the first across the fret. finger The sectionon the lefthand is closed by a reminder to readersthat when layinga finger across a fret, the gut itself24 should not be touched or the others,as an "unclear and unpleasingsound will by that finger be produced." on the use 5) Right-handtechniques.Besard begins his instructions of the righthand with a vivid description of the way it should be held:
Firstof all, restthe littlefinger on the bellyof the lute,not veryclose to the firmly rose (as they call it), buta little belowit,and extendthethumb withall thestrength of thehand,especially ifyourhand is a little too short. Do thisin sucha waythatthe restof thefingers are carriedbelowthe thumb in the manner This will per. of a fist. at first, and somewhat difficult. Those who have a veryshort thumb haps be a strain while hidingthe thumbunderthe fingers; may imitatethosewho pluck the strings
24 Original:

seu zonas,i.e. the fret itself. ligamina

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The Musical Quarterly

if not an elegant position, it will at least be easier. Having chosen one of these two methods, accustom yourself to plucking the strings, whether one or more, quite stronglyand clearly.25

Two-note chords are to be plucked by the thumb and second finger, freefor the following leaving the first finger note; three-and four-note chordsare to be plucked by threeand fourfingers here the respectively; thumb is included as one of the fingers, unless it has been used just chord fora singlebass note of the same timevalue priorto a three-note reason is (no given for this rule). Chords on more than four courses require that the thumb and index fingers pluck two stringsapiece, ala with the index finger chord alone thoughoccasionallyplucking large is permissible-i.e. arpeggiatingthe chord with one finger.It must be "done properly, and infrequently" fittingly, ('Ex. 8).'2
Ex. 8 Z2 p r. z2 3 Q di d2I

12 3 2. 1 1 ap



3 2iI aI 1 rp ap

62 d


f jp r4 147 ;2 3w



for single notes is dependent upon the time Right-handfingering values to be played: the thumband first are to be used in alternafinger tion, and the gist of the two rules and two exceptionsgiven in the is to be so arranged at considerablelengthis that fingering instructions is available to play the that the thumb (the strongest finger) always accented notes (Ex. 9). in alternation Besard then states that the firstand second fingers may be used in runningpassages on the highercourses (ratherthan the thumband first finger),when the thumbis requiredto play accompanynotes. bass Indeed, "many follow this procedure even outside of ing
25 Scheit, op. cit., p. 104, states that Besard is the only author of this period to describe two possible positions for the righthand. 26 The "p" in the examples signifies pollice, or thumb.

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The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste Besard

X Rx.


eg cil


c d p

1p 1

1 1 p


3 82 cI zp a p c I d3 a2 I rp




P- I


diminutions" [i.e. even in slow passages] so that while the thumb is is given to the hand, busy pluckingsingle bass notes, a greaterfacility and that unseemlymotion of the whole arm, which we cannot guard will be most easilyavoided." Rapid passages withagainst too carefully, out accompanyingbass notes,however,should always be played by the thumb and first finger(Ex. 10). Successive single notes on bass courses should be played by the the fingers thumbalone, unlesstheyare sixteenth notes,when alternating is permitted.28
27 The word "diminutions" has been retained in the translationbecause it implies variations on a basic melody, and this meaning is in accord with much of the music in the Novus partus. 28 Thomas E. Binkley, Le Luth et sa technique,in Jacquot, op. cit., pp. 25-36, sums patterns for rapid passages. The alternation of the up the development of fingering mentioned by Spinacino (Intabolatura de Lauto, I, thumb and index fingerwas first

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Ex. 10

The Musical Quarterly



1 2

dc dca 2 1 2 1 2


21212121212d21212 1

p ap


p [P]

6) Tempo and body carriage. The two short paragraphs in this section constitutenot so much instruction as exhortation.First our teacher begs the beginner,in the interests of accuracy, to play slowly at first, to be extremely carefulto followthe tactus,and to play all the rhythms correctly.
If you are a beginner,.., do not be in a hurryto play more quickly than is rightand proper. I promise you sincerelyand without pretense that nothing is more profitable in this activitythan to be patient and unhurried from the beginning,for it is impossible for you to play your compositions correctlyon firstreading. Do not be eager, therefore,to do more than to play all the chords and interveningnotes well and clearly, even though [you play them] slowly; for after a short time, though you may not expect it, you will be able to play more quickly. You will surely not play accurately unless you become accustomed to doing so from the beginning. This accuracy no one, unless he is averse to reasonable thought,would fail to preferto all speed and unrestrained noise.

Next Besard emphasizesthe need fora relaxed and gracefulappearance

years later by Newsidler (Ein Newgeordnet Kiinstlich LauVenice, 1507), and thirty with the thumb and second fingers, tenbuch,Nuremberg,1536). The alternationof first (English plucking accompanyingbass notes,is mentionedby Le Roy in his instructions translations1568 and 1574). Diana Poulton, La Technique du jeu du luth en France in Jacquot, op. cit., p. 115, states that the second method gradually et en Angleterre, during this period. replaces the first

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The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste Besard


We have, for example, the book by Antonius Franciscus of Paris,2 the Psalmodia by Matthaeus Reymann,30 the two books of Flores musicae by Adrian Densius,31 the Florilegium and Deliciae musicae by Joachim von dem Hoffe,32a man very distinguished in this art, the preludes and fantasias of Joachim, Georg, and Leopold Fuhrmann,33and Martellius,34the Pratum musicum by Emanuel Hadrian,35 and my own 29 Antoine Francisque, La Tr'sor d'Orphie, Paris, 1600. 30Probably Matthaeus Reymann,Cythara sacra, sive psalmodiae Davidis, Cologne, 1613. This was published by Grevenbruch,Besard's publisher for the Thesaurus. Reymann also broughtout an earlier collection, the Noctes musicae, Leipzig, 1598. 31 Adrianus Denss, Florilegium,Cologne, 1594. This is the only publication by this author we know of today. Also printedby Grevenbruch. 32 Joachimvan den Hove, Florida, Utrecht, 1601; Delitiae musicae, Utrecht, 1612. 33 Original: "item eiusdem Joachimi, Georgij, item Lepoldi Fhurmanni [sic]." It seems Who Joachim or Georg, or Joachim Georg, were or was remains a mystery. to Georg Leopold Fuhrmannand his Testudo more than likelythat Besard was referring Gallo-Germanica, Nuremberg,1615. 34Probably Elias Mertel, Hortus musicalis novus, Strasbourg, 1615. 35Emanuel Hadrianus, Pratum musicum,Antwerp, 1584 and 1592; Copenhagen, 1600.

while playing,even to the extentof bindingthe rightarm in such a way that only the fingers appear to move. Here we see a concern with the look of the performer, not merelywith his sound or technique,reflectan in which costume and carriage revealed the rank of a man. ing age Ornaments. Besard 7) completelybegs the question at this point: "If it were possibleto prescribehow to play sweet ornamentsand trills on the lute, I would make some remarksabout this here; since they cannot be explained, however,eitherorally or in writing, it will have to suffice for you to imitate someone who can play them well, or to learn them by yourself." The fine art of improvisation had apparently so strongan influenceas to preventBesard from codifyinghis ornamental technique. Later in the century,as we know, the clavecinists provided lists of ornaments,although they always emphasized their nature. Besard is like them,however,in stressing the need improvisatory for good taste when adding ornaments. 8) Concluding remarks.Besard firstasks the studentto treat this "divine art . . . cultivatedby men of the highestposition" with proper respect.One should tryto learn to play well enough to please others; if, however,one develops professional skill,be sure to charge adequately in ordernot to cheapen the art! He asks teachers forone's performance to be accurate, and to be sure that the studenthas mastered all the beforeallowing him to go ahead (again the good pedafundamentals He finallyexplains that he has not covered the principlesof gogue). intabulation from white notation because there is so much material already available in tablature books:

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Thesaurus harmonicus ...

The Musical Quarterly

These works by different composers should sufficefor our

newstudents until havehad ampletraining and [can]plan independently to they outnewcompositions in lutetablature.3" bring It mightnow be pertinent to observethat Boetticher's briefsummary in Die Musik in Geschichteund Gegenwartof the contentsof Besard's instructions is incorrectin several important respects. According to Boetticher: In hisinstructions for he [Besard] oftoolargea takes playing up theconsequences number ofcourses, canbe overcome which in spreading thefingers only byexercises to thestrings at widefret intervals a across Waissel, (similar 1592);bylaying finger
(French, barree); by avoiding the use of the ring finger (similar to Fuhrmann's table of chords, 1615); by using firmbass slurringin triplets; and by developing the technique of fingerplacement (ability in sliding, length,and agility of each finger)."s

First,the phrase "the consequencesof too large a number of courses" is Boetticher's; nowhere does Besard even imply that the increasing numberof courseson the lute of the period is in any way undesirable. In fact, he speaks favorablyof the larger number of courses in the or courses,unless editionof 1617: "Take a lute with at least ten strings, and in the is one a elsewhere), for (as practice Italy you prefer larger of experiencewill teach us that the closer we come to the perfection of music." Thus the closer we will be to the perfection sweet harmony, the techniques listed by Boetticherto solve a supposedly undesirable problemare given by Besard merelyas methodsfor developinga desirin Besard able agility.Second, I have been unable to findany suggestion for avoiding the ringfinger(third finger)of eitherthe leftor the right but of the righthand is not to pluck the strings, hand; the littlefinger not the is but this of the to reston the belly "Ringfinger," lute, certainly that would tend to solve the problemof an nor is its positionanything increasingnumber of courses. Third, there is no mention whatsoever by Besard of slurring in the bass, nor of triplets (Boetticher's on the left hand "Triolen").38 Fourth, none of Besard's instructions
to above are in French tablature. 36Note that all of the publications referred 1819. 37Boetticher, col. op. cit., 38Slurring,i.e. plucking once for several successive notes, is used in one piece in the Novus partus, the Bergamasco I. B. B .... (fol. M4'), and the sign forthis (~-~) is explained at that point. There is no mention of this technique in the instructions, Diana Poulton, op. cit., p. 118, however,and its use in the Bergamasco is not fortriplets. "L'ancien style,selon lequel chaque de la deuxi6me d6cade says with regard to slurring, du XVIIe siecle, en un stylequi se sert librementdu Slur et du Slide. C'est probablement vers 1617, ou un peu plus tard, qu'on l'introduiten Angleterrepour la premi6re fois." We see, then, that Besard was quite aware of currentdevelopmentsin lute technique in France.

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Besard The Lute Instructions of Jean-Baptiste


mention sliding ability; they do, however, discuss the use of higher positionsfor the left hand, which may be what Boetticheris implying. in the Novus partus that we have just disThe lute instructions cussed are, as Besard himself says, a revisionof those in the Thesaurus. the fact that the Ad artem is approximately five pages longer Despite than the De modo, however,there are fewerbasic changes than one mightexpect. Some of the increasedlengthof the Ad artemis due, for or to the introductory instance,to Besard's addition of subtitles, parawhich his for in he reasons a new edition. explains undertaking graphs frompurelysemanticchangeswhich Most of the increasedlengthresults reflectan attempt to clarifywhat was said (a not always successful Besard suggestsa ten-course attempt,it may be added). Significantly, lute. calls for an eight-course lute in the second edition,while the first towards the general trendof his time Here Besard is certainly reflecting additional bass coursesto increase the harmonicpotentialof the instrumore detailed in his second edition when ment. He is also considerably for left-hand fingerings chords using the "d" fret; for rightcovering of the hand. of chords he aims at greater flexibility hand fingerings to teachersto be as accurate The concludingremarks-the exhortation as possible,and the long listof lute tablaturesavailable-are new to the second edition. and emend If Besard's chiefconcernin the Ad artem was to clarify the De modo, his translator ("I. N.") seems to have been equally and emend the Ad artem.The Isagoge anxious,in the Isagoge, to clarify is considerablylonger than the Ad artem, even when one allows for between Latin and Gothic types,or for a somewhat more differences colloquial manner,e.g. "what cannot be liftedmust be left lying." No new examples are added, however. The major changes occur in the section on right-hand markedly techniques.Here the translatordiffers fromBesard on the positionof the righthand: where Besard says the littlefingershould be placed "on the belly of the lute, not very close to the rose . .. but a littlebelow it," the translator says the littlefinger should be placed "as close as possibleto the bridge." Both positions may be seen in picturesof the period. Also added are explanationsof fingerings dependent upon the rhythmof certain dances, e.g. passamezzo, galliard,or courant,which begin with upbeats (the thumbmust always notationis also of rhythmic be freeto play the downbeat). Clarification There is a ratherlengthynote on provided here, e.g. dotted rhythms. coincide mostof which apparently "Joachimvon den Houe's" fingerings, in truepedagogical fashion withBesard's rules,but some of whichdiffer;

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The Musical Quarterly

in "I. N." takes the opportunity to point out some typographical errors van den Hove. In general, however,the Isagoge is simply a wordier (and occasionallyclearer) versionof the Ad artem.

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