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Bach's 'Lauten Werck' Author(s): Howard Ferguson Source: Music & Letters, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1967), pp.

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Lautenthat is. Lauten-Clavessinor Lautenclavicymbel: chord. However.44. What exactly was the instrument? Our main source of information is a treatise on organs and other keyboard instruments by Jakob Adlung (I699-1762). not only in tone-quality but also in compass and delicacy". not only because a lute (valued at 21 Rts. 'Musica Mechanica Organoedi' (Berlin. Before pursuing Adlung's description in greater detail. each course below the top two consists of a pair of strings. the lute-harpsiClavier. containing additional notes by Johann Friedrich Agricola (I720-74) who was himself a pupil of Bach.-- 1 fI J r -- 'compass: playing): . 1768).135. In a chapter entitled'VonLautenwerken und Glockenspielen' (Pt. the relevance of which will later become apparent: An 11-courselute. made after his death at Leipzig in I750. and the description. the lowest six tuned as octaves and the remaining three as unisons. / As can be seen. is a characteristic of the Lautenwerk). brief reference should be made to some other relevant sources. Elsewhere the instrument is referred to variously as the arpicordoleutato. 5v. but also because Lautenwerkeof various kinds are described by several writers both before and after this period. such as it is. We know that these were something other than normal lutes. Adlung goes on to say that the Lautenwerkmust not be confused with the lute-stop of a harpsichord. which mentions a keyboard instrument strung with gut instead of wire (this. (Agricola comments drily: "Not everyone will agree with this opinion". 15 I ). the instrument is unnamed. xxv. I33) Adlung begins by describing a normal lute with the following specification. Virdung gives no further details. there were listed among the musical instruments two Lauten Werk[e] valued at 30 Reichstaler each. with 22 strings. and describes it as "the most beautiful of all keyboard instruments after the organ". he adds. as we shall see. might refer to either of two neighbouring woodcuts illustrating respectively a clavicimbalum 259 This content downloaded from 189. The earliest may possibly be Sebastian Virdung's 'Musica getutscht' (Basel.) was included later in the list. "because it imitates the lute. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .226 on Tue. fo. p. tuning: j I H. chap.) It is so named.BACH'S 'LAUTEN WERCK' BY HOWARDFERGUSON IN THEspecificatioofJohann Sebastian Bach's estate. II.

The keyboard was described as being "of 4 octaves". and therefore had what we would now call a compass of three octaves: 26: 260 This content downloaded from 189. 1673) of Hamburg. p. which looked like a normal grand-shaped harpsichord. something after the pattern of the lute (cf. writes because the lower registerssounded and it was named the arpitarrone. in width. pitch LautenClavessin costing 200 Rts.. composer and theorist. added in the bass from C to c"'.226 on Tue. unison registers of gut strings. I718). so we are uncertain whether someis meant or not.44. Though the upward limit of the compass is not specified.wie auch hierzu geh6rigen Kunst. "with a Small Octave of 4 ft.135. Banchieri comments that it was specially useful in concerted music-that is. a Frenchman living in the city. here wrongly engraved with the bass to the right and the treble to the left). I6II).. as a continuo instrument.und Literatur-Geschichten'(Breslau. Venice. pitch Theorbenfligel costing 400 Rts.. Exactly a hundred years thing like a Lautenwerk later the instrument is actually named in Adriano Banchieri's 'L'Organo suonarino' (2nd ed. The smaller of the two types was an 8-ft. Banchieri that a year earlier he had heard in Milan an arpicordo leutato made by Michel de Hodes. by "taking away many upper notes and adding many lower ones".(in this case a small rectangular harpsichord) and a claviciterium (an 'upright' harpsichord. The largerinstrument was a I6-ft. the first example above). which looked like a rectangularharpsichord. It had two 8-ft. with an oval concave resonator fixed beneath the soundboard. In the following century instruments similar to these were made Johann Christoph Fleischer (b. we can deduce that the layout was probably as follows: with two strings tuned an octave apart for each key of the lower two octaves and single strings for the top octave. a Bolognese organist. but internal evidence shows that this meant it included four C's. It sounded so pleasing and so like a lute that he designed for de Hodes a bass version of the instrument.und Medicin. It had 23 white keys and I6 black ones giving a compass of over three octaves: (I567-1634). in imitation of the chitarrone. 57. as we learn by from the 'Bresslauische Sammlung von Natur. 4 ft. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . like a chitarrone and the upper like a harp.

quills. and it has similar keys.". and 4-ft. like Fleischer. (3) They must not come in contact with metal. In the top octave there is only one string and one jack to each key. which alters the tone by means of buffs or dampers pressed against the strings. in the bass.He concentrates on the only ones that he himself has seen: namely. a well-known harpsichord-maker ofJena and a second cousin ofJ. we can now pass on to Adlung's much fuller description of the Lautenwerk.There were three registers. S. hence the tail-end of the instrument is both shorter and blunter than a harpsichord's. in Johann Gottfried Walter's 'Musikalisches Lexikon' (Leipzig. from C tof'. (6) Instead of the usual continuous hitchpin-bridge. the second a gut Octave of "8 ft. of which two were gut and one was wire. shaped like a flattened-S. the specification of a lute. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. stops were drawn together (in conjunction with the 8-ft. sounding an octave lower. wrestpins (i. The specifications of Fleischer's instruments are quoted in shortened form. as of the lute. (2) The strings are generally made of gut. Bach.135. jacks. probably as follows: and the third a wire Little Octave of 4 ft. 261 3 This content downloaded from 189. however. not of wire. 1732). tuning-pins) and soundboard. After this brief glance at the instruments mentioned by some earlier writers. followed by a unison of I6 ft. grand-shaped harpsichord-though also made. sounding an octave above. such as found on some harpsichords. important differences in design that contribute to the lute-like character of the instrument: (I) The compass of the keyboard. is three octaves: (Adlung. (4) They are more equal in length than those of a harpsichord. (5) The lower two-thirds of the compass has two strings to every key. There are. When the i6-ft. The first was a gut I6-ft. above). bell-like sound".e.?) they produced "a delicate. Principal. which also mentions a Lauten-Clavier made by Johann Georg Gleichmann (I685-1770). in the entry under his name. which (as Banchieri noted earlier) was particularly suited to the continuo in chamber music. Each pair of strings is plucked simultaneously by two jacks.226 on Tue. He says that the simplest type looks rather like a other models are single-manual. those made by Johann Nicolaus Bach (1669-1753). The latter was equipped with a harp-stop. one facing to the right and the other to the left. tuned an octave apart in the lowest octave and as unisons in the next (cf. would call this four octaves).44.

piano and pianissimo. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 254. (Johann Mattheson in his 'Critica Musica' [Hamburg.. is produced on the lute by stopping the Gt pair of strings at the first fret on the fingerboard. the quieter the tone. They have no additional registers of strings. matching the fingering of a chromatic scale on the lute. In cannot imitate disadvantage: order to overcome this limitation.135. N. but the individual bridge belonging to it is placed somewhat closer to the player. Gleichmann.there is a separate small bridge for the string or pair of strings belonging to each key. J. the G$ pair of strings is the same overall length as the Gb pair. writes that the Lauten-Clavessin has already been mentioned. made from ebony and boxwood. Bach devised instruments with two or even three keyboards. G. The cost of a three-manual instrument of this design. therefore. for example. ofJ. of the lute than of the harpsichord. more nearly resemble those Lautenwerk. zigzag-fashion in the lower two octaves. 1722-5].)According to Adlung. This method of determining the length and gauge of the strings and the position of the bridges is followed throughout the compass of the Hence the Lautenwerk's individual bridges are placed Lautenwerk. Bach also made larger instruments in imitation of the Theorbo (cf. which i. whose individual length equals the distance between the nut and bridge of the lute. Fleischer's Theorbenflugel). On the Lautenwerk. Thus. The separate bridges are required because the strings of the in length. N. But it has one great it the lute's dynamic gradations. is 60 Rts.44. and in a stepped pattern in the top octave.226 on Tue. G#. The note a semitone higher. could also be played forte. such as are found on harpsichords. the Gf on the bottom line of the bass stave is produced on the lute by a pair of open strings of equal length tuned: Therefore the key for this note on the Lautenwerk plays a similar pair of adjacent strings. gauge and tension.but the jacks belonging to each keyboard are so placed that their quills pluck the strings at a different distance from the wrestpin-bridge: the further they are from the bridge. J. made thus sounds so like a lute Adlung says that a Lautenwerk can deceive even an it that experienced lutenist. so that the distance between it and the wrestpin-bridgeis the same as the distance between the lute's bridge and its first fret. p.J 262 This content downloaded from 189. with an extra octave in the bass and an overall compass of four octaves: 'r.

as already noted with Fleischer's Lauten-Clavessin. one could almost deceive even professional lutenists. when a resonator shaped like the body of a lute is fixed beneath the soundboard. 80 . but in all other respects was similar. that Bach's were two-manual instruments. p. Perhaps we could guess. of small size and restricted compass. Besides this work there are others associated with the lute that might have been included in the repertory. something about the type of Lautenwerk that he possessed. is as given by Adlung. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 139): The author of these notes remembers having seen at Leipzig in about 1740 a Lautenclavicymbel designed by Herr Johann Sebastian Bach and made by Herr Zacharias Hildebrand. such as is found on a harpsichord (see ?56I). together with the cornet-stop [presumably the little 4-ft. P. It had two courses (Chore) of gut strings. No autograph exists. but the contemporary manuscript copy that belonged to Bach's pupil Ludwig Krebs has a title-page which reads: 'Preludio con la Svite / da / Gio: Bast.135. The lowest note used is C below the bass stave. and this. pp.No further details of the specification are given. it does give some idea of the type of instrument designed and owned by Johann Sebastian. and the highest c" on the third space of the treble stave. 385-95). On an instrument with 263 This content downloaded from 189. BWV 996. MS. from a note added by his pupil Agricola to Adlung's book. but with certain differences. Bach. when only one stop was drawn-it sounded more like a theorbo than a lute. Agricola writes (?562. We do know. yet if read in conjunction with what Adlung and the rest have written. something after the following pattern: gutstrings: brass strings: / l Did Bach write any music specially for this instrument of his own designing? The only work about which we can be reasonably certain is the beautiful but little-known suite in E minor. Furtherprecisely the compass of the Lautenwerk more. it seems not unlikely that he would have come across at least those made by his second cousin Johann Nicolaus. and a so-called Little Octave of brass strings. in view of the low valuations in the inventory. Though there is no documentary proof that Johann Sebastian Bach was familiar with any of the instruments so far mentioned. We may wish that this note was more explicit.44. It was smaller in size than a normal harpsichord. brass?]. however. but Adlung remarks in passing that the tone of any Lautenwerkis improved.226 on Tue. the technical difficulty of the Gigue strongly suggests the use of a keyboard instrument rather than a normal lute. Herr [Christian Ernst] Friederici (I709-80) also made similar instruments. But if one drew the lute-stop. as we have seen. / aufs Lauten Werck' (Berlin. Deutsche Staatsbibliothek. In its normal setting-that is.

one could have played the Prelude in C minor. an octave below the bass stave-possibilities suggested by Agricola's remark that with only one stop drawn it sounded other works could have "more like a theorbo than a lute"-two for lutes in the 'Trauerode' the two been played. In conclusion. and Dr. his performance on the Lautenwerk. BWV995. and no surviving specification goes as high as that. which in the very early Peters edition was headed 'Pour le Luth'. whose balance ('Lass. As to the problematic lute suite in C minor. in Fleischer's words. Nigel Fortune for kindly translating for me a page of Banchieri's book. We read that there was "something special in the way of music" during their stay. A less likely possibility is the Prelude. particularly with regard to the proposed specification of Bach's instrument. And secondly. 14 May 2013 15:02:07 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . was "as powerful as three lutes". or with a Lautenwerk which. London I950). and were perhaps even momentarily deceived by. BWV 998. and there is little doubt that a more satisfactory balance would have been achieved with either of these instruments. but 'Organo 6 Cembalo'. besides being introduced to Bach's lute compositions. by the inJohn creased power of the instrument. also listened to. 264 This content downloaded from 189. BWV 997 (ed. Fugue and Allegro in Eb major. which is a lute version of the unaccompanied cello suite in C minor. H. I should like to thank ProfessorThurston Dart for helpful suggestions. maine Seel' '. First. the St. who brought with him the celebrated lutenists Johan Kropfgans and Silvius Leopold Weiss. N. Ferguson. or even a downward extension to Gi. for this work would require an upward extension of the compass to eb on the top space of the treble stave. BWV 999.135. in the year before Agricola's recollection of having seen the instrument-for in that month Bach was visited at Leipzig by his son Wilhelm Friedemann. John Passion.226 on Tue. like the larger type made by J. If Johann Sebastian's instrument had a compass of four octaves. BWv ioII. The manuscript part for this movement is in Bach's own handwriting and is headed not 'Liuto'.44. 198). obbligato BWv noch einen lass Strahl'. An even more interesting possibility would have been the lute obbligato to the bass arioso 'Betrachte. Bach. unless the width of its octave was much smaller than we are used to. as in the copyist's full score. the lay-out of the difficult fugue suggests that this movement at least could not have been intended for a keyboard instrument. Passion like that of would benefit. but. do we know of any particular occasion on which it seems likely that Bach might have used his Lautenwerk? One possibility could be during July 1739-that is. usually printed as No. as I have shown in my edition. 'pour le Luth 6 Cembal'. 31 of the St. Fiirstin. 3 of the 'Twelve Little Preludes' for clavier. arioso. No.the same three-octave compass as the above. not only does it go up to the treble top-line f. Schott. and it is tempting to surmise that the visitors. the suite in G minor.