Here you will find more than 8500 lute pieces (64,000 files) in French tablature in the following formats:
fronimo (ft3), from
, midi, TAB, and PDF (which you can read using
(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 in fronimo 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.
The latest fronimo files (since December, 2015) were created with a new version of Fronimo, obtainable now at the
This is a listing by composer, but some items that were under "composers" (like "Bésard") 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 complete fronimo editions of sources, with midi and PDF versions of each.
These are facsimiles, arranged by source (composer, editor, anthologist, or library), document (book or ms), and volume (if more than one volume). They are further broken out by folio or page number, so you can go directly to the location within the document or volume that you want to see.
These are files in the TAB format, where possible, or midi format where not possible.
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. If you don't have a spreadsheet program installed on your computed, you can obtain a free one from "LibreOffice". LibreOffice does what MS Office does, with just a few differences, and it can open MSOffice files.
This is a list of other websites with related information.
08Nov23: I gave up for the time being on the Loss MS, as it was too slow going and required too much creativity on my part to correct the many errors and fill in the missing and indistinct parts. Instead, I have begun working on the Nauclerus MS (c1620). I have done the first 52 pieces, and with the pages I had already done before, I am about 2/3 through the document. Most of the pieces are fairly simple: several passamezzos + galliards and saltaellos. A few vocal intabulations, a GM version of Dowland's Lachrimae.
05Jul23: Did the first 26 pieces from the Johann Joachim Loss Lutebook (c.1610). The original was lost, so all we have is a rather poor grayscale photocopy, probably from the 1940's. Parts of it are very low contrast and hard to read although the handwriting, when you can read it, is fairly clear. Some pages are missing; others are torn at the edges. Also, the central bit of each pair of pages (the "gutter") is not well photographed, although someone has attempted to fill in the missing data with white ink, mostly successfully. The pieces are a mixture of vocal intabulations, fantasies, and dances of good quality, once one has figured them out from the poor copy.
09Jun23: Completed work on a short MS, F-Pn Res F 993 (ca.1605). It's kind of a ratty little MS, but it does have a nice Guédron air de cour: "Mon âme est si fort blessée" which, with the help of a 4-part version provided by Jean-Marie Poirier from F-Pn (ex Pc)/Rés 517 , I was able to cobble together into what I think is a decent piece.
06Jun23: Completed work on the Wyssenbach Lute Book (1550), which is a German tab edition of some of the Italian tab pieces in Milano and Borrono (1546). Unfortunately, I do not yet have access to the facsimile of the latter. Can anyone help with this? The first pieces in Wyssenbach, by Borrono, consist of eight pavanes each followed by three saltarellos. The last two, works by Janequin intabulated brilliantly by Milano, are "Le chant des oiseaux" and "La battaglia".
29May23: Completed Rettenwert MS. A couple of pieces I had to leave unedited, due to lack of bar lines and rhythm flags.
23May23: Another 50 pieces done from Rettenwert MS. As we progress through the ms, both the quality and accuracy of the pieces continues to improve. Because the accuracy is so good, this is a good source for pieces that may not be available elsewhere. #205 appears to be a parody on Dowland's Lady Hunsdon's Puffe. We see a few more pieces in alternate tunings.
17May23: Another 50 pieces done. Similar content. Many by Scribe 2 with improved accuracy. 163. Toccata by M Galilei lacks bar lines and is hard to suss out. Don't know if the lack was intentional or an oversight. Anyone figure this one out?
12May23: Another 50 pieces done from Retterwert lute book. About ½ way, now. Again, mostly courantes. I could almost wish that Louis XIV wasn't so entranced with this dance form, as it would be nice to see more variety.
07May23: 100 pieces of the Retterwert lute book are now done (a third of them). Again, mostly courantes. Some of the pieces are in somewhat bizarre alternate tunings (#s 064-067 and 069-070). Several of the pieces written by Scribe 2 are too messed up, rhythm wise, to make a meaningful playable version (#s 049, 090, and 095). I have left the unedited versions for the brave of heart to work on.
26Apr23: Posted another 34 pieces from Aegidius, containing the usual plethora of courantes, plus galliards and a saltarello. About a third of the pieces are written in French tab by a very careless scribe, (Scribe 2) who often neglected to include rhythm flags and often omitted bar lines as well, making these pieces difficult and sometimes impossible to render into a playable form. In contrast, the other scribe, writing in careful Italian notation, has very few errors. Highlights include a lovely toccata by Lorenzino Tracetti, a more divided version of which exists in Thesaurus Harmonicus. Also a good version of "Semper Dowland, semper dolens" and a very lovely Canzonette.22Apr23: Posted first 27 pieces (of about 300) from the Aegidius of Rettenwert lute ms (ca. 1637). These pieces, written for 10-course ren lute, consist mainly of courantes, voltes, and galliards. Most are of medium difficulty, but a few are more challenging. Among these of particular interest is a highly chromatic anonymous galliard that rivals Dowland's most chromatic pieces. I am indebted to , who took the time to find concordances for these pieces.
20Apr23: Posted BSB mus.ms.2986, which consists on just one piece: an intabulation of Lasso's "Hélas, quel jour", followed by the four-part vocal score as well. The intabulation is clearly a fairly literal one and helps in filling in the needed musica ficta.
16Apr23: Completed BSB 1511d, consisting of 23 pieces, mostly vocal intabulations of chansons, as well as a couple of ricercars, passamezzos and a salterello. As with BSB 1511c, there are very few errors in the ms, and the music is of high quality. There is also a Francesco da Milano recercar (Ness #42), with only a few changes from the one in Milano (1547), and those changes do not appear to be errors, but the lutenist/scribe's idea of improvements.
09Apr23: Posted BSB 1511c. This ms has two scribes, the first rather messy, the second much neater. It appears the scrbe was also the lutenist who used it, as almost all the errors are corrected in the ms. There are 10 pieces, mostly quite long. Most of them are intabulations of motets by Nicolas Gombert and others, but there are a few intabulated chansons thrown in the mix. The pieces are of medium to challenging difficulty.
08Apr23: Posted 07. Bassadanza from the Thibault ms. This is a reconstruction by . As well as sussing out the missing bar lines and rhythm flags, Konstantin also felt that certain sections of the piece needed to be reordered, based on some earlier work on the piece by Crawford Young.
07Apr23:Finished work on BSB 1511b. Similar content, but more of medium difficulty, rather than just simple pieces. Moving on to BSB 1511c.
05Apr32: Completed half of BSB 1511b (37 pieces). These are mostly unica. short and mostly very simple dances in duple and triple time, suitable for a beginner.
31Mar23: Completed work on Pietro Paulo Borrone Intabolatura de Lauto (1563). This source contains 4 suites of Pavane + 3 saltarellos, followed by a fantasia and several vocal intabulations of chansons + a Christmas song:"Noe noe noe". All are of medium difficulty.
12Mar23: Completed work on Melchiore Barberiis Intabolatura di Lauto, v.4 (1546). This consists mainly of vocal intabulations of Antoine de FÃ©vis' Missa Ave Maria, with a couple of fantasias and a duo thrown in. Music is of medium difficulty. There are a few more than average errors. I hope I have done a good job of correcting them.
08Mar23: Completed work on Pietro Paolo Melli Intavolatura di Liuto Attiorbato, v. 4 (1616), carefully and accurately encoded by FranÃ§ois Pizette. It starts with a very beautiful cappricio, followed by 15 graceful correntes in various keys, written for 13-course archlute, though many of the pieces can be played on an 11-course instrument. The book ends with a short suite for three lutes in different tunings and a variety of melody instruments. We omitted this piece, as we thought it unlikely that anyone would be interested in putting together this particular combination of instruments for this one piece.
04Mar23: Apologies. I just moved to a new computer and neglected to make links into the directory hierarchy at lutemusic.org accessible. I believe that issue is now fixed, but please let me know if it isn't.
25Feb23: I decided to spend some considerable time with the Thibault MS, ca. 1505. It is thought to be the earliest known lute MS and represents a style of playing that precedes the publications of Spinacino (1507) and the Capirola MS (1517). It is uniquely challenging because of the absence of bar lines and rhythm notations. It apparently served as a "fake book" for a professional lutenist of the time and contains over 100 pieces. These include barzellette, ode, a calata, two exercises, two chansons, ricercars, religious works, pavanes, etc.
Some important pioneers have worked on this difficult but important ms. These include Genevieve Thibault, HÃ©ctor Sequera, Lewis Jones, Crawford Young, and Konstantin Shchenikov. I have extensively consulted their work in order to come up with editions of 30 of the pieces in the ms. The dance pieces might be scoped out because of their known rhythmic patterns, others from concordances, e.g. in Pesaro. Most of the pieces, however, are accompaniments to vocal pieces with the top line missing, and many of the vocal models are not available, so these cannot really be reconstructed. The barzellette are challenging, in that all the music for the represa is there, but it is up to the editor to decide which parts of the ripresa to use for the mutazione and the volta. It is helpful that all the poetic lines have 8 syllables. There are quite a few more pieces from the MS that might be worked out if one is courageous enough to go there.
05Feb23: I have spent the last month adding to my collection of facsimile files. All these files are already available from various online sources, but the files on my site are organized and edited so as to make them easier to use.
First, the organization: Under composers, I have a limited number of entries, mainly for "complete works" of people like Holborne and Dowland, as well as a whole category of Anonymous composers. Most of the edited editions are contained under sources and the original sources are under facsimiles.
Manuscripts are organized by "library siglum", a standardized abbreviation for the library they are contained in, with 2 fields separated by a hyphen. To the left of the hyphen are one or more upper-case letters designating the country. To the right of the hyphen are one or more capital letters designating the city, followed by one or more lower-case letters designating the library within the city, like RUS-SPan, meaning the Library of the Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Books, on my site, are organized by author or publisher. Documents under facsimiles are organized in sub-directories. Each sub-directory gives a list of pages or folios, with the file names = to page or folio designations. So it is easy to find a location by just clicking on the page or folio number. This is easier than paging through a PDF to find what you are looking for.
I have additionally processed each facsimile page to make it more readable. I have aligned and cropped each page and created a white border around the music. The alignment helps because in reading the music, the eye prefers to move in a horizontal direction rather than on a slant. The cropping improves the signal to noise ratio by eliminating extraneous material from the page. Would you rather work from this page or from this one?The facsimiles I have recently added include:
â€¢ Abondante v.1 1563
â€¢ BecchiA 1568
â€¢ Borrono 1563
â€¢ BSB 1511b, c, and d
â€¢ BSB 2986
â€¢ CZ-Pnm Praha_IV.G.18 Aegidius
â€¢ D-DEi ms.12150 (1580)
â€¢ D-KNh Hochschule fÃ¼r Music und Tanz Musicbibliothek ms.R242 _Elisabeth Romerâ€™s Lute Book
â€¢ D-MU_1439_Schenckinck_ms 1582
â€¢ F-Pn Res VMC ms 127 Caccini Lute ms
â€¢F-Pn National Library_of France RÃ©s. Vmd ms.27:Thibault ms (1510)
â€¢ FevinoA Intabolatura de Lautto v.4 1546
â€¢ GB-Lbl Add Ms 4900
â€¢ Hortus Musareum
â€¢ Carminum pro Testudine 1546
â€¢ Carminum Quae Chely vel Testudine 1547
â€¢ Luculentum Teatrum Musicum 1568
â€¢ Selectissimorum pro Testudine Carminum_Liber_1573
â€¢ PL-Kj J150
â€¢ PL-Kj mus.ms.W510 1570
â€¢ PL-WRk ms 352
â€¢ ReymannM Cythara Sacra 1613
â€¢ ScottoG_Intabolatura de Lauto de Diversi Autori 1563
â€¢ RUS-SPan ms O No.124 Swan MS 1614
â€¢ UA-LVu Krakauer Lautentablature c. 1580
â€¢ US-NHub ms 31 Osborne ms
â€¢ US-NYp Drexel_4175_Ann_Twice_Lute_Book_1650
â€¢ Ghirlanda di Fioretti_1589
â€¢ Canzonette 1591
â€¢ Lodi della Musica 1595
09Jan23: Completed work on the Braye Lutebook This is a collection of 49 pieces, the last 19 or which are written for gittern. If you don't happen to have a gittern, you could play them on a baritone ukulele or the top 4 strings of a guitar (same tuning, different key). They are mostly fairly easy, so might be a good start for someone who wants to ease their way into playing the lute. The other pieces contain very accurate copies of Milano fantasias Ness #2 and 3, as well as a few other excellent fantasias, plus a dump, galliards, and pavanes and a few vocal intabulations, all of medium difficulty. This ms presented a considerable challenge because it had very few bar lines and many mistakes in the rhythm flags as well. Fortunately, the notes themselves are generally accurate, with a few exceptions. I hope I have succeeded in creating a plausible edition of this work.
There is also a list of earlier additions to the website, with commentaries on them.
This is a list of not-so-recent additions to the website, with commentaries on them.
Over the years, I have collected the pieces on this site from the internet or have intabulated 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.
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.