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Thread: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

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    Registered User misterstormalong's Avatar
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    Default Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Iím entranced by the sound and craftsmanship of Jo Dusepoís instruments (many of which have been featured on this forum) and am particularly interested in the 4c early medieval lute (presumably in GGAAddgg tuning).

    I can understand instruments tuned in Fourth and Fifths, but what is the purpose or advantage of the two strings tuned in Seconds?

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    Jo Dusepo, luthier Dusepo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Just noticed this thread! Thanks for your kind words.
    The second is to have a drone, which works well for medieval repertoire. Personally I prefer to tune that lowest course to a fifth below, for greater range with the same effect, although the drone is then on the D (or equivalent second course). Such tuinings were commonly used until the 5 course lute came along, at which point the standard lute tuning (fourths and a third) became standard.
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by misterstormalong View Post
    I’m entranced by the sound and craftsmanship of Jo Dusepo’s instruments (many of which have been featured on this forum) and am particularly interested in the 4c early medieval lute (presumably in GGAAddgg tuning).

    I can understand instruments tuned in Fourth and Fifths, but what is the purpose or advantage of the two strings tuned in Seconds?

    Rik
    Coming from both an Early music and Middle Eastern music POV, the whole step is there as a part of an oud tuning. A typical 5 course oud was often tuned EADGC or GADGC.

    So your tuning is missing the top C string, so to speak.

    The low strings are tuned to be useful depending on the maqam and the tonic.

    Frankly I'd tune a 4 string lute in all 4ths, like ADGC, and with GDGC, GDGD, ADAD, etc. as alternatives.

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    Jo Dusepo, luthier Dusepo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Coming from both an Early music and Middle Eastern music POV, the whole step is there as a part of an oud tuning. A typical 5 course oud was often tuned EADGC or GADGC.

    So your tuning is missing the top C string, so to speak.

    The low strings are tuned to be useful depending on the maqam and the tonic.

    Frankly I'd tune a 4 string lute in all 4ths, like ADGC, and with GDGC, GDGD, ADAD, etc. as alternatives.
    All fourths was also a historically used tuning. The oud similarity makes sense since the lute came from the oud.
    I am a luthier specialising in historical and world stringed instruments. You can see more info at my website.

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Since my original post I've attempted a lot of research and indulged in a lot of speculation, but I still have more questions than answers!

    I'm very grateful for the replies but I remain confused about tunings and drones.

    I've seen an instructional video on how to create a drone on the Oud but this seemed separate to playing melody. Is it suggested the Lute might have been played like this?

    In terms of Western music I would think of a drone as an open, adjacent string as on the mandolin. For playing in that fashion an all-Fourths tuning seems preferable.

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by misterstormalong View Post
    Since my original post I've attempted a lot of research and indulged in a lot of speculation, but I still have more questions than answers!

    I'm very grateful for the replies but I remain confused about tunings and drones.

    I've seen an instructional video on how to create a drone on the Oud but this seemed separate to playing melody. Is it suggested the Lute might have been played like this?

    In terms of Western music I would think of a drone as an open, adjacent string as on the mandolin. For playing in that fashion an all-Fourths tuning seems preferable.

    Rik
    A drone string can be any string that is used as a fixed pitch - some Indian instruments have chikari strings which are high-pitched drones often played rhythmically.

    On many Middle Eastern instruments, the drone is created by hitting the drone string and simultaneously playing melodies on other strings. The drone is often a lower string, but a good oud player can also use a high string as a drone and play the melody under the reference pitch. On certain instrument, particularly in the long neck lute family, the melody is played on a high string while simultaneously hitting an open drone string.

    Many Western music scholars think that European musicians in the Middle Ages used many if not all of the techniques that were developed in Persia, Syria, Egypt, etc.

    I won't try to settle the whole issue of tunings and drones; I will make an example of oud tunings.

    All ouds are tuned so that the main playing strings are in 4ths. However, the low strings (and in one older version the first string is the lowest pitch) are often retuned to match the maqam and tonic.

    For example, when I learned Arabic oud, the common tuning was low to high, DGADGC.

    The ADGC 4ths were constant. The low courses were variable:

    CGADGC was used for maqamat in the key of C

    CFADGC was used for maqamat in C and F - but has for a while been the default tuning of most Arabic oud players not using a high F string.

    DEADGC was used for maqamat in E and A.

    Some players dropped the lowest course and added a higher one:

    CFADGC is a common modern "high pitch" tuning.

    Turkish players often tuned a step up...or a 4th down...or whatever. Even many Arabic players kept the same intervals but would tune to a low pitch. Many of Farid el Atrache's solos were tuned down a step or so.

    One other tuning used by many Turkish classical players and some Arabic players is all 4ths:

    BEADGC in Arabic tuning, C#F#BEAD for Turkish. The Turks also write their music so that it is transposed - the C#F#BEAD tuning is written as F#BEADG. To complicate the matter, a few Turkish players actually tuned to F#BEADG.

    There's a lot more to this, but you might get a better idea of what's going on with tunings and drones from this info.

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    Registered User misterstormalong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    David

    Thank you very much for all this information and the leads. I can see my best way forward will be to learn more about the Oud.

    I see there is a lot of choice about tuning and I think I would now choose some combination of Fourth and Fifth intervals rather than GAdg or all Fourths.

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Is the Medieval lute played with your fingers or a pick? If fingers, then it shouldn't be a problem that the drone strings are next to each other. The thumb of the right hand would pick the necessary string.
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Following the Oud, the Mediaeval Lute is played with a long pick called a Risha. The drone notes need to be on adjacent strings and, I assume, Tonics, Fourths and Fifths of the key you are in. Jo uses DAdg which coincides with DADGAD guitar tuning and should have plenty of drone potential.

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    I don't know precisely what you have in mind, but drones on oud are typically on the lower courses (both 'open' as well as 'fingered'/stopped).

    Also, you can play 'fingerstyle' with a more 'guitaristic' approach -




    Although DL's oud is A/E and processed electrically, a traditional acoustic oud does have a natural sustain and resonance conducive to 'drone' + melody style playing (compared with, say, mandolin).

    FWIW, tuning pegs are a vital concern on ouds/lutes. You'll need an instrument with good fitting/functioning pegs. Dave L suggests beginners go with an oud with machined tuners - to eliminate the difficulties often encountered with lower-priced instruments.

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  21. #11
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by ondrej View Post
    Is the Medieval lute played with your fingers or a pick? If fingers, then it shouldn't be a problem that the drone strings are next to each other. The thumb of the right hand would pick the necessary string.
    Medieval lute was plectrum plucked, Renaissance lute with the fingers.

    Quote Originally Posted by misterstormalong View Post
    Following the Oud, the Mediaeval Lute is played with a long pick called a Risha. The drone notes need to be on adjacent strings and, I assume, Tonics, Fourths and Fifths of the key you are in. Jo uses DAdg which coincides with DADGAD guitar tuning and should have plenty of drone potential.

    Rik
    In Arabic the oud pick is called a risha; in Turkish it's a mezrab.

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    FWIW, tuning pegs are a vital concern on ouds/lutes. You'll need an instrument with good fitting/functioning pegs. Dave L suggests beginners go with an oud with machined tuners - to eliminate the difficulties often encountered with lower-priced instruments.
    Actually I've met and talked with Lindley about ouds and sazes.

    I do NOT think that modern tuners are a necessity on an oud, well fitted pegs work very well. He's right about avoiding the lowest grade of ouds, although many makers have some reasonably priced "student" models.

    DAdg is the standard tuning of the Berber mandol, a 4 course bouzouki-like instrument played in North Africa.

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Various tunings have been suggested.

    I like the idea of DAdg (Fifth, Fourth, Fourth intervals) or equivalent, because if you are playing in D every open string is a Tonic, Fourth or Fifth and you could bring in the top or bottom strings as a drone.

    If you tune to all Fourths you end up with open strings that are a Third (too modern?) and a Seventh (too bluesy?).

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by misterstormalong View Post
    Various tunings have been suggested.

    I like the idea of DAdg (Fifth, Fourth, Fourth intervals) or equivalent, because if you are playing in D every open string is a Tonic, Fourth or Fifth and you could bring in the top or bottom strings as a drone.

    If you tune to all Fourths you end up with open strings that are a Third (too modern?) and a Seventh (too bluesy?).

    Rik
    I may have mentioned this, but many modern classical oud players like Necati Celik tune in all 4ths very often.

    http://www.daviderath.com/oud/tuning-notation

    " Another somewhat common Turkish tuning used by Necati Celik and his students, is 'B, F#, B, e, a, d'."

    "'C#, F#, B, e, a, d' for Turkish tuning is all in fourths. This is probably the easiest tuning for beginners, because movement from string to string is exactly the same on the entire oud....."

    and an alternate tuning:

    "'B, F#, B, e, a, d' is the tuning preferred by Necati Celik and his students. Why? Because he and his students transpose their playing a fourth lower (Kiz "tuning", in order to easily play with Turkish ney/flute players). So when most people would start a makam on the 'e', they would start on the 'B' instead. This tuning gives you the biggest range on your oud,"
    'B, F#, B, e, a, d' is the tuning preferred by Necati Celik and his students. Why? Because he and his students transpose their playing a fourth lower (Kiz "tuning", in order to easily play with Turkish ney/flute players). So when most people would start a makam on the 'e', they would start on the 'B' instead. This tuning gives you the biggest range on your oud"

    Another article:

    http://www.oudcafe.com/stringing_and_tuning.htm

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  27. #14

    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I do NOT think that modern tuners are a necessity on an oud..
    I doubt anyone would think it's a 'necessity' - only a convenience (as with flamenco guitar, for example). But since we're debating it, I guess I'll mention that I wouldn't opt for it unless it's an A/E instrument that you plan to use plugged in (as the extra weight impacts the overall resonance of traditional oud construction).

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  29. #15
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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    I doubt anyone would think it's a 'necessity' - only a convenience (as with flamenco guitar, for example). But since we're debating it, I guess I'll mention that I wouldn't opt for it unless it's an A/E instrument that you plan to use plugged in (as the extra weight impacts the overall resonance of traditional oud construction).
    I have played both ouds and sazes with mechanical tuners; they are OK but no better than well fitted pegs.

    The Wittner pegs do work well, and they offer them for folk instruments too:

    https://wittner-gmbh.de/feinstimmwirbel_e.html

    https://wittner-gmbh.de/wittner_fine...struments.html

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    Default Re: Early Medieval Lute GGAAddgg

    Ya, I mentioned it as an alternative to the poorly fitted pegs often occurring on entry-level instruments; mech tuners solve that issue.

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