The oud was introduced into Europe by the Moors during their occupation and
conquest of Spain ( around 711). The history of the oud is ancient,
going back far beyond written history that currently exists. Through
the crusades and trade, the oud was spread throughout Europe, and it
was adopted as an instrument by the Europeans. Frets were added and
eventually the strings were doubled. It became known as the Lute.
1200, you can see paintings and sculptures of Europeans playing the
lute, and by 1400 the players had adopted a standard tuning. The Lute
is built with only with wood and glue, there are no nails or screws
used in construction. It is the First Instrument for which we find a
large quantity of written music. It was a very respected musical
instrument of it's time, and probably the most popular string
instrument of the renaissance. There was more music written for the
lute than any other instrument in the renaissance.
14th Century a stable tuning and design appear. It was smaller than the
lute pictured here. It had 4 sets of strings, and played with a
One method of tuning was to tighten the first
string until just before it breaks. At first the lute was played with a
plectrum, as was the oud. As the music became more complex, the lute
was played with the fingers. The construction and the strings are very
light. Much lighter than the guitar.
Tablature was the early
music notation used by the lute and many other instruments of the
renaissance. There were many different type: English, French, Italian,
Spanish and German. French used letters to show the player where to put
the fingers on the instrument, Italian used numbers.
and 17th Century was the golden age of the lute. A tremendous amount of
music was composed and published. Professional lutenists were in demand
by those that could afford it and musicians were well paid. During the
Renaissance the lute occupied a special place that was only superseded
by the human voice. It was the most popular instrument of it's time,
and its repertoire was enormous.