Taro Takeuchi has been doing research on the Regency lute and its music. He recently recorded a CD using a rare original Regency lute by Buchinger belonging to the Butcher Row House Museum in Ledbury, and now he is writing an article on this subject. In this article, extant instruments, the original sources, the repertory and the playing technique are discussed in detail, contributing to a re-discovery of the forgotten lute and its music in the Regency period.
The Buchinger instrument from Ledbury’s Butcher Row House Museum
Around 1800, the instrument called ‘lute’ or ‘modern lute’ gained popularity for a short period of time. The typical instrument had an egg-shaped body with 10 single gut strings. The most prominent London craftsmen building them were Buchinger, Barry and Harley. Additionally, older lutes from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were converted into modern lutes.
The ‘natural scale’ of the modern lute
For the Regency lute, several major instruction/music books were published in the early 1800s in London as well as some individual pieces. Many of these works were arrangements of contemporary popular tunes and dances. However, there were also a number of unique and creative pieces, such as sonatas, rondos and lute songs.
Taro Takeuchi recording on the Ledbury instrument
Christopher Page’s new monograph: The Guitar in Tudor England: a social and musical history, was described as ‘impeccably conceived, comprehensively researched and exquisitely written’ by John Milsom in his book review ‘Tudor books and guitars’ in Early Music, May 2016.
A review of the same tome in the North American journal Soundboard Scholar read: ‘What Christopher Page has penned […] is an elegant amalgam of social history and musicology mainly in one country. He makes creative and meticulous use of a wealth of the available research materials, many of them unique to England. He writes with elegance and insight, and provides an exhaustive bibliography. For anyone interested in building a library on the history of the guitar, this should be the essential first volume.’ Richard Long, Soundboard Scholar Volume 2, 2016.
We are delighted to announce that Brian Whitehouse has agreed to become the patron of the Consortium. Brian is director of the Classical Guitar Centre in Birmingham. He has had a long teaching career, having held appointments in the music departments at many of England’s universities and colleges. Recent publications are The Ramirez Collection – History and Romance of the Spanish Guitar and The Tárrega-Leckie Guitar Manuscripts – Lessons with the Maestro. Currently in preparation is a further book and recordings relevant to Tárrega and Dr Leckie.
Brian Whitehouse with Andres Segovia in 1986.
To commemorate the sad loss of Andrew Britton, the members of the Consortium agreed to create an Andrew Britton Fellowship, the holder to be a young scholar working in the Consortiums field of interest and to have all accommodation and meals paid for attendance at the biennial colloquium. We are delighted to report that the first holder of the Fellowship was Dr. Vinciane Trancart of the University of Grenoble. Her 2014 Ph.D. (Foreign Languages and Literatures, La Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) was entitled “Harmony and Disharmony. Guitar Practices and Representations in Madrid and Andalusia from 1883 to 1922”. We were delighted to welcome Vinciane to the conference where she read an excellent paper. Details on the colloquium page.
The Fellowship for the 2018 Colloquium will be advertised in due course.
Dr. Vinciane Trancart
The 2016 biennial conference of the Guitar Consortium was held in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from the 10-13 April, and was a great success. For the papers presented see the Colloquia page. Those attending were Thomas Heck, Jelma van Amersfoort, Brian Jeffery (Honorary Member), Gerhard Penn, Christopher Page, Panagiotis Pouloupolos, Richard Savino, Luis Briso de Montiano y Ruiz de la Sierra, Paul Sparks, Erik Stenstadvold, Taro Takeuchi, Vinciane Trancart (2016 Andrew Britton Fellow) Ulrich Wedemeier and James Westbrook.
At the business meeting which closed the conference, Gerhard Penn and Luis Briso de Montiano y Ruiz de la Sierra were unanimously elected as Ordinary Members.
Plans for publication of selected papers are afoot.
During 2016, Paul Sparks will be setting up a web site devoted to the life and music of Clara Ross (later Ross-Ricci, 1858-1954), a pioneering British female composer of music for mandolin and guitar, and leader of “Miss Clara Ross’ Ladies Mandoline and Guitar Band” during the 1890s. The site will include biographical information about the composer, a history of “ladies mandolin and guitar bands” in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, and free downloads and recordings of Clara’s instrumental music for mandolin and guitar (and for mandolin and piano), as well as her songs for female voices with piano.
Dr James Westbrook has received the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award for Organology given by the Musicians’ Company. This biannual research prize of £1,200, is to assist further research into x-braced guitars by the Roudhloff Brothers and to make a replica instrument.
James receiving the award from the Master, Andrew Morris, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London (photo: Peter Holland)
Arnold Myers, the Chairman of the judges said: “I am delighted that this year’s winner James Westbrook has been awarded the prize. Undoubtedly Terence Pamplin, in whose memory this award is made, would have approved. It is good to see that Cambridge is encouraging organological research and the award for the first time has gone to someone from other than London and Edinburgh.”
James received the cheque, and certificate, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London.