16th Century Lute Intabulations. An Attempt to Define a Concept and a Notion

This publication is focused on a musical phenomenon that plays a crucial role in the music history of the 16th century – transcriptions of already existing music for a multi-phonic instrument. This study examines anew the narrow formulation of the term intabulation, from the second half of the 20th century, and based on musical practice and literature of the 16th century, attempts to reach its original meaning. This is being derived by means of Adrian le Roy’s Lute instruction (1574) and the Fronimo Dialogo treatise by Vincenzo Galilei (1584) in relation to technical means of arranging a multi-voiced composition in order for it to be played on a lute. This article tries to situate this specific process within the bigger picture of music creation of the époque and to show how improvised counterpoint, compositio and diminution of a particular musical structure lead into the new trend, called intabulation, thus preparing and developing an enclosed instrumental music thinking.


Keywords: Renaissance music, intabulation, lute, tablature