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musical instrument that has a half-pear-shaped body, a fretted neck, and a variable number of strings, which are plucked with the fingers. The long lute, with its neck much longer than its body, seems to have been older than the short lute, existing very early in the Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures, whence the word lute derives. The short lute was known in Spain as early as the 10th cent., having been brought there by Arabs. Its greatest development came in the 15th cent. The lute was the most popular English and European instrument of the Renaissance. During these periods it amassed a vast literature. In the 17th cent. a larger form (the archlute) was developed; it gave rise to the theorbotheorbo
, large lute of the baroque period. It had an extra set of bass strings, not stopped on a fingerboard as the regular set are but plucked as open strings. These made it more suitable for playing baroque music than was the lute. It originated in the late 16th cent.
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 and to the chitarrone, which was supplanted by the Spanish vihuela and the modern guitarguitar,
musical instrument related to the lute, modern guitars normally having six strings that are plucked with the fingers or strummed with a pick. Earlier versions had pairs of strings like the lute.
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. Lute music is notated in tablaturetablature
, in music, a generic system of musical notation indicating actions that the player must take, rather than "representing" the music itself that will result from those actions. Tablatures have been in use in the West since the early 14th cent.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a plucked stringed instrument.

The lute has an oval, convex body, short and wide neck with a pegbox bent back at an angle, and from six to 16 strings (sometimes as many as 24). The upper sounding board is flat and has a large sound hole. The tuning of the strings is based on a system of different sequences of intervals of a fourth and third (depending on the piece being performed).

The lute originated from the Arab-Iranian al’ud (earliest information about which dates from the third to the seventh century), which was introduced in Spain and Sicily at the end of the Middle Ages. From Spain and Sicily a somewhat modified instrument, called a lute, spread to Western European countries, and later to Eastern Europe. The art of lute-playing reached its height in the 16th and 17th centuries. By the middle of the 18th century, the lute had been supplanted by the guitar.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A substance, such as cement or clay, for packing a joint or coating a porous surface to produce imperviousness to gas or liquid.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. A scraper having a straight cutting edge; used to level plastic concrete.
2. A bricklayer’s straightedge used for striking off clay from a brick mold.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


an ancient plucked stringed instrument, consisting of a long fingerboard with frets and gut strings, and a body shaped like a sliced pear


Dentistry a thin layer of cement used to fix a crown or inlay in place on a tooth
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In Renaissance paintings, as Line Pouchard notes, we often find the male lutenist and his instrument depicted amidst a group of musicians in erotic poses, the lute's long phallic neck protruding suggestively: for example, Caravaggio's The Musicians (fig.
Thus the tablature--introduced here as an important new feature of the volume--is unreliable, and lutenists will need to make numerous corrections based on the transcription or the vocal parts (which are comparatively error-free), rather than faithfully following what appears to be the authentic notation.
One of the first problems facing a modern-day lutenist is the relative lack of pedagogic material for the instrument-- the original sources rarely concern themselves with carefully graded material for beginners or intermediate players.
BDECM provides a number of useful appendixes, beginning with succession lists of what contemporary documents often simply called the "Musick," a loosely organized band of lutenists, violists, and keyboard players in the early sixteenth century that grew by the time of the Restoration to five distinct groups: the "Private musick for lutes violls and voices," the "Wind Musick," the trumpeters, the "Drummers and Fifes," and the "Twenty-Four Violins." (See Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers: The Violin at the English court, 1540-1690 [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993].) Then follows a succession list for the Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal (i.e., the adult singers).
That said, Dowland's Italian contemporary Piccinini advises his readers that playing cleanly is the most important skill for a lutenist, and O'Dette's every note is 'like a pearl'.
Instrumental delights include John Dowland's Tarletones Riserrectione, studiously rendered by lutenist Jacob Heringman.
Lutenist is the versatile Elizabeth Kenny, her colours ranging from the spinet to the harp, her solo interludes sometimes evoking the abandoned freedom of the Spanish guitar.
Stuart Button examines the struggles of the famous English lutenist and guitarist Julian Bream at the very outset of his career.
The sensitive playing of organist David Ponsford and lutenist Robin Jeffrey added to the finesse with which Ex Cathedra recreated the distinctively structured works, further enhanced by accomplished soloists from the choir.
The earliest is the work of one of the key figures of sixteenth-century French musical life, the lutenist, composer, courtier, and royal music printer Adrian Le Roy.
Apart from Le Jeune, the musicians most closely associated with Baif were Costeley, the chanson composer, Joachim Thibaut de Courville, a lyre-player and lutenist at the French court, and Jacques Mauduit, a musical polymath about whom we have information from Mersenne and who knew the young Descartes.