The Lute Society: Beginners Lesson 10

Beginners' lesson 10

  • Lesson 10 of our beginners lessons, by Lynda Sayce
  • Piece number 29 from The Lute Society's 58 very easy pieces edition
  • Full copies of the playing editions from which the lessons are taken can be ordered in our catalogue

Right Hand

This short 2-part version of this popular ground presents us with a sprightly tune, and an requirement to deliver crisply defined dotted rhythms. I have marked the right hand index finger dots, which must be scrupulously observed to give the required lightness and accuracy. The remaining treble notes will be taken by the middle finger, usually plucking simultaneously with the thumb. Check your rhythms against a metronome to make sure that a) the second note of each dotted group is not being played early, and b) that the third note of each dotted group is not late. Both problems are common when a player is anxious about tucking in the second note neatly. It can be very helpful to start by practising the tune with only the first and third notes of each dotted group, then dropping in the intervening note when the rhythm is rock solid. Be careful to keep the index finger notes light so that they do not stick out of the texture unduly; the tune will sound laboured if they do. The basic harmonies in this ground are extremely simple and quite repetitive, so work out which of the repeated bass notes are the most important, give these some accent, and lighten off the rest. For example, of the four bass Gs in bar two, I would emphasize the first, and then give a lesser push to the third. The others fall on relatively weak beats, and a gentle aural reminder of the harmony will suffice.

Left Hand

For the left hand, Trenchmore offers a gentle foray up the neck into fourth position, and a stress-free chance to explore some of the higher frets. Follow the printed fingering and you will start in fourth position; the following notes then fall neatly under the hand, with the little finger landing neatly on fret h. Learning 'the hand' of each position is a very useful tool. Knowing the position of the index finger, and feeling secure with the positioning of the rest of the hand, will take most of the uncertainty and fear away from the upper frets. It is much easier and vastly more secure to make a controlled placing of the index finger on fret e than to make a panicky lunge for fret h with one's little finger. The whole of the first line should be played in fourth position, before moving to second position for the second line. Make sure that fingers are placed precisely behind the frets and as close to them as possible. If you land short of a fret, you will have to fret harder in order to achieve a clean note, whereas the lightest touch should be sufficient if the fingers are precisely placed. Remember that the frets get closer together as one moves up the lute's neck, so the reach that covers four frets in second position may take you onto or over the upper fret in fourth position. Do a preliminary reach test before starting the piece, just to get the feel of the position.