The Lute Society: O Happie Ground

O Happie Ground

This is an edition of treble and ground duets selected from English Renaissance manuscripts. The lute repertoire is rich in these pieces where one instrument plays a harmonic ground to accompany a series of treble divisions. It is widely believed that playing treble and grounds was a common teaching practice in Renaissance times and certainly those manuscripts which are held to have belonged to students do contain quite a number of treble and ground duets.

I believe that playing trebles is a very effective way of improving technique. In consequence, a primary aim of the edition is to present treble and ground duets in ways that both facilitate their use as practice aids and provide a more enjoyable equivalent to the scales and exercises used to improve technique on other instruments. It is important that practice should be a pleasure and not a chore, and the more enjoyable practice can be made, the greater the likelihood that time will be devoted to it. These pieces are not however just practice aids, some are fine compositions in their own right and merit the closest attention. Some of the pieces require virtuoso technique and musicianship to play in performance, but even these can be valuable for practice if a suitably slow tempo is used and in some cases the later, more difficult divisions, are ignored.

The edition is designed to be used with the grounds played by a computer or MIDI file player. Obviously the most enjoyable way to play treble and ground duets is with another musician, but there is a limit to the number of repetitions of the ground to the Queenes Treble that can be endured by an accommodating friend or teacher. Playing trebles with a metronome is an alternative and is certainly effective for improving technique, but it is more enjoyable to play them with the harmonic ground.

Gordon Gregory, Hackney 2009 July

O Happie Ground - the playing edition

The Lute society playing edition of O Happie Ground, which includes printed versions of the trebles and grounds can be purchased from the lute society directly online at the online shop or by contacting the society (see payment)


Free downloads of the grounds for O Happie Ground

Electronic files of the grounds to accompany the trebles can be downloaded below. These can be played on a computer to accompany yourself when practicing the trebles.

The files for the grounds are available for free download as Fronimo .ft3 and .mid

  • Fronimo .ft3 files - allow the ground to be played on a Windows PC using the demo version of Francesco Tribioli's program Fronimo available free at: www.theaterofmusic.com/fronimo/
  • MIDI .mid files - allow the ground to be played on any computer or machine that can play midi files

No. 1 - A Treble [Bergamasca]

  • 6 beat count-in, 4 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 2 - A treble [The Queenes Treble]

  • 6 beat count-in, 14 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 3 - Treble Huntes up

  • 6 beat count-in, 4 repetitions of 16 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 4 - Rogero

  • 7 beat count-in, 5 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 5 - Callinoe

  • 4 beat count-in [compound duple time, 2 bars of 6 quavers], 8 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 6 - [Sellenger's Round]

  • 4 beat count-in [compound duple time, 2 bars of 6 quavers], 3 repetitions of 20 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 7 - A treble [The leaves be green]

  • 5 beat count-in, 10 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 8 - the quadro paving

  • 6 beat count-in, 96 bars [32x2 plus 16x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 9 - the treble to the quadro galyer[d]

  • 5 beat count-in, 2 repetitions of 48 bars [16x2 plus 8x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 10 - the treble to the Spanish Pavinge by Alfonces II

  • 8 beat count-in, 6 repetitions of 16 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 11 - A treble by M Johnson [The Short Almain]

  • 6 beat count-in, 6 repetitions of 16 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 12 - the treble to the [Sharp] pavinge of allasons

  • 8 beat count-in, 72 bars [12x2, 12x2 & 12x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 13 - [The Passamezzo Moderno Galliard]

  • 6 beat count-in, 13 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 14 - [Chi passa]

  • 5 beat count-in, 3 repetitions of 40 bars [8x2 plus 12x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 15 - [The New Hunt is Up]

  • 5 beat count-in, 9 repetitions of 16 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 16 - Spanysh Measurs Treble

  • 5 beat count-in, 4 repetitions of 16 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 17 - The flatt paven

  • 8 beat count-in [1 bar, counting 8 to the bar], 24 bars [4x2, 4x2 & 4x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 18 - Galliard to the flatt paven

  • 6 beat count-in, 48 bars [8x2, 8x2 & 8x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 19 - La veccia

  • 6 beat count-in, [6 beats, counting 8 to the bar], 24 bars [4x2, 4x2 & 4x2]
  • Fronimo and MIDI

No. 20 - grien sliuis

  • 8 beat count-in, 5 repetitions of 8 bars
  • Fronimo and MIDI