Music Well – Dosia McKay, Composer, Painter, Writer

Reflections on Art and Life

Writing for Baroque Lute

lutegridYou might remember me mentioning that I am writing a piece for a lutenist Will Tocaben. This is the first time I have written anything for a string (strummed) instrument and it is truly humbling. I have prepared a grid to reflect the notes on the fret board and the open strings so I can reference back and forth while I’m writing.

My progress has been slow as the Baroque lute presents a series of constraints. My typical dialog with myself has been following along these lines recently:

“Can I do this? No I can’t, that note is too far down on the neck. Can I do that? No, Will doesn’t have seven fingers. Can I modulate to this key? No, it will be out of tune. Can I write this chord? No, these strings are already ringing.”

But I was able to shape several interesting melodic and harmonic gestures and I am excited about the piece slowly coming to life.


One comment on “Writing for Baroque Lute

  1. MacTalisker
    June 13, 2013

    You must think like Beethoven, write the music you hear and the musicians will respond to you. Don’t over analyze a fretted string instrument, the players are amazing and can shift registers to make it all work. And if it doesn’t work they will suggest how to make your idea work on the instrument.

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