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Solo Music

This is the most extensive section of the website. Much of the music I have arranged is English (and Scottish) renaissance music from the ‘Golden Age’ of lute music in this country associated with the popularity of the instrument at the English and Scottish royal courts and among the nobilty. The height of this popularity was between (approximately) 1540 and 1650 - especially during the reigns of Henry VIII (1509 - 1547), Edward VI (1547 - 1553), Mary Tudor (1553 - 1558) and Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603) in England; and the reigns of James V (1513 - 1542), Mary Stewart (1543 - 1567) and James VI (1567 - 1625) in Scotland - continuing to some extent in James VI’s subsequent reign as James I of England (1603 - 1625). Music printing came late to the British Isles, and nearly all of this music is to be found in manuscript sources of which there are 50 or so that survive to the present day containing 2 - 3,000 separate pieces. Much of the music in these sources is unattributed and there are many pieces where the attribution to a particular composer is unclear, but there seem to have have been about 10 musicians responsible for the bulk of the pieces with known composers and a long list of lesser names responsible for a few pieces. (I have written on this topic in an essay entitled Attribution in Golden Age English Lute Music.)

The ‘golden age’ tradition continued during the first part of the seventeenth century, though lute music in England became increasingly influenced by French styles and there was also a gradual decline in the popularity of the instrument. Nevertheless there is a considerable amount of interesting seventeenth century English lute music to be found and I hope to be able to arrange more of this. Currently the later golden age English style is represented here by Cuthbert Hely and John Wilson.

I have also arranged a number of pieces from continental sources. Many of these are later than the English pieces. There are early sources from all over Europe but with progression towards Baroque styles in the seventeenth century France and Germany became the main centres of innovation in lute music, with the popularity of the lute persisting in Germany well into the eighteenth century.

The seventeenth century is marked by the transition in lute tuning from renaissance tuning (viel ton) through a number of transitional tunings to baroque tuning, later lutes usually having more bass courses (so that Sylvius Weiss, the last of the great German lutenists, used instruments with as many as 13 courses). Pieces written in baroque tuning for these larger instruments often pose a considerable challenge to the arranger!

There is a fascinating and very detailed account of the history of the lute in Great Britain in Spring (2001), and a beautiful illustrated account of the lute in Europe in Schlegel (2006).

I have also included, throughout this site, music originally written for some other instruments including the harpsichord and the lyra viol.

Grading
I have had requests to grade the pieces by difficulty. For the solo pieces at least I have started adopting a 01 - 10 scale similar to that used on the Delcamp Guitar Forum* This aligns more or less with other gradings such as the 1- 8 grades of the UK Trinity College of Music though, of course, all gradings are pretty subjective and can only be a general guide. 

*which all classical guitarists should join!

Welcome…

...to Guitar Loot

Here you will find my arrangements of music for the Classical Guitar. Most pieces are from the Renaissance and Baroque eras and were written for the lute or related instruments such as the bandora, baroque guitar or lyra viol, plus a few pieces from keyboard sources.

All the music is free to download and you may use the arrangements in any way you like. But please acknowledge me as the source if you play any of this music in public or use it as the basis for your own arrangements. (A 'plug' for this web site would be welcome too!)

Some of this music is taken from facsimiles of the original manuscripts or printed sources, some is derived from modern tablature versions and some from previous arrangements (for guitar or other instruments). I aim to use the original source where possible, and for this reason some arrangements get modified as I learn more about the original music. As far as I can I will give details of these sources and comment on the alterations I have made to the music in the course of the arranging process. I have included notes about the music and its sources and I will also add to these as I come across new information.

Most of the music is for solo guitar, but there is a section for duets and other ensemble pieces; and I have included some pieces in lute tablature, where there is a particular reason to do so. My aim is to make available music that I haven’t found published elsewhere in guitar arrangement or where existing arrangements are (in my view) unsatisfactory or sometimes where I just want to provide a different version of a piece.

All the music files are available in PDF format. Originally I also posted Scorch files. These can be displayed with the Scorch plug-in (more about Scorch here) which allows playback of the music and download as a Sibelius file. However I am abandoning Scorch in favour of posting MIDI and Music XML files* as a way of making the music files more available. I use Sibelius (currently at version 7.5) to make arrangements and I am happy to make the original files available or send files in other formats (use the Contact Me button in the footer of any page). Increasingly I am publishing the PDFs in iPad-friendly format so they can be displayed on the iPad in apps such as forScore (which is the one I use).

I have posted some arrangements with fingering but currently most are without. I have received feedback requesting unfingered versions, suggesting that guitarists may usually prefer to work out their own fingering. I hope in the long run to be able to make both fingered and unfingered versions available where the fingering is tricky. If you want to suggest improvements to any of the arrangements or if you have any other comments to make about the content of the site please contact me.

I have posted a few of the John Wilson preludes in lute tablature. I'm planning (eventually) to do more of this set (and to revise the appearance of the tablature now that I understand better how to do tablature in Sibelius) as these are only readily available in facsimile (which I find difficult to read). As mentioned above I hope to do some other lute versions, but only where the originals are difficult to find or problematic as there are numerous other sites providing lute editions (see Lute Links)

Use the links at the head of each page to get around and you will also find all the music listed in the Music Indexes

If you like this site, keep your eye on it; I will be continuing to add pieces and I will revise arrangements where I find errors in them or think of improvements. 

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*The XML files are in the MXL (compressed XML) format. Click on an MXL link and your browser should download the file, but it will probably also open the XML file in a new page. You can also save this page as an XML file. Either of these files should open in music programs that can read XML.

 ©2003-2019 Eric Crouch: you can use anything you find here, but please mention this site if you do.      [Contact Me]