Guitar Duets

These pieces come from a range of sources and include music originally written for keyboard. Some pieces are recast from other people’s versions and I have acknowledged the earlier arrangers.

Anonymous Pieces

Greensleeves Variations [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
From the
Folger Lute Manuscript.

Howell’s Delight; first version
This is an arrangement of an anonymous keyboard piece found originally in a French manuscript (Paris Conservatoire, MS Rés. 1186 bis, Pt. 2, p 29). I have taken it from Ferguson (1971).

I was contacted by Charlie Schultz, a guitarist in the US who had played this piece with his duet partner Liz Summers. He pointed out that the piece can be improved by playing the first guitar part in the second half an octave higher. I've added his version here as an alternative. If you are a member of the Delcamp classical guitar forum you can find a recording of Charlie and Liz playing the piece by searching Howell’s Delight).
Howell’s Delight; second version [PDF] [MIDI] [XML].
(Charlie Schultz’s version)

The Irish Dump [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
This anonymous piece is from the
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (Fuller Maitland & Squire 1963), and a representative of that oddly titled group of pieces the ‘Dumps’.

Lute Duet (Duetto) [PDF] [MIDI] [XML].
This lute duet is found in the source known as the Moscow Weiss Manuscript. This particular piece is probably not by Sylvius Leopold Weiss (Crawford and Rinehart 1995). A number of guitar transcriptions in G exist already, but I decided I would prefer to play it in A, hence this arrangement.

A Merry Mood [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
The second part of this piece is found in the
Sampson Lute Book; the first part was reconstructed by the late Robert Spencer.

Packington’s Pound [PDF] [MIDI] [XML].
This is a well-known renaissance tune (found for example in the Pickering Lute Book) that is frequently arranged for guitar. This duet version comes from the Hoffmann Lute Book and is taken from a version published by the Lute Society (Lute News No. 84, December 2007).

Watkins Ale [PDF] [MIDI] [XML].
This arrangement is derived from a harpsichord piece found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (Fuller Maitland & Squire 1963). A very bawdy set of words was sung to this tune in Elizabethan times!

Hugh Aston (c1485 - 1558)
An English composer who wrote choral music and may have written three (for the time) innovative keyboard pieces, certainly the Hornepype (found in a MS in the British Library) and probably My Lady Careys Dompe and The Short Mesure off my Lady Wynkfyld's Rownde (sic) [More about...... ]


My Lady Carey’s Dompe
[PDF] [MIDI] [XML] (attr.)

My Lady Wynkfyld's Rownde


Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689 – 1755) [See also…]
Boismortier was a French baroque composer of instrumental music, cantatas, opera ballets, and vocal music. Among his works is a set of sonatas for two viols (or bassoons) and this attractive movement is taken from Sonata 4. The piece has been arranged for guitars from an edition by Jen Bundza published on the the Petrucci Music Library site (

Gravement [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]

John Bull (1562 - 1628)
John Bull was a keyboard virtuoso of his time and an important composer of keyboard music (Neighbour & Jeans, 2001). A number of his works are included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.


John Bull’s Jewell [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]

The Duke of Brunswick’s Alman [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]


Robert Carr
Carr was an English musician who may have been a court musician to the monarchs Charles II and James II. He published ‘The Delightful Companion’ a collection of tuneful miniatures, in 1686.

Divisions on an Italian Ground
I adapted this piece (with permission) from a guitar and recorder arrangement by Peter J Billam ( I have posted versions in D minor and E minor.
Divisions in D [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
Divisions in E

John Danyel (1564 - 1626)
The first part of this piece is found in the Sampson Lute Book. A reconstruction of the second part was made by Robert Spencer (who owned the MS until his death) which forms the basis of this version - though alternative reconstructions can be found (from Stuart McCoy, David Miller and Lyle Nordstrom) in the Lute Society edition of Danyel’s lute music (Shepherd, 1998).

Josquin des Pres (c 1450 - 1521)
Josquin was a Franco-Flemish composer one of the most influential of the Renaissance, author of many sacred and secular works.

Allegez Moy
This was originally a choral work for six voices; it was transcribed for lute duet by Richard Yates: I have rearranged it for two guitars. Richard Yates comments “This is a driving, rhythmic piece that is great fun to play. Think of it as heavy metal of the 15th Century!”

Giles Farnaby (1563 - 1640)

Paul’s Wharf [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
This piece is named after a stretch of the River Thames adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral in London where there used to be one of the very many busy wharfs that characterised this stretch of the river. In Farnaby’s time there were at least two other churches nearby - St Peter’s (which burnt down in the Great Fire of London, 1666) and St. Benet’s, which still stands. So it is not surprising that the sound of bells can be imagined in the playing of this piece. From the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Coranto [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
This piece from the
Fitzwilliam Virginal Book has been attributed to Farnaby on the basis of style.

Richard Farnaby (1594-1623)
Richard Farnaby was the son of the better-known musician Giles Farnaby (1563 - 1640). Four pieces by Richard are found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book where most of his father’s virginal pieces are also found.

Fain Would I Wed [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]

William Lawes (1602-1645)
Lawes was an English Composer of both sacred and secular music whose professional life was spent in the service of King Charles I and whose death occurred on active service with the Royalist army during the Civil War. His brother, Henry, was also a successful composer. [More about...... ]

Suite [PDF] [MIDI] [XML]
This suite is Lawes’s only known lute composition and is well-known as a guitar piece in the arrangement by Julian Bream that he and John Williams used to play together. I have chosen to arrange this suite because Bream’s transcription seemed to me unnecessarily difficult to play and I wanted a more straightforward version that I could play more readily.

The piece is found in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford and I used as my source an edition by Lynda Sayce (Sayce, undated) prepared from the manuscript; the order of the movements is as they appear in the MS. According to Sayce the suite is not entirely Lawes’s own work as the first lute part of the Allemande is a solo lute work by René Mesangeau (a French 17th century lutenist) and (though no concordances are known) the first lute parts of both Corants are likely to have started life a solo pieces. This was common practice in the 17th century.

Thomas Mace (c1612 - c1706) Mace spent most of his life in Cambridge and is chiefly remembered for his book Musick’s Monument… , published in 1676. This includes a section entitled The Lute Made Easie that is essentially a lute tutor and includes a set of instructional suites. [More about... ]

The Author's Mistress [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mace
This duet is made (as suggested by Mace himself) by combining the first and second 'lessons' in Sett 1 (the first suite). The ornamentation and dynamics are based on those shown in the original; octave transpositions in the bass have been made throughout to suit the guitar.

Francis Pilkington (c1565 - 1638)
A church musician in the English city of Chester who published lute songs and madrigals. He was also the author of fifteen or so lute solos (Jeffery 1970, Brown 2001) and this lute duet the first part of which is found in the Brogyntyn Lute Book and the second in the Sampson Lute Book

Echo Almain

For more duets see the Lyra Viol pages

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