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The Weekly Guitar Session

Week Number Thirty Nine -- Updated July 7, 2005

Understanding Lute Tablature &Transcription Basics

Part Three

The day will come when you will hear a piece of music performed on the lute and won't be able to find a guitar transcription. Or maybe you'll realize that what you thought was a good scholarly transcription is actually full of interpretive errors and not in the style of the period the original was written in. Whatever the reason, you will want to take a look at the original lute score. So you schlep down to the music library and find the piece. What? What is this gobbledy gook? It's lute tab and unless you're familiar with at least three different methods of intabulation, you are sunk.

This is the tough one -- German Lute Tabluture:

German lute tablature

German lute tablature is probably the most sophisticated tablature the lutenist will encounter. The system utilized a different Symbol, both letters and numerals, for each fret/string junction on the instrument. Each pitch had its own unique symbol. At first glance the arrangement of the symbols appears without continuity. When laid out in table format though, a pattern is readily noticeable.








It is readily apparent that this system has been modified from an earlier system devised for a five-course instrument. The upper case letters representing the sixth course obscures the linear fashion of the symbols at each fret. minus the sixth course, the open courses run 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 from lowest to highest. The first fret runs a, b, c, d, e from lowest to highest. After the fifth fret, the alphabet has been exhausted, two numerals which cannot be confused with any letter or number previously employed have filled the remaining, holes not covered by the alphabet. The sixth fret resumes with the alphabet with the addition of a line above each letter to differentiate them from those used on frets one through five.
































Back to Part One / Back to Part Two


Next Session: Where the rubber meets the road -- we will begin taking pieces in lute tab and rendering them in standard notation for guitar. How's that?

Feel free to contact us at

Hey, the new album is out! That's right, finally a follow-up to the reissue of my old album from the late 1980's.

Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

Click the image to the left to learn more, hear a few tracks --even get ordering info if you want it!

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Relfecting Pools page on this site or

LOW END What's new with the book that came out over a year ago? After being on back-order at for what seemed like a century, it is my understanding that copies are once again shipping. Barnes and Noble's website is on-again-off-again, but PAB (on Amazon as an authorized vendor) has LOW END in stock and it comes with a CD!

DEEP END, the exciting sequel, is being shopped by my literary agent even as we speak.

The Guitar Sessions:Weekly tech tips and exercises to help the guitarist improve. This feature has really taken off. Each week a new page is posted with either an exercises to get the left and right hands moving more efficiently and effectively or an interesting piece from the standard repertoire , demonstrating a necessary technical ability. Judging by the hits these pages receive, you guitar players love this feature!

The page is updated every Thursday. Visit the 2004 Archive as well!



As a native New Yorker and an American, I am still angered by the cowardly attacks of 9/11. Unless we restore New York City's skyline to its condition prior to September 11th, 2001, the miserable scum who attacked us will have won! Visit and rebuild America!






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