The Celtic Lute

July 27, 2018

The Celtic Lute is the result of my 40 year love affair with Celtic music. I’m an enthusiastic fan of Celtic bands and musicians; some favorites are The Bothy Band, The Chieftains, De Danann, the Battlefield Band, Kevin Burke, Alasdair Frasier, Julie Fowlis and many, many more. I’ve enjoyed playing Scottish music on the lute since the 1980s, and there’s a repertory of hundreds of Scottish tunes for the lute from the 17th century.

Many of those tunes did not originate as lute music, but lute players some 400 years ago may have liked one or another Scottish melody well enough to make an arrangement for the lute and write it down. So, following in the footsteps of these musicians from centuries ago, I’ve made arrangements of my favorite Scottish and Irish tunes that were never arranged for the lute back in the day.

Many of these tunes are difficult to date with any precision, but most seem to come from the 17th and 18th centuries. I’ve played them on a 13-course Baroque lute in d minor tuning since this was the lute of the 18th century and the music fits this lute and this tuning very well. I’m particularly pleased with how naturally the music of Turlough O’Carolan, originally written for Celtic harp, fits the Baroque lute.