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Straloch Lute Book, a full transcription.

Updated: May 24, 2020

In May of 2018 I began a project to arrange the Straloch Lute Book for the modern 6 string guitar. In the past I had found a few pieces from the book in standard musical notation, but never a full edition. Shortly after receiving a facsimile of the work I knew instantly that all the pieces were easily accessible on the six string guitar, and better yet, also approachable to many skill levels. The essence of Scottish lute music often lies in its highly pentatonic melodies. My first step in the process was to make sure this aspect of the music did not suffer. Thankfully, nearly all of the melodies in the Straloch Lute Book are in first position on the guitar or lute, and with the standard adjustment of the third string "G," tuned one half step down to "F#," I was in renaissance lute tuning and none of the melodic material suffered. However, this lute book was written in 2 part harmony for a lute of 10 courses and a re-working of the bass lines was necessary to accommodate the guitar

Scottish lute music is often very thin in texture, and compositionally simple. I was left with only a few simple options to accommodate the wider range of the lute while still capturing the essence of the music on the guitar. In most of the music this was often done by lowering the 6th string "E," down one whole step to "D." This was done accommodate the 7th course of a lute. To accommodate the tenth course of the lute I notated it one octave up, to be played on the open fifth string of the guitar, "A." To accommodate the 9th course of the lute I also moved up its note up one octave, to the 2nd fret "B," on the fifth string. To my surprise, very little changes were made, and the integrity of the music remained. Many amateur guitarists shy away from arranging or transcribing lute music, often misunderstanding lute tablature as "to hard to read," and never give the transcription process a fair chance. My thought is that by sharing my process it might inspire students and recreational players to enjoy this process, and to realize how simple it can be. A free PDF of the manuscript available if you email me at What a fun project this has been. (To be noted-- this is the first draft of my arrangement and there may be one or two errant notes in the mix. Hopefully, in time, friends and players can bring these to my attention). Peace, love, and music - Neal.


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