Lutefest 2023 – Saturday Schedule


John Griffiths

The Vihuela Today: Instruments, Repertoire and Performance Practice Today

This will be a talk to bring up-to-date the things that I have written about in previous years such as my JLSA article “At court and at home…” and my chapter in Victor Coelho’s book on lute, vihuela and guitar performance. It will also include something of a guided tour of my online database


Christopher Morrongiello

Invention, Association, Evocation: Italian and English Settings of the Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Mi Figure

One measure of a composer’s skill during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was his or her ability to set figures that conjured up familiar musical or extra-musical ideas. These musico-rhetorical figures (to evoke the language of Henry Peacham and Francis Bacon) drew upon associations shared by musicians and audiences alike, similar to the way in which jazz and blues players today evoke snatches of familiar tunes when improvising. One such figure beloved by leading composers of the Renaissance and Baroque periods was Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Mi. This  series of four ascending notes followed by a descending semitone was skillfully set in many of their best compositions. In his famous madrigal “Il bianco e dolce cigno,” Jacques Arcadelt expresses the words “cantando more” with this figure. John Dowland employs the figure in the final strain of his exquisite funeral pavan dedicated to Sir Henry Unton, as if to push the soul onward toward the Elysian Fields. Palestrina sets a variant of the figure at the beginning of his madrigal “Io son ferito, ahi lasso.” Dr. Morrongiello will share his research on the significance and use of this figure, what creative and technical lengths composers and lutenists went through to set it in their vocal and instrumental compositions, and what potentially the figure could have meant to well-informed listeners of the time.