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Fretted instruments in traditional music


Lady lutenist Some people think of fretted instruments as newcomers to traditional music in Scotland and Ireland. The tenor banjo and mandolin started to appear around the beginning of the 20th century. The Greek bouzouki appeared in the 1960s, and quickly metamorphized into various types of citterns, blarges, octave mandolins, etc. So it's a common assumption that fretted instruments are somehow not quite as "traditional" as fiddles, flutes, or even accordions.

But interestingly enough, we have documentation that fretted instruments were playing traditional music in Scotland before fiddles and flutes (at least of the modern type) had even been invented!



Available topics:

The Irish banjo
Is the banjo a traditional Irish instrument? Dr. Mick Moloney, noted Irish banjo player and musicologist, tells the history of the Irish banjo.


The Scottish lute
Do fretted instruments belong in the Scottish tradition? Interestingly, one such instrument is found in the earliest records of Scottish music.


The Scottish lute manuscripts
Curious about which tunes were played by those old Scottish lutenists? Check out the contents of the Scottish lute MSS.


Folk music in Scottish society
Some folk music scholars have responded to the Scottish lute tradition by claiming that it was entirely an upper-class avocation unrelated to the "music of the people". Read what some experts think about the role of folk music in 17th and 18th century Scotland.


Scottish lute recordings
Gosh, that stuff about Scottish lute music sounds really interesting. Where could I find some recordings of that stuff?


Other fretted instruments in Scotland
A collection of historical references to other fretted instruments in Scottish and other traditional music.


The English guitar
Did the English play the guitar at all in the centuries before Julian Bream, John Renbourn and Eric Clapton? Yes, they did, but you must keep in mind the changing nature of what a guitar actually is. The main thing to remember is that an "English guitar" isn't a guitar at all. Confused? Luckily, someone has written a book on the subject, in which this interesting story is explained.


The Irish lute
Was the lute played in Ireland? The answer is a very qualified "yes".


Related topics:

guitar rule

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