This method is for anyone with musical training and at least some experience with a plucked stringed instrument who might wish to take up studying the theorbo. It is also for lutenists and theorbists of any level who wish to improve their playing. Whilst it is also possible to begin one’s musical life playing the theorbo, it is generally preferable (particularly for children) to begin by playing plucked stringed instrument of smaller dimensions.
During the period of time in which the theorbo was commonly used, the 1600s, no practical method, in a form we might recognise as such today, was written. Among the various manuscripts written for this instrument and compiled during the Baroque era, there are some that contain musical examples that are useful for the study of the instrument (passaggi, cadences, chords and melodic progressions). However, these writings, which are oen anonymous, contain many errors, and sometimes do not approach the subject matter systematically. Furthermore, the musical material contained in these manuscripts is not relevant, and so they cannot be used as study methods for the theorbo as they stand. Apart from these, there is also a certain number of texts on basso continuo playing from the 1600s which are specifically for the theorbo.
The above writings, together with the printed tablatures and musical manuscripts that we will discuss further on, have been used as the working material from which we have drawn inspiration for a progressive and systematic practical method.
Since the beginning of the 20th century a number of practical methods for the lute have been published, but none for the theorbo. This may be justified by the fact that the repertoire for solo lute is much more extensive, but at the same time it is also true that theorbo music has very different characteristics. An autonomous approach to technique, repertoire and basso continuo playing is therefore required. This is, therefore, the first-published practical playing method for the theorbo.
* The Instrument
* The Repertoire
* Tablature and Standard Notation
* Characteristics of Writing in Music for the Theorbo
* General Posture
* Foundations for playing
* One-Octave Scales
* One-Octave Scales with Bordoni
* Reading in Standard Notation
* Two-Note Chords
* Two-Octave Scales
* Mechanical Exercises for the Left Hand
* Scales in Thirds
* Basso Continuo
* Ostinato Bass-Lines
Francesca Torelli was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy. After earning a degree in lute with the highest marks at the Conservatory of Verona under the guidance of Orlando Cristoforetti, she completed her studies with Nigel North at the Guildhall School of Music in London. At the same time, she studied renaissance and baroque singing with Auriol Kimber.
From the beginning, her concert activities have featured the repertoires for voice and lute (singing while accompanying herself on the instrument), as well as the solo repertoire for lute and theorbo and basso continuo.
As a soloist, she has participated in numerous festivals in Europe and Australia. She has collaborated with the orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Vivaldi ensemble of the Solisti Veneti, and with various choirs and chamber orchestras. She has recorded for the labels Dynamic, Stradivarius, Mondo Musica and Nuova Era, with the ensembles Sans souci, Cappella Palatina, Accademia Farnese and the chamber orchestra Offerta Musicale of Venice. She has also recorded for the national Italian radio (RAI Radiotre) and for other radio and television networks throughout Europe. She has provided the music for various theatrical productions and has appeared as a lutenist on television programs for RAI 2, Channel 4, and others. For over a decade she has performed in concert and on disc (for the label Tactus) as theorbist with the ensemble Cappella Artemisia, participating in numerous European festivals.
She has also made two solo recordings (on Tactus) of music for lute and theorbo by Alessandro Piccinini and Pietro Paolo Melli. She has edited publications of music for theorbo (for SPES), and written articles on certain Italian composers for lute for various musical periodicals.
She is the founder and director of the ensemble Scintille di musica with whom she has recorded a CD for EMI Classic: Mantova, la musica alla corte dei Gonzaga, featuring the voice of Angelo Branduardi.
She has taught lute at the conservatories of Bari and Vicenza and has held seminars and master classes at numerous Universities and musical institutions; since 2000 she is professor of lute at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan.