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part     1    Miles Dempster
part     2    Tom Sellari
part     3    Terry Muska
part     4    Ed Durbrow
part     5    Tony Chalkley
part     6    Miles Dempster
part      7    Jason Yoshida
February 25th, 2007

ED: How did the tour with Emma happen?

JL: Well Emma and I have given concerts for many years and Ogawa-san of Allegro Music, he knows me, he knows Emma separately, said one of the women who works for him came to Europe and heard us play together. And she said to him, " We must have those two together here". So when I was here last year to do the concerts, which I think you came to, with Musik Armane, he asked me would I like to do a tour with Emma. So although we've played with each other for some years, Ogawa asked us to do this tour together and in fact he's asked us back again in 2009 so we'll do another tour and...

ED: It was a hit!

JL: Yes, I think he was very happy.
February 27th, 2007
part 1 Miles Dempster

ED: How many times have you been to Japan, actually?

JL: The first time was in 1986, and, when applying for this work permit, they asked me to list the times, and I was unable to find my passports with all the times that I have been here. but I know that it`s more than 10, it could even be more than 15, I am not sure because not only have I come solo but I’ve come with other artists and other groups. So, yes something around 12 to15, could be more, but around that.

ED: Great. So you like it.

JL: I do enjoy very much to come here, mainly, I suppose, because the concert halls are so fantastic here, I find. They have the right size hall for lute solo. I played in bigger halls too, but there are many halls that hold about 300 people with the most incredible acoustic. Also, what I find with Japanese people is that they are able to be very quiet; they are respectful by nature, by tradition, I don[t know exactly the reason why that is,
 but you can build up a very good silence which is such a good basis for fine solo lute playing.
ED:  Mmmm So important
JL: Yes, I think it is very important…although they cough like any other nationality as well, but I can hear that they try very hard not to!
ED:  And you like this sembe (Japanese crackers).
JL: These biscuits are very nice, aren’t they, that was a gift from a Japanese friend who… I was initially thinking I would take them back to Europe with me but I was hungry the other day and I opened it up and they are very delicious and so I am going to finish it… which saves space in my suitcase for other things.
ED: And you are coming back here in 2009 with Emma?

JL: For sure, that is decided. Yes. Maybe I come back before that as well, it is not clear, but the other agent who invites for solo tours he said this time he built the tour on top of the tour with Emma Kirkby but he thinks maybe its better to alternate and not do it at the same time. But we’ll see, that’s in the future.

ED: I asked you the other day about how the Emma tour came about; how did this piece with biwa come about?

JL: Yes that was not of my initiation it was simply a request from my agent, Japanese agent, who asked me would I be prepared to play a piece for an ancient Eastern instrument with a lute and I responded in saying well let`s see the piece and see if it would fit. The idea was for a 4 string biwa with a plectrum to be playing with my old lute, and I looked at the music and I was thinking this big plectrum on the picture, and I was thinking  well maybe it`s not so nice because my old lute has got a very subtle palette of colours that will be perhaps covered with a plectrum style instrument next to it. So since I had been asked initially to do the lute concerti here but I already had planned to bring my old lute so that was not on I suggested to my agent why don’t we do the mandolin concerto by Vivaldi instead, because the idea was half a solo programme half a programme with an ensemble, so at that point I said how about using the mandoling with the biwa since the mandolin has got a very high pitch and probably can more easily penetrate, the instrument and I guess one wouldn`t say that mandoline Milanese, although it is a very charming instrument, it`s less colour-ful in terms of tone but I play it with fingertips so you get a variety of tone colours, but it hasn`t got depth particularly. And I think., it will work, I hope. Not sure yet.
ED: How do you like the, piece, the modern piece?
It`s nice, it`s nice, yes.its
ED: You haven`t heard it..with the ensemble
JL: I haven`t heard it with… well that just with biwa and mandolin. Yes, I have seen the other part, it’s a sort of duo, and it’s a dialogue, its very charming and quite a nice sonority. It all depends on how loud that biwa is.
ED: Could you give some biographical details.
JL: Well, I`m born in Sweden and when I was 13-14 years old the Beatles wave was flooding into Sweden, and like many other young people I was taken by that beautiful music, which I still actually love, and wanted at all costs to start learning the guitar which I did as a 14 year old and I had a very nice teacher who encouraged me in the classical guitar direction, and also in direction towards the lute, because he has been to the English Lute Society and me Diana Poulton and as I was developing an interest in that music I remember particularly loving the vihuela repertoire actually at the very beginning He encouraged that so I was playing classical guitar and lute a la Bream I suppose and went to London when I was 19 to study there with Diana Poulton and I studied guitar and lute and eventually decided to cut my nails off and focus on the lute and my guitar teacher said well you`ll come back to the guitar very soon, but I never did.
ED:  Another convert.
Do you have brothers and sisters?

JL: I have 2 brothers and a sister. My older sister is an eye surgeon, first younger brother is an architect and my little brother is a trombone player.

ED: So little brother is a musician. Were your parents musical?

JL: No my parents are artists. Painters.

ED: Really, professionals?

JL: Professional painters, my father is dead now but my mother still does portraits and so on. Music wasn`t particularly…

ED: Pictures?

JL: Pictures, yes, Paintings

ED: Quite something

JL: Yes. Difficult profession, and they tried to discourage us from...


part     2    Tom Sellari

ED: So the guitar was your first...

JL: love...

ED: instrument.

JL: Yes.

ED: So you did play popular music.

JL: Yes. Yes. I was very much in that...

ED: It seems to be a common course.

JL: Yes, I guess.

ED: And you started with the Renaissance lute?

JL: Yes. The first lute that I bought was a Renaissance lute. It was curious, actually, because I had inherited two sixteenth-century guns from my grandfather, and I wanted---I needed---a new guitar. And Julian Bream was one of the people, one of those role models for us in those days---this was before I went to London---and I knew he played on a Rubio guitar so I had a chance to try two Rubio guitars in
Gothenburg, and I went there with the money that I sold my two sixteenth-century guns with. And in that shop I liked them, but I didn't like them as much as I expected to, but there was a Ramirez guitar, which I liked even more, and it was half-price. So I bought that and I had money [left] over to buy a lute, so I bought a lute as well. So from then on...

ED: From Rubio?

JL: No, no, that was a lute from a Swedish maker, very fine. I didn't buy it there; after having bought the guitar I had money left over, and somebody told me about this lute, so that's...

ED: So Diana Poulton was your main teacher for the lute...

JL: My main teacher for the lute, exactly. Yes.

ED: And what did you get from her?

JL: A historical sense, I think. She was very inspiring, and I think useful in many ways. She couldn't demonstrate necessarily the pieces, but what was very good for me at that time, I think, was, I was a very
fluent player, and I could play the pieces quite well, but she was unimpressed by technical flashiness, you know. And she always said, `Yes, it's OK to play like that, but really, look at these, you know, treatises. Here they say you should play without nails.' And she
coaxed me into becoming what's called an `authentic player', I suppose, without, in any way, pushing me or cornering me to be one. And so it was a helpful style of teacher for me. She was very encouraging, too, and very nice.

ED: Well, how did you get your initial lute technique?

JK: Well, the lute...that was a fascinating period. Of course, we read various explanations in historical treatises, how they did it. We looked at iconography, pictures, how they held the lute. I had met Tony Bailes also, who showed me a little bit. But in fact, soon after I cut my nails off, I had a duo partnership with Christopher Wilson, who also decided to cut his nails off. And we had concerts without nails, before---we had already done some concerts with nails---but we had concerts lined up, in which we tried to perform without nails. And I can remember actually, in a concert, finding out exactly what thumb and forefinger was all about. In front of an audience, suddenly I realized, `Ah, this is how you do it!' Because of course we knew how to hold the thumb inside the forefinger---that was the style of Renaissance playing that we adopted.

ED: You were playing the thumb in from the beginning?

JL: Yes, at that time. Yeah, from the beginning. As a non-nail player, that is. And, so...but I remember playing this treble, and I suddenly relaxed, and I realize, `Gosh, it's not a matter of pushing/pulling
up, pushing/pulling up; it's a matter of gravity allowing the hand to fall, and then just lifting. So the only muscular sort of effort was lifting every other stroke. And it was a fantastic feeling.

ED: A revelation.

JL: A revelation---total revelation. Then I remember we were trying to work out where the second finger goes in relation to the thumb. That was an issue. Does it go---do you go inside the second finger, or do
you go on that side of the second finger? There was an era where we discussed this in playing...

ED: So you and Christopher were sort of working together ...

JL: Yeah, we were working together on this...

ED: Exploring.

JL: Exploring this, yes, in front of audiences who had to listen to us play.  We played quite nicely, but obviously not of the virtuosity that people can do nowadays, at that time. But, you know, we got through the pieces.

ED: Did you ever hear Diana Poulton play? Did she play?

JL: She showed little bits of things. Yeah, of course. She had a thumb-outside technique, the Thomas Robinson style, and the later style. She showed it to us.

ED: She didn't play concerts or anything?

JL: She didn't play concerts at that time. She was pretty old. She was researching, she was preparing her Dowland book at that time, I think,
which came out shortly...well, in that period. No, she provided me with musical sources and ways of thinking more than styles of playing, I suppose.

ED: How did she actually sound? I mean, I've read these tributes to her and stuff, that recently came out. I was just wondering, well, how did she sound when she played?

JL: Yes, yes.

ED: Was she very musical when she played?

JL: She never played long stretches of pieces. She showed what the ornament signs meant, and could demonstrate that a little bit, and played a little bit, but that wasn't really the way...I didn't imitate her playing. That was not how we worked together.

ED: Right, right, right.

JL: I suppose the first time I really heard somebody who could could make a beautiful sound on the lute, and I think that was when I cut my nails off. In fact, I cut my nails off at that time, but I heard Michael Schaeffer play at the Lute Society summer school, and I expect that was probably 1975 or something like that. That was the first time I really could hear that there is real beauty in the fingertip playing.

ED: That was an exciting time.

JL: It was a very fascinating period. Yes, and it's so long ago now, isn't it?

ED: I mean it was right around that time that everybody kind of rediscovered thumb-under.

JL: It was all happening then, yes. In England and on the Continent. Exciting.

ED: So you kind of worked that out. How did you develop your technique further, like your speed and stuff? Did you work on exercises, or just play a lot of trebles?

JL: Yes, I remember sitting in London, and I have a flat in the center of London, and it's a very nice old flat, and it's got a wooden-panelled room with gray walls, painted walls, but it's wooden panels, and I can remember sitting there, sort of half eyes-open, and
playing Capirola's `La Spanga Seconda'  to build up the speed, and focusing on that. I suppose, at that time, I picked certain pieces to try and get the fluency going. Because, what it's a question of when you're a solo player, of course, is you've got to jump from
thumb-and-forefinger position across and then grab the bass now and again---out with the thumb and particularly with a low line in two-parts, and `La Spanga Seconda' is a very good example for that. There are many pieces one can work on.

ED: That whole double CD album of the Seren ...what is it?

JL: _Serenissima_.

ED: There's a lot of great stuff on that.

JL: Yeah, that's the early repertoire, that's right, the six-course repertoire. But obviously also playing duets, and playing trebles, and then if you look at the old manuscripts, which are often teaching books, there's often a section of just trebles. So I recommend people who are learning to play the lute to try and work in a duo formation where one plays a ground and the other one plays treble. And they're wonderful---enjoyable, but also very good for developing speed in thumb and forefinger.

ED: To develop speed, I mean, a lot of those trebles are long strings of, you know, semi-demi-hemi-semi-quavers.

JL: Ha, ha. That's right! Exactly. Stamina!

ED: Do you recommend for a beginner or somebody trying to develop their speed to take a couple of notes at a time and do them very fast, or work on a long string?

JL: All levels, I think. On all different levels. But open strings I used to end up doing da-da-da-dikka-da-da-da-dikki-da-da-da-dikki-da... Another thing that I remember, one of my students,  Jacob Heringman, who I was suggesting to write a study, because what holds speed up often is you
go from thumb on, say, the first string, and then the next note is with the index on the second string, so you have to cross the fingers, in order So, I would say it's easier to play a scale going up in pitch than going down in pitch, because going up you move to the next string, but you have to come back again, it means crossing. So to develop that particular aspect is very useful, the crossing of thumb and forefinger going opposite. And he wrote a very good little study on that particular issue, I remember,
which I sometimes distribute to students. It's a good one.

Part 3 (transcribed by Terry Muska)

ED: More on technique – How do you vary the technique from instrument to instrument? Do you have different techniques for different instruments, or do you have one basic technique that you kind of alter?

JL: I suppose perhaps, the latter. In my way of playing, rest stroke with the thumb is a very central issue to how I play both renaissance and late baroque lute, of course. And that stroke of falling down with the thumb, giving volume and strength – That’s one thing. Of course, in later repertoire, to play the passage work, more and more you rely on m-i, rather than p-i. That, in itself, opens up the hand slightly differently.

     So, if I play early six-course repertoire, my lute is more horizontal, which means that thumb inside is more natural. If I play later style, the lute is more upright, and so, when thumb and forefinger meet, they can meet on the other side, and in any case, mostly the thumb is out, and the running passages work is being done by m-i. But it’s a gradual development, and you can see in iconography as well, how in medieval paintings the lute is at least horizontal. And you get to the later, and it’s more and more upright. And the whole thing hangs together. So a ten-course lute style is somewhere in the middle there. There I use both i-m and p-i. It sort of naturally flows from one to the other. But in recitals nowadays, I usually don’t  mix two much extreme techniques, so that I won’t necessarily put half of six-course lute in a Weiss second half.
     I don’t do that anymore, but when I was young, I did all sorts of things like that, but now, I suppose I focus generally on certain aspects.

ED:  Let me ask you about practicing. How much do you practice? Do you try to practice at a regular time, or just whenever you can? When you’re traveling, it must be different. How long do you practice, for example?

JL:  Well, it’s very varied, in my case, and it depends a lot on what sort of recitals I have coming up, and particularly perhaps what sort of recording that’s ahead of me. And if I have a difficult recital, or a difficult recording, I really try to focus, to prepare those pieces well before the event (laughs) so things work smoothly. And I usually plan ahead at least a year or so – for recordings, at least a year. For different solo programs, I must think several months ahead to make sure that, first of all, the pieces are in order, and I know exactly which notes to play because that sometimes needs ... which ornaments and so on I’m intending to do. And then, perhaps focus on the tricky passages a little bit and so on. But it is really varied, and it all depends. On this trip here, before I came, I cut my finger, and I was one week out of practice, unfortunately. So, now there are a couple of free days, and I’ve been practicing quite a lot doing those in order to...

ED:    Coming up to a recording, or a tour or something, and you’re at home, how long would a normal day be?

JL:     I guess if I get four hours actual practice in in a day, that’s quite good. Of course, when you actually then do a recording, you will be playing for, perhaps eight or nine hours in a day, and that can be incredibly good for technique as well. But I would love to get four hours in everyday, but I often don’t, and it can go days when I don’t actually practice at all.
ED:    And do you have a routine or a warmup that you do?

JL:     No, not anymore. I used to have certain pieces and certain exercises, but not now. I attack the pieces, and play for enjoyment. I try to enjoy playing, and I’m very conscious of trying to relax into the instrument, and I think of posture, whereby the lute is in a really good, solid position, so that everything else can relax into it.

    I think the rest strike is so important. It’s the same thing about – It’s clocking into gravity, I think. You know, it’s a lovely feeling to play a note, whereby the playing of a note is a relaxation, rather than a tension thing.

ED:    And let gravity do the work.

JL:     Let gravity do the work. That’s where the rest stroke comes in. And building in pleasure into the physical feeling of doing it is very nice.

ED:    Should we talk about instruments?

JL:     (with enthusiasm) OK!

ED:    How many instruments do you have?

JL: Yes – I am not quite sure about that. I have got quite a big number. Probably something around fifteen, maybe. I have from a six-course lute, to a thirteen-course baroque lute, and most stages in between, like a seven, eight, ten, eleven-couse, thirteen-course, archlute, theorbo. I have a baroque guitar. I have an orpharion. I have a cittern and a bandora. I have a treble lute in D. I have a big bass lute in low D. A number of instruments, in addition to which, of course, now recently, my old lute has been restored. That’s my prized possession, really.

ED:    Right. Now, just before we get to that, we should mention that you do try to keep the same nut spacing.

JL: Yes, the nut spacing is pretty much exactly the same on all of these instruments. Obviously the right hand is very different, but the left hand spacing is very nearly the same, and I have recently reviewed my left hand spacing. and found that, in my youth, maybe I tried a little bit too hard to play on a really narrow spacing. So I widened it a little bit, but it’s fairly close, by comparison to guitars and other instruments.

ED:    Do you use the same strings for recording as for concerts?

JL: No. For concerts, I rarely use gut strings, for obvious, practical reasons. But, for recordings in recent years, I try to use gut strings. So yes, there is a difference there, and obviously that’s a bit of a bother when you have to go from one type to the other.

ED:    So now . . . your “prized possession”.  Who actually made your lute?

JL: Yes -  This was made by Sixtus Rauwolf, who was active in Augsburg.

ED:    Was he well known?

JL: He was well known in those days, yes. A prolific maker, probably the son of his father, Leopold Rauwolf.  I was excited to hear that there was a street named after Sixtus Rauwolf in Augsburg. So when I drove with my family from Italy up to Sweden once, I insisted we go by Augsburg. Then, when I found the Rauwolf Strasse, except it was Leopold Rauwolf, the botanist, not Sixtus after all. But I took a photo of that street sign.

ED:     So what’s the story? How did you first hear about this lute?

JL: Yes, there was an auction in London, where there were a couple of   old lutes. The Presbyter lute was for sale on that same occasion. So I went there to look at the preview, and in this glass case was the most beautiful instrument that I had ever seen. I mean, in terms of shape. It was lying on its front, but it showed us the shape of the back up and oh, fantastic!

    And I spoke to Mike Lowe afterwards, and he agreed with me, that he had the same feeling that it was a really nice lute. He said he thought it was south German, about 1600. It was at that point, not knowing who built it. So I bid for it, and I managed to buy it. Although it had a nineteenth century pegbox  and a dreadful bridge, and you couldn’t get really much of an idea what it sounded like.

ED:    Were there many bidders?

JL: No. I think the other lute had more interest, the Presbyter lute at that time, but that had a terrible sound board and was in bad shape. I was not interested in that at all. Anyway I got it, and then the long restoration process began, and Michael could confirm that is was, in fact, a Sixtus Rauwolf instrument because it had this burn mark at the end of the capping strip. And also, the capping strip cut out was very typical for his lutes. And t here are not many surviving. There is one in the Metropolitan Art Gallery in New York. There’s one in Claude’s collection in Copenhagen. There’s one in a private collection in England. And recently, it’s known that there is also another one in Augsburg, in the museum there. It remained there.

Part 4 Ed
ED: How had it been altered? Do you have a different pegbox?

JL: Just the pegbox and the bridge were new additions. The neck was not typical for the style of Renaissance lute. It was wider. It had a label inside with Leonhard Mausiel 1715. You can look on my web page to get the correct spelling.

ED: So do you think the neck is from him?

JL: We think the neck is from then. It's a beautiful neck, actually, very nice ebony veneered neck, and slightly curved. So the idea is that it was probably converted to an eleven course Baroque lute at that point. But the soundboard is original. Many of the bars are original.The back, of course, is. And so, in a way, it was very fortunate because you want to have a nice spacing on the bridge; you want to have a nice pegbox where the pegs work, so somehow those are the mechanical  and necessary bits we could replace to get really good, and then of course we could set up, and the idea was to absolutely not lose any of the old stuff. So the bars had been tampered with, so they had been cut down a little bit. So the restoration work, it was a long process in which Steven Gottlieb and Michael Lowe. It started with Michael Lowe and then we got a  violin restorer involved called David Monroe and then Steven Gottlieb also helped on some parts of it.
ED: Was there a leader of the restorers?

JL: Yes, I would say that the head of the project, I suppose, was Michael Lowe in terms of concept of what needed to be done. But the one who did most of the really hard work was David Monroe. And Steven Gottlieb was fantastic with bits in the neck so that it works in terms of action and so on. It was a very tricky process. Also what Steven Gottlieb did was, he spliced these bars. The original bars had to be prolonged a bit, so for that we needed old wood and I heard of this guitar maker in Florence who managed to buy sixteenth century bookshelves from Palazi Piti and he used them for soundboards and I bought a piece of that wood. so you know, these little spliced extra bits and some of the yew bars also, are, in fact, from the same period. Michael Lowe said it is important to get reasonably similarly aged wood for the yew bits because, you know, so...

ED: You said that they dated this wood.

JL: Yes the soundboard, one of the questions was: was it really original? And the way to test that is to do dendrochonology and you can measure thre rings in some sort of way. David Monroe took it to this famous place in London called Beers. And they dated the wood in such a way that they could say the tree started growing in 1418 and it was cut sometime not long after 1560. The date of 1590 was just a date that Michael reckons is roughly right. It could be a little before that, we don’t know.

ED: But still the wood would have been aged, even then.

JL: Yeah, possibly, probably. And it is Alpine pine from south Germany. It seems to be that lute makers live on both sides of the alps, you know, north Italian or south German, because that’s where they got the soundboard wood from.

ED:  And you’re pleased with the results.

JL: I am incredibly pleased! More pleased than I thought, particularly now that I feel I’m learning to understand the sound. It’s a facinating sound, and it has so many colors. What  I love about it is it’s very clear, it’s not a muddy sound, it’s a very clear sound. and it sustains beautifully as well. To play counterpoint on it, it is fabulous. You can hear every voice. Actually, I noticed when that Japanese player played on it in that class, I went out, you know...

ED: Everybody sounded good on it.

JL: Yes, it’s the polyphonic pieces, they become very clear. So, I’m incredibly pleased with it now.
It took a long time to get used to it. the bridge  flew off once, and that was scary, and I’ve experimented with stringing and tensions and so on, but now it’s working very well for me.

ED: How would you describe or compare it  to other lutes?

JL:  Well, for me, my ideal of lute has always been: I love sustain but I don’t want sustain at the sacrifice of clarity because for me a lute should speak. It should have vowels, but it should also have clear consonants. And I find, it seems to me, that lute makers today either succeed in getting a very clear sound, tik-tik, but not so sustained or very sustained sound but not so clearly spoken, articulated, enunciated, and this has exactly what I want. It has that clarity and yet it also sustains, which is amazing. But what I have in the past, I suppose, felt that clarity is perhaps even more important than sustain because, in particular, in Renaissance music, you get so many notes played. Why? Because the sound dies and so you fill it out with divisions, naturally. But when you get sustain, you can play nice melodies. It’s gorgeous.


Square brackets are interruptions, curlies are me.
ED: How do you feel, like, modern makers, you know, now that you’ve, and we collectively, have the experience of hearing an original lute that’s been restored well, you know, how do we compare the modern makers to that?
JL: Well, it’s interesting.  Both Michael Lowe and Stephen Gottlieb are very keen to make, well, copy, they don’t use the word copy, but [ED: inspired from] but base instruments on this, you know, use the size of the instrument, I find it, as I said first that the shape of that back is very beautiful – it’s really nice.
ED: What’s different about it?
JL: Well, it’s a little fuller than sometimes they are – towards the neck end, you know sometimes lutes fade away there a bit – there’s a very satisfying shape as in – you know – many old lutes have that too in museums of course.  And so, I think, even Stephen might have made one already, although I haven’t tried it.  But they’re wondering what makes this sound so particular,  because the thicknessing of the soundboard, the barrings and so on are not so very different from how they make lutes so they reckon it probably is also to do with the ageing, and this is something lutenists already knew.  In the late seventeenth century they often said “Please try and find me an old lute”.  Now, why is that?  Well, because wood matures, and it’s healthy.  I remember, I had one student in London, who had an - who was Egyptian, and he always said he had a teacher who had an ‘ud that was a hundred years old and sounded amazing.  And I thought that was interesting, and you read – so I always had in mind to try and get hold of an old lute, but I never really had confidence that I would actually manage to do that, but this…
ED: So were those baroque people looking for the old…
JL: They looked for the old Paduan lutes to convert them, typically.  This has, this was converted, and what’s amazing is that it’s survived all these centuries, probably in a playing fashion, so I think probably they liked the instrument throughout the ages, also in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, really…
ED: What does another three hundred years do…
JL: … we won’t know about that, but…
ED: …and, what’s the length on that now?
JL: The string length of it is 69.5, so it’s quite long for Renaissance tuning.  I use it either as a ten-course Renaissance lute or an eleven-course baroque lute.  And the first CD I did on it was, of course, this Weiss recording, and the second record, which has come out just now with Emma Kirkby, in which I play a number of solos, I used it as a ten-course Renaissance tuning, and it works really well in both ways. Of course 69.5 is quite long for Renaissance playing but it’s remarkable what you can do.
ED: You’re playing it in 3…
JL: 392, yes, I’m keeping it a tone lower than modern pitch, a whole tone lower…
ED: It’s like in F, concert F…
JL: Yes, that’s right
ED: And you very cleverly figured out how to make it a – give it a double life, so to speak. 
JL: Yes, I spent some time thinking about that, because I obviously, wanting to use it in both forms, and I devised a way, whereby, I just change the nut for it, when I change it from a ten to eleven course, with an overhanging nut, typical from the period, because often eleven-course lutes were converted ten-course lutes.  They didn’t bother to put a new neck on, they just put it down/the sound?  But in the right hand I have  a drilling system, whereby eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven – those courses, as an eleven-course lute become ten, nine, eight, seven, six – that’s a renaissance lute.  So they stay always in the same place, and they’re the same strings – I don’t change those strings.  So, I just have to change the other strings, and there, of course, the ten-course lute spacing is a little bit wider between the courses when you go from one to six than when you go from one to seven on a baroque lute tuning, but – it works, very well, because…
ED: You use some of the same holes…
JL: Some of the same holes even.  Yeah.  I think the F string, which is, well, in effect it’s an E flat, I mean the fourth course, stays in the same place, I think, or maybe it’s one of it's two courses {sic} stays in the same place, I can’t remember. Yeah.  I shift most of them around, and there’s quite a complicated hole system in there, and I have to absolutely use a little template to make sure that I put the strings in the right place.
ED: But I mean like for example, the high side on one will end up being in the hole of the low…
JL:  Yeah, sometimes it is fortunate like that, other times there is {sic} more holes, and in one case, one of the holes is a little square, where I shifted it in order for it to work.
[ED: Oh, I’ve seen those…]
JL: So, there’s all sorts of ways of drilling that, hole, I mean Michael Lowe was going crazy when he had to do it, because Michael Lowe is responsible for the bridge and the peg box.
ED: Oh.
JL: Stephen made the pegs.  It’s all by committee.  Everybody’s had their little bit to do.
ED: And how do you have it strung – what kind of strings do you have on it?
JL: Well, at the moment, on this tour, I have it nylon strung, and I’m using Kürschner copper wound bass strings.  I find that they sound most similar to gut strings.  And I have a combination of Nylgut and Kürschner nylon.  For the first recording I did, which was Weiss, I had it all gut strung, with Dan Larson’s gimped strings in the basses, except for the last two, one or two, I can’t remember, where I had one of Mimmo Peruffo’s early corde appesantite.  And, so, that’s the way I’ve done it. [All gut]  All gut.  I did play for the English Lute Society with a combination of gut and the Kürschner basses, but it sounds really lovely both with nylon and gut, actually.  So it works both ways.
ED: Anything else to say about that?
JL: Ehm, no, I think that covers everything. Ha, ha.
ED: What about the string technology of today?
JL: Yes, interesting chapter.  I feel that’s where we haven’t really got as far as I would have loved us to have gone.  I think lute making is of a really high quality, lute playing is pretty good now as well.  String making was clearly a very advanced business in those days, strings were very costly, and lute strings in particular. So how were they made?  Well, Mimmo Peruffo’s done a lot of hard work on that, and I know that he’s devoting himself again to trying to recreate these strings in the way he thinks they were made which is corde appesantite, some way made heavier, and I was very enthusiastic in his first stages of that and I used it on my Bach recording and on my Dowland CDs as well.  But then I didn’t feel that he developed it as well as he could, and I believe that he said that his gut supply wasn’t as good as in the early days, and now he’s apparently got that early gut supply back, and he’s just made me a string before me leaving Europe to come to Japan and I, unfortunately I didn’t have time to t  ry it yet, so I will try it, but I’m hopeful, but I think a lot of time and experimentation is necessary there – and devotion.  I believe that – it’s really to do with the bass strings.  I feel the strings up to the sixth course – a six-course lute we can string very nicely using these Venice Catlines that are made by Dan Larson and Mimmo Peruffo, and as you say, Nicholas Baldock.  I believe they’re pretty good.  It’s just these bass strings, you know, where – when, lute players and makers decided they can go down a course to a low D, down a fourth, that’s when, obviously, something happened in lute string technology.  And, you know, then all these bass strings that were coloured on old pictures now, how were they made?  They clearly sounded great, I’m sure.

ED: And when we talk about the late Baroque, and Weiss, and stuff…
JL: Well the wound string{s} were already invented by then [Yeah], so there I think it’s a little bit easier, and I think perhaps we’ve got them…
{Pause - turning on the lights}

Part     6   Miles Dempster

ED: Well, I’m wondering if having overspun strings, as we have today, basically like soft guitar strings or something, I’m wondering….

JL: …how they were made, as well. I know, again I think the research…I think they had open wound as well. I know a little bit less about that. I think Mimmo Peruffo has again had occasion to do some research on the way they wound the strings. For me as a lute player, really what I would love to solve is this time before they had the wound strings.

ED: Yes. It’s the biggest mystery.

JL: Yes. I think so.

ED: Would you say that’s the biggest mystery?

JL: It’s one of the big mysteries to be solved now, but I think that we are nearly there. But it’s got to be fantastic sounding.

ED: How about performing, and so on? How many CDs have you made?

JL: I’ve made a lot of CDs. On my website I’ve got listed just about all the ones that I have taken part in, I think, in terms of solo or where I’m directing or playing concerti and so on. How many can it be? Actually I don’t know the number, but probably 25…30, something of that kind. Yes, I’ve been pretty productive since my first LP, which I recorded in 1981, was it…the Scottish Lute Music, came out. Yes it was my first one. My first love was these wonderful Scottish lute manuscripts.

ED: The one that I remember is, the Dowland project. I think you are the only person to have been involved in recording the complete solo works of Dowland – Twice!

JL: Maybe you are right. That’s true, I forgot about that record, yes, no, that is true, I was involved in that LP set. Yes, that’s the first one. But then, that was 5 in a box. When I crawled out of the box and did my own, that was the Scottish one. But that’s true.

ED: About Dowland, you must have a real affinity for Dowland, I think.

JL: I enjoy him very much. I love the humor, the tunefulness, and the melancholy - the spectrum. I find his division writing extremely artful, nice middle parts, and, of course, there are not so many authenticated solo versions that have come down to us. It’s only about a dozen or so that really we can say he has had a lot to do with. Other pieces come through manuscript form, often very good I’m sure, but he hasn’t really corrected them, whereas I suppose if we look at the writing of lesser pieces he had a lot to say about those, although his son published it. But, yes…a fabulous composer.

ED: How about the difference between the first time you recorded the Dowland and the second. What changes had occurred, it was a long gap?

JL: Yes. It’s long gap. Of course the second time I took it up on me to do everything. So, having played most of the pieces in concert at one time or another, I still did some pieces that I recorded which were unplayed in concert. But what is particularly different… well, I had played for so long without nails because the first one I had only played for a couple of years without nails, I think. I haven’t listened to that first one, and I wonder how different they are; it’s very difficult to say. I don’t think that I changed a great deal in terms of how I heard the music. I think it’s fairly straightforward the music, I don’t think it should be over interpreted, but I think it should be given the gravity where there is gravity, and given the humour where there is humour, for sure. I don’t think they are that different, but I’ll leave that for other people to judge, or I should listen to them, which I haven’t done!

ED: You’ve covered the gamut, really, of lute repertoire. Is there any repertoire that you haven’t delved into so much that you…

JL: I terms of actually playing or recording? There plenty that I haven’t recorded, of course, I suppose that I have probably looked at just about most of it, most of the different genres. I did do quite a lot of work on the French early baroque lute repertoire and did, I think it was, three BBC radio programmes of that repertoire, so I looked at that quite in detail, and performed that; very keen on that. Of course the Italian lute music I’ve looked at a lot. The German late repertoire after Weiss I’ve also looked at quite a bit. I think that I’ve sniffed at it all, really.

ED: And is there one that you particularly attracted to?

JL: There are many that I am particularly attracted to; in fact I couldn’t really choose.
ED: And is there one that you would like to go to in the future?

JL: I will go to many of the repertoires in the future, for sure; and now that I have this old lute, there is a lot that I would like to record on it.

ED: That opens up a lot.

JL: Yes, it does in a way. And I think that as an 11 course lute it would be lovely to do not only the French 11 course lute repertoire but also maybe Reusner who is a lovely composer - not often played. As a 10 course lute there’s a lot of stuff that I’d delve into as well, but I’m not just staying with that lute because I think that my next CD that I’m planning is probably going to be on a 13 course lute. So, who knows,  I’ll keep dipping my toes in all this repertoire, from time to time; and enjoying it, I think, for its variety.

ED: So you’re saying there’s about a 1 year cycle to getting something to fruition.

JL: Possibly, yes, it’s difficult to say, but, yes, I suppose if I’m setting myself to do a CD, first of all it will be of music that I have performed; most of it will be of music that I have performed. I will start to put together the program at least a year in advance to make sure that I know which pieces would go on to it. Yes, I think that I would need that amount of time.

ED: How do you come upon new material. Do you use libraries?

JL: Yes, I do play through music, and I have quite a lot of facsimile editions and manuscripts. photocopies of manuscripts. Yes, I’ve got a lot of repertoire; and actually quite often students will come to me with certain pieces, like you played Gianoncelli for me today, and I thought ‘Gosh, that’s nice stuff, you know,’ and so, just hearing it again, although I’ve played it, but sometimes I say ‘Oh, why hadn’t I thought of playing that,’ you know, and so quite often just stumbling across it could be a way for me to decide. Or, you know, maybe it just starts growing in the back of my mind, and then I think ‘Well, it would be nice to do something on my archlute,’ and then it will come back to me, and I will think ‘Oh, yes, Gianoncelli, now that’s nice.’ So you see it’s all a matter of keeping an open mind and listening to what’s going on around you.

ED: How many performances do you give a year?

JL: That varies, also, I suppose, and I probably couldn’t tell you. I think if we include performances with other musicians and solo recitals and so on, I suppose…30-40 maybe, something of that kind.

ED: You’re pretty busy.

JL: I am quite busy, with practicing as well.

ED: Are you still teaching at the Royal College of Music?

JL: Yes.

Do you have private students too?

JL: I have a few, but very, very few.

ED: How about advice for people learning to play the lute. First of all, how do you feel about the lute in Japan; how did you feel about the state of lute playing in Japan?

JL: Yes, you mean to base it on the master class I did there? There’s a couple of...

ED: And before, you came here....

I’ve been a few times, yes. No, I think there are good players here, fluent players, and people devoting themselves to the history of the thing as well. And I think it’s pretty healthy here, really, it seems to me. And there are quite nice lutes that they play. There are some good lute makers here too. So I think they, you know, like...???

part  7    Jason Yoshida

ED: What do you think is a common stumbling-block, or common errors in people learning to play?

JL: As I see it, I think, “holding the thing.”

ED: Do you think that is a “theme” this time?

JL: Well, it’s often the case that I see people holding it in a way that means they cannot benefit from gravity. And I think that is one thing. I also think that not enough players dig in to the lute. They tickle the strings. They don’t use rest-strokes. They don’t draw out the sound. It’s an instrument, with maybe not a lot of sound but it is quite a bit of sound and I think that players should try and draw out the maximum. Not just to play loudly but to have a dynamic range.
Wonderful to play pianissimo, isn’t it? But also, in order for that to really have an effect, you have to haves that maximum sound as well, and I see that people often don’t go to the big sound unless they are on a theorbo. But I think, you know, they should find a full sound.

ED: I know what you mean. I feel like there is this beautiful shape, and it’s full of tension and vibration. Potential vibration, that you want to invigorate the air around, somehow.

Last time you were here you came with this big group. I was a little surprised to find that they were all Swedish. I never thought of Sweden as a “hotbed” of early music.

JL: There are good performances in Sweden as there are anywhere else and I think there is a good tradition for singing in Sweden. And so when I was asked to come here, the initial idea was for me to bring a whole opera here actually,  Jacopo Peri’s Euridice, which I directed in Sweden at the Drottningholm Theater. That was what Ogawa-san was interested in bringing over, but in fact the expenses of that was too big. So instead it became what Ogawa, the agent, called, “Monteverdi Gala,” where I picked out favorite moments from Monteverdi operas and some beautiful six-part madrigals. So it was an inspiring project for me to do. And I just had two violins, six singers and chitarrone. It was nice, also, not to have a bowed-bass, but to do these ritornellos with a plucked-bass and two violins. I think it’s a very beautiful way of playing that early Italian repertoire. Chitarrone is a great bass instrument and it’s only in recent years that people appreciate it in that forum(form?).

ED: What composer or repertoire do you think is under-represented in the lute world?

JL: Well I think there are too few solo lute recitals all together. I think it could be much more featured. I think there is a problem now that professional lute playing is more and more about continuo playing and I think there is wonderful Renaissance ensemble music and there is wonderful Renaissance solo lute music and lute songs. I am looking at London, perhaps, and Europe. It seems as if in the seventies there was a big surge of Renaissance music making and it’s gone later: Baroque, it’s early Classical. So this whole wave of early music is going a little bit later and if we enjoy Renaissance music it is usually through vocal consorts. And so, perhaps, I would like to see Renaissance music performed more, by more people.

ED: And by Renaissance music, when I think of the lute in the Renaissance, I think of from when we have tab. And all that stuff in the 15th century that is still Renaissance, where we don’t have tab...

JL: That is right. Yes. I know less about that repertoire but of course, Frottola and all the lute song accompaniments. The lute is such a wonderful instrument and of course it was center(central) to music making throughout the 16th century and 15th century for that matter, as you say. And I think that repertoire is rarely performed and it’s a shame.

ED: Have you investigated the Swedish lute or the Bellman cittern?

JL: I have actually. I have an instrument, the cister. I bought one at an auction, actually a 1776 instrument, which I have used in concert with one of the singers who came to Japan last time. We have just recorded a CD which is of Bellman songs to this wonderful instrument. It’s metal strung. Very beautiful. So you know about the songs? They are wonderful poetry. He is one of our greatest poets and it’s a bit like watching a Hogarth painting. You know, drinking, the drinking houses. He illustrates life in Stockholm in the mid to late 18th century. Beautiful tunes. Very nice accompaniments. And of course, we don’t have any written out accompaniments by him for this instrument, but his music was published by a keyboard man, who, I think, sat with Bellman and heard Bellman play on the instrument and wrote it out for piano, and sold the music. It was very popular. So I have gone back the opposite way by looking at the keyboard accompaniments. Understanding the kind of figurations that Bellman would have used on his cister…

ED: Reverse engineering…

JL: Reverse enginered, and I have created these accompaniments which work extremely well. And you can see that the idea, there, from these arpeggiations or little things, ideas that the keyboard transcriber put in can easily be fitted on to the instrument. And they are very attractive. I have done quite a bit of work on that particular issue, you’d be surprised to know.

ED: What’s next for you?

JL: What’s next for me? Well immediately after this tour of Japan I am doing a four concert tour in England actually, of playing on my Sixtus Rauwolf lute. I do Oxford, Cambridge, Norridge and Davin. And it’s actually an all-Dowland program but I have been asked to perform another recital, so I changed that program around. And so I need to get over the jet-lag quickly because it starts on the 10th of March. So that’s my immediate future. And then I have quite a lot of recitals still with Emma Kirkby lined up through the year. I am going to do a solo record towards the end of November on the 13-course lute. I won’t say more than that…
ED: More Weiss?

JL: I won’t say more than that…

ED: It will be a surprise…

JL: It will be a surprise. And yes, I sort of pretty much set the work ahead a year. I got a lot of other concerts I can’t remember without looking at my diary, but various things. A few courses. I am doing a course in Neuberg in Germany, and there is a very nice festival in Switzerland which I have done three years running,  but there is a string ensemble and we just meet to do two concerts and rehearse and that’s when I often play some of these late 18th century concerti with lute and strings. So I should be playing some works by Kohaut there. That will be fun.
Keeping busy. Yeah, so...
Good questions

ED: Anything, you’d like to add?

JL: No that’s fine. Thanks.

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