The Lute Society: Beginners Lesson 34

Adrian le Roy Fantasie
  • Lesson 34 of our beginners lessons, by Lynda Sayce
  • Piece no. 57 in '70 Easy to Intermediate Pieces for Renaissance Lute'
  • Full copies of the playing editions from which the lessons are taken can be ordered in our catalogue

Adrian le Roy, Fantasie

This tiny fantasie published by Adrian Le Roy in 1568 is piece number 57 in ’70 Easy to Intermediate Pieces for Renaissance Lute’, and covers a surprising amount of technical ground within its few bars, presenting a number of challenges. The first challenge involves getting a smooth legato line and a consistent tone quality across a wide range, since the opening scale ranges from the open 6th course to the 7th fret on the 1st course. The key to this, especially when playing thumb inside but also with thumb out, is to make sure that the presentation of index finger and thumb to the string remains consistent across the whole range, which essentially comes down to moving the whole right hand smoothly across the string band, contracting the hand down towards the little finger resting on the soundboard, and opening it up again to reach the lower courses when the scale descends. If you leave the body of the hand in the same place, the angle of finger and thumb to string will change quite drastically between the 1st course and the 6th, so the first thing to establish is that the right hand is free to move on the little finger anchor. The little finger itself should not move around on the soundboard.

Left hand

For the left hand, I have suggested a fingering to deal efficiently with the shift in bar 3: to make a shift inaudible it is best to shift after a weak note, not after a strong one, so using the 1st finger for the 4th note of bar 3, and shifting up on this finger for the 5th note is a small, efficient movement: an extension of the 4th finger to reach the h fret will save any need for a further shift. To shift back down again, I suggest shifting on the 2nd finger over the barline, to avoid a very audible shift after a strong note at the beginning of bar 4.

The next challenge is switching from this single-line texture to the 3- and 4-part chords of the following bars. Take care to identify which bass notes belong with which upper harmonies, and hold down any bass notes requiring it. One hold mark is printed; I have added some further ones. For the chords, it can be difficult to sound each note clearly - or even to recognise when one is missing or poorly audible. It may be helpful to play the chords individually, arpeggiating them so as to hear all of the notes, then try plucking the notes simultaneously with no spread. If you cannot hear any constituent note, focus on the finger which is supposed to be playing it and concentrate on getting better string contact with that finger. Some chords may benefit from being spread, especially the 4-part chords with a simultaneously sounding bass note (e.g., bars 11 and 12), but almost certainly not those chords sounded separately from their bass notes (e.g., bars 9, 10, 13, etc).

The final challenge is negotiating the closing bars, the shift up to 5th position, and the final high chords. I suggest that the first chord in bar 16 is played with the left hand 1st and 3rd fingers: extend the 4th finger to reach the fret g at the end of the bar. Whilst playing the bass note on the downbeat of bar 17, slide the 4th finger up to the 7th fret and lower the index finger into a half-barré on the 5th fret. The 2nd and 3rd fingers then have a moment more time to find their notes. Make sure that each finger is planted firmly and accurately, because otherwise the final chord - which should ring brightly in this register - will buzz or sound damped.