Making Musical Instruments
Opus 5 - Lute

Making Musical Instruments
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    The lute could be found throughout Europe by the late Middle Ages. Its Arab precursor, the ud, was introduced into Spain by Moorish invaders between 711 and 1492. "Lute" is derived from the Arab word and its article, al-'ud. The lute was one of the major instruments in Europe until the late eighteenth century.

      Lute - CMC 83-726/S95-09607/CD95-487
    Alternating strips of maple and rosewood form pleasing contrast
    By David Miller
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    Maple, spruce, rosewood, beech, pearwood,
    ivory, ebony, gut
    Body: 51 x 29 x 14 cm;
    neck: 25 cm;
    peg box: 22.5 cm
    Gift of the Massey Foundation
    Label: "David G. Miller Saskatoon, Canada #807"

    During its history, the lute underwent a number of changes. The strings were originally made of gut and mounted in pairs, or courses. Gradually, string quality improved, and the number of strings increased, thereby broadening the lute's range and repertoire. The Renaissance lute had between six and ten courses; this meant from eleven to nineteen strings, as there was usually a single first string. At that time, the lute became a solo instrument, with a repertoire that demanded considerable virtuosity. It frequently accompanied song and appeared in almost all musical ensembles, along with recorders, viols and, somewhat later, the harpsichord.

      Arab-style rose
    This Arab-style rose has a distinctive geometric pattern.

    The belly of this lute is made of alternating strips of maple and rosewood. An Arab-style rose carved in the wood graces the soundboard. The neck and peg box are made of beech, painted black to simulate ebony; the fingerboard is of rosewood; the strings and knotted frets of gut; and the body frets of ivory.

    The label is a reproduction of an engraving from the workshop of a luthier published in Paris in 1785, in Art du faiseur d'instruments de musique et lutherie.


    David Miller

    It was during a stay in Halifax on an acting engagement that David Miller had his first experience as a luthier: he made an Appalachian dulcimer from an instruction manual. He subsequently broadened his theoretical knowledge through books and built a variety of instruments, including lutes, guitars and Appalachian dulcimers. When working on early instruments, Miller strives to reproduce as faithfully as possible their particular acoustic qualities and visual aesthetics. He takes a bit more freedom in crafting traditional instruments, by creating new ornamental motifs or by altering certain technical features in order to improve the instrument.