Exhibition: 13.09.2013 – 18.09.2013
Sheldon Louis Gabriel
Image: Syntagma 20 by Sheldon Louis Gabriel
About the Work
MA by Project
Reconstructing the Harp-Lute in Praetorius’ Theatrum Instrumentorum.
The aim of this project was to investigate Praetorius’ harp-lute and to build a reconstruction.
This instrument, which academics often refer to as a ‘harp-lute’ is quite unique in design for its time. This instrument is so devoid of documentation that it has, for nearly 400 years escaped detailed investigation. The unusual hybrid nature of the instrument (which combines the body of a lute with the neck and method of stringing more common to the harp), mean that although its importance has been acknowledged it has not yet received the attention it deserves. Over the years there appears to have been a tendency from some quarters to label such unique instruments as oddities, with little consideration to the influence they may have had on instrument design or musical development. This project represents the most comprehensive investigation of this instrument ever undertaken.
Praetorius’ Theatrum Instrumentorum (1620) contains 42 woodcut plates of musical instruments. The woodcut representing the harp-lute is unique in that it is the only woodcut in the publication for which there is no known extant example, and therefore no evidence it was ever made. The combination of academic research and practical reconstruction has allowed an overview of the instrument’s origin, viability, use, construction, and influence to be presented.