Theorbo

Name: Theorbo.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Period:
Country: Many.
Region: Europe.

Description: The theorbo whose other names are Chitarron, theorbo lute [in French: Téorbe, théorbe or tuorbe, in German: Theorbe and in Italian: tiorba, tuorba] is a plucked stringed instrument that is a member of the lute family. It has an extended neck with a second pegbox.

The theorbo has a curved-back hollow body with a wooden top surface. Typically includes a sound hole, and a neck extending from the sound box. As with the lute the musician strums the strings with one hand. While pressing the strings down onto the frets with the other hand. 

Etymology: Although the words chitarrone and tiorba were both used to describe the instruments. Both words have different organological and etymological origins. The word “chitarrone” being Italian an augmentation of; and literally meaning large “chitarra” Italian for guitar.

The round-backed chitarra was still in use. Often referred to as “chitarra Italiana” to distinguish it from the chitarra alla spagnola in its new flat backed Spanish incarnation. The etymology of tiorba is still obscure; it is hypothesized the origin may be in Slavic or Turkish torba, meaning ‘bag’ or ‘turban’.

Development: Theorbos were developed during the late sixteenth century in Italy. The creation of such instruments was inspired by the demand for having extended range of bass strings, this was for use in the then-newly developed musical style of opera. Developed by the Florentine Camerata and new musical works utilizing basso continuo, such as Giulio Caccini’s two collections, Le nerve musiche [1602 and 1614]. For his 1607 opera L’Orfeo, Claudio Monteverdi lists duoi [two] Chitarron I among the instruments required for performing the work. 

Citations: Bibliography: Ian Harwood; et al. “Theorbo”. In Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press ; Midgley, Ruth, ed. [1997] Musical Instruments of the World, New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 186. ISBN 0-8069-9847-4 ; Theorbo-lute…hybrid instrument with the bent peg box of the lute and the long base strings of the theorbo ; Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia Universalis, Rome 1650, p. 476 ; Nigel North, [1987]. Continuo playing on the lute, archlute, and theorbo ; Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253314151. OCLC 14377608. ; Jump up to: a b Baron, Ernst Gottlieb [1976]. Study of the lute. Instrumenta Antiqua Publications. OCLC 2076633 ; North, Nigel North [1987] Continuo Playing on the Lute, Archlute, and Theorbo. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9708025 331415 ; Praetorius, Michael [1957]  A translation of Syntagma Musicum III by Michael Praetorius. OCLC 68427186 ;

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