Lira da Gamba - Lirone

Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Description: 
The favorite instrument of singers to accompany themselfes
Model: 
After Michael Praetorius, Wolfenbüttel, Germany, 1619

There are no original lirones around any more, even though this was the most popular instrument among singers to accompany themselves. In a way it's like a Renaissance accordion. You just put your fingers down and have a full harmonious chord to sing your notes into.

Well – if it was as easy as that. The lira da gamba or lirone was invented in the early 16th century and was very much in use for the next 200 years. In contrast to it's use today it was thought of as an instrument that was totally sufficient to provide all the support a singer needed.

First it was Cavalieri in the preface to his Raprasentatione who got very specific about the perfect combination of continuo instruments. He asks for instruments that can sustain sound and those who can  be rhythmically precise, favorite combinations being harpsichord, lirone and chitarrone or organ and chitarrone.

Long before then, at the court of Pope Leo X, there was a memorable lunch concert with 8 singers who also played 8 lironi, 7 flutes and one sackbut. Great combination! Why don't we have that today?

My friend and viol teacher Gail Schroeder was so nice to let me use her instrument for many months  to play around with. This was also made by Marco Ternovec and is the little sister of mine, using a tuning a fifth up and having a smaller fingerboard and narrower string spacing. Then I commisiond this instrument to be built into my hand and it has been pure joy. His name is 'Comodo' because he is so easy to play and because Marco chose an ornament for the head that looks like the skin of a Comodo Dragon. Almost every year I perform the Schütz 'Auferstehungshistorie', singing the Evangelist part and playing all the viol parts myself on my lirone. More information on that you find among my programs.

Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik
Lira da Gamba - Lirone by Marco Ternovec - Photo: André Wagenzik