6. Short Review: Performing Baroque Music on the Lute and Theorbo by Peter Croton

I wish I’d had this book when I started learning the lute some 30 years ago. If you are a young player, buy this book now, and devour it every night before sleeping. What you learn here will live with you throughout your playing and listening life. Essential stuff.

So, why is it so essential? Well, it is packed with two important things: relevant performance quotations from those who lived through the baroque era, and the guidance of an intelligent and wise author/player who knows what he is talking about.

Take a look at the Contents page:

The Baroque era created and defined tonal music, and Croton’s aim is to emphasise that “…harmonic expression is one of the most powerful means for moving listeners, particularly in baroque music, this topic will find much attention in the following chapters”.

Our task is to learn a practical hands-on understanding of harmony, to recognise its expressive capabilities, and to realise and articulate that in our performances.

We will have to find a balance of freedom of expression within restrictive dance forms, and embrace the rules of rhetoric. Croton and his band of historical commentators help us do all of this and more. There are some surprises along the way: “…the sarabande is actually a slow menuet, and the courante a very slow sarabande” (Jean-Baptiste d’Alembert, 1752), and we will find ourselves being more creative in our interpretations.

There are too many interesting and even revelatory quotations to mention here, so I urge you to buy this book – there is a similar version for classical guitar too – and immerse ourselves in its findings. It will be your guide through a lifetime of study!

Available only through Amazon. Peter Croton’s website: https://peter-croton.com

Rob MacKillop
South Queensferry
April, 2021