NEW WEBSITE and latest meeting

This is the final post for this version of the SLEGS website. I – Rob MacKillop – have handed over the duties to a new SLEGS team who will be doing things properly 🙂 from now on. The new URL is not live as I write but will be

I have resigned my decade-long post, and wish the new team well.

What follows is the information I was sent about the new meeting on the 19th February, 2022:

To welcome in the new year, we are having a special SLEGS meeting with a new extended format! As well as our regular meeting, we will have a talk by Glasgow University Phd researcher Roslyn Potter, and our inaugural recital by Gordon Ferries. See the schedule for the full day below. We are also looking for members to form the new committee, details also below.

If you are planning attend, please register on the private eventbrite page so we have an idea of numbers for social distancing, and if you have not attended our players meeting before, please make yourself known in advance by email. Please take an LFT beforehand and wear a mask while in attendance to keep us all safe.

Meeting is at the regular venue, Chris Elmes place, 1F1 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF.

19th Feb Meeting

11.30am-12pm – Arrive

12pm – Our regular meeting, members are invited to perform the music they have been working on and to present on topics of interest. Depending on the numbers present about 3 pieces per performer would be ideal. £1 donation for venue.

1.15pm – Bring your own lunch, there are also many places to eat nearby.

1.45pm – AGM, confirm constitution, committee members, update on website, attendance at BGM, lutes for sale in Scotland.

2pm – Talk/Performance – ‘By my own hand’ – Women’s manuscript collection, song culture, and bawdry, in early modern Scotland

Song, as a vehicle for expression, evokes a plethora of emotions and plays a significant role in social and cultural life. Roslyn will discuss her PhD research which explores the identity and inner workings of a scattered group of literate women who collected songs and poems into their private manuscripts. As part of her talk there will be performance lute songs and solo lute music.

For more about Roslyn’s work see:

2.30pm – Tea, Coffee, and Cake. A chance to socialise before the concert, if they are any budding bakers please feel free to bring cake!

3pm – Gordon Ferries – Libro Segundo

Gordon Ferries explores the fantasias of Luis de Narvàez and Francesco da Milano in their ‘difficult second albums’, the Libros Segundos of 1538 and 1546. A donation of £5 is asked if you are staying for the concert.


Committee Positions

As part of the continuation of SLEGS we are looking to create a committee to organise future meetings, and further activities. Below is a list of positions and current nominations, please email Eric if you are interested. If you are not going to attend but would like to help out running the society, please email Eric in advance of the meeting. These will be confirmed at the AGM.

Chair – Eric Thomas

Treasurer – Vacant

Secretary – Vacant

Ordinary Member – Vacant

Booking Officer – Phillip Lord

Meeting Reporter – Chris Jupp


Attached is the constitution for ratification at the AGM.

Looking forward to seeing everyone!

Best Wishes,



Report of 35th Meeting, 9th October, 2021

This meeting marks the tenth anniversary of the first meeting of SLEGS which took place on 1st October 2011, in the Laigh Room at St Cecilia’s Hall. There was a great turnout of eleven members, including three who attended the inaugural meeting; Rob Mackillop, Gordon Ferries and Bill Samson.

Rob, Bill and Philip Lord have organised the meetings up until now, and decided that it was time for a ‘regime change’.  Chris Jupp and Eric Thomas are the new management and will take over running SLEGS after today’s meeting.

Rob took his usual role as master of ceremonies today and as this was also his own 30th anniversary as a lute player, he started by recounting his life as a musician, including his time at Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, studying guitar in Italy and buying his first lute – an archlute – on which he learned how to play continuo from figured bass in three weeks before performing Monteverdi operatic excerpts with the Scottish Early Music Consort.

He went on to record quite a number of CDS on lutes, citterns and historical guitars, three of which reached the Number One spot in the Scottish Classical Music Chart (The Scotsman). Highlights of his performing career include a tour of Japan, and a solo lute recital live on BBC Radio 3. He now makes his living by teaching students around the world on Zoom, and writing, editing and composing music books for the American publisher, Mel Bay, recently finishing his 20th book.

He spoke about how he contacted Bill Samson to help him set up SLEGS in 2011, with the aim of allowing amateur lute and early guitar players to perform to each other, and as a forum in which to  exchange advice, information and ideas.

Rob then performed a number of pieces from his ‘Introduction to the Lute’ for beginner lute players and guitarists wishing to play lute music on the guitar (Mel Bay, 2016).  This book contains pieces to be played on a 6-course lute or any other six stringed instrument tuned like a lute.  In it he discusses technique, presents exercises starting with single notes, then diads and how to read from tablature (French or modern guitar tablature).  The repertoire covered includes early Italian, a wealth of vihuela repertoire, Scottish lute music, John Dowland and early German and French lute music.

He was playing a 6-course lute in E by Martin Shepherd.  The pieces, which covered a diverse range of genres were:

A duet for one lute, by Miguel Fuenllana

Fuenllana’s intabulation of Josquin’s two-part Fecit Potentiam

Luis de Narvaez – Fantasia del quarto tono

Spinacino’s Recercare a Juli Amours

A Toye[1] from Jane Pickeringe’s Lute Book

‘Rhona’s Tune’ – Jane Pickeringe’s Lute Book #17

‘Drawe neare me and lowe me’ – Jane Pickeringe’s Lute Book

[These last two are Scottish pieces]

Rob discussed the emergence of a solo instrumental style out of strict two-part pieces. At Bill Samson’s request he also performed a piece that doesn’t appear in Introduction to the lute, a German renaissance fantasia by Benedict de Drusina, from The Lute Society’s edition of German Renaissance Sources.

The deep sonority of the lute in E suited the music perfectly, particularly in the more introspective pieces.  All the music was beautifully interpreted by Rob, but if I had to name a favourite it would be the lovely ‘Drawe neare me and lowe me’. It was a fitting farewell from Rob, who intends to now retire from performing live, though will keep posting YouTube videos on his channel:

Next up was Bill Samson, playing on a self-made guitar modelled after an 1839 guitar by Rene Lacote.  Fernando Sor died in 1839, so this was the kind of guitar that was used when he was alive.

The pieces played were all studies by Sor: Op 35 nos 1 and 2, Op 60 nos 5 and 6

Bill’s guitar sounded beautifully reverberant in the louder, more committed passages, and sweet in the less demonstrative sections.

Glen Robertson gave his first SLEGS performance, playing the following anonymous pieces with great aplomb and with a number of his own embellishments:

Calleno Casturame (also called Calleno Custure Me)

Blue Breiks from the Skene manuscript

Pumpernickel from the Berlin lute book.

It was a confident recital of repertoire he uses to entertain school kids at educational visits to Stirling Castle.

Stuart McLuckie played his 11c lute by Paolo Busato.  He chose three anonymous pieces from Miguel Serdoura’s method for the baroque lute: Gris de Lin, Les Tricotins, and a minuet. Stuart grew in confidence during his short recital, which augurs well for future meetings. His performances on the baroque lute have come on greatly since he started playing it at SLEGS meetings.  The Menuet was particularly delightful.

Glo Lo made a welcome return to SLEGS.  She was playing a beautiful Sanchez guitar, strung in gut trebles. She played without fingernails the following pieces: Sor Etudes in D and Bm, Matteo Carcassi Etudes in A (Op60 No 3) and F (Op 60 No. 16), and Francisco Tarrega’s ‘Adelita’ (Mazurka).

Glo put us all to shame by playing all of the above pieces from memory.  The pieces by Carcassi were particularly enjoyable.

[At this point in the proceedings we had a break for some delicious ‘tenth anniversary’ vegan chocolate and raspberry cake and Champagne!].

Chris Jupp played a 6c lute in G by Luke Emmet (Orlando Lutes): Marco d’Aquila  Recercar no 4, Da Crema’s intablulation of Arcadelt’s ‘Lascia in Vello’, and Dalza’s  popular Calata ala Spagnola.

These covered an instrumental piece, a song intabulation and a dance showing us three different aspects of the development of lute music in the 16th century.  Chris’s performance was very well executed, as we have come to expect from him.

Eric Thomas was the final performer of the afternoon.  Eric introduced himself, saying that he is working on a PhD with the Huddersfield University investigating the development of the lute, its technique and its repertoire during the 16th century and explaining ricercares and fantasias are distinct musical forms.  He played a Bossinensis Ricercare (in an improvisatory style), a Spinacino Ricercare (in a more carefully planned style), two different ricercars by Francesco da Milano, interspersed with a Fantasia by Marco d’Aquila. It is clear that Eric will be a performer of note once his doctorate has been accepted. We (sort of) look forward to the days when we can’t afford to pay him to play to us!

The meeting ended at 4pm, when Rob and Bill handed on the management of SLEGS to Chris and Eric. Expect exciting plans and a new website in due course.

We’re Back!! and with a PARTY!

October 2021 will mark ten years since our first meeting. We feel this is worth a celebration!

As the website reports show, a lot has happened in that time, and although attendance numbers are often low, many of us always look forward to the meetings, and have missed them through the pandemic period. 

We plan to resume meetings on Saturday 9th October 2021, at Chris Elmes’ place*, but this time with the addition of cake! Feel free to bring your own drink of choice! 

There’s also another reason this meeting will be a special one: Rob, Philip and Bill will be handing over the organisation of future meetings to Chris Jupp and Eric Thomas during this meeting. So, there will be a look back to what we’ve done, but also a look forward from Chris and Eric about their vision for the society in the coming months and years. 

We would like everyone to be as Covid-safe as possible, and to wear a face mask (except when performing).  We understand, of course, that some who’d like to come will prefer to stay away for health reasons.
We hope you’ll be able to come along and show us what you’ve been working on during the lockdowns.

*The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

Covid Hibernation

SLEGS will go into hibernation until the coronavirus scare is over. We tried a Zoom meeting, but the consensus seems to be that it is not a good alternative.

So, stay well, wear a mask in public, and keep playing!

A further announcement will appear in due course.

Report of a Zoom Meeting 9th May 2020

Well, this was a change from our usual meetings! Thanks to Covid-19, we thought it might be interesting to hold a Zoom conference-style meeting. Did it work? Well, not quite as hoped, but probably as expected.

Thirteen people tuned in, with five people offering to play. Before I get into who played what, there are a few comments I’d like to make to potentially improve matters should we do another Zoom meeting in the future.

Sound: It’s a complex issue. Having a USB microphone helps considerably, as long as you make some audio choices in the Zoom platform. Even if you don’t use an external microphone, you can still improve the quality of sound for music, as outlined in this video:


Visuals: The next thing to consider is how you present yourself when performing, and The Lute Society has a very helpful video from someone who really knows what he is talking about, though he is really talking about making a video presentation, but the points he makes are pertinent to Zoom:


As for observers, by far the best thing you can do to improve the sound you are hearing is to use headphones. Even a cheap pair will dramatically improve the sound you are hearing, but generally speaking the more you pay the better the sound.

So, to the meeting itself!

Rob Mackillop was MC, and started with an apology for not actually playing an historically-relevant instrument. He has lately become obsessed with 5ths tuning, such as found on violins and cellos, and is doing research into what historical instrument might best suit him. A brief foray into cello playing was discouraging: the bow had a mind of its own, and the left hand required far more pressure than his hand was used to or could cope with! So his mind started wandering towards the 18th-century mandolin, the type made by Antonio Vinaccia, with a gut first string, and thin harpsichord wire for the remaining courses, with the 4th course being in octaves. Such a setup would be quite different from the more modern high-tension instruments. However, there are very few luthiers making historically accurate instruments, and those who do tend to copy the most ornate instruments, for which they naturally charge premium prices.

And then Rob “discovered” the Brescian or Cremonese mandolin, which had four single gut strings. This is definitely something Rob was interested in, but to make sure he really wanted to play the repertoire for it he tuned his ukulele in 5ths, CGDA, which is how he came to be performing a ukulele at a SLEGS meeting!

Rob’s ego told him he was the inventor of the Ukelin or Mandolele (!) but soon discovered that it is a known thing, and of course – we should have known – the string company Aquila-Corde already sell 5ths-tuning sets for ukuleles. Just think of the extent of the repertoire that uses 5ths tuning: all the Bach cello suites and violin Partitas and Sonatas, not to mention pretty much everything ever written for these instruments! And then there is the mandolin: a good-sized mountain of music is there to be plundered.

Rob chose to play “De la Reine de la Golconde“, a theme with two variations, from Pietro Denis‘ Method for mandolin, Paris, 1768. The beautiful theme is often over-romanticised by using higher positions on lower strings (Segovia’s editions of Bach come to mind), yet the original notation seems to imply otherwise. The theme is no less beautiful for playing in first position, and the mellowness of the ukulele made a good argument for doing so. The two variations explored mandolin plectrum techniques before a return of the opening theme.

We shall wait and see where Rob ends up in his exploration of 5ths tuning.

Next up was Bill Samson, playing his own-made classical guitar, but not before showing us a three-quarters-finished copy of a Lacote guitar, which he will hopefully play for us at the next meeting. Bill played a beautiful study by Carcassi, number 1 from volume 3 of his Opus 59 guitar method, and his interpretation caught the spirit of it perfectly. It would be good to hear it again on his Lacote, and hopefully with the audio recording quality settled.

Philip Lord played his Michael Lowe 13c lute the following three items: Prelude from Stockholm Kungliga Biblioteek S176, a Sarabande from the same source, and Preliminaire from Kalmar 21068 (Another Swedish manuscript). Despite sound issues, this was the most assured performance we have heard from Philip on the 13c, so keep it up, sir!

Two latecomers appeared after having been waiting in a Google room. Not their fault. When Zoom sent out the invitation it included a link to go there, why I don’t know. They missed the entirety of the preceding performances. But, better late than never…

Chris Jupp gave a wonderful rendition of Francesco da Milano’s Fantasia, Ness 38. This is not an easy piece to physically execute, but even harder to make a musical statement with. Chris managed both with aplomb, and it is wonderful to see his performances improving with every meeting. Find a singer, Chris, and let’s hear some lute-song repertoire.

Stuart McLuckie played two pieces from the Lute Society’s 70 Easy to Intermediate pieces for Renaissance lute: number 29 Balletto and number 32, the Balletto de Florenza. Stuart also played well, tasteful and with a good rhythm. It was a good way to end proceedings.

I only had the presence of mind to take one screen shot, this of Chris Jupp, the one handed lute player (let’s see both hands next time, Chris!)


To sum up, a partial success, partial failure. Once we all get our sound and posing sorted, it might be worthwhile doing another such meeting.




Next Meeting: 19th September, 2020

The 34th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 19th September, 2020.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of the 33rd Meeting: 7 March, 2020

In the absence of Rob MacKillop, Bill Samson was ‘master of ceremonies’.
We had a turnout of eight, four of them new faces to SLEGS. After introducing ourselves we got down to some music making.
First up was Stuart McLuckie, playing his Paulo Busato 11c baroque lute.  He played an anonymous French piece “Le Gris de Lin”, a charming Minuet by S.L. Weiss and an anonymous ‘Lesson’ arranged by Linda Sayce.  Stuart’s playing was assured and fluent and the pieces were well interpreted.
Bill Samson took the floor next with his most recent self-made guitar, strung with gut trebles and Aquila Ambra 900 basses.  This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great Italian/French composer Ferdinando Carulli.  Bill played three pieces by Carulli; starting off with a Waltz, then  an Andantino.  Bill spoke about the use ‘notes inegales’ in the baroque era and evidence for their survival into the 20th century.  Miguel Llobet recorded Sor’s B-minor study in 1925 and played in an inegale style.  On the basis of this evidence Bill played an etude by Carulli using inegales for the ubiquitous arpeggios.  It brought a smile to some faces! (particularly when Bill’s phone rang during the performance!)
The last player was Chris Jupp, playing his 6c lute by Luke Emmet.  Chris spoke about the difference between the 6c lute and later renaissance lutes, particularly the musical effect of octave stringing on the 6th, 5th and 4th courses. Chris tries always to play unfamiliar repertoire and I suspect none of us were familiar with the three pieces he played.  First he played a beautifully melancholy intabulation of Josquin’s “Adieu mes Amours”, by Hans Neusidler.  Next came a fantasia by Rafaele Viola from the Phalese book (1571).  This is one of only two surviving pieces by the composer.  It   was very well performed despite some tricky passages in the upper register.  Finally he played Hans Neusidler’s intabulation of Heinrich Isaac’s Benedictus – a stunningly contrapuntal piece in which Chris did a fine job of bringing out the separate voices.
After this shorter-than-usual playing session, there was a good deal of chat and swapping of instruments and information.

Next Meeting: 7 March, 2020

The 33rd meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 7th March, 2020.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 32nd Meeting: December 14th, 2019

Due to the inclement weather, only a few diehards emerged from their hovels today, but as ever the bonhomie and that rare thing theses days – the opportunity to hear lutes and historical guitars – made the effort worthwhile.

Philip Lord got us off to an interesting start with two Renaissance lute pieces played on his Paul Thomson vihuela. The first was given a fine performance, the second proved a bit more demanding on player and listener, but both were well received.

Bill Samson introduced his new self-made guitar, which has some unusual sources for the main timbers. The soundboard is of “sinker” cedar – trees that were swept down a Canadian river by loggers, only to get stuck in undergrowth, and discovered decades later. One farmer used it for fence posts, with shavings from that eventually finding their way into Bill’s hands. Four panels from the fence posts were needed to form the soundboard of this relatively small Bouchet-influenced guitar. The back and sides were made of walnut from his grannie’s old kitchen table!

Bill played three “lessons” from the second book by by Julio Sagreras, an Argentinian professor of the guitar in the early years of the 20th century. Bill’s playing was fine, really stylish in appropriate ways for the repertoire, and he pulled some beautiful tones out of his instrument. Bravo!

Rob Mackillop for once had nothing prepared, but borrowed Bill’s guitar, and read more Sagreras lessons, including a tremolo piece. Emilio Pujol – an authority on the technique of his teacher, Francisco Tárrega – described the no-nails tremolo as sounding “ethereal”, unlike it’s more articulated nail equivalent. The sound Rob produced was indeed a murmur, very gentle.

Chris Jupp treated his 6c Luke Emmet lute to three fantasias by Francesco da Milano, all found in British manuscripts: N62, N40, and the wonderful N33 which must have been heard – and surely approved of – by John Dowland. We look forward to further 6c adventures by Chris at future meetings.

Stuart McLuckie brought proceedings to a close with a Branle, Corrente and a curiously-timed Galliard in 4/4, all by Emanuel Adriaenssen, which were pleasant enough, at times sounding like 16th-century Belgian pop songs, very tuneful and danceable.

Members seemed reluctant to wander back out into the cold and sodden streets, so a wheen of blethers could be heard for some time. Well done, all.

B&W photies by Rob Mackillop, colour by Bill Samson. Click for larger versions.

Date of Next Meeting: 14th December 2019

The 32nd meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 14th December, 2019.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.