Report of 24th Meeting: 9 December, 2017

Bill Samson chaired the meeting, in Rob MacKillop’s absence, with Philip Lord taking photos and dealing with administrative matters.

First to play was Bill Samson, playing his tiny mandore (mandour, mandurgen, pandurina . . .).  After briefly introducing the instrument and speculating on its use Bill played a Courante and ‘Pantalon’ (a.k.a. The Buffens, Bergamesca . . .) both from the Ulm mandore manuscript.  He finished the set with his own arrangement of ‘Patientia’ – a courante/air and double which appears in several sources.  Panmure 5 was the source that Bill used for his arrangement.  One source names the composer as Gaultier, but there were several Gaultiers.  It was perhaps Jacques Gaultier (a.k.a. ‘English’ Gaultier)

David Bateman (baroque guitar) and Oreste de Tomasso (bass viol) played a lovely Adagio from a suite by Nathaniel Diesel.

Yasuhiro Nakamura brought his French Theorbe de Pieces – a small theorbo in D – and played a stylish Prelude and Allemande by Robert de Visee, with characteristic grace.  It was a real treat to hear the sound of the small theorbo.

Philip Lord brought along a 19th century guitar that he had been given at the age of 20.  It is labelled ‘Keith Prowse’.   In style it is similar to the work of Louis Panormo – also working in London at that time.  It has an unusual scalloped fingerboard and machine heads.  Inside the case were a number of documents, including a receipt for ships’ instruments to a Captain Millman dated 1837.  Intriguingly there was part of a string packet with the address 122 Nethergate, Dundee.  That was the premises occupied by Methven Simpson’s music shop until 1909.  The instrument has recently been extensively restored and repaired.

Chris Jupp played Philip’s guitar – a Minuet and Waltz by Fernando Sor.  This is just the kind of music that the guitar was made for.  It has an excellent sound.

Gloria Lo spoke about Sor and his music and played two Sor studies – Opus 60 nos. 5&6, and Opus 31 no.2 –  and one by Carcassi – Opus 60 No.3 – which she played with great sensitivity on her gut-strung guitar.

Stuart McLuckie played his 8-course lute by James Marriage – ‘Chelsea Reach’ from the Playford book and two pieces by Marco d’Aquila.

Oreste de Tomasso played his baroque cello for us.  It is a 5-string instrument which has an 18th century back and sides and the soundboard of a more recent cello.  He explained the different construction features compared with a modern cello and the various tunings that were used in the time of J.S. Bach.  He played Minuets 1 and 2 from the Suite number 1 in G major, by Bach.

Oreste answered questions about early bowed instruments – particularly the viol and the cello as well as the smaller violoncello da spalla which is played rather like a viola, under the chin.

The meeting continued with chat and discussion.


Date of Next Meeting: Saturday 9th December, 2017

The 24th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 9th December, 2017.

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.

IMPORTANT NEWS: Following on from the contribution made by Oreste De Tomasso, who played some viola da gamba music at the last meeting, we have decided to open up our doors to the Scottish viol community. This is long overdue, as the viola da mano and viola d’arco are sister instruments. It is our hope that more viol players come and join our quarterly meetings. You could perform one very short piece, or a longer set; play solo or ensemble; give an illustrated talk about an aspect of viola technique, history, publication, manuscript – anything that you feel is of interest. Our society encourages performances from complete beginners through to seasoned performers, all are equal.

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 on 23rd Meeting, 16 September, 2017

Our usual Master of Ceremonies, Rob MacKillop, was unable to make it to this meeting, so Bill Samson and Philip Lord did what was needed. Words by Bill, photography by Philip.

After an initial chat and introductions of new attendees, the playing began.  All of us had pieces to play, which is just how it should be.

First to play was Stuart McLuckey.  Stuart played two pieces by Marco d’Aquila – one called ‘Casa Cossa’ – essentially the same music as that to which Thomas Wyatt’s song ‘Blame not my Lute’ is set.  Next came a Ricercare which was played beautifully with all its subtleties brought out.  Finally Stuart played an arrangement by Linda Sayce of ‘Kensington Court’ from Playford.

New member Oreste De Tomasso brought along his lyra viol.  The instrument was made for him by Alexander Batov and as well as the six stopped strings it has six metal sympathetic strings that pass under the main bridge and the fingerboard.  Lyra Viol employs a style of playing that uses chords and shows off the capabilities of the viol as a solo instrument.

Oreste played two pieces from the Manchester Gamba Book, published in tablature between 1660-1680. He displayed rare sensitivity for the style of music from this period.  First was a setting of ‘Monsieur’s Almaine’ by Richard Sumarte (15?? – after 1630).  Next came a Courante by Stephen Goodhall (fl 1600). Plans are afoot for more viol activity at future SLEGS meetings. 


Ronnie McIntyre attended our last meeting without an instrument.  This time he brought his guitar and played two pieces by Tarrega – the mazurka ‘Adelita’ and ‘Capriccio Arabe’.  Both were played with great skill and gusto.

It was a great pleasure to welcome back our occasional visitor Yasuhiro Nakashima.  He was playing his exquisite van der Waals lute.  He played his own fine arrangements of two untitled Irish pieces.  His excellent technique and feeling for the music shone through in his performance.

Chris Jupp brought along his recently acquired Ramirez guitar, which he played with flesh technique, bringing out an excellent tone quality.  He played Coste’s arrangement of Waltz number 6, by Strauss.  Next came Tarrega’s arrangement of the habanera ‘La Paloma’.  He finished with another, technically demanding Tarrega piece – Waltz in D-major.

Philip Lord played his beautiful Michael Lowe baroque lute.  He started with an arrangement by Wilfred Foxe of an Irish Air by o’Neill, which employs the right hand thumb only!  This was followed by an intriguing ‘Cappricce’ from the manuscript D-Rou. Mus. Saec. XVII.18-52, AKA the Lute Book of Luise Friederike von Mecklenburg-Schwerin. He finished with a performance of ‘I love my love in secret’ from the Balcarres lute book.  Like many of the pieces from this collection it has a fiendishly tricky bass line.

Then David Bateman played his new 5c guitar.  He started with the first movement of a sonata (‘For a Princess’) from the Danish ‘Diesel’ guitar book and then played a Folia from the same book.  It was very pleasant to hear the bright sound of the baroque guitar once again. He also showed a wire-strung charango.

Finally, Bill Samson played his 1988 guitar based loosely on one of the smaller guitars by Manuel Ramirez, from around 1900.  The trebles are of gut and Bill plays with flesh.  He played Tarrega’s ‘Lagrima’ and then ‘Adelita’.  He spoke briefly about the insights a player can get by studying original sources of music.  Many pieces are now more familiar to us as arrangements by relatively modern guitarists and it’s instructive to see how these differ from the composer’s intentions.

Following the performances there was an opportunity for attendees to chat to each other, compare instruments and so on – by no means the least important part of a SLEGS meeting!

Date Of Next Meeting: Saturday 16th September, 2017

The 23rd meeting will take place on Saturday 16th September, 2017.

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: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report on 22nd meeting, 3rd June, 2017

When the world seems to be tearing itself apart, it is somehow comforting to know that people can still come together to share peaceful interests. Long may it continue. Ours is a small society, arguably a support group, and there is nothing wrong with that. Each of us struggles to play beautiful music as best we can, and in so doing bring a little more beauty and, yes, harmony into the world. Thankfully we are far from being alone.

Bill Samson started with a Show And Tell session, with two new terz guitars he has recently made for his granddaughters. A terz guitar is tuned a minor 3rd higher than standard, with a string length (in this case) of 54cms. They were popular in the 19th century, with Giuliani writing concerti for terz guitar and orchestra.

Rob MacKillop joined Bill for a performance of two duets – the 3rd and 6th Leziones from the Method by Carulli, which were well received. Here is a video the dynamic duo made at Bill’s home a few days earlier:

Bill went on to play a Divertimento and Melodia by Bartolomé Calatayud, who once studied with Francisco Tárrega. Charming repertoire, romantic, though never troubling in any emotional sense. Bill acquitted himself well, as always. I must say the craftsmanship on these two small twin instruments is among Bill’s best, and I’m sure his granddaughters will treasure them.

Chris Jupp played another Samson instrument, an 11c lute, largely strung in gut.  The Kremsmunster MS L82b contains many charming pieces, some of them appearing in Stefan Lundgren’s Baroque Lute Companion, from which Chris chose a Prelude and an Aria in Dm. Both were lovely, and left this reviewer wanting more. Please prepare a small suite of pieces for the next meeting, Chris.

Glo Lo treated us to more Calatayud on her low-tuned, gut-strung Ricardo Sanchis 2A guitar from 1988: a small suite of pieces, Vals, Romanza, Pasodoblillo, and Cancion de Cuna. Glo produces a very pleasing sound with the combination of gut strings and a no-nails technique. Only in the Passodoblo did she struggle to keep on top of the instrument, but considering how long she has been playing, she is doing very well.

Philip Lord played a Paysanne by the Belgian composer, Jacques de St Luc, on his beautiful 13c Michael Lowe lute. I jotted down the words, plaintive and calming. Onwards and upwards for Philip, this was a seemingly nerves-free performance.

Charles Browne gave his SLEGS debut, with a mini recital of challenging works by Weiss, a Prelude in F, and a Prelude and Fugue in Dm, from the edition by Peter Lay of six sonatas. His Martin Bowers 11c lute (ex Robert Spencer) was tuned precisely to 408, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but the sound was good, strong when it needed to be, or equally delicate. Weiss’s music is always interesting and varied, with block chords of interesting harmony, extended arpeggios and slurred scale runs, there is always much to tune into. While tone production could have been a little less aggressive, and with his chosen tempi daring to run away from him, Charles’ commitment to his performance is to be commended. All in all, a fine debut, and we look forward to hearing more from him at future meetings.

Gordon Ferries drew the performing part of proceedings to a fine conclusion, playing music for archlute by Kapsberger, Toccatas Nos.7 then 6, from the composer’s 1611 edition. As ever with Kapsberger, we were treated to a variety of moods and gestures, with imitative passages, runs in parallel tenths, long sequences of juicy appogiaturas, and spicy chromaticism – all heady stuff, which Gordon played with taste and grace. It’s always good to hear Gordon play, and we all look forward to his next performance.

As ever, much mingling ensued, with instruments being passed around. Nice to see two new faces in the audience, Ronnie Macintyre and Rebecca Laird. Visitors always welcome. Thanks agin to Chris Elmes for use of his beautiful room.

Photos by Rebecca Laird (below) and Bill Samson.



Date of Next Meeting: Saturday 3rd June, 2017

The 22nd meeting will take place on Saturday 3rd June, 2017.

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: robmackillopATgmailDOTCOM

Report of 21st Meeting: 25 February, 2017

A good turnout, with some new faces, which is always good to see. Thanks once more to Chris Elmes for use of his rooms.

After a good chin wag, the music started. [Most photos can be enlarged with a click.]


Rob MacKillop:  Vieux Gaultier: Tombeau de Mesangeau and Carillon, followed by a Robert de Visée Allemende in Dm from the Saizenay MS.

Rob introduced his selection by showing us two books and one lute. The first book was Rob’s own, “Introduction To The Lute – for lute and guitar players“, which is published by Mel Bay. More info HERE. The other book was by Peter Croton, “Performing Baroque Music on the Lute & Theorbo“. More info HERE.


Rob then discussed “The Weiss Lute” from Le Luth Doré, the company set up by Miguel Serdoura to provide Chinese-made student and professional lutes of high quality at good prices. The reaction seemed unanimous, in that the lute sounded excellent, and was very-well made. Rob had strung the lute with gut trebles by Bow Brand, and loaded-nylgut bass fundamentals from Aquila, which also led to enquiries from other players.

The music had some beautiful moments, and we look forward to hearing Rob play more baroque music at future meetings.


Bill Samson played on his self-made replica Torres FE18, which sounded full and rounded. Sor’s beautiful studies (Op35 no 2, Op 60 numbers 4 and 5) were played very sensitively in a memorable performance. Give us an encore next time, Bill!


Stuart McLuckie was up next, with two rather contrasting pieces on his James marriage 8c lute:  Tielman Susato’s “Mille Regrez”, and Carolan’s “Separation of body and soul” – an intriguing title, not quite matched but the composition itself. But Stuart, as ever, gave a good performance, never failing to entertain us with some decent lute playing.

Stuart also entertained us by getting into a fankle with his new strap:



Glo Lo gave her SLEGS debut. Despite a few nerves (not uncommon, even for seasoned performers!) Glo played beautifully and sensitively, two pieces from Fred Noad’s “Solo Guitar Playing” book: Carulli’s Andantino, and a Robert De Visée Sarabande.


Although fairly new to the classical guitar, she enjoys playing without the use of fingernails on her right hand, and on gut treble strings. She also plays at a very low pitch of C#, which sounded really full and beautiful on her Ricardo Sanchis 2A guitar from 1988. After the recitals, Glo was seen playing Bill Samson’s guitar. According to Bill, “It was great hearing her with my Torres playing a Sor study when she thought nobody was listening!” Go Glo!


Chris Jupp   gave his 11c debut, after a few years of performances as a Renaissance-lute player. The Minuet, Chaconne and Aria from the Berlin MS, were performed with style and grace on his 11c Lute by Bill Samson, strung largely in gut by Damian Dlugolecki. It was great to hear Chris tackle the baroque instrument and repertoire. His right-hand placement seemed perfect, close to the bridge, which is the best way to pluck gut strings. So, more please, Chris!


Philip Lord performed on his excellent 13c lute by Michael Lowe, a Folia from the Berlin MS which Chris had just played from. Philip’s performance started a little shakily, but really developed confidence as the variations increased. It was a relatively long piece, with each variation making different demands from the performer, who did a very good job overall.

So, we heard three baroque lutes from three different luthiers, and with three different types of bass strings: gut, loaded-nylgut, and copper-wound nylon silk. Quite an education! Each string gave a different quality and timbre of sound, yet all seemed to sound appropriate for the player and the instrument.


The final performance (another SLEGS debut) was by Alex McCartney, who played Fantasias by Mudarra and Paladin. The sound from his Luke Emmet 6c lute was magnificent, really warm, rounded and loud. Alex is a front-rank player, playing extended fantasias with assurance and apparent ease. It was only just that his applause was also warm, rounded and loud! I was familiar with the Mudarra, but not at all familiar with the fantasias by Lyons-based Paladin. There was one chromatic cadence which really raised this reviewer’s eyebrows, and a slight smile from the performer. I hope Alex goes on to record a Paladin program. We were all delighted to see and hear Alex, and hope that he can make the journey from Glasgow again for future meetings. Alex has an online lute class, which comes highly recommended.

B&W photos by Rob MacKillop, colour photos and photo of Rob MacKillop, by Bill Samson.