Gordon Gregory

A Songe called Trumpetts by Robert Parsons

About this quartet 

The piece Replete for three Lutes which appears the Brogytyn Lute Book (pp. 18-19) was identified as a transcription of the 4 lower parts of Robert Parsons' A Songe called Trumpetts by Ian Davies in the 1984 Lute Society journal. It is the only known trio in the English lute repertoire and was a fine addition. 

Ian arranged the two upper parts of “Trumpetts” for 2 lutes at the same pitch as the Brogyntyn part. In 1984 this was perfectly understandable as lutes of different sizes were rare, but the upper parts were difficult to play at a reasonable tempo because they were largely confined to the first course and went as high as the “k” fret.  

Some years later Chris Goodwin arranged these upper parts for lutes a fourth higher than the Brogyntyn part. I like to think I suggested this to him, and will certainly try to steal some of his credit. Chris’s arrangement made the trio much more playable, but there were still problems. 

The Brogyntyn part only covered three of the lower voices so the trio omitted one of the tenor parts. The three voice part was difficult to play at the sprightly tempo the piece seems to require. But more importantly the Brogyntyn part concealed the delightful exchanges between the lower voices, especially the two bass parts. 

I thought it would be easier to play if there were two bass lutes, each restricted to two voices and with the two bass parts split between them. Again to make it easier, I also used the same barring as the Brogyntyn scribe, ignoring the barring of the original viol piece and some of the ties in the upper parts were removed. I used George Steel's edition of the viol sextet to recreate these parts.

If my new lute quartet is played on 2 F lutes and 2 G lutes, it is in the same key as the original viol sextet. 

I would like to thank Ian Davies, the Brogyntyn scribe and George Steel, none of whom I’ve ever met, for their help. If Ian or George should chance to read this: thanks, respect!

How to use these files

Print the part you want to play, open the lute score in Fronimo, adjust the pitches to suit, choose the slowest tempo imaginable, delete your part from the score (Control+Shift+Delete) and select play (Alt+P) (there is a two bar count-in added to the beginning of the score).

Lute score Viol score  
Lute 1 in A (part 1) Lute 1 in C (part 1)  
Lute 2 in A (part 2) Lute 2 in C (part 2)  
Lute 3 in G (parts 3 & 5)    
Lute 4 in G (parts 4 & 6)    
Back to Lute Duets & Ensembles Minus One

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