Resources and links

About this page

A selective list of publications and websites (there are loads!) that have published Renaissance music and ukulele tabs, or have just inspired me, or I have found useful. 

In this blog I try to credit all my sources; if I have failed to do so, please let me know.



Poulton, Diana. 1982. John Dowland (Revised Edition). London: Faber & Faber.
The John Dowland book. Accounts of his life and his works for lute, song accompaniments, consort settings, etc. Exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting to read. 
    The P-numbers in titles of the transcriptions that I post refer to Poulton's numbering of JD's lute works in this book, thereby avoiding confusion when different pieces share the same name. Any semblance of learning in this blog is drawn mostly from this and the following publication.

Poulton, Diana and Lam, Basil. 1995. The collected lute music of John Dowland, Ed 3. London: Faber Music.
The definitive source for JD's music for solo lute. Expensive, but I am so glad that I eventually bought a copy. Has lute tabs (which could be used by a guitarist who didn't mind retuning his 3rd string to F#), and full transcription into piano format (which I find useful in disentangling the often 4 voices in the original, and setting note lengths). One can only marvel at the assiduousness of the authors in travelling round the world to read MSS in an age before online publication of facsimilies.

Baroque guitar

Tyler, James. 2001. A guide to playing the Baroque guitar. Indiana University Press.
A most excellent work, clearly written and beautifully printed.  If I had bought this book a month ago I would have saved myself a number of misconceptions, and hours searching online. Section 1 deals with the instrument and how to play it, whilst Section 2 has transcriptions of 17 pieces in a fair copy of the original formats, plus notation and commentary. I shall be shamelessly mining this book for pieces to transcribe for the ukulele.

Ukulele arrangements

MacKillop, Rob. 2011. 20 Spanish Baroque pieces by Gaspar Sanz, arranged for uke. Pacific: Mel Bay.
The pieces are arranged in campanella style, very appropriate for the composer. The level of hardness ranges from 2 to 6 on my scale. I have found it fascinating how the arrangements have been made, and have enormously enjoyed playing them.

Mizen, T.  2011. From lute to uke. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard.
A wonderful book showing tabs and notation for Renaissance lute music from Britain, France, Spain and Germany. Written for uke with re-entrant tuning. It was modifying these arrangements for the low-G lute that sent me back to the originals – hence this site. 

Nelson, MK. 2006. Learn to play fingerstyle solos for 'ukulele. Pacific: Mel Bay.

Excellent range of music from Hawaiian (of course), to Danny Boy, to Bach. Also, a few nicely-harmonised Renaissance pieces.

Nelson, MK. 2012. Favorite fingerstyle solos for ukulele. Pacific: Mel Bay.
A wide range of pieces of varying hardness, and almost as good as the previous volume. There are four easy pieces from the Renaissance (Branle, Bonny Sweet Robin, Nonesuch and Volte), and I should learn from them how to make my own arrangements more accessible.

Sarek, O. 2010. Classics for Ukulele. Pacific: Mel Bay.

All good stuff: Monteverdi, Tchaikovsky, Greig etc. Unfortunately, the setter put the string lines in the tabs too close together, so it can be difficult to read the fingerings in the chords.

Michael Walker
Since starting this blog, I have been made aware of Michael's many publications for baritone ukulele and Renaissance guitar. They should mostly be playable on all ukes.  Just put his name in Amazon or Abebooks, and browse.

A lovely collection of arrangements for low- and high-G ukuleles, by Michael Parmenter. I have had great fun playing them. This is where I heard about TablEdit. I try not to tread on his toes.
Loads of arrangements for a range of instruments, including the low-G ukulele.
Interesting chat and an archive of tabs, or links thereto. A must.

Valéry Sauvage
The incredibly productive UkeVal (see below) has kindly sent me these links to his great list of tabs:
Warning: he is so good, he may leave you with feelings of inadequacy!

A selection of the most useful sites etc, selected by a professional teacher. Should save you a lot of searching.

Got a ukulele
An exhaustive site. Reviews of instruments, books & brands; chords & tabs; tuition; lists of uke clubs; etc, etc.

Large resource of words & chords for most types of music for ukulele players. Very well catalogued and indexed. Mostly in French (with English subtitles), but perfectly accessible. See his museum page for a good laugh.

Ukulele chords by Ukebuddy
There are many chord finders on the web. This is the best designed that I have found, and accommodates the F Bb D G tuning I used to use on my tenor. Also: scales, arpeggios, scales and chord namer.

The uke's ancestors and how they were tuned

As the uke probably evolved from and was similar to, various early guitars, the old music often fits well on it. As the music was mostly in tablature, we have to know the tunings that were used - particularly when they were re-entrant.

Early Music Muse
"The guitar: a brief history from the renaissance to the modern day"

Tuning the Renaissance guitar
My summary: it was tuned more or less like the ukulele (G C E A), but with the second, third and fourth courses having paired strings in unison, whilst the first was single. The 4th course could be G3–G3 (low-G or linear), G4–G4 (re-entrant, as in most ukes) or  G3–G4 (bordón plus requinta, with G4 nearest the third course).

Tuning the Baroque guitar
My summary: tuned A D G B E: rather like the modern guitar but without the bottom E string, and with paired strings in all courses, except sometimes the first. The 4th course could be D3–D3 or D4–D3 (with D3 nearest the 3rd course, the opposite to the Renaissance guitar.) The 5th course (which has to be represented on other strings on the uke) could be A4–A3 or  A4–A4.

About the Baroque guitar
An accessible account of the Baroque guitar, its tuning, and its composers.

Early music sources
Fantastic resource of lute tabs - there must be thousands of pieces here that would take me several lifetimes to transcribe and play. A one-stop shop.

Early music Online

Facsimilies of c 10000 pieces by Le Roy etc etc.

British library
Digitised music manuscripts from the Renaissance etc.

Cambridge Digital Library
Digitised music manuscripts from the Renaissance etc.

Listen to the music

The Youtube page of the remarkable lutenist Valéry Sauvage who plays the uke too! There are hundreds of great uke solos here.

Nigel North. John Dowland: Complete lute music. Naxos, 4 CD box set.
A brilliant lutenist. I listen to these tracks, and pick the least demanding ones to translate from the lute transcriptions on Sarge Gerbode's site or, more recently, from Poulton & Lam. (see above). It is fascinating to listen to North's own variations - lots of fast runs (= divisions, or twiddly bits).

Last updated 17/03/2018

1 comment:

I hope you enjoy these arrangements. I would welcome your views, and comments on possible errors or improvements.