Gregoire Brayssing: Complete Music for Renaissance Guitar

Sometimes, it’s all about the music. Because the music is all we have. Virtually nothing is known of Gregoire Brayssing. It’s possible he was German. It’s almost certain that he played the Renaissance guitar. And he definitely published Quart livre de tablature de guitarre in 1553. That’s it.

The Renaissance guitar sits somewhere between the lute and the modern guitar. Unlike the lute, which had a bowl-shaped body, the Renaissance guitar is flat. Its body has a vague hourglass shape, like a modern guitar.

The lute had a neck that held the tuning pegs at a 90-degree angle. The Renaissance guitar’s neck is straight, like a modern instrument. One of the biggest differences was the arrangement of strings.

Lutes had pairs of strings, called courses, with a single string for the highest pitches. Renaissance lutes typically had 8-10 courses (17-21 strings total). The Renaissance guitar had but four courses (9 strings total).

Different string arrangements meant different playing techniques. Brayssing understood his instrument well. His music is a compendium of playing techniques that take full advantage of the guitar.

Fedrico Rossignoli is a specialist in Renaissance guitar and cittern. His playing is here is flawless. There’s no sliding from note to note — each plucked with precision. His runs are pristine.

The Renaissance guitar sounds like a lute, but with a slightly more robust resonance. And Rossignoli plays . He doesn’t pluck the strings delicately, but strength, letting them ring.

Yes. This is a recording of incredibly obscure music by an unknown composer for an esoteric instrument. None of that matters. We have the music. This instrument playing these compositions is a beautiful sound. A sound that anyone can enjoy.

Gregoire Brayssing: Complete Music for Renaissance Guitar
Federico Rossignoli, Renaissance guitar
Brilliant Classics 96448

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