Deborah Fox presents Early Stringed Instruments, January 8, 2007


Deborah Fox plays the theorbo

This meeting of the Rochester Guitar Club was held in the usual room at Spirit Organic on the third floor of 34 Elton Street. Twenty to Twenty-five people attended including new as well as familiar faces. Chairs were rented with money collected at the previous meeting.

January meeting presentation by Deborah Fox: lute, theorobo, early guitar, and early music. Deborah is one of the best lute players around Rochester and plays several period stringed instruments as well. Beginning as a classical guitarist, she studied lute with world-class lutenist, Paul O’Dette and now has her own group, Pegasus. (

Deborah discussed in considerable detail the development of various stringed instruments including the lute and guitar over the centuries. She talked about their tuning and construction as well as playing styles. The highest tuned string is not necessarily the top string! Her own instruments are modern copies of renaissance and baroque instruments. She uses various types of strings including gut which is warm sounding and comfortable to play on, but not as stable as nylon or steel. She quipped that the Renaissance lasted 150 years because it took nearly that long to tune the instruments! A number of small home-grown manufacturers exist today which produce gut strings.


Deborah’s presentation was interspersed with delightful examples played on her lute, baroque guitar and theorbo. The theorbo is a particularly intriguing instrument with several extra, long bass strings. Her down-to-earth, but well-informed style of presentation and playing was well received by those attending and inspired a great deal of discussion. Deborah was gracious enough not only to refuse payment for the evening, but to stay and listen as well to our round-robin style of presentation in which we play for each other in a non-critical atmosphere. This by the way is an excellent opportunity for everyone to get comfortable with solo playing in front of their peers. There was a great variety as usual, much of it somewhat related to the theme of early music.

At the end, Kinloch and Deborah played together on guitar and lute some interesting variations of the familiar Greensleeves and a delightful piece called “A Woman is a Branched Tree.” Deborah closed the evening with a lovely presentation of the Elizabethan tune “Wilson’s Wilde.”

Next month’s meeting will feature Jerry Preston and his percussive-like effects. It will again be held on the second Monday of the month, February 12 at 7 pm.

— Richard Taglieri, photos by Kinloch Nelson

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