A lute is a string instrument like a guitar , with a body the shape of half a pear. It has a wide neck which is bent backwards at a sharp angle to form the peg box. The pegbox holds the tuning pegs, which are like the tuning pegs on a violin . The lute has a large number of strings. It has a round sound hole like a guitar, but unlike the guitar, the hole is filled with an elaborate piece of fretwork called a 'rose', this strengthens the body while letting the sound out.
You can see a very good example of a lute in the painting The Lute Player by Caravaggio. The artist actually painted two copies of this work. The one linked to here is in the Hermitage Art Gallery in St Petersburgh, Russia. The other, which is identical except for the foreground details, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York , USA. The picture shows a musician playing the lute. The figure is ambiguous - is it a boy, a woman or even a castrato ? Whoever the singer is, the lute is clearly shown.
Another good exampleContinued page 4/12