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date: 12 April 2021

Theorbo [chitarrone, theorbo lute] (Fr. téorbe, théorbe, tuorbe; Ger. Theorb; It. tiorba, tuorba)locked

  • Ian Harwood,
  • Robert Spencer
  •  and James Tyler


[chitarrone, theorbo lute] (Fr. téorbe, théorbe, tuorbe; Ger. Theorb; It. tiorba, tuorba)

An instrument of the Western lute family with stopped courses considerably longer than those of a lute and with a separate nut and pegbox for a set of longer, unstopped bass strings (diapasons). The Italian names Chitarrone and tiorba were used synonymously for the same instrument, depending on personal or regional preferences. During the 17th century and part of the 18th the theorbo was popular as an accompanying instrument, and in the 17th century a certain amount of solo music in tablature was published for it.

The pegbox for the stopped strings of a theorbo is nearly aligned with the neck, not bent back sharply as on a lute. Beyond the upper end of this pegbox the neck extends to an additional pegbox for the additional bass strings. The extension is of the same piece of wood as the first pegbox, and the bass strings are kept from crossing the stopped courses by setting the extensions at a slight angle off centre....

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Rome, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Vittorio Emanuele II
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