The magic of the Lute!
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Have you ever heard someone playing a Lute? I bet you didn't! Not many play this instrument these days because of certain drawbacks related to its volume.
In the medieval era, this instrument made its place in the Baroque music style, a typical European style of music in other words.
To be honest, I had never heard the sound of Lute, but before writing this blog, I streamed a few songs Online and trust me, the sound has a power, a power of healing!
It is originally Arabic but what I feel is, it has a touch of Nordic style of music.
The ravishing, sweet, royal and ecstatic would be the right words to summarize the sound of this string instrument. It is usually a 15 strings instrument but it may vary.
"Probably played by the victorious knights after a long exhausting battle to celebrate the triumph!!" - that kind of sound this instrument possesses.
It is like watching a giant waterfall x10 slower, knowing where each droplet is going to land, just like knowing how each note is going to cast a spell on your mind!!
What I would recommend is, please stream a few songs played on Lute, it is indeed magical!
Caravaggio's The Lute Player
One of the most famous paintings by Caravaggio is "The Lute Player" (ca. 1595), which has many more versions, but personally found this one a bit more appealing.
- The facial features of the young boy playing the Lute shows that the song he plays is joyful.
I could also see a girl when I look at the face closely, making this figure androgynous, having both men and women like features.
- Still Life is beautifully depicted in this piece of Art, the Flowers like Marigold, Daisies, Lilies, red rose bushes, and many other, submerged in the Vase full of crystal clear Water and Fruits like Pears, cucumber, raspberry leaves et cetra on the table is a perfect example of it.
The Still Life elements in this painting can be seen as the symbol of freshness, as if the chords played by the young boy brought these elements to life:
- The reflection of the light on the Vase shows the accuracy of Caravaggio's work.
This reflection is also evident on the glassy surface of the fruits, the tip of the Violin-bow, the exposed boundary of the violin, the placement of the shadow of the bow on the Tablature.
This source of light could be a slightly opened window or a door.
- The violin is used as the page holder of the Lute Tablature.
- A small breeze probably sneaking in through the slightly open Window allowing the page of the Tablature to rustle a bit.
- The Lute Tablature is written on six lines containing numbers 0, 1, 2 and 3 denoting the notes on the fret, which can be clearly seen by taking a close look at it.
- The rays of the sun passing diagonally through the room can be seen on the wall in the background, a common element seen in most of the Caravaggio's paintings:
- Hence, there are two sources of light in the room, one probably from the ventilator window above and the other from the slightly open Window which brightens up all the elements in the Painting, unlike the ray from the Ventilator, which just passes without touching anything on the way.
- The precise placement of the fingers on the fret and the fingers plucking the strings shows that he has a good grip on the 12 string Lute with a bent neck for a better tension on the strings:
His technique of reflection and light can be seen in many of his other Paintings,
The calling of Saint Matthews 1600
Michele Angelo Merigi da Caravaggio was well known to dramatically use the contrast between light and the dark, which is also known as tenebrism.
This unique form of Art brought a new level of insight, it literally gave Life to the subjects in the Painting.
Ethical, politically or religiously correct, were the words not found in his dictionary. He always crossed the line by breaking all the stereotypes of the then existing society and yet was prominent for his work.
An Italian artist with his mastery on Baroque style paintings, trained in Milan before moving in to Rome, he established himself as one of the most revered Italian painters of his generation!