Roman archlutes

These notes should be of some interest to the more specialised reader but hopefully they will kindle the interest of the curious player, too.

About Roman archlutes 

Already starting from the end of the 16th century, the corista di san Pietro (i.e. the pitch at which the singers performed in s. Peter in Rome) began to settle around A = 386 Hz, as can be inferred from organ pipes of the time. The consequence was a general adjustment of instruments of the lute family, theorbos included, to that pitch. And so archlutes, just as lutes before them, although nominally tuned in G, have a vibrating string length of 71-73 cm.
The instruments listed here are virtually in original condition (only the neck and extension part of the Edinburgh Harz was obviously tampered with, but it still allows to extrapolate with fair approximation the original data).
The measurements of the shells are surprisingly consistent, considering that they represent the work of  at  least five different makers (six if we include De Carnitis, who states having built his instrument in the house of Cinzio Rotondi) and the dates span about 100 years and confirm the existence of  a well consolidated tradition and a transition from lute to archlute without any noticeable breaking points, the addition of an extension being the only relevant structural feature. (A consistency which is even more striking if we consider extant Roman lutes in general, representing at least eight different makers and a time span of well over a century).
If an epochal tendency does exist, it lies perhaps in the usage of more exotic materials, the progressive reduction of the number of ribs building up the shell and a somewhat more solid construction.

Already starting from the end of the 16th century, the corista di san Pietro (i.e. the pitch at which the singers performed in s. Peter in Rome) began to settle around A = 386 Hz, as can be inferred from organ pipes of the time. The consequence was a general adjustment of instruments of the lute family, theorbos included, to that pitch. And so archlutes, just as lutes before them, although nominally tuned in G, have a vibrating string length of 71-73 cm.
The instruments listed here are virtually in original condition (only the neck and extension part of the Edinburgh Harz was obviously tampered with, but it still allows to extrapolate with fair approximation the original data).
The measurements of the shells are surprisingly consistent, considering that they represent the work of  at  least five different makers (six if we include De Carnitis, who states having built his instrument in the house of Cinzio Rotondi) and the dates span about 100 years and confirm the existence of  a well consolidated tradition and a transition from lute to archlute without any noticeable breaking points, the addition of an extension being the only relevant structural feature. (A consistency which is even more striking if we consider extant Roman lutes in general, representing at least eight different makers and a time span of well over a century).
If an epochal tendency does exist, it lies perhaps in the usage of more exotic materials, the progressive reduction of the number of ribs building up the shell and a somewhat more solid construction.

Identified Roman archlutes  

Magno Graill 
label: Magno Graill in Roma 1628
47 shaded yew ribs, 515 mm long, 363 mm wide
courses/strings and string lengths: 1×1, 5×2 + 8×1, 68.9*/144.1 cm
in Rome
*Owing to an obvious breakage at the neck-to-extension joint, the extension, probably the original one, was readapted and the joint to the neck again, in a functional, albeit anaesthetic manner; the readaptaion certainly caused a small reduction in string length(s)

Magno Graill 
label: Magno Graill in Roma 1634
39 shaded yew ribs, 515 mm long, 358 mm wide, ~170 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 1×1, 5×2 + 8×1, 70.3/148 cm
in Rome

Martinus Harz 
label: Martinus Harz / in Roma 1665
43 shaded yew ribs, 531 mm long, 360 mm wide, 170 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 6 x 2 + 8 x 1, 67.3* / 143.8 cm
musical instruments museum in Edinburg
*The alteration, whether due a breakage or to musical practice requiring a higher pitch, consisted of a shortening of the neck by at least one fret (on the neck there is not enough room for eight tied frets), and the addition of a new extension, clearly satisfying a later aesthetical style. The original fretted string length must have been at least 71 cm.

Martius Harz
label: MARTINUS HARZ / ROMÆ 1.6.6.5.
47 shaded yew ribs, 535 mm long, 364 mm wide, c. 190 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 1×1, 5×2 + 8×1, 72.9 / 156 cm
in Geneva

Antonio Giauna
label: Antonio Giauna Romano fecite (sic) 1704
27 cypress ribs, 550 mm long, 365 mm wide, c. 195 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 6×2 + 8×1, 71 / 159.5 cm
musical instruments museum in Rome

Cinzio Rotondi
label: Cinthius Rotundus Rome 1699
25 rosewood* ribs, 534 mm long, 362 mm wide, 170 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 6×2 + 8×1, 73 / 162 cm
musical instruments museum in Edinburgh
* I could not verify directly, but since it is a dark wood and the characteristics are pretty much the same as on the following instrument I assume it to be Brazilian rosewood.

Josef de Carnitis / Cinzio Rotondi
label: Josef de Carnitis fecit hoc instumentum in Domum Domini Cinthii de Rotundis Roma 1705
25 Brazilian Rosewood, 526 mm long, 368 mm wide, 166 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 6×2 + 8×1, 72.8 / 154.1 cm
museo del castello sforzesco, Milano

David Tecchler
label:  David Tecchler Fecit Rome Anno Dñi 1725
15 ebony ribs, 528 mm long, 366 mm wide, 187 mm deep
courses/strings and string lengths: 6×2 + 8×1, 71.1 / 155.5 cm
metropolitan museum New York