Guitare théorbée selon Michael Thames

English version of the article below

Alain Cloutier interprète ici une pièce de Weiss sur une guitare de Michael Thames, un luthier de Santa Fe, Nouveau Mexique.

Un examen attentif de l’instrument théorbé nous révèle que le manche est particulièrement bien placé, c’est-à-dire avec un angle central différent de celui de la caisse. Cette caractéristique permet au musicien de ne pas perdre ses références par rapport à l’instrument. Plus concrètement, cela veut dire passer d’une guitare 6 cordes à une guitare 13 cordes tout en restant en territoire connu, la perception cérébrale de la proprioception guitaristique n’étant que très peu affectée.

Bravo à M. Alain Cloutier pour cette belle interprétation !

Et chapeau à M. Michael Thames pour le développement de la guitare 13 cordes !

Alain Bossé

Alain Cloutier is a musician dedicated to music of Sylvius Leopold Weiss. Mr. Cloutier has uploaded a significant number of Weiss pieces on youtube for the greatest pleasure of the aficionados. Mr. Cloutier does not use a traditional baroque luth to play Weiss music. Instead, he uses a guitar named Dresden and built by the renowned luthier Michael Thames from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I have had the oppotunity to examine two Dresden guitars owned by Mr. Cloutier. Before getting into an interesting building detail, I will here mention that the Dresden instruments have exceptional live sound. Mr. Cloutier’s recordings are certainly a pleasure to listen to, but hearing his Dresdens front row is a music lover’s dream.

Careful examination of the Dresden instruments reveals that the neck has been tilted approximately three degrees from the central axis of the guitar sounding case. This building characteristic can also be found on early lutes. What is very helpful with Mr. Thame’s Dresden guitars is that it allows modern classical guitar players to switch from a standard classical guitar to a ­theorbed instrument without proproception issues. The right hand abilities will however need to be developped.

In the past, I have listened to a 11 string guitar inspired by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin (1912-1993). The Bolin instrument sounded great but quite different. The width of the Bolin’s guitar neck covered all 11 strings. In my opinion, this caused the first 4 strings of the Bolin guitar to present some steel string guitar sound characteristics. As for the 7 other strings of the Bolin inspired guitar, sound lacked the fullness of  Mr. Thame’s Dresden guitars.

Congratulations to Mr. Alain Cloutier and to Mr. Michael Thames for bringing to life a new dimension of the Weiss repertoire !

Alain Bossé