Touch me.

recorded by Phillip W. Serna

This piece was composed in honor of mercenary captain, English gentleman, and recreational composer and viol player Tobias Hume. Hume lived from the last quarter of the 16th century to 1645, concurrently with the lute-song composer of mythological status, John Dowland. Recreational music-making of the era was dominated by the lute and Hume spent much of his printed existence attempting to prove the worth of the viol as an equal or superior instrument. But it was not until near the end of Hume's life that the viol began to take prominence - in 1676, Thomas Mace was of the belief that playing in a consort of viols was the most sophisticated way, and indeed the only acceptable way, for a gentleman to participate in music. Hume's music actively pushes to demonstrate the variety of timbral color possible on the viol, its versatility to play both melodically and chordally, and its suitability as a solo instrument to satisfy the era's prodigal melancholic.

The present piece is composed in two versions - one for solo lyra viol and one for solo cello. The purpose of this is to (1)make the piece accessible to more potential performers, and (2) to highlight the differences between Hume's lyra viol and what is arguably its closest commonly-used relative. The lyra viol version was composed first. The cello version was arranged from the lyra viol version but was transcribed as tablature information rather than as melodic and harmonic information. So the cellist is using her/his left-hand fingers at exactly the same places as a gambist would (in condensed form, of course, since the cello has four strings to the lyra viol's six), rather than playing the pitches from the version for lyra viol. This was done in order to highlight the differences in tuning, timbre, and construction of the two instruments and their strings and bows.