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Page from the Lute Book of Lord Herbert of Cherbury

Edward, First Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648) was ‘a Citizen of the world’, combining a career as a courtier, soldier and diplomat, with that of a writer, religious philosopher and musician. His Lute Book is one of the most important anthologies of 17th-century lute music, including works by the great John Dowland (1563-1626), other English lutenists, and major French composers. Herbert acquired the empty book in Paris in around 1608 and assembled its contents over a long period of time; it is still in its original gilt olive morocco binding. The music is written in tablature form, giving direct instructions to the player about where to place his fingers on the frets. It is unusual in being written by a man (Lord Herbert was one of three scribes involved), as lute books were more commonly transcribed by noblewomen.