Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A large lute with a long neck having two sets of pegs, one set above and somewhat to the side of the other to accommodate a set of bass strings, used in the 1600s and early 1700s.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A musical instrument of the lute class, having two necks, the one above the other, the lower bearing the melody strings, which were stretched over a fretted finger-board, and the upper bearing the accompaniment strings or “diapasons,” which were deeper in pitch, and were played without being stopped.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Mus.) An instrument made like large lute, but having two necks, with two sets of pegs, the lower set holding the strings governed by frets, while to the upper set were attached the long bass strings used as open notes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun music A baroque lute having an extra set of open bass strings.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French théorbe, from Italian tiorba, of unknown origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Italian tiorba, from Turkish torba.

Examples

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • Sting accompanies himself on an archlute, also called a theorbo, and is joined on some numbers by lutenist Edin Karamazov.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • (Soundbite of song, "Nuove Musiche") WHARTON: That's Rolf Lislevand playing the ancient lute called a theorbo on "Nuove Musiche," one of producer Manfred Eicher's CDs from the past year.

    Grammy's Hidden Surprises

  • Sting accompanies himself on an archlute, also called a theorbo, and is joined on some numbers by lutenist Edin Karamazov.

    DesignerBlog

  • The theorbo is the instrument with the coolest name, but he also plays the lute, among other things.

    Theorbo Playing

  • The theorbo is the instrument with the coolest name, but he also plays the lute, among other things.

    Archive 2005-06-01

Comments

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  • Historically, a bass lute with two sets of strings attached to separate peg boxes (one above the other) on the neck.

    March 20, 2008

  • More than historically; they're still played. I've watched one be carried slung across the player's body ready to be played, up the side aisle of a church, willing its gigantic neck not to collide with anything on the way. So crane-like!

    March 20, 2008

  • Wow, what a great image. Thanks for the update, sarra--that'll teach me to go by dictionary descriptions. :-)

    March 20, 2008

  • Image? Did you say image?

    March 20, 2008

  • Good grief! It's huge!

    The theorbo, that is.

    March 20, 2008

  • "The theorbo isn't a zither,

    It's just a big freaking lute

    Build a case for one of these bounders

    And you've constructed a coffin, to boot."

    --hernesheir, ca. 2006

    January 14, 2009