Definition and background:
An instrument popular in the Medieval and Renaissance eras. The lute is a plucked string instrument of the guitar family, it has a short, fretted neck, a rounded back, and a large body something between oval- and pear-shaped. The number of strings is variable, as is the size, but in the Renaissance, lutes with six courses of strings tuned in A or G became standard. The lute enjoyed immense popularity in the Renaissance, partially due to its beautiful tone, its portability, and its aptitude for accompanying the voice. a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and fretted fingerboard, played by plucking with the fingers. The lute is an ancient instrument of eastern origin. it was popular in Europe from the middle ages to the 18th-century
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary