The lute was an important part of Western music from the late 13th century to the 1770s and solo music for it survives from c. 1490 to the late 18th century. The large number of different types of lutes which are necessary to play all this repertoire allows for the compilation of many and varied programmes.

A gradual increase in the number of strings
was perhaps the main characteristic of the
lute's development over time. Lutes are
today often described by the number
of strings they possess, most of
which are grouped in pairs
called "courses".
6-course lute by M. Lowe

8-course lute by M. Lowe

10-course lute by M. Lowe

13-course lute by M. Lowe

Original lute by S. Rauwolf, c. 1590