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Angélique Bonnard-Robert .jpeg
Angélique (Bonnard-Robert)
String instrument

String instrument

Plucked string instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321
(Composite chordophone sounded with bare hands and fingers)
DevelopedAround 17th century
Related instruments

The angélique (French, from Italian angelica) is a plucked string instrument of the lute family of the baroque era. It combines features of the lute, the harp, and the theorbo.

It shares the form of its pear-shaped body as well as its vibrating string length of 54 to 70 cm with the lute. Differing from the lute, the 16 string angelica was single-strung like a theorbo, with which it shares its extended neck with a second peg box, bearing six bass strings.


The angelica was tuned diatonically, like a harp: C – E – F – G – A – B – c – d – e – f – g – a – b – c’ – d’ – e’. That range is the same as that of the French or lesser theorbo, but the latter differs in that its tuning is reentrant: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – c – d – g – c' – e'– a – d'. The diatonic tuning limited its compass, but produced a full and clear tone by the increased use of open strings.

Little surviving music for the angelica as well as few surviving instruments indicate that the angelica flourished during the second half of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries.

Some authors claim that the angelica was invented in England. But that claim is based on the misinterpretation of its name (M. H. Fuhrmann, Musicalischer Trichter, Frankfurt/Spree 1706, p. 91). James Talbot correctly interpreted angelica as “angel lute“ because of its lovely sound (ms. Oxford 532, 1685–1701).

Music for the angelica is notated in French tablature, with the designation of bass courses varying according to respective authors. The Ukrainian Torban is a descendant of the Angélique.[1]


  • Jakob Kremberg, Musicalische Gemüths-Ergoetzung oder Arien ... (Dresden: 1689), in Tabulature
  • Adalbert Quadt (Hg.), Gitarrenmusik des 16-18. Jahrhunderts 2, nach Tabulaturen für Colascione, Mandora und Angelica, (Leipzig: 1971)
  • Hans Radtke (Hg.), Ausgewählte Stücke aus einer Angelica- und Gitarrentabulatur, Musik Alter Meister Heft 17, (Graz: 1967)
  • Praetorius, Theatrum instrumentorum
  • L. Brugmans, Le séjour de Christian Huygens à Paris (Paris,1935), 151
  • F. Lesure: ‘The angélique in 1653’, GSJ, vi (1953), 111–12
  • F. Lesure: ‘Les luthistes parisiens à l’époque de Louis XIII’, Le luth et sa musique (Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1957), 222–3
  • M. Prynne: ‘James Talbot’s Manuscript: IV: Plucked Strings – the Lute Family’, GSJ, xiv (1961), 52–68
  • E. Pohlmann, Laute, Theorbe, Chitarrone: die Instrumente, ihre Musik und Literatur von 1500 bis zur Gegenwart (Bremen, 1968, 5/1982), 394–7
  • E. Vogl: ‘Die Angelika und ihre Musik’, HV, xi (1974), 356–71
  • G. Hellwig, Joachim Tielke: ein Hamburger Lauten- und Violenmacher der Barockzeit (Frankfurt, 1980), 304–5
  • F. und B. Hellwig, Joachim Tielke. Kunstvolle Musikinstrumente des Barock (Berlin/München, 2011), 108–111, 123-8
  • C. Meyer and M. Rollin, Oeuvres de Gumprecht (Paris, 1993), xvii


1893 text

An angelique is described as a species of guitar in Murray’s “New English Dictionary,” and this passage from the Diary is given as a quotation. The word appears as angelot in Phillips’s “English Dictionary” (1678), and is used in Browning’s “Sordello,” as a “plaything of page or girl.”

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

language hat  •  Link

From the Companion glossary:
"type of archlute having 16 or 17 strings, in single courses, tuned diatonically throughout: a simplified instrument designed for ease of playing"
(a much better definition than the OED's "species of guitar"!)

chip  •  Link

According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music, the angelica was a variety of mandolin with 17 different strings for the tones of the diatonic scale, so that stopping was largely avoided.

vincent  •  Link

A. MUSICA ANGELICA in Concert Throughout the Summer Angelica launches its first orchestral season on November 9 & 10 with conductor Giovanni Antonini
An Italian book by A. Sgargi (1747)50 describes an amateur's shoulder viol (viola da spalla) called viol d'amour or viola angelica with six or seven bowed strings of gut (with the basses copper-wound) and brass sympathetic strings tuned chromatically. 1679, John Evelyn recorded hearing a German playing a viol a'amore, which was an ordinary violin but with 5 wire strings played Lyra way (i.e. with chords and a special tuning

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.