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theorbo (Fr. théorbe, Ger. Theorb, It. tiorba; possibly from Arabic tarab). Renaissance instr., a larger type of lute (but not so large as chittarone). Used as accompanying instr., but solo repertory exists. Resonant lower register, caused by longer fingerboard and greater str. length. Probably developed in It.; first mentioned 1544. Had between 14 and 16 courses, plus extra bass str. Gut str. Often used for continuo instead of organ and hpd. in Eng. 17th-cent. songs. Handel scored for it in Esther (1732) and Athalia (1733). Modern revivals for early mus. perf.
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