• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Theorbo (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.☞ A larger form of theorbo was also called the archlute, and was used chiefly, if not only, as an accompaniment to the voice. Both have long fallen into disuse.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n theorbo 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. The number and tuning of the strings varied considerably, as did the size and shape of the instrument as a whole. The theorbo was much used in the seventeenth century for accompaniments of all kinds, and was an important constituent of the orchestra of the period. Many lutes were made over into theorbos by the addition of a second neck. The essential differences between the theorbo, the archlute, and the chitarrone appear to be small, though their general shape varied considerably; and the names were used more or less interchangeably. Also called cithara bijuga, or double-necked lute.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Theorbo thē-orb′ō a large lute with two necks, one above the other, formerly used for the bass
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. théorbe, téorbe, formerly tuorbe, tiorbe, It. tiorba,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
It. tiorba.


In literature:

A young girl played the theorbo.
"Thais" by Anatole France
At noon played on my Theorbo, and much pleased therewith; it is now altered with a new neck.
"Diary of Samuel Pepys, 1661" by Samuel Pepys
This he left, along with some instruments of music, a Theorbo and an Irish harp, "which I most usuallye played upon" to his brother.
"Spadacrene Anglica" by Edmund Deane
Here I learned to play on ye theorbo, taught by Sig.
"Sylva, Vol. 1 (of 2)" by John Evelyn
The dwarfs also gave concerts and taught her to play the lute, the viola, the theorbo, the lyre, and various other instruments.
"Honey-Bee" by Anatole France
The old Italian theorbo.
"The Rough Road" by William John Locke
Ayres and Dialogues (To be Sung to the Theorbo-Lute or Bass-Violl).
"Thomas Stanley: His Original Lyrics, Complete, In Their Collated Readings of 1647, 1651, 1657." by Thomas Stanley
He is a blind man squalling out a ditty, and thrumming on a puppy in his lap instead of a theorbo.
"The Memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi; Volume the first" by Count Carlo Gozzi
On a table with curved legs placed in the embrasure of the window lay a lute, a theorbo, and some pieces of unfinished tapestry.
"The Knight of Malta" by Eugene Sue
A theorbo of the time of Louis XIII., inlaid with designs in ivory.
"Musical Myths and Facts, Volume I (of 2)" by Carl Engel

In news:

File this one under "Stuff White People Like": an unheralded early-music ensemble made up of oboes and recorders and bassoons (with theorbo/guitar and percussion) comes to town for its world debut and sells out the house.
Clarion Music Society David Walker playing the theorbo on Monday during a Five Boroughs Music Festival concert at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn.