“The lutenists were quite drunk at that time when they invented their tablature.” This comment made by Martin Agricola in 1529 is incorrect. It was not some intoxicated lutenists but a blind organist who invented German lute tablature.
After its invention in the late thirteenth century in spain, the lute became one of the most popular musical instruments of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Poets praised it, artists painted it,professional and amateur musicians played it. At first, it was played with a plectrum or quill, thus being capable of producing only a single line of musice, but in the mid-fifteenth century, the method of plucking the strings with the fingers was invented and widely cultivated. This technical change enabled the lutenist to pluck non-adjacent strings simultaneously, giving him a means to cope with several polyphonic voices simultaneously on a single instrument.
“An Invisible Notation: On the Invention of German Lute Tablature.” Discoveries: South Central Renaissance Conference News and Notes 17, no. 2 (2000): 3, 13