stormalong, what an interesting question. Tangentally (if that's a word), back in the late 16th and early 17th century, some lute players arranged traditional tunes for their instrument. However, this was certainly not the 'play the tune 4 times' style as per today's sessions, but a once-very-popular challenge to make ever more complicated arrangements and variations of relatively simple traditional tunes. I know of no examples of lutenists (or players of anything else) from that period or later arranging songs for instruments as *accompaniments* to singers, so even then the distinction Leadfingers suggests was there in another form. However, one of the Stewart family (I forget his name, but he wore a cloth cap!), the Scottish travellers who sang trad. songs, regularly accompanied himself on accordion, and he was considered a source singer, as was the banjo player/singer Margaret Barry. I wonder if they ever spoke about whether the folks they got the songs from accompanied themselves, or how far this went back, to their knowledge?