Monday, December 24, 2012
The development of the guitar
The Renaissance guitar
The Renaissance guitar (16th century), with its 4 strings and short neck (8 frets above the body). The upper string sometimes is single and the three strings below are double. This system of double strings is used today, on the 12-string guitar. Also the double strings are common on lots of Arab instruments. One of the composers who specifically wrote music for the Renaissance guitar was Alonso Mudarra (around 1546).
During the Renaissance this guitar never had the same status as the Renaissance lute. The guitar was an instrument played by the 'normal' people while the lute was mostly played by the rich. The guitar slowly began to gain popularity as an instrument that was easier to play than a lute. Fortunately more and more music was written specially for the guitar.
The Baroque guitar
The Baroque Guitar (17th century) is the successor of the Renaissance guitar. This guitar has 5 double strings. The tuning also starts to look more like the tuning of contemporary guitars. Tuning: Aa-Dd-Gg-Bb-Ee. The modern guitar is tuned: E-A-D-G-B-E. The Baroque guitar produces a beautiful sparkling sound, almost like a young harpsichord. Music for the Baroque guitar was written for example, by Gaspar Sanz (around 1674).
The Spanish guitar
The development of the Spanish guitar as we know it today, certainly has not taken place only in Spain, but also in Italy, France and Germany.
Examples of some builders:
- 1688 Italy - Stradivarius (yes...from the famous violins)
- 1825 France - Lacote
- 1876 Spain - Torres
Around the end of the eighteenth century people in Italy, France and Germany start building guitars with six strings more often. Lacote was one of the better known six-string guitar builders (around 1825). The only difference with the guitars build today, is the smaller body. Ultimately it was the Spaniard Antonio de Torres (around 1860) who adjusted the body, whereby the volume of the guitar considerably increased. The Spanish Guitar as we now know it nowedays is still based on the guitar Torres build.
Read more about the Spanish guitar:
Check out this video of Menuet by Bach :
check out this one... Capriccio by Johann Anton Logy from the 17th century :