The birth place of guitar?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Arash Ahmadi
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The birth place of guitar?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:21 am

Some people are under the wrong impression that guitar has always been a Spanish instrument. Where do you think is the birth place of the guitar?
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Rasputin
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:04 pm

I think I would go with Spain based on the influence of Torres and the prominence of Spanish composers in the repertoire. That said, it's not the sort of question that has a correct answer - what instruments we want to include under the description 'guitar' is going to depend on why we are using the term in the first place. I am sure most people are aware that there were guitar-like instruments before Torres.

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by CGCristian92 » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:30 pm

I live in Spain. Definitely seems like this is the place haha

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:33 pm

If you are thinking of the historical dimension the answer is simply buried in the mists of time - there are several books which give various takes on what the modern guitar's ancestors were and where they were from but in the end its too vague to say with certainty.

For the perspective over the last two centuries or so, many European countries contributed to the classical instrument's basic form (aside then from developments such as lattice bracing). Torres, Tarrega and Segovia were all Spaniards. But for most non-specialists one tends to find that there is a confusion in the mind between flamenco (which they obviously associate with Spain) and classical guitars, not least because the instrument looks superficially the same.
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Peter Frary
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Peter Frary » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:32 pm

I think the guitar's forerunners or prototypes were introduced from the Middle East during the Moorish conquest and 800 year occupation of the Iberian peninsula. However, the guitar wasn't really invented or born but evolved across centuries and is still fluid in shape, number and type of strings, etc. It's tricky merely to define at what point we can call a guitar a guitar. When you see a 4-course Renaissance guitar it's closer to a ukulele than a modern classical guitar but it's still considered a guitar.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by celestemcc » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:09 pm

To my understanding, the guitar is the descendant of the vihuela which was prevalent in Spain (and thus probably from the Moorish influence as noted above). It was a Spanish version of the lute, with the same tuning (interval-wise string to string). Baroque guitar developed in France, but under what influence I don't know. Glad to stand corrected, but one thing it isn't is a direct descendant of the lute.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:15 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:09 pm
To my understanding, the guitar is the descendant of the vihuela which was prevalent in Spain (and thus probably from the Moorish influence as noted above). It was a Spanish version of the lute, with the same tuning (interval-wise string to string). Baroque guitar developed in France, but under what influence I don't know. Glad to stand corrected, but one thing it isn't is a direct descendant of the lute.
No I don't think there is a direct line from vihuela, guitars existed before and co-existed with it in Spain, and also developed locally in Italy and France etc.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
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Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:01 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:33 pm
If you are thinking of the historical dimension the answer is simply buried in the mists of time - there are several books which give various takes on what the modern guitar's ancestors were and where they were from but in the end its too vague to say with certainty.

For the perspective over the last two centuries or so, many European countries contributed to the classical instrument's basic form (aside then from developments such as lattice bracing). Torres, Tarrega and Segovia were all Spaniards. But for most non-specialists one tends to find that there is a confusion in the mind between flamenco (which they obviously associate with Spain) and classical guitars, not least because the instrument looks superficially the same.
Thanks Stephan, you are right I mean it in a historical sense.
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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:08 pm

Peter Frary wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:32 pm
I think the guitar's forerunners or prototypes were introduced from the Middle East during the Moorish conquest and 800 year occupation of the Iberian peninsula. However, the guitar wasn't really invented or born but evolved across centuries and is still fluid in shape, number and type of strings, etc. It's tricky merely to define at what point we can call a guitar a guitar. When you see a 4-course Renaissance guitar it's closer to a ukulele than a modern classical guitar but it's still considered a guitar.
I agree that the origin of the instrument we today know as guitar goes back to middle east. Even the Flamenco music is still very similar to middle eastern music, that's to say flamenco before Paco de Lucia, Paco Pena (the most famous traditional flamenco master) has also admitted that after returning from a tour in Iran.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by celestemcc » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:52 pm

From Wikipedia (which I do NOT consider the be-all and end-all! :lol:

"The Spanish vihuela, called in Italian the "viola da mano", a guitar-like instrument of the 15th and 16th centuries, is widely considered to have been the single most important influence in the development of the baroque guitar. It had six courses (usually), lute-like tuning in fourths and a guitar-like body, although early representations reveal an instrument with a sharply cut waist. It was also larger than the contemporary four-course guitars. By the 16th century, the vihuela's construction had more in common with the modern guitar, with its curved one-piece ribs, than with the viols, and more like a larger version of the contemporary four-course guitars. The vihuela enjoyed only a relatively short period of popularity in Spain and Italy during an era dominated elsewhere in Europe by the lute; the last surviving published music for the instrument appeared in 1576.[8]

Meanwhile, the five-course baroque guitar, which was documented in Spain from the middle of the 16th century, enjoyed popularity, especially in Spain, Italy and France from the late 16th century to the mid-18th century.[C] In Portugal, the word viola referred to the guitar, as guitarra meant the "Portuguese guitar", a variety of cittern."

It's a complex subject for sure, especially given how much music we play written for Baroque guitar, vihuela, and lute.
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Rasputin
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Rasputin » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:30 pm

I would be inclined to count the cittern if we are talking about guitars generally - I think it's the design that matters, rather than the descent. If, while Antonio and Julian were yakking in Spain, somebody in Japan was making an instrument that was played (and sounded) like a guitar, I would happily call it a guitar even if I was sure there was no historical connection.

I have not seen anything very guitar-like from the Middle East - the things I have seen look more like harps or lyres to me, which must mean - if we are saying it is a matter of lineage - that although we might trace it back to the Middle East, the trail would not end there but would go back to ancient Greece, at which point it would go cold and leave us wondering.

Anyway, I thought the question related to classical guitar, and if we have to say it has a single birthplace, I am still saying Spain.

Dividing any historical continuum into segments is always an arbitrary business, whether it's which creature counts as the first human or which instrument counts as the first guitar. It always amuses me when people say "which came first, the chicken or the egg?".

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Martin » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:13 pm

Bas-relief from Alacahöyük, Turkey. Hittite Culture, circa 1400 BC.
alacahöyük.jpg
It could be a ukelele, of course...

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:24 pm

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Peter Frary
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Peter Frary » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:24 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:30 pm
I would be inclined to count the cittern if we are talking about guitars generally - I think it's the design that matters, rather than the descent. If, while Antonio and Julian were yakking in Spain, somebody in Japan was making an instrument that was played (and sounded) like a guitar, I would happily call it a guitar even if I was sure there was no historical connection.
Do you mean the Japanese biwa, the lute shaped instrument played with a rice scoop-like pick? The biwa was introduced to Japan during the middle ages, perhaps their Nara era, from Korea and China. In China it's called the pipa and the pipa was brought to China via the Silk Road from Persia nearly 2000 years ago. The ud apparently travelled both east and west, becoming the biwa and pipa in Japan and China and the lute in Europe. Most of the instrument family prototypes for the world's great civilizations originally came from Persia and the nearby cultures. So historical connections, albeit ancient, abound.
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Rasputin
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Rasputin » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:25 am

Peter Frary wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:24 pm
Rasputin wrote:
Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:30 pm
I would be inclined to count the cittern if we are talking about guitars generally - I think it's the design that matters, rather than the descent. If, while Antonio and Julian were yakking in Spain, somebody in Japan was making an instrument that was played (and sounded) like a guitar, I would happily call it a guitar even if I was sure there was no historical connection.
Do you mean the Japanese biwa, the lute shaped instrument played with a rice scoop-like pick? The biwa was introduced to Japan during the middle ages, perhaps their Nara era, from Korea and China. In China it's called the pipa and the pipa was brought to China via the Silk Road from Persia nearly 2000 years ago. The ud apparently travelled both east and west, becoming the biwa and pipa in Japan and China and the lute in Europe. Most of the instrument family prototypes for the world's great civilizations originally came from Persia and the nearby cultures. So historical connections, albeit ancient, abound.
No, it was a thought experiment designed to explore how much the historical connections really matter (not much, in my opinion).

The Persian connection is interesting, but it doesn't follow from the fact that the instruments you mention spread from there to Japan, China and Europe that they originated in the Middle East.

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