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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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:43 am

Martin wrote:
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 Robert Rogers » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:29 am

I'd have to agree with Martin. The Hittites.

A great discussion of this topic can be found in Chapter 2 (When Is A Guitar?) of Frederic Grunfeld's book The Art and Times of the Guitar (1969).

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by CliffK » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:01 pm

Would it be best to just start with the vihuela?

Earlier developments in plucked string instruments involve much speculation with nothing really definitive. Perhaps someone in the Paleolithic age strung a piece of gut across a pair of animal horns...
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Conall » Mon Feb 12, 2018 1:23 pm

I suppose the main determinant of whether something is a guitar is whether it is waisted (guitar or related) or pear shaped (lute or related).

The vihuela possibly came from some kind of viola de gamba since its full title is vihuela de mano (of the hand) to distinguish it from vihuela de arco (of the bow). Just because guitar & vihuela co-existed it doesn't mean the guitar couldn't have come from it.

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by CliffK » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:08 pm

This research might be useful:

http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent ... ic_faculty

We might think about a fretted instrument and one tuned on a heptatonic basis.
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eno
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by eno » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:09 pm

From what I remember reading about the vihuela vs lute history:
Lute developed from oud that Arabs brought to Europe when they invaded Spain. Lute spread across Europe and became very popular. However, Spanish people did not like lute because they resisted any Arabic cultural influence, so vihuela was developed in Spain and grew in popularity as a sort of "Spanish-national" plucked string instrument alternative to lute. Vihuela, although quite different in construction and sound, is definitely a predecessor of baroque and later classical guitar.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:17 pm

The ukulele, of course, is just a fairly recent small version of the Portuguese guitar. In a sense it's closer to the 4-course Spanish 'guitarra' than the vihuela of the same period. At least one uke maker treats it as simply a treble guitar in structure, and that works well.

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by sxedio » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:30 pm

The instrument might have ancient ancestors, but the classical fingerpicking technique came from the harp to the lute sometime in the 15th century. And to be really honest, if you look at what the music looks like, the ideas we associate with the instrument are even later, chords are a baroque invention, arpeggios etc. become a fashion around 1750 onwards.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:33 pm

It was fun reading through this thread! It seems very much that the guitar evolved. It was not created as a new idea, but developed from many different instrument designs and cultural influences.

And bless the historians! I have trouble remembering breakfast from yesterday, let alone migration of instruments in the 16th century!
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:07 am

eno wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:09 pm
From what I remember reading about the vihuela vs lute history:
Lute developed from oud that Arabs brought to Europe when they invaded Spain. Lute spread across Europe and became very popular. However, Spanish people did not like lute because they resisted any Arabic cultural influence, so vihuela was developed in Spain and grew in popularity as a sort of "Spanish-national" plucked string instrument alternative to lute. Vihuela, although quite different in construction and sound, is definitely a predecessor of baroque and later classical guitar.
Sorry but I have been unable to forget this. I like a nice clear statement but would love some supporting argument.
I know the statement for the vihuela's ancestral status has been made more than once, and wikipedia quoted by celestemcc. Here are my arguments against;
- partly, its a matter of definitions of lineage; do we mean the physical building of the instrument, the musician's playing and composing for it, the general music lover's perception ... or a mixture of all? Personally I go with the first almost entirely, the second to a small degree.
- lute and cousin vihuela were expensive high-status instruments espoused largely by the better off folks, who feature in history. The earliest guitars seem to have been low-status, cheap to make and string and were played by the kind of folks whose lives left little record. But it seems to me that there is a continuous thread of guitar making and playing that starts well before the lute and vihuela artistic hegemony arose, and in the case of vihuela, continued well after it, and supplanted it in the role of occasional visitor to the courts of the well-off.
In what ways might the vihuela have infused itself into the contemporaneous guitar? People like Mudarra played and composed for both, and the technique used, and the tablature notation, was sufficiently similar that for a musician there was little barrier to moving between the two. (Robert De Visee made a similar move between the lute family and the 5 course guitar a century later) There are some vihuela-like pieces for guitar in this early stage, but the two instruments remained very different, not least in the crucial matter of tuning - the guitar had 4 courses D G B E and the vihuela the same as the renaissance lute, the major 3rd being between courses 4 and 3, rather than 3 and 2. The fact that this division remained, and it took about two centuries for the guitar to reach a sixth course, suggests to me that any superficial infusion of building and playing techniques were, so to speak, a non-essential addition of DNA that did not change the species.
Did any guitar maker or player (or listener) in the decades after the demise of the vihuela, ever think back to that instrument with any awareness? I would doubt it, for sure in France, Italy etc where they probably had no idea it ever existed. And while it does not in itself mean that there was no lasting impact or influence it suggests strongly that just as guitars rubbed along with lutes, theorbos etc (including as continuo partners) without 'interbreeding', so with the vihuela and the guitars in Spain.
I would however say that there is one respect in which the vihuela, along with the renaissance lute, is a predecessor, albeit one without an actual, so to speak physical link. The early guitars were pretty much treble instruments, with no bass range and very limited scope for counterpoint and proper voice leading and chord inversions etc. Six courses gives you both a bass range and enough scope to do the 'right thing' compositionally - at least most of the time! I think that while probably nobody was actually consciously thinking 'wouldn't it be cool to have a practical, cheap and easy enough to manage thing that would play proper music, all we need is some more strings' the development eventually of the modern tuning and all that goes with it was an answer to the same need, that Mudarra, Francesco and co met back in 1530 something, but that kinda vanished until reappearing in c 1800.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Rasputin » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:38 am

Those accounts don't seem totally incompatible to me. What if the guitar was an uncouth cousin of the vihuela, which did well in Spain for the same reason - i.e. that the lute was associated with the Moors - and eventually supplanted it? The guitar may not have evolved from the vihuela, but the two may have had a common ancestor, and the vihuela may have been the predecessor of the guitar in the sense that it previously occupied more or less the same role, and in the sense that it prepared the ground (you might say, opened the market) for an instrument of that type.

I would count the vihuela as a guitar for the purposes of the original question anyway - it is fretted, waisted and has a flat back.

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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by pogmoor » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:46 am

sxedio wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:30 pm
chords are a baroque invention, arpeggios etc. become a fashion around 1750 onwards.
Earlier than that; with the development of finger-style plucking, rather than using a plectrum, lutenists began to intabulate choral music. Without checking with sources I would think this began towards the end of the 15th century. Throughout the 16th century short lute pieces in dance form were popular - think of all of Dowland's galliards - which are clearly chordal in nature,
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:05 am

Rasputin wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:38 am
Those accounts don't seem totally incompatible to me. What if the guitar was an uncouth cousin of the vihuela, which did well in Spain for the same reason - i.e. that the lute was associated with the Moors - and eventually supplanted it? The guitar may not have evolved from the vihuela, but the two may have had a common ancestor, and the vihuela may have been the predecessor of the guitar in the sense that it previously occupied more or less the same role, and in the sense that it prepared the ground (you might say, opened the market) for an instrument of that type.
Yes, pretty much what I said in many more words :lol:
Except that it probably did not have a common ancestor given the vihuela was an evolution of the lute to suit a market that didn't like the morphology of the Arabic appearance, but had identical tuning and almost identical sound (certainly, the recordings I have, I wouldn't be able to tell which it was if I didn't know). If there was a common ancestor way way back, well before anything of these things had names we would recognise, well back into the earlier medieval period, its theoretically possible, but my point is that by the time they had the names we now know, they were different enough, to continue the evolutionary metaphor, that they were distinct species. But I would suggest there is far too much uncertainty to speculate safely in that direction.
Rasputin wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:38 am
I would count the vihuela as a guitar for the purposes of the original question anyway - it is fretted, waisted and has a flat back.
But the question was/is, the birth place of the guitar, and the guitar was around before, during and after the vihuela, and never absorbed the crucial feature of the instrument, its tuning. Again, its a kind of guitar shaped lute. The lute-guitar popular in Germany early in the 20th century, shaped like a lute, strung and played like a guitar, is not a lute, its a lute shaped guitar.
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by CliffK » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:43 am

Entitled “History of the Guitar”, this might be useful.

http://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent ... ic_faculty
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Arash Ahmadi
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Re: The birth place of guitar?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:53 am

I think Paco de Lucia has given us a clue by his album "Zyryab" whom has been a great musician, lute player and in ways the inventor of the guitar, as many in Morocco and Spain believe. " The guitar as we know today was exported from middle east to Europe initially in the form of the lute (Oud). Ziryab added a fifth pair of strings (G). Later developments lead to the Flamenco Guitar".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziryab
http://www.newhistorian.com/ziryab-forg ... tyle/7548/
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