Essay on the history of the guitar

How did they make these instruments sing? Indeed all this has much to do with how one learns to express oneself on an instrument and I can think of no greater truism than that none of us work in a vacuum. We can indeed learn very little or not even begin to develop a personal style without first learning from the sounds and examples of our contemporaries and immediate predecessors. The earliest guitarist that practically any one of us has heard extensively is Andres Segovia.

The Changes Of Guitars History Essay

Thus when these above-mentioned "period" guitarists or anyone else of their generation for that matter were in their guitaristically formative years, the above is the guitaristic "soundscape" that influenced them - a "soundscape" that included only nail players on post-Torres type guitars. They developed their personal styles by reacting to, either positively or negatively, these sounds around them. Of course this also includes the sounds of other instrumentalists such as violinists, pianists, vocalists etc.

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Thus when they play Sor on a Panormo or Regondi or Giuliani on a Stauffer copy they are translating their personal styles, developed on a modern instrument and derived from contemporary techniques and sources, to an instrumental design that, for whatever reason, became obsolete over years ago. Now I want the reader to understand that I am not criticizing these performers and indeed I am full of admiration for certain of them.

Incidentally, a very few guitarists, in their quest for authenticity in the performance of Sor, have decided to not only use the "period" guitar but also use a no-nail, flesh technique for tone production because Sor himself played this way.

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I must admit that I have never heard satisfactory performances using this approach, yet I have no doubt that Sor himself was a very great and musical performer and had a fine technique and beautiful sound. But the modern performer trying to emulate Sor's performance style has practically nothing to go on.

To comprehend this, let us imagine a person trying to play in the "authentic" Segovia style without having heard him in person and having heard no recordings and only having a brief and vague description of his use of nails for tone production to go on. Indeed, it seems to be impossible for the guitarists of today to effectively reproduce the "Segovia Style" with the beautiful tone, vibrato, color etc. All of this brings me to a hypothetical question: Given the virtual impossibility of achieving authenticity that a performer faces today, which guitar, "period" or modern, would meet the approval of the 19 th century guitar composers?

Of course this is pretty much an unanswerable question, but we do know that almost all composers throughout the history of music have in many ways been much more lenient toward changes in instrumentation than we are today. And we also know that invariably these composers approved of the most brilliant, expressive and poetic performances of their work despite the often wide disparity between the composer's original conception and the personality and conception of the performer.

However I know that they would not approve of some of the dead, but musicologically "correct" performances that we witness today! A number of years ago, upon learning of my desire to record the complete works of Sor using a modern guitar, a certain guitarist and musicologist wrote me saying:.

I find playing an early guitar a different and enlightening experience. The early instruments necessitate a different approach both musically and technically as they respond differently from their modern counterparts. Thus many "secrets" in the music are automatically revealed. Pianists experience the same when changing from a modern Steinway to an early piano when playing Mozart.

History of the Acoustic Guitar

At the time, I took this gentleman to heart and vowed that before I committed any more or Sor's music to the permanence of tape, I should settle this issue once and for all in my own mind. I proceeded to purchase a beautiful German guitar circa and I spent many, many enjoyable hours playing my new "old" instrument. But, while I do not doubt the sincerity of this gentleman and that it has been educational to play this guitar, this automatic revelation of "secrets" never occurred and I came to the conclusion that, for me at least, the modern guitar is a far better tool for the expression of Sor's music.

Undoubtedly other fine musicians may have had this somewhat magical revelation of secrets, and for this, or for whatever reason, use the early 19 th century guitar and consider it the best tool for the expression of Sor. What would Sor think if he were to magically and automatically reveal his secret thoughts today? My personal but unmagical, unautomatic and non-secretively revealed opinion is that he would opt for the most musical, brilliant, expressive and poetic performances of his music and wouldn't give two hoots what instrument it was done on.

Four Stringed b. Five Stringed c. Six Stringed modern. Did you ever come to think how guitars came to be, or maybe how long has this unique instrument been around? Well guitars have practically been around for a long time, to be exact guitars have been traced back over years ago. But over the course of time guitars have changed drastically, by it appearance, and also the sound quality.

The History Of The Guitar. Essay - Words - BrightKite

It all started with early versions of acoustic guitars that later became to the acoustic guitar we know now. Centuries when by and the guitar changed not only by appearance but also the sound quality change with high screeches and pitches, that were know as the electric guitar, then later on the bass guitar was invented.

There are many theories on guitars ancestry. The one that is mostly known is the kithara theory. The only evidence of the kithara theory is how similar the Greek word kithara and the Spanish word quitarra are very alike. Even though, the kithara was a seven-stringed harp like instrument, and a completely different instrument, than that of the quitarra which was the early Spanish name given to the four stringed guitars. These two instruments had more in common than many thought.

They both came to be almost the exact same way. In the beginning, kitharas only had 4 strings when it was first introduced to the Greeks, and it was played distiguisly the same way the quitarra was. That is why many believe that the kithara theory is the real deal of how guitars came to be. Guy, 1.

The earliest stringed instruments known to archaeologist are the bowl harps and the tanburs. They made their guitars with tortoise shells and calabashes as resonators, and the bent stick was meant for the neck and one or more gut or silk strings.

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Around — CE the more advanced harps, like the opulently carve is the Stringed instrument had a nice decoration. A characteristic of the tanbur is the deep pear shaped body with a long neck, and for many centuries the pear shaped body of the instrument was carved from a single piece of wood. The tanbur and its name date back before recorded history.


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The only bad thing was that the name tanbur, had applied to many instruments worldwide at the time creating a great deal of confusion. Tanbur had also been used by the Zoroastrians and in the Sassanian courts in AD. The derivatives of the tanbur include the Greek buzuki, the guitar, the Romanian tamburitza, the Indian sitar and tambura. In the 20th century, the tanburs method of playing became much more advanced than known in the ancient times. The tanbur is also one of the oldest preserved guitar-like instruments. It had belonged to the Egyptian singer, Han-Mose.


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  • His guitar was estimated to be years old, which makes it the ultimate vintage guitar. He was buried with his tanbur near him in his tomb. Guy, 2. But, really what is a guitar, anyways. A guitar is an instrument with a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and has incurved sides. The oldest known iconographical representation of an instrument has the same features as a guitar, in many ways. In stone carvings in Alaca Huyuk, Turkey of a year old Hittite guitar, with the same striking features of a modern guitar.

    There are many mysteries concerning who invented the acoustic guitar.

    History of the Guitar

    Many believe that the earliest account of the acoustic guitar was in Italy. Many historian, believe that an Italian gentleman with the name of Gaetano Vinaccia is the main inventor of the acoustic guitar. But the one responsible for the first modern classical guitars was a man in Spain named, Antonio Torres Jurado.

    He was universally acknowledged for designing and making the first classical guitar. He had produced many guitars till his death in The origins of the lute are unsure and historian disagree what a lute is. But it is said there were many types of lutes available in the ancient times. It is also said that the Moors brought the lute or Oud to Spain. The lute or oud had been defined, with a short-neck instrument with many strings, a large pear body, highly vaulted back, and an elaborate and sharply angled peghead.