Category Archives: Guitar

Guitars

Bajo Sexto

Name: Bajo Quinto.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: E / A / D / G / C / F
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Mexico.
Region: Latin America.

Description: Bajo sexto [Bajo = Bass = Sexto meaning “sixth” in reference to its 6 courses 12 strings. Each course is paired or doubled. A closely related instrument is the bajo quinto [Spanish: “fifth bass”] which has 10 strings in 5 double courses. The origins of this instrument are somewhat unclear. As most of the history is oral transmitted by those who play and build the instruments.

History: In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mexican artisans built several types of instruments with double strings in three, four, fifths, sixth, seventh and eight courses, these lutes are directly influenced by their Spanish ancestors.

Descendants of these instruments are bandolon, guitarra séptima, quinta huapanguera, jarana jarocha, concheros string instruments, and guitarra chamula, among others. The manufacture of bajo quinto and sexto reached a peak in quality and popularity in the 19th century in central and southern Mexico, in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala.

Playing Technique: A plectrum is used often as the strings are quite thick on the bajo-sexto.

Tuning: The use of the E / A / D / G / C / F tuning for this particular instrument allows for switching between notes between an octave apart when playing in certain keys. In guitar parlance this tuning is referred to as “All Fourths” as the intervals of this tuning are all in fourths. It is an alteration or scordatura of the renterant Em11 tuning. By omitting the third in the tuning and replacing it with all fourths.

Construction: The bajo-sexto is a member of the guitar family. Physically this instrument appears to be quite similar to the 12-string guitar. There are some slight differences. The Body is usually a bit deeper. The neck is shorter, joining the body at the 12th fret. Modern 12-string guitars usually join at the 14th fret; being a bass instrument the strings are thicker.

Citations: Bibliography: Avetardo, J. T. ed. Puro Conjunto: An Album in words and Pictures; Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas; Austin, Texas: 2001. 470p. ISBN 0-292-78174-1 Bajos de espiga. Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana. Sociedad General de Autores y Editores. Madrid [2002] ; ISBN 978-84-8048-303-2 Hernandez, Ramon; An Informal History of the Bajo Sexto; in Aventardo, Ch. 12, pp. 127–130. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto Bajo sexto / quinto ;

Quinto

Name: Bajo Quinto.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: x / A / D / G / C / F
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Mexico.
Region: Latin America.

Description: Bajo Quinto [in Spanish: the name translates into English as “fifth bass”]. A reference to the omitted sixth course of doubled strings present on the instrument. This instrument is popular in the southern states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Chiapas. The usage of the Bajo Quinto is to these southern states analogous to the Bajo Sexto  in the Northern regions.

Playing Technique: A plectrum is used often as the strings are quite thick on the bajo-sexto.

Citations: Bibliography: Avetardo, J. T. ed; Puro Conjunto: An Album in words and Pictures; Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas; Austin, Texas: 2001 470p. ISBN 0-292-78174-1 Bajos de espiga – Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana. Sociedad General de Autores y Editores ; [in Spanish] Dictionary of Spanish and Spanish-American music. General Society of Authors and Publishers [in English] Madrid 2002 ISBN 978-84-8048-303-2 ; Hernandez, Ramon; An Informal History of the Bajo Sexto; in Aventardo, Ch. 12, pp. 127–130. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto Bajo sexto / quinto ;

Cuatro Venezuelan

Name: Cuatro Venezuelan.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Cuatro.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Venezuela.
Region: Caribbean & Central America.

Description: The cuatro is the name of a family of Latin American instruments found in South America, Trinidad & Tobago and in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean.  Differences of the cuatros with in this family can vary by shape, size and tuning.

In Spanish the word cuatro means “four” the instrument’s 15th century predecessor was the Portuguese cavaquinho which has four strings, like the original cuatro, modern cuatros often have more than four strings.

Cuatro Venezuelano Tunings
Standard A / D / F# / B
Freddy Reyna E / A / C# / F#

Varieties: However there are variations of this instrument that are considered national instruments, [e.g.. Venezuela]. The cuatro is widely used in ensembles in Jamaica, Mexico, and Surinam to accompany singing and dancing. In Trinidad and Tobago it accompanies Parang singers. In Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the cuatro is an ensemble instrument; for secular and religious music and is played at parties and traditional gatherings.

Modern cuatros come a variety of sizes and shapes and number of strings. Cuatros can either have single-strings like a guitar, or double or triple courses of strings like a mandolin, and vary in size from a large mandolin or small guitar, to the size of a full-size guitar. Depending on their particular stringing, cuatros are part of the guitar or mandolin subfamilies of the lute family.

Citations: Bibliography: “Instrumentos Musicales de Venezuela: Cuatro”. Diccionario Multimedia de Historia de Venezuela, Fundación Polar ; Fredy Reyna: Alfa Beta Cuatro – Monte Avila Editores 1994 ; Alejandro Bruzual : Fredy Reyna – Ensayo biográfico – Alter Libris 1999 ;

Dan Luc Huyen Cam

Name: Dan Luc Huyen Cam.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Scalloped.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Vietnam.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The đàn lục huyền cầm [literal translation “lute with six strings”], or colloquially đàn ghi-ta phím lõm the literal translation is ghi ta, “guitar”, phim “fret”, lom, “sunken.  This particular type of guitar is a Vietnamese adaptation. The guitar was adopted by Vietnamese musicians during the 19th Century. This form of guitar is commonly used in cải lương or “Southern Reformed Theater.    Having a scalloped fingerboard allows for note bending and other ornamentation that are featured throughout Vong Co.  

Citations: Bibliography: Adelaida Reyes Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese Refugee Experience 1999 Page 186 “This “doctoring” involves carving the fingerboard deeper between the frets, making the fingerboard look scalloped. … Also called lục huyền cầm [literally, guitar; see Jones-Bamman 1991:73-75] or Vietnamese guitar, the instrument has six strings.” ; The Garland handbook of Southeast Asian music – Page 262 Terry E. Miller, Sean Williams 2008 “Lục huyền cầm “six-stringed instrument” and dan ghi-ta are Vietnamese terms for the Western guitar, used in traditional …” ; Cải lương is also called Southern Reformed Theater [Nguyen and Campbell 1990:28; Pham Duy 1975:112] ; Websites : Encyclopedia of Vietnamese Music ;

Guitarra Leona

Name: Guitarra Leona.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Veracruz, Mexico.
Region: Central America.

Description: The Guitarra Leona [lioness] also goes by other names, bumburona, bombona, vozarrona, big guitar. It is a large-sized four stringed flat-backed composite lute that plays the role of bass in Son Jarocho. Slightly smaller in size to the guitarron as played in Mariachi. It is struck with a plectrum that is usually a piece of bone or carved bull-horn.

Citations: Bibliography: Cultural Atlas of Mexico. Music . Mexico: Grupo Editorial Planeta. 1988. ISBN 968-406-121-8 ;

Baroque Guitar

Name: Baroque Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Period: 1600-1750.
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe & Europe.

Description: The Baroque guitar [c. 1600–1750] is a string instrument with five courses of gut strings and moveable gut frets. The Baroque guitar replaced the Renaissance lute as the most common instrument found in the home.

The earliest attestation of a five-stringed guitar comes from the mid-sixteenth-century Spanish book Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555.

History: The first treatise published for the Baroque guitar was Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat. The baroque guitar in contemporary ensembles took on the role of a basso continuo instrument and players would be expected to improvise a chordal accompaniment. Intimately tied to the development of the Baroque guitar is the alfabeto system of notation.

Tunings: There were three ways to which one could tune the baroque guitar. The table listed below, includes the names of composers who are associated with each method. Very few sources seem to clearly indicate that one method of stringing rather than another should be used and it is often argued that it may have been up to the player to decide what was appropriate. The issue is highly contentious and different theories have been put forward.

Baroque Guitar Tunings
Musicians Tunings
Gaspar Sanz [Spain, 1674] A / D / G / B / E
Antoine Carre [France, 1671] D / G / B / E

Citations: Bibliography: Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat ; Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555; Manfred F. Bukofzer – Music In The Baroque Era [From Monteverdi to Bach], London: J. M. Dent & Sons – 1st UK edition 1948, P. 47: “The Spanish fashion in Italy brought a speedy victory of the noisy guitar over the dignified lute” ; Harvey Turnbull, The Guitar – From The Renaissance to the Present Day 3rd, impression 1978 London: Batsford [ISBN 0 7134 3251 9] p. 15: Chapter 1 – The Development of the Instrument. Lex Eisenhardt, Bourdons as Usual – In The Lute: The Journal of the Lute Society, vol. XLVII 2007 ;