Baroque Guitar

Name: Baroque Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
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. The repertoire includes unaccompanied solo pieces, song accompaniments, dance music and mixed ensemble works.

The instrument was a part of the musical culture of European nobility and aristocrats of the time. Given the number of guitar tutors and solo works published for guitarists of varying levels of accomplishment. The guitar must have also been a part of the musical life of non-aristocratic social strata as well. A substantial repertoire of solo works written for the five course Baroque guitar survives. This music is written in tablature notations that were published throughout Europe from the late 16th to the mid-18th centuries.

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 ; 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 ; Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Bibliography: O’Dette, Paul. 1994. “Plucked Instruments,” In A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music. ed. Jeffery T. Kite-Powell ; New York: Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Turnbull, Harvey, and James Taylor. 1984. “Guitar, 1-4” NGDMI v2: 87-99 ; James Tyler, 1980 The Early Guitar: A History and Handbook. London: Oxford University Press ; Websites: Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection / Baroque Guitar ;

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