Vihuela De Mano

Name: Vihuela De Mano.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.5
Country: Italy, Spain & Portugal.
Region: Continental Europe.

Description: The vihuela de mano [in Spanish and Italian Vihuela De Mano; in Catalan: viola de mà; In Portuguese; viola de mão]. The two names are functionally synonymous and interchangeable. It is a plucked chordophone of the viol family on which the strings, were originally made of gut. The order of strings for this instrument was arranged in six or seven courses each likely paired in unison.

Closely related to the lute, the vihuela flourished mainly in Spain and in areas under Spanish influence in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was also known in Italy and Portugal under the name viola. Originally the word was applied to various string instruments distinguished according to the method of playing them.

Medieval sources mention the vihuela de pendola [or peñola: played with a quill] and vihuela de arco [played with a bow]; vihuela de pendola also appears in Renaissance sources, which also mention the vihuela de mano [plucked with the fingers]. By the 16th century, however, the unqualified term ‘vihuela’ usually referred to the finger-plucked instrument. 

Vihuela de mano: 6 or 5 courses played with the fingers
Vihuela de penola: played with a plectrum Vihuela de arco: played with a bow [ancestor of the viola da gamba]. Tunings for 6 course vihuela de mano:

Note: The tunings were originally from Juan Bermudo’s Declaration of Musical Instruments 2nd ed published in 1555. Which included diagrams of tuning notation and tablature written for the vihuela-de-mano. The orthography of letters as used in “Old Spanish” contains letters that are no longer in use today.

Tunings: In its most developed form, the vihuela was a guitar-shaped instrument with six double-strings [paired courses] made of gut. Vihuelas were tuned identically to their contemporary Renaissance lutes. Not unlike a modern guitar tuning. The accession of the third string [G], which is tuned a semitone lower to [F#].

Vihuela De Mano Tunings
Names Tunings
Vihuela De Mano G C F A D G
Vihuela De A/D A D G B E A
Vihuela De B B E A C# F# B
Vihuela De C C F B D G C
Vihuela De G/D D G C E A D
Vihuela De E E A D F# B E

Note: The tunings listed on this page are gathered from the pages of Juan Bermudo – Declaration of Musical Instruments, Instruments 1555 p. Libra Quarto [fourth book] De Tañer Vihuela, Fol cvit.

Citations: Bibliography: Juan Bermudo – Declaration of Musical Instruments 2nd ed published in 1555, Ronald C. Purcell: Classic Guitar, Lute and Vihuela Discography, Belwin-Mills Publishing Corp., Melville, NY, 1976, 116 p., LC: 75-42912 [no ISBN] ; Ian Woodfield: The Early History of the Viol, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984 includes much early vihuela history; viols are bowed vihuelas ; Websites: Grove Music Online / Vihuela ;



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