Type: Hybrid Lute > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.5-6
Region: Continental Europe.
Description: The mandora or gallichon or [colascione] is a type of 18th and early 19th-century lute, with six to nine courses of strings. The terms were interchangeable, with mandora common in Northern Italy and Central Europe, and gallichon in Germany.
History: Mandora or gallichon generally refers to a bass lute from the 1700, with the vibrating string length of 72 cm or greater, used in Germany and Bohemia. The arrangement of strings could either be single course or double course [pairs of two strings] per each note, although these instruments rarely encountered before the 18th century.
Then the term “mandora” referred to a large bass lute. The gallichone, as it was better known, was a type of 6 or 8 course bass lute possibly a descendant of the guiterne and / or chitarra italiana used, mainly for basso continuo. in Germany, Austria and Bohemia particularly during the 18th and early 19th centuries. It was also called the galizona or galichon. Tyler disputed that it was mainly used for continuo, saying it was used “both as a solo and as a continuo instrument”.
Modern-era music was written for the gallichon by Ruggero Chiesa [1933-1993]. Other composers included the German Schiffelholtz and the Italian Brescianello. Chiesa also called the instrument the colascione. Gottfried Finger suggested that it was used in Boheman musical circles. Francis William Galpin thought that the earliest versions of the colascione were initially called the Guitarra morisca. If that were true, it would take the history of the instrument back into the 13th Century, when it was illustrated as a smaller instrument in the Cantigas de Santa Maria.
Tunings: During the 18th century the mandora was the name of a lute having six courses and a length of about 70 cm string-length. Tuned from low to high [F G C f – a or E A d b g] rarely with two or there additional bass courses. With the former tuning, the instrument was called Calichon or Galichon in Bohemia. Around the 1800s a mutual interchange between the mandora and development of the guitar took place. The guitar had been tuned to a re-entrant tuning [A D G b e’]. Later the tuning became E A D G b e’ being the standard tuning for guitar.
From another source on tuning:
Two tunings are reported: a ‘galizona’ or ‘colachon’ is tuned A'( or ) –B'( or ) –C–D–G–c–e–a, and, under a separate heading, ‘mandora’ is given as D ( or ) –E ( or ) –F–G–c–f–a–d’ (i.e. the same tuning but a 4th higher) or E–A–d–g–b–e’ (identical to that of the modern guitar)
The playing technique for the mandora involves the same basic right-hand finger style as for all 18th-century lutes and, because of the tuning intervals of the upper five courses, a left-hand technique that is similar to that of the 18th-century guitar.