Name: Vihuela De Mano.
Type: Chordophones > Composites > Lutes > Guitars > Types.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.5
Course: 10 Strings Paired.
Era: 15-16th centuries.
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 lute family. Whose strings, were originally made of gut.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.
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 to contemporary Renaissance lutes as both instruments utilize renterant tunings. The accession of the third string [G] is tuned a semitone lower to [F#]. This gives rise to the concept of the alternate tuning E A D F# B E Lute Tuning as played on guitar.
|Vihuela De Mano|
|G||G C F A D G|
|A||A D G B E A|
|B||B E A C# F# B|
|C||C F B D G C|
|D / G||D G C E A D|
|E||E A D F# B E|
|F B E G C F|
|F B B G C F|
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.
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 ; Websites: