Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5-6
Region: Continental Europe.
Description: The mandora or gallichon 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.
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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 to 8 course bass lute possibly a descendant of the guiterne or chitarra italiana that was 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.
Construction: The bass type of mandora was similar in sound to theorbo and other baroque lutes. As such it has a vaulted body, constructed with individual staves glued together over a series over a jig or a frame to form the body. The soundboard is flat and has a carved rosette that inset into the sound hole. A bridge is affixed without a saddle consisting of a wooden bar acting a as string holder glued to the soundboard.
Unique to this instrument is the neck, which is long enough to allow for ten to 12 tied gut frets. The pegbox is either straight and set at a sharp angle to the neck, much like a lute pegbox or gently curving and set at a shallow angle. Either case being fitted with laterally-inserted tuning pegs. Although sometimes a flat pegboard with sagittal pegs is found. The strings were of gut and are strung either singly or, especially on Italian instruments, in double courses.
However on German-made instruments, the first course, highest in pitch is usually single [a chanterelle] and often has its own separate raised peg rider / holder attached to the pegbox. The number of courses varies from six to eight. Open string lengths tend to be fairly long [62 cm to 72 cm] on German instruments, but shorter [55 cm to 65 cm ] on late Italian ones, probably because they tended to be tuned to a higher pitch.
Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Grove Music Online / Mandora – James, Tyler ;