Name: Mandore.
Type: Lute > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Italy, France & Germany.
Region: Western Europe.

Description: The mandore is a musical instrument, it is a small member of the lute family. It is a teardrop shaped, with four to six courses of gut strings and pitched in the treble range. It was considered a new instrument in French music books from the 1580s. But is descended from and very similar to the gittern. It is considered ancestral to the modern mandolin. Other earlier instruments include the medieval European citole and the Greek and Byzantine pandura.

History: The Cantigas de Santa Maria shows 13th century instruments similar to lutes, mandores, mandolas and guitars, being played by European and Islamic players. The instruments moved from Spain northward to Franc and eastward towards Italy by way of Provence.

Beside the introduction of the lute to Spain (Andalusia) by the Moors, another important point of transfer of the lute from Arabian to European culture was Sicily, where it was brought either by Byzantine or later by Muslim musicians. There were singer-lutenists at the court in Palermo following the Norman conquest of the island from the Muslims.

The lute is depicted extensively in the ceiling paintings in the Palermo’s royal Cappella Palatina, dedicated by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily in 1140. His Hohenstaufen grandson Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor [1194 – 1250] continued integrating Muslims into his court, including Moorish musicians. By the fourteenth century, lutes had disseminated throughout Italy and, probably because of the cultural influence of the Hohenstaufen kings and emperor, based in Palermo, the lute had also made significant inroads into the German-speaking lands.

The history of modern mandolins, mandolas and guitars is all intertwined. The instruments shared common ancestor instruments. Some instruments became fashionable widely, and others locally. Experts argue as to the differences; because many of the instruments are so similar but not identical, classifying them has proven difficult. A mandolino made in Cremona, Italy, by Antonio Stradivari, c. 1680; one hundred years after the mandore was being labeled “new” in France.

Some experts consider the mandore a forerunner to the mandolino; also known as a Baroque mandolin. Which in turn branched out into a family of mandolins that includes the Neapolitan mandolin, the Genoese mandolin, and the Cremonese mandolin. Others consider that the mandore and mandolino may have been contemporary, with different names being used in different countries. The mandolino in Italy, the mandore in France. It is also considered a forerunner or close relative of the 17th century mandola.

Construction: Like the earlier gittern, the mandore’s back and neck were in earlier forms carved out of a block of wood. This “hollowed out construction” did still exist in the 16th century, according to James Tyler, but was becoming rare. The method was being replaced by gluing curved staves together to form back, and adding a neck and peg box.


According to Praetorius
Michael Praetorius detailed four tunings for the Mandore in his book Syntagma Musicum in 1619. He listed three tunings (with one repeated) for tuning the mandore. His tuning illustrate tuning for both 4-stringed instruments and 5-stringed instruments.

Fifths and fourths
The listed tunings using fifths and fourths between strings are:

Fourths and fifths
The listed tuning for fourths and fifths tuning is:

According to Mersenne
Mersenne indicates in his book that there were many ways to tune a mandore, but three ways predominated: tuning in unison, tuning with a lowered string, and tuning in a third.

Tuning in Unison – For a four string mandore, Mersenne said, “The fourth string is a fifth of the third; the third string is at the fourth of the second, and the second at a fifth from the treble string.” In other words, the mandore used a combination of fourths and fifths the courses of strings, such as c-g-c-g.

Tuning with a lowered string – Mersenne indicated that this was less common than tuning in unison. To tune this way, “the treble string is lowered a tone, so to make a fourth with the third string.” In other words, going from tuning c-g-c-g to c-g-c-f.

Tuning in a third – In tuning a third, one “lowers the treble string down a minor third, so it makes a major third with the third.” An example is going from c-g-c-g to c-g-c-e.

According to the Skene Manuscript – The tunes in the Skene Manuscript are for a mandore tuned in fourths and fifths. Dauney points out in his editing of the Skene Manuscript that the tablature is written strangely, that although it is tabbed for a four-string instrument, it is marked under the bottom line, indicating a five-string instrument:
A-D-A-D-A and also an older lute tuning in fourths (except between F and A, which is a third):


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