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Igor Varfolomeev's site about lute and guitar music
Classical guitar page
History of classical guitar
  • The article author E. D. Larichev (Russian guitarist, singer, composer and educator)
  • Guitar design of Retter.Guitar in the form of lyre Jennaro. Naples 1806.       Guitar is the stringed instrument played by plucking of the lute family. The word "guitar" is of Sanscrit origin (from the word "cutur", what means "fourstringed").
         The history of its origin goes into the depths of thousand years and leads its beginning from the human civilization cradle-ancient east.
         The first picture of a music instrument like guitar was found by the archaeological excavations of Bel Temple in Nuffar (Nipur) situated at the former territory of Shumero-Babylon.
        On The clay bas-relief, concerned to the middle of the third thousand years B.C., is pictured a herdsman sitting on the stone and playing a music instrument.
         Oblong-rounded body of the instrument and a long finger-board permit to suppose that this is a kinnor, the guitar prototype, often mentioned in biblical legends.
          On the other picture, found by the excavations at the territory of the former khettes New empire (XV-XIVth century B.C.), we see an instrument having a body in the form of eight with some small voices an a long finger-board with tune plates. It is supposed that the instrument by khettes as by the shumers was named a kinnor. It is possible, that the same instrument or like it by the other peoples of the Ancient East was named cutur, gasur, nabla, makhal and so on.
          The kinnor was known also in the Ancient Egypt. By the one version, it came to the Egyptians approximately in the XV-th century B.C. and was named nefer or nabla. By the other version, this music instrument appeared in Egypt and Shumero-Babylon at the same time. Its hieroglyphic picture can be seen on the Ancient Egyptian pyramids. It is interesting to note that the same hieroglyph signified "good", "fine", "beautifully".
    By the excavations of Assyrian palace in the town Ninevia (VIII-VIIth century B.C.) was found the bas-relief with the picture of ceremonial divine service in the temple. On the bas-relief we see two dancers in lion's mask and a musician with an instrument like a guitar. The instrument body is of the oval form with the length equal to the musician's forearm, with the finger-board in four times exceeding the body length. This music instrument looks line the Latin guitar (it will be described below) and can be found in our days by the peoples of Asia Minor at the name of tamboura.
         The Babylonians of Navukhodonosor' days (VII-VIth century B.C.) had an instrument named sabbec or sambuc with four strings, salient body and a finger-board with tunes. It was adopted by Ancient Greeks and Romans.
    Guitar in the form of lyre. EnglandGuitar of XIX century.     Coming from Asia to Europe, the sambuc changed its names (pectis, magadis), but at the end it was known as Asian cuitar or cuitar (cuitarr). In the Athenian National museum there is a sculptural picture of the performer at this instrument. The picture is dated 400th year B.C.
         In the first thousand years A.D. in European coutries of Mediterranea the Latin guitar was spread, musical instrument, popular by the Ancient Romans, like cuitar. In the XIIth century it was well-known in Europe, it had three and four strings (in some versions there were more strings).
         The flourishing of the Europe musical culture in the Renaissance (XV-XVI cent.) was good also for the guitar art. In the XVI-th century in Spain the guitar is a national instrument; to the four strings the fifth is added and from this time the guitar receives the Spain pith (E, H, G, D, A) at it were doubled and only the first was single.
         The five-stringed guitar begins successfully to compete with the popular in that time lute and vihuela, its nearest relatives. They appear educational textbooks and literature collections (tablature - music record spread before the XVIII-th century) where were printed Ancient Spanish dances: chaconne, passacalia, sarabanda, folia and others, and also Spanish songs and romances. It is seeked after the improvement of instrument design and playing technique.
          There are many famous virtuosos and composers-guitarists: G. Sans (1640-1710); F. Corbett (1620-1681), served at the courts of Spanish, French and English kings; R. de Vise (1650-1725), court guitarist and luteist of the French kind Ludovik the XIV; F. Kampion (1686-1748) and many others.

    At the and of the XVIII-th century the guitar looks like the modern appearance: the sixth string is added (E), doulled strings are changedto single strings. From this time the six-stringed guitar begins its triumphal procession through the world countries.

    Guitar by Hose Persel. Spain. 1867.     In the first half of the XIX-th century in Europe begins "the golden century" of the guitar. So well-known composers as F. Shubert, G. Berlios, K. M. Veber write the music for it.
         The brilliant violinist N. Paganiny was also the excellend guitarist. Many contemporaries thought that with his unsurpassed skill he was obliged to the guitar because he carried many technical methods from the guitar to the violin. Paganiny composed for the guitar 140 solo pieces, 2 sonatas for the guitar and violin, duets for the violin and guitar, trio and quartet for bow instruments with the guitar.
         In this time they appear many famous virtuosos and composers who raised the playing skill at the guitar to the unprecedented loftiness and made the foundation of the classic musical literature for it. They are Spaniards F. Sor and D. Aguado, Italians M. Giuliani, Carulli and M. Carcassi.

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