A History of the Guitar
Guitar-like instruments have existed since ancient times (see the Guitar Museum), but the first written mention of the guitar proper is from the 14th century. In its earliest form it had three double courses (pairs) of strings plus a single string (the highest). The guitar probably originated in Spain, where by the 16th century it was the counterpart among the middle and lower classes of the aristocracy's vihuela, an instrument of similar shape and ancestry with six double courses.
Guitars ranging from contrabass to treble, and with varying numbers of strings are played in Spain and Latin America. The twelve-string guitar has six double courses in standard tuning. The Hawaiian, or steel, guitar is laid across the knees of the player, who stops the metal strings by gliding a metal bar along the neck. The strings are usually tuned to the notes of a given chord.
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"The classical guitar is a descendant of the lute. It evolved into its modern appearence in Spain in the early 1800's. The man responsible for its modern design was a carpenter named Antonio de Torres Jurado (1817-1892)". By 1869, when he sold a guitar to Francisco Tarrega, the guitar had been swept out of the drawing room by the piano and had barely established a toehold in the concert hall. In Spain, which had resisted the piano, the guitar was nonetheless associated with peasants, gypsies and those who play for loose change in bars. The most fundamental thing Torres did was to increase the size of the body. Torres' concert guitars, introduced in the early 1850s, have soundboards about 20 per cent larger than those of the concert guitars played by Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado a few years earlier - from Guitar101 and Guitar Salon International
As an instrument of classical music, the guitar came to prominence largely through the efforts of the Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909) and the Spanish guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia (1893-1987).
Adelita by Francisco Tarrega (tablature)
Tarrega: Bar & Tremolo Study
Tarrega TAB Archive
While Napoleon Coste and Tarrega were obliged to abandon lucrative concert careers due to serious accidents, Dionisio Aguado, after a successful sojourn in Paris (1825-1838), decided to isolate himself in Spain. Their importance, therefore, in the history of the guitar lies principally in their didactic works. Whereas Aguado's Escuela de guitarra (Madrid, 1825) and Coste's edition of Sor's Méthode pour la Guitare (to which he added many of his own compositions) represent a culmination of 19th guitar pedagogy, Tarrega's works can be considered the foundation of modern guitar technique. His own compositions, and his transcriptions of classical composers demonstrate a foresight of the expressive capabilities of the instrument that were until then unexploited.
Miguel Llobet (1878-1938) was Tarrega's most prestigious student, one of the most famous and well-paid Spanish musicians of his period who contributed invaluable work in the study of Catalonian folk music. Manuel De Falla dedicated the Homenaje, pour le tombeau de C. Debussy to Llobet as a tribute to his artistry (1920). In the context of this recording Llobet's Mazurka carries us into the 20th century, here represented by the works of Joan Manén (1883-1971) and Nuccio D'Angelo (1955).
Manén, a child prodigy, was an extraordinary violinist, conductor and composer: he gave his first concert as a violinist at age 7, he conducted his first concert at age 10 and had his first composition performed when he was 13! The Fantasia Sonata, the only work that Manén wrote for guitar, was dedicated to A. Segovia and was later re-elaborated as his Divertimento, perhaps his most well-known symphonic work.
Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) guitar virtuoso, heir to the lutenists of old, friend of Beethoven and Rossini, composed concerti, chamber music, and songs, as well as guitar solos and duets.
Hudleston was born in Bray, County Berkshire, England, on 22 February 1799. It may be helpful to remember that he was twenty-nine years younger than Beethoven, and some twenty years younger than the two most renowned guitarists of the early 19th century, the Spanish-born Fernando Sor, and the Italian-born Mauro Giuliani. He was only seven years younger than Rossini, and was born within five years of Bellini, Donizetti, Berlioz, and the guitarists Napoléon Coste, Johann Kaspar Mertz, and Marco Aurelio Zani de Ferranti. He was also about twenty years older than Giulio Regondi, one of the last (and arguably the greatest) guitarist of the 19th century. We can see, then, that Hudleston was not looking back with nostalgia on an the guitar's years of glory, as was the case for most of the other collectors - he was a part of those years, and this makes his collection very significant indeed. What makes it even more remarkable is that Hudleston collected most of his music while he was living in India.
Classical Guitar Anatomy learn about the parts of the classical guitar: Head, Nut, Fretboard, Soundhole & Bridge
Get your own Acoustic Guitar and start playing, or maybe even upgrade.
by luthier Paul Chabot
Guitar String Notes & Their Names
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