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The Evolution Of The Modern Guitar

1572 words - 6 pages

The modern guitar can be easily acknowledged as one of the most influential and renown instruments in the world. The guitar recognized today has been around for hundreds of years and it is still leaving a legacy in the musical world. Some early iterations of the guitar dating back as far as 1400 BC have evolved into what is known as the modern guitar through design innovation.
Before the use of synthetic materials in the development of guitars, a guitar was defined as being an instrument having “a long, fretted neck, flat wooden soundboard, ribs, and flat back, most often with curved sides” (citation). The oldest known guitar-like instrument that displayed these features was the string instrument a Hittite bard was holding in a stone carving, showing how much guitar-like instruments had already gained popularity within societies of the past. The word guitar derives from the Latin word cithara, but the modern guitar itself is not believed to be descended from the Roman instrument. The first historical use of the term guitar was during the medieval ages during the 12th century. These instruments were the guitarra moresca (Moorish guitar) and the guitarra Latina (Latin guitar). The guitarra moresca was a four course instrument, with a peg box that slanted back from the neck in a shallow curve. It also featured a wide fingerboard and several sound holes. The body was an oval shape, like the outline of an egg. The soundboard was believed to be made of skin like the modern banjo. The guitarra Latina also consisted four single strings and had a single sound hole and a narrower neck. Its size ranged from a baritone ukulele to a modern acoustic guitar. By the 14th century the qualifiers of “moresca” and “Latina” were dropped and these two instruments were simply called guitars, but they were soon pushed out of popularity by the creation of the four and five course guitar.
The four course guitar was popular throughout the lute dominated Europe. It was a small bodied guitar and consisted of ten frets. Those frets were not the kind that of the fixed variety, but instead were movable since they were made out of gut and tied around the neck. The back of the instrument tended to be slightly rounded with a distinct ridge up the center like the hull of a boat. The achieved the feat of phasing out the lute, even if it was only temporarily, but soon its popularity started to decline giving way for the five course guitar.
16th century players and theorists believed that the four course guitar had much musical limitations. The instrument underwent series of alterations to lessen these limitations transforming it to the five course guitar. The first change was the addition of the fifth course and tuned lower than the fourth course. Also the body of the guitar was enlarged to accommodate a longer string from 55.5 cm to 63 cm, nearly that of a modern guitar. Its form retained for the following 200 years. Although the five course guitar remained popular...

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