A Brief History of Guitars

by Jul 8, 2010Ad Libitum0 comments

I’m taking a brief intermission from Poland and writing about another of my personal interests, guitars. I expect many others might share an interest in guitars or might just be curious about how they came into being. Playing the guitar is a fun and relaxing hobby and the next time you pass by a guitar in a store window, knowing a little more of its history might just encourage you to take the plunge in learning how to play it.

The guitar is part of the chordophone family. They usually have  six strings ranging from the E to E. The strings in order from low to high are E,A,D,G,B, and high E. Many are made from wood but more modern types are made from a poly-carbonate material. The acoustic guitar has been in use for more than 1,000 years. They have descended from the areas of Asia and India.

Although descended from Asia and India, the word “Guitar” comes from the Latin word cithara which came from the Greek word κιθάρα or Kithara. Kithara came from a Persian word Sintar. We get the “tar” on the ends of the words because it means string in Persian.

The guitar itself is actually believed to come from a Moorish instrument known as an Oud. It is also possible that the guitar we know today could have come from the Scandinavian Lute.

By the year 1200, the word guitar was used to describe two instruments. One of these was the Guitara Moresca, and the other was the Guitara Latina. The Guitara Moresca shows strong Moorish influence. It has a very round back and and a wide neck. It also has multiple sound holes. In contrast, the Guitara Latina had a much narrower neck and a single sound hole. As you can see this fits the description more so than earlier versions. By the 1300s, the Latina and Moresca was dropped and they were simply referred to as Guitars.


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