Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Well, we have a lot of variety here - from gittern to 19thC Mirecourt classical guitar in gut strings. I'd like to see more people uploading pictures, videos and soundfiles. Please note that, if you are uploading a video or soundfile which is already on another site, you only have to make a link to the URL. Please don't upload the whole file, unless it is unavailable elsewhere. This way we won't fill up our allotted space too quickly.

It would be good to see this forum take off too. Don't be afraid to ask what you might think are simple questions (what is a bourdon, what does re-entrant mean?? etc). I'd like to encourage beginners and those who are just curious.

Any questions? Topics for discussion?

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Hi Rob,
Congratulations for this site and initiative.
I'll uplload/ling some pictures of my instruments.
Alas 2 months of vihuela-playing is not enough to share the result in the form of sound clips. I'll do my best...
One man's gittern is another man's cittern. I've no idea, and am in no position to forward an opinion.

Hope that helps!
I'm happy to have gitterns on this site - sounds, photos, discussion. Don't hold back.
Hi Martyn,
I found an article (from 1977) on this subject:
The Medieval Gittern and Citole: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Laurence Wright -The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 30. (May, 1977), pp. 8-42.
I can access the article only from our university campus at:

I could email you a copy if you like.

There is also some text by Paul Baker on the website of Diabolus in Musica at http://www.diabolus.org/guide/gittern.htm
I'll bite. I think I already know, but what is a bourdon?

And thanks for this forum, Rob.
That's what I thought. I was afraid to say so ;-) Thanks, bill!
Hi Robert,

On baroque guitars, specifically, the bourdon or bordon is a major consideration for the fourth and fifth courses. The two strings for a course were either unison at a high octave (no bourdons), unison at a low octave (two bourdons) or one high and one low. Sanz, for instance, seems to have favoured no bourdons for the plucked style he picked up in Rome, but suggested two bourdons for strummed music. Robert de Visee asked for a bourdon on only the fourth course. Put simply, a bourdon is a thicker, lower octave string.

And this is related to re-entrant tuning. If you have no bourdons, the lowest note is the third course. Likewise if you have one bourdon on the fourth course, the lowest note is the fourth course. In each case the tuning is said to be re-entrant. Not so when you have bourdons on the fifth course.

Does this help?
Guiterne (close to gittern...) is used for renaissance guitar on books by Morlaye and Le Roy.
Yes, very detailed, thank you, Rob.


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