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The Guitar

by Vincenzo Schisano
(Translated by Marianna Mastro)

Guitar Guitar
Fig. 1 and 2 - The Guitar


The guitar with the characteristic shape of an “8” of its sound box has:

- a flat bottom or slightly convex;
- lateral bands;
- a sounding board with a central hole;
- a long neck with metal strings;
- a small stick with the mechanism for the regulation of the chords’ tension.

The origin of the guitar dates back to thousands of years ago before Christ and it is attributed to the ancient populations of the Mesopotamia.

Among this ancient population the instruments used were called in two names; the first name indicated a number the second name “Tar” (Ancient Persian) was for “chord”. In a bas-relief of the city of Alacahuyuk in Egypt dating back to 1300 before Christ appears an instrument similar to the modern ones of today.

From Africa, this instrument arrived to Spain, then Italy and later all over Europe.

In the beginning the guitar had 4 chords, then it was brought to 5 chords by the Spanish Vicente Espinel and in the 18th century it was brought to 6 chords by the Italian Master of string instruments G.B. Fabbricatore.

The tuning is MI – SI – SOL- RE – LA – MI and the notation is in the tremble (or G) clef. The pitch/loudness of the sounds produced correspond to the lower octave for which the guitar is considered a transposer instrument.

Scrittura sul pentagramma delle note corrispondenti alle singole corde della chitarra.
Fig. 3 - Notation.

Fig. 4 - Sound produced.

The chords which were made in the beginning of gut are now made in nylon . The 3 lowest ones are coated by a silver or a steel string.


La chitarra MI cantino SI SOL RE LA MI basso
Fig. 5 - The chords of the guitar.
(Point the mouse on the chords to visualize the corresponding notes)

The materials used for its manufacture are:

- maple or rosewood for the bottom and the lateral bands;
- fir-wood for the sound box;
- citron, mahogany or ash for the handle and the stick;
- ebony for the keyboard.

The chief guitar manufacturers have been: Antonio Stradivari, G.B. Fabbricatore, G. Guadagnini, Ignacio Fleta, José Ramirez and Masaru Kohno.

Such a great number of composers have written for this instrument that it is impossible to mention them all. The most famous are: Niccolò Paganini, Anton Diabelli, Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, Ignaz Pleyel, Francisco Tarrega, Manuel de Falla, Joaquim Turina, Joaquim Rodrigo, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Goffredo Petrassi, Gian Francesco Malipiero e Benjamin Britten.


© Copyright 2003 Vincenzo Schisano. All rights reserved.