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CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE
XVIth - XVIIIth century
Guitar, Lute, Vihuela, Archilute & Theorbo
by Gerard Rebours

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The XVIth century Guitar
(Guiterne, Guiterre, "Renaissance Guitar")

has four open courses tuned to :
accord Guitare Renaissance

sometimes with exceptions, eg. :

- 4 = f (called "a los viejos" in Spain, or "à corde avalée" in France, literally meaning "lowered string")
- 3 = b (Morlaye)
- 2 = eb andt 1 = g (Playford)

The XVIIth & XVIIIth century Guitar
(now called " Baroque Guitar")

has a basic pattern of A d g b e across 5 courses, which can present many variants, in particular: accord Guitare Baroque 1 ... accord Guitare Baroque2 or : accord Guitare Baroque3

Other possibilities may include the third course doubled up an octave, the two lowest courses in unison or triple-strung, or even 5 single strings. Towards the end of the eighteenth century a double E is added which finally becomes a single string; this is the stringing of the modern-day classical guitar: E A d g b e.
Composers do not always indicate their choice concerning the tuning of their instrument, and sometimes they change the intervals between strings (eg. B d g c' f', or B c g c' e' etc.)

Some
authors :
A. Mudarra (1546) Barberiis (1549) Gorlier, Morlaye, Le Roy et Brayssing (1550-1554) Fuenllana (1554) Phalèse (1570) Amat (1596 ?) Playford (1652), manuscript sources. Page top Montesardo (1606) Foscarini (1625,1640) Corbetta (1639 à 1673) Bartolotti (1640, 1655) Granata (1643 à 1684) Calvi (1646) Sanz (1674) De Visée (1682, 1686) Roncalli (1692) Guerau (1694) Campion (1705) Murzia (1714, 1732) Le Coq (1729) Diesel (C.1740) Merchi (1755 à 1780) Corette (1763) Baillon (1781) ... et miscelleanous manuscript sources.
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The XVIth century Lute
(now called"Renaissance Lute")

First of all with 6 courses, then 7, then 8
6 courses : accord Luth 1

8 courses : accord Luth 2

with some variants, especially for the double F (sometimes in unison, sometimes tuned up an octave).

The XVIIth & XVIIIth lutes
(now called "Pre-Baroque Lute" and "Baroque Lute")

The preceding "renaissance" lute gained two more courses in the lower register at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and then underwent different transitional tunings. Eventually it settled into a tuning called "nouveau ton" in France, with 11 courses at the end of the century, and 13 at the end of the eighteenth century:
10 course "Pre-Baroque" Lute: accord Luth 3

13 course "Baroque" lute : accord Luth 4

Afterwards the instrument fell little by little into disuse, and disappeared completely by the nineteenth century.

Some
authors :
Spinacino (1507) Dalza (1508) Judenkünig (1523) Attaignant (1529) Neusidler (1536) Le Roy (1551, 1568) Da Rippa (1552,...) V. Galilei (1563) Adriansen (1584) Cutting (1596) J. Dowland, manuscript sources. Bésard (1603, 1617) Ballard (1611) Vallet (1615) Dufaut (1631+ ms) P. Gautier (1638) D. Gaultier (1652) G.Pinel (c 1650) Mace (1676) J. Gallot (c 1681) Bittner (1682) Mouton (c 1690) De Visée (c.1690 ) Logy Kellner Weiss Bach Baron Kohaut Falckenhagen Scheidler, manuscript sources. Page top
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The XVIth centuryVihuela
(Vihuela de mano, Viola da mano)

An instrument with 6 courses of strings, tuned like the lute but which could all be in unison. :

accord Vihuela

Bermudo talks of a 7-string vihuela, and Fuellana wrote music for 5 double courses.
.

No more vihuela after the XVIth century

Some
authors :
Milán (1536) da Milano (1536) Narvaez (1538) Mudarra (1546) Valderrábano (1547) Pisador (1552) Fuenllana (1554) Henestrosa (1557) Daza (1576) Cabezón (1578) Page top
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No theorbo nor d'archluth in the XVIth century

© Gérard Rebours
- with the kind permission of "Les Cahiers de la Guitare".

The Archluth, and the Theorbo or Chitarrone

By continuing to widen the bass register of the Renaissance lute, an instrument with up to 14 courses was created, called the archlute.
The theorbo, or chitarrone in Italy, is generally fitted with 14 single strings often made of gut, but sometimes also of metal (eg. in Piccinini), tuned :
accord Théorbe

Double course theorboes can also be found, and yet others with extra bass strings for inflected notes.
These instruments, like the others in this table, were for solo performance (original works and adaptations), ensemble music, for accompanying a singer(s), for use in small or large groups.

Some
authors :
Kapsberger (1604 à 1640) Melii(1614,1620) Pesaro (c 1615) Castaldi (1622) Piccinini (1623) Fleury (1660) Pittoni (1669) Bartholomi (1669) Delair (1690) Grénerin, Lemoyne, De Visée, Hotman, manuscript sources. Page top