Origin of the guitar

Origin of the guitar

There will be plenty of surprises on the origin of the guitar!

The small bows

The “guitar” appeared firstly not as the main role of an instrument, which is quite a surprise to us that our ancestors used it as a kind of … small bows. The prehistoric people used a part of dry animal bowel, strained through their teeth, inserted the arrow (or something that can shoot an animal wounded), and used their hands to stretch this bowel segment and … shoot (sounds like a bow and arrows, right?)!

While “productive labor”, people also found that when using the hand to pluck the “bowstring”, it also emits many different funny sounds and we temporarily consider that this is the first form of the guitar with 1 string, and the soundboard is … human skull.

The tortoiseshell – guitar

Origin-of-the-guitar-tortoiseshell-guitarGoing back a few thousand years ago, in the days of the Greek gods in Homer’s epics with Apollo, the god of hunting. The god Apollo, who is described with a bow on his shoulder, is also referred to the god of music. In the literature on guitar, people also did not forget his name.

Ancient Greek myth tells that Hermes (the god of science) has climbed out of his crib to steal the cattle of Apollo. On the way home with the cows stolen, Hermes came up with a bizarre idea.

This god kills a turtle, removes its shell, stretches animal skins over the exposed part of the shell, takes two sticks and plugs them into the holes that the turtle previously used for poking its tail and neck out, and he tights cow bowel on these two sticks, and uses them to play music. Apollo hears this tone and finds Hermes and the stolen cattle.

According to legend, Apollo has agreed not to kill Hermes in exchange for Hermes’s “tortoiseshell – guitar”.

They also found evidence of the ‘tortoiseshell – guitar” style was made with many different materials from wood to clay or even the melon rind to make the resonant box in stead of the tortoiseshell.

La mujuer y la guitarra, para, usarlas hay que templarlas

Have we ever paid attention to the shape of the guitar? The soft glider near the neck, slightly pinches in the middle section and then expands in the bottom, all of these make you think of anything? The answer is that the first guitar makers stylized contours of the body of the woman in the shape of the guitar.

You should know the Spanish have an old expression like this: “La mujuer y la guitarra, para, usarlas hay que templarlas” (conquering a woman is similar to playing guitar, you must know how to align it right). In an ancient stone statue called “Apollo Argyrotoxos’ Bowstring”, the sculptors have portrayed the string is stretched across a vibrant body of a woman.

According to Segovia, the famous artist “The guitar was generated when Apollo was trying to usurp Daphne, the god embraced her, Daphne transformed into a laurel tree and from the wood of that sacred tree, the first guitar was made”.

Other Instruments

The instruments have similar shape as the guitars are manufactured in many different countries in separate periods. The ancestor of today’s guitar as we know was made in Europe and was adapted from the shape of the lute with the back part of the sphere soundboard.

But nobody knows for sure which is the true ancestor of the guitar for a simple reason: there are too many similar kinds of musical instruments from different cultures: the Assyrians’ Chetarah, the Hebrews’ kinnura, the Chaldeans’s guitar, the Persians’ sitar and the Greeks’ kithara.

In 711 AD, the Moors invaded Spain and brought with them their rebecs. Even the gypsies also played a role in the creation of the guitar by their own ways: while wandering from Persia to the west in XII century, these people brought along the most primitive form of the lute and vihuela. From these instruments, they began to conduct the first tests to modify them into a guitar shaped-like today.

In many centuries, the guitar is the most popular among the instruments. Even in the 1600s, in the hair salons, the barbers often hung a guitar by their side for the guests to use it to play several melodies for entertainments in the waiting time.

Guitar vs piano

When the first piano was introduced, the guitar lost its superiority. Of course, both instruments can be used to play solo or sing along but with the absolute advantages in strength and breadth of pitches as well as its luxurious and flashy appearance, the Piano entirely was the mistress in the tearooms of the upper classes from the XVIII century to the present.

Fortunately, the poor people did not respond to this trend and the guitar obviously became a typical recreational way for the common class.


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