Friday, 15 Oct 2021

The Origin of the Guitar

The guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments in the world. No matter the music type, every band has at least one guitarist and most of the songs have the sound of the guitar. It has become so popular that it is estimated that most of the music courses around the world focus mainly on guitar. It is a friendly instrument that can be carried around in order to have live music more easily at the touch of your fingertips. Even though it seems an invention of the modern world, the guitar was actually invented a very long time ago.

The oldest ancestor of the modern guitar is considered by some the ancient kithara. This was an instrument used in Ancient Greece and resembled a lute. Many other types of instruments similar with the guitar were used in Persia and North Africa. They had 4 strings and tortoise shells were generally used as resonators. The oldest instrument similar with a guitar is 3500 years old. It was found in an ancient Egyptian tomb and it belonged to the singer named Har-Mose. Similar instruments were later found in the tombs of Pharaohs.

Another proof of the ancestry of the guitar was found in Turkey. An iconographic representation depicted a musical instrument very similar to the modern guitar. This representation is about 3300 years old. But many contest this line of ancestry. Many experts believe that the ancient instruments found in the Mediterranean area are relatives with the flute, not the guitar. The debate on this ancestry line is still going.

Antonio Torres

The accepted ancestor of the guitar can be found in Spain. In the writings from the 16th century Spain we find an instrument named guitarra. This is considered to be to word from which the modern named derived. In the Medieval years the Moors brought the flute to Spain and from this point the evolution of the guitar started. We see even in modern times that many traditional Spanish songs have the guitar as the main instrument.  Between the 16th and the 18th century a lot of modifications were done to the original instrument. From four strings now, we see that there six. The 19th century innovation led to the birth of the modern guitar. All of these modifications were made by Antonio Torres. The guitar came in different shapes and had a lot of ornaments and paintings.

The guitar was later spread all over the world thanks to the Spanish Conquistadors. Local variants of the original instrument emerged and now we see hundreds of types of guitars all over the world. In the 20th century it became one of the most popular instruments thanks to the influence of blues and rock & roll. Other music types adopted this instrument thanks to the popularity and easiness of making freestyle solos.

The guitar will remain one of the most popular instruments in the world. Its rich history confirms that we liked the sound of pinched strings even from Ancient times.