Khemehekis wrote: ↑
01 Apr 2020 04:25
I never realized "oud" and "lute" were related! The L from al- spilling over almost sounds like naranja/orange, an apron/a napkin, an eft/a newt, etc. I figure the popularity of the lute preceding the guitar wave is why guitar-makers are called luthiers and their craft is called lutherie?
Yes, indeed - early guitar makers would all (probably even in Spain) have primarily been lute makers. Lute making was a massive industry - any family anywhere in Europe with at least some disposable income owned at least one lute (and lutes came in a vast range of sizes and tunings).
While we're in this morass, lets maybe get a bit more clarity on the different instruments...
We start out with what's call for the sake of argument a tanbur. This is a very, very ancient design from the middle east: it has a round-backed, often pear-shaped soundbox, and a long neck. These instruments spread throughout north africa, central asia and the subcontinent (eg the modern Indian sitar).
In Europe, the one wave of these instruments spread out from Greece - the aforementioned Greek pandoura, Balkan tambura (from the Greek tambouras - the Greeks maintained their old instrument, but borrowed the Turkish name for it), etc. The most famous modern example is the Greek bouzouki (again borrowed back from Turkey).
Somebody, however much later on invented a different type of instrument by fiddling with the tanbur. This may have happened in Central Asia, where the new instruments are known from several centuries BC. However, the best-known example is the Arabic oud. This instrument characteristically "short-necked". This is in part because it had more strings - tanbur-type instruments usually only have two or three (or even one) string, so need long necks to let the player play many different notes on one string. More strings means a shorter neck is needed. Visually, the neck is also shortened in two other ways: the pegbox is tilted back at an angle rather than being in-line; and the soundbox is more rounded, but curves up into the neck making the distinction between the two less clear. Here is a (very) long-necked 'tanbur-type' instrument
(the modern Turkish tanbur has adopted a very large, round box, though the neck remains long), whereas here is a short-necked oud
The oud was adopted across Europe under the name 'lute' - technically there are some differences, because they spent centuries diverging, but fundamentally the lute is just a regional variant of the oud.
Confusingly, however, early local adaptations of the oud were called by names taken from the long-necked pandouras - thus, the traditional Italian mandolin, French mandore, and Spanish bandurria are actually more like lutes than tanburs.
There were many varieties of lute. Small lutes were called "guitars" or "gitterns". This word was derived via inexplicable voicing from the Greek kithara, a type of lyre - but the guitar was unrelated to the kithara in anything but name. The Germans kept the voiceless initial stop, but for some reason labialised it, calling the instrument the 'quintern'... particularly intriguing, as the Arabs made the same two decisions, calling their version the 'kwitra'.
Then we have a third big invention, somewhere in central Asia: bowing. Generally, bowing was used on the long-necked instruments - I guess because with a longer neck and fewer strings, it's easier to bow. This innovation was introduced into Europe at least twice. One came through the Byzantine lyra, which, confusingly, was NOT a (bowed) lyre (though the ancient lyra was indeed a lyre), but rather a bowed tanbur (the bowed lyre or bowed psaltery in northern europe was known as the crowd, particularly popular in Wales). From the lyra developed the 'vitula', or 'female calf', as its piercing sound was flatteringly called. Meanwhile from the Arabic rabab was introduced the 'rebec'. And yes, "rebec" is how the French borrowed the word "rabab". The English did better, at first calling the instrument the "rybybe" or "ribible".
Rebecs were more sophisticated, with arced bridges to enable the playing of more strings. The vitula - or vielle, or fiddle, or viol, or vihuela - developed its own innovation: first, a flat back and perpendicular sides, making it cheaper to build and stronger; and later, a 'figure of eight' or 'waisted' shape, to make it easier to bow the string without the body getting in the way (particular now that the body was less curved behind). The fiddle also crucially developed
The idea of a flat back appears to have been applied to non-bowed instruments to invent the citole. Although really, no-one knows what the citole was. Or why it's called that. It's assumed to be from 'kithera', plus a diminutive. Although I wonder if the -ole might be related to the -ola of the mandola (borrowed from that of the almond).
The citole was then forgotten about, but probably reinvented in the form of the cittern. This is probably just a mashing together of the words 'gittern' and 'citole'. The cittern, unusually, had metal strings, which might be why it used the flat back and sides (metal strings need higher tension, which need a stronger body). The cittern in England developed into the English guitar
or 'guittar' (also the portuguese guitar and the german waldzither which is, needless to say, NOT a zither. And yes, 'zither' comes from 'kithara', but the zither is also not a lyre like the kithara).
[actually, apparently the german guitar produced the english guitar, which in turn gave rise to the portuguese guitar due to the alcohol trade between the two countries. The english guitar was also the instrument known as the guitar in scandinavia until relatively recently. The French, meanwhile, called both the cittern an the english guitar "cistre", randomly inserting an 's' into the word, possibly by analogy with the word for 'box']
Now, in Spain, the later, figure-of-eight fiddle started to be played without a bow, just by plucking. This instrument was still called the vihuela. Then someone had the idea of making a slightly smaller vihuela, which they called the guitar (that being the name for a small plucked instrument, after all). The guitar then grew in size for several centuries.
The guitar, therefore, is in origin neither a lute nor one of the old long-necked lutes, but simply a violin without a bow. Compare this painting of an early guitar
with this reconstructed mediaeval fiddle
for the similarities. The two big differences there (other than the guitar's more innovative pegbox) are the holes (central in the guitar, lateral for the fiddle) and the frets. The holes on fiddles could be pretty much anywhere, but the guitar's round central hole (originally filled with a pattern) is taken from the oud/lute; in the middle ages, both plucked and unplucked european instruments could either have or lack frets as the player chose (most frets only being string wrapped around the neck).
[later, the fiddle adopted the arched bridge of the rebec to let it play melodies more easily, and became the viol]
And finally, Americans discovered the mandolin, and liked it so much that they decided to completely change all its characteristics, basically turning it into a novelty guitar.
It's all very complicated...