A musical instrument of the chordophone family, the lyre-guitar was a type of guitar shaped like a lyre. It had six single courses and was tuned like the modern classical guitar, with a fretboard located between two curved arms recalling the shape of the ancient Greek lyre.
The lyre-guitar nearly always had a built-in pedestal allowing it to stand upright when not in use.
Claimed to have been invented in 1780 by Pierre Charles Mareschal, a prominent French luthier, who accused the French musician Phillis Pleyel of stealing his design for what he called the Lira AnacreònticaThe lyre-guitar enjoyed great popularity as a salon instrument especially in Paris between 1780 and 1820. It became very much in vogue and pervaded the highest levels of society; Marie Antoinette played one and the great guitarists of the day such as Ferdinando Carulli, Fernando Sor, Matteo Carcassi, Mauro Giuliani and Pierre Jean Porro wrote music and methods for it.
Its decline coincided with the waning of the popularity of the guitar as a salon instrument, increasingly supplanted by the piano which benefitted from ongoing improvements to its keyboard action. The lyre-guitar nevertheless persisted, not so much as a musical instrument, but more commonly as a symbol of classicist ideals appearing in numerous allegorical paintings (e.g. Mähler's portrait of Beethoven), and later on, photographs as a prop for evoking ancient Greek and Roman themes.
"The idea was to create an instrument which looked pretty and provided a visual accessory to help ladies of fashion to assume the gracious pose of Greek “kithara” players. This visual likeness became a potent ingredient of the culture of the upper classes.",
Although the lyre-guitar is rarely heard or recorded it is not extinct. A body of nearly forgotten repertoire exists often by highly notable guitarists of the golden age of the guitar. Today lyre-guitars can be made to order by luthiers and authentic examples exist in museums and private collections.
* Robert Wornum (1780–1852)
A lute is any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. More specifically, the term "lute" can refer to an instrument from the family of European lutes. The term also refers generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table. The strings are attached to pegs or posts at the end of the neck, which have some type of turning mechanism to enable the player to tighten the tension on the string or loosen the tension before playing, so that each string is tuned to a specific pitch. The lute is plucked or strummed with one hand while the other hand "frets" the strings on the neck's fingerboard. By pressing the strings on different places of the fingerboard, the player can shorten or lengthen the part of the string that is vibrating, thus producing higher or lower pitches (notes).
The lyre is a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later periods. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences.
Fernando Sor was a Spanish classical guitarist and composer. Although he is best known for his guitar compositions, he also composed music for a wide range of genres, including opera, orchestra, string quartet, piano, voice, and ballet. His ballet score Cendrillon (Cinderella) received over one hundred performances. Sor's works for guitar range from pieces for beginning players to advanced players such as Variations on a Theme of Mozart. Sor's contemporaries considered him to be the best guitarist in the world, and his works for guitar have been widely played and reprinted since his death. Unlike modern classical guitar players, Sor rarely used the ring finger of his plucking hand, and eschewed the use of nails on the plucking hand.
Ferdinando Maria Meinrado Francesco Pascale Rosario Carulli was an Italian composer for classical guitar and the author of the influential Méthode complète pour guitare ou lyre, op. 27 (1810), which contains music still used by student guitarists today. He wrote a variety of works for classical guitar, including numerous solo and chamber works and several concertos. He was an extremely prolific writer, composing over 400 works for the instrument.
The citole was a string musical instrument, closely associated with the medieval fiddles and commonly used from 1200–1350. It was known by other names in various languages: cedra, cetera, cetola, cetula, cistola, citola, citula, citera, chytara, cistole, cithar, cuitole, cythera, cythol, cytiole, cytolys, gytolle, sitole, sytholle, sytole, and zitol. Like the modern guitar, it was manipulated at the neck to get different notes, and picked or strummed with a plectrum. Although it was largely out of use by the late 14th century, the Italians "re-introduced it in modified form" in the 16th century as the cetra, and it may have influenced the development of the guitar as well. It was also a pioneering instrument in England, introducing the populace to necked, plucked instruments, giving people the concepts needed to quickly switch to the newly arriving lutes and gitterns. Two possible descendant instrument are the Portuguese guitar and the Corsican Cetera, both types of cittern.
A person who is specialized in the making of stringed instruments such as guitars, lutes and violins is called a luthier.
This article lists classical guitar related media works.
The Baroque guitar is a string instrument with five courses of gut strings and moveable gut frets. The first course sometimes used only a single string.
François de Fossa was a French classical guitarist and composer.
The early romantic guitar, the guitar of the Classical and Romantic period, shows remarkable consistency from 1790 to 1830. Guitars had six or more single courses of strings while the Baroque guitar usually had five double courses. The romantic guitar eventually led to Antonio de Torres Jurado's fan-braced Spanish guitars, the immediate precursors of the modern classical guitar.
The Méthode pour la guitare is a method for the classical guitar originally written in French by guitarist and composer Fernando Sor.
A classical guitar with additional strings is a nylon-string or gut-string classical guitar with more than six strings, in which the additional strings pass over a fingerboard so that they may be "stopped" or fretted with the fingers. These are also known as extended-range guitars, and should not be confused with harp guitars.
The cythara is a wide group of stringed instruments of medieval and Renaissance Europe, including not only the lyre and harp but also necked, string instruments. In fact, unless a medieval document gives an indication that it meant a necked instrument, then it likely was referring to a lyre. It was also spelled cithara or kithara and was Latin for the Greek lyre. However, lacking names for some stringed instruments from the medieval period, these have been referred to as fiddles and citharas/cytharas, both by medieval people and by modern researchers. The instruments are important as being ancestors to or influential in the development of a wide variety of European instruments, including fiddles, vielles, violas, citoles and guitars. Although not proven to be completely separate from the line of lute-family instruments that dominated Europe, arguments have been made that they represent a European-based tradition of instrument building, which was for a time separate from the lute-family instruments.
The cithara or kithara was an ancient Greek musical instrument in the yoke lutes family. In modern Greek the word kithara has come to mean "guitar", a word which etymologically stems from kithara.
Antoine de Lhoyer [L'Hoyer] was a French virtuoso classical guitarist and an eminent early romantic composer of mainly chamber music featuring the classical guitar. Lhoyer also had a notable military career, he was an elite member of Gardes du Corps du Roi, a Knight of the Order of St John and a Knight of the Order of St Louis. His music fell into obscurity even before his impoverished death at the age of 83 in Paris.
Pierre-Jean Porro was an influential French classical guitarist, composer and music publisher.
Andrea Tacchi is an Italian luthier, who specializes in classical guitar making.
The Palais Lascaris is a seventeenth-century aristocratic building in Nice, France. Currently, it is a musical instrument museum. Located in the old town of Nice, it houses a collection of over 500 instruments, which makes it France’s second most important collection.
Annie Bélis is a French archaeologist, philologist, papyrologist and musician. She is a research director at the French CNRS, specialized in music from classical antiquity, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
The mandolin is a modern member of the lute family, dating back to Italy in the 18th century. The instrument was played across Europe but then disappeared after the Napoleonic Wars. Credit for creating the modern bowlback version of the instrument goes to the Vinaccia family of Naples. The deep bowled mandolin, especially the Neapolitan form, became common in the 19th century, following the appearance of an international hit, the Spanish Students. They toured Europe and America, and their performances created a stir that helped the mandolin to become widely popular.