Guitar – (Spanish: quitarra from the Greek. Kithara – lyre) is a kind of stringed musical instrument with a wooden body – a resonator in the shape of an eight and with a long neck. It is used as an accompanying instrument in many musical styles, as well as as a solo classical instrument. It is the main instrument in such styles of music as blues, country, flamenco, rock music and many forms of popular music. Invented in the 20th century, the electric guitar had a strong impact on popular culture.
Many historians describe the origin of modern guitar and its varieties in different ways. This is not surprising, because the first stringed-plucked instruments, which were the prototype of a real guitar, appeared in ancient times, 3-4 thousand years BC.
Stringed plucked instruments equipped with a neck appeared in ancient times. They make up the lute family in the broad sense of the word. The earliest surviving evidence is sculptural images of Mesopotamia, which date back to about 2 millennium BC. e.
They depict instruments with a small case, which was made of tortoise shell or pumpkin (probably covered in leather). Similar tools exist today in some countries: in the Balkans – tambouritsa, in Iran – sitar, in Turkey – saz, in Greece – bazookas. In Central Asia and in the north of India, a two-stringed dutar also appears (used today in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan).
It has a body rounded down and truncated in the upper part and has a long neck into which the pegs are screwed.
A decisive moment in the history of the development of the instrument is the appearance of a new resonator body, which now consists of three parts: a deck, a top deck and two shells that connect them. This stage begins in China in the III or IV century BC. e. With the advent of the yuan (now unused) and the yukin, whose top deck is made of a solid wooden plate.
Since that time, instruments similar to guitars have been widely distributed in the Middle East. A fine example of one of these instruments is captured on the frieze of the Ertam Buddhist monastery near Termez (Uzbekistan), a fragment of which is stored in the St. Petersburg Hermitage. However, there is as yet no exact dating of this frieze: it can be attributed to the period between the 1st century BC. e. and III century BC e. In ancient China, various types of lute with a long neck are widely used. Especially attracting attention is the so-called nefer (which means “beauty” in translation). This instrument, with its almond-shaped elongated body, can be considered one of the predecessors of our guitar. The insufficiency and fragmentation of reliable data complicates the scientific study of the background of the guitar. Most of all, we are inclined to think that she was born in the Middle East and from there spread to Asia and Europe.
An important role in this process belongs to Egypt. As C. Omo notes, “since the 9th century in the west of this country, the European lute has been called the whale”
On the ancient Egyptian pyramids and Assyrian architectural monuments there are hieroglyphs depicting the instrument of the Nabla, in shape remotely resembling a guitar. It is interesting that the ancient Egyptians used the same hieroglyph to mean the concepts of “good”, “good”, and “beautiful.”
In Mesopotamia and Egypt, some varieties of kifar (including the Egyptian Nabla and Arab El-Aud) received further constructive development and spread throughout the Mediterranean coast in the III – II millennia BC. Still in the countries of Asia Minor there is a musical instrument “cinera”, akin to the guitar.
In ancient Greece, the most popular musical instruments were kitara (kitarra), lyre, harp, pandora.
In the early centuries of the new era, a Latin akin to the Greek was prevalent in the Mediterranean countries of Europe. The closest relative of the guitar was known – the lute. The name “lute” itself comes from the Arabic word “el-aud”, which means “wooden” or “harmonious”.
In addition, the relationship between the neferom and the first instruments depicted in Spanish manuscripts is evident. The invasion of the Arabs could serve — this also applies to the lute — as a factor in the connection between North Africa and Southern Europe; but one cannot exclude a certain influence of Asia Minor – through the Greco-Roman world.
The Latin word cithara comes from the Greek word kifar and long before the Middle Ages it was used to denote varieties of guitars like kitaire, quitaire, quitarre, introduced after 1250.
Unfortunately, this precious document is an isolated case. The closest to it in time images of instruments – the predecessors of the guitar, we find only in the X – XI centuries in Spain. Their design does not look so developed.
Until the sixteenth century, the guitar was three- and four-stringed. They played on it with fingers and a plectrum (bone and tortoiseshell plate).