Few now remember that the guitar was popular in England during the age of Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, and yet it was played everywhere from the royal court to the common tavern. This groundbreaking book, the first entirely devoted to the renaissance guitar in England, deploys new literary and archival material, together with depictions in contemporary art, to explore the social and musical world of the four-course guitar among courtiers, government servants and gentlemen. Christopher Page reconstructs the trade in imported guitars coming to the wharves of London, and pieces together the printed tutor for the instrument (probably of 1569) which ranks as the only method book for the guitar to survive from the sixteenth century. Two chapters discuss the remains of music for the instrument in tablature, both the instrumental repertoire and the traditions of accompanied song, which must often be assembled from scattered fragments of information.
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Introduction; 1. Imagery; 2. Who owned a gittern?; 3. The gittern trade; 4. 'An instruction to the Gitterne'; 5. Sounding strings; 6. The gittern and Tudor song; 7. Thomas Whythorne: the autobiography of a Tudor guitarist; Conclusion; Appendices: Appendix A. The terms 'gittern' and 'cittern'; Appendix B. References to gitterns from 1542-1605; Appendix C. The probate inventory of Dennys Bucke (1584); Appendix D. Octave strings on the fourth and third course; Appendix E. The fiddle tunings of Jerome of Moravia, swept strings and the guitar; Appendix F. The mandore and the wire-strung gittern; Appendix G. The ethos of the guitar in sixteenth-century France; Appendix H. Raphe Bowle.
'The book is especially valuable because the author examines both the social and musical history of the guitar. Studies that focus just on one instrument can be sincere but dull, their pages filled with tables, measurements, stringing lists, and pretty pictures. Important information, to be sure, but missing a crucial point: these instruments were held in human hands and used for very human purposes. Here, Mr Page's book shines brightly ... Readers who want to learn all things about the guitar in Tudor England could do no better than to read this superb book.' Mark Kroll, Early Music America 'Christopher Page's study of the Tudor gittern presents the reviewer with a challenge, since it is impeccably conceived, comprehensively researched and exquisitely written; so what can one add beyond words of praise?' John Milsom, Early Music
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