Early Instruments, Carvings, Frames and Roses
THE VIHUELA DE MANO
The Vihuela de mano is the predecessor of the guitar and was popular in Renaissance Spain at the time that the Lute was the equivalent instrument in the rest of Europe. It developed from the generic Vihuela (Viola), which could be bowed (de arco), plucked with a plectrum (de peñula) or played with the fingers or hand (de mano). Although the pear shaped lute was derived from the Arabic Ud (lute=el Ud) and spread to the rest of Europe, in Spain the Viola forms with its characteristic figure 8 configuration, became the instrument of choice and developed into the bowed viol and violin families, and plucked guitar and vihuela families of instruments. In Spain 6 famous composers called Vihuelistas wrote music for the instrument. Some stipulated that the compositions could be played on the Vihuela, Harpa or keyboard. Many of their compositions are still popular on the Spanish and Classical guitar.
The “Paris Vihuela” is unusual for its large size which seems to suggest that it was not designed to be a playing instrument, even though the replica I made was played as a bass instrument in a consort performance at a concert to showcase the instruments made by students at the London College of Furniture, where I studied my instrument making. Click on the link to see the detailed photos and information on the Paris Vihuela replica.
The Vihuelas in this gallery are all playable, standard size instruments made for customers during my time as a Luthier in London, Laguna Beach, CA and New Mexico.
Rolando Baca, Albuquerque, NM and his Vihuela, and its rose – pearwood, gilded parchment with surrounding ebony and ivory rosette
LUTES, ORPHARIONS AND BANDORAS
These Renaissance instruments are copies of original instruments in European museums or, in the case of the Bandora, for which there are no known surviving originals, designed on the basis of an original, in this case, the Orpharion. The Lute was played as a solo instrument and evolved its form through the Renaissance into the Baroque period where it became a solo instrument for which composers such as J.S.Bach wrote suites. It also became a Continuo instrument alongside Viols and the harpsichord. The Lute, and the wire strung Bandora and Orpharion were also played in Consort music, along with Viols, the Cittern, Flute or Recorder and were the “Garage Band” of the Renaissance. The solo instruments like the Lute, Orpharion and Voice also accompanied a full repertoire of compositions such as the Lute songs of John Dowland and others, many of which were played and sung as consort pieces. Madrigals also were included in this category. The Lute was tuned with pairs of strings called courses, the top course sometimes consisting of a single string. Strings were made of gut. So were the tied frets.
The Orpharion was played as a solo or consort instrument. It had 9 pairs (called courses) of metal strings and was tuned like the Lute. It could substitute for the Lute and was developed later in the Renaissance period as a result of new wire stringing technology. The slanting frets were of brass and also reflected developments or changes in the technology and relationship of temperament. Whereas the Lute and Vihuela had frets of gut that were tied on to the neck and could be moved up or down to accommodate for slight changes in the configuration of different scales, the fixed metal frets determined the keys in a more rigid manner. Twisted wire strings of brass or bronze constituted the lower courses and the upper strings were made of bronze, iron and eventually steel as the technology developed. The only extant Orpharion we know of was made by Francis Palmer. an Englishman and is in a museum in Denmark. These instruments were popular during the time of Queen Elizabeth 1st and were played in the court and spread from England to the rest of Europe.
The Bandora was a large version of the Orpharion, also invented in Elizabethan England and was used to fill in the continuo or bass section of the consort music. As there are no extant Bandoras, the ones below were designed on the basis of the Orpharion by scaling them up to a larger size.
Carvings, Roses and Inlays:
Frames, and other creations: