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Guitarra morisca (right) and guitarra latina (left).

The guitarra morisca or mandora medieval is a plucked string instrument. It is a lute that has a bulging belly and a headstock as sickle. Part of that characterization came from a c. 1330 poem, Libra de Buen Amor by Juan Ruiz, which described the "Moorish gittern" as "corpulent".[1] The use of the adjective morisca tacked to guitarra may have been to differentiate it from the commonly seen Latin European variety, when the morisca was seen on a limited basis during the 14th century.[2]

Appeared in the early 9th century, it is an instrument mentioned in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, and by Johannes de Grocheio (towards 1300) who called it quitarra sarracénica. In the 14th century it is known by the term guitarra morisca, coined by Arcipreste de Hita in Libro de buen amor. It is a hybrid instrument between the guitarra latina and medieval lute, usually played by fingers or plectrum.

12th Century image from Cefalù Cathedral of a lute-type instrument that has been called a Guitarra morisca by a modern builder of ancient instruments. He also called it a Chitarrino Arabo. The guitarra morisca is an obscure instrument, known mainly from pictures. Early instrument expert Francis William Galpin mentioned the instrument in his book, Old English Instruments of Music (pages 21-22), calling it the "Guitare Moresca" or "Chittara Saraacenica", with its "long neck, oval shaped body and round back." He also felt it related to the Colascione.[3]

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ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Wright, Lawrence (May 1977). "The Medieval Gittern and Citole: A Case of Mistaken Identity". The Galpin Society Journal. 30: 10–11. doi:10.2307/841364. Retrieved 16 December 2016. stanza 1228
  2. ^ Wright, Lawrence (May 1977). "The Medieval Gittern and Citole: A Case of Mistaken Identity". The Galpin Society Journal. 30: 13. doi:10.2307/841364. Retrieved 16 December 2016. stanza 1228
  3. ^ Galpin, Francis William (1911). Old English Instruments of Music. Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Company. pp. 21–22.