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Gailarda
Composer: Mudarra, Alonso
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Page 2

The Jaquemart-Andre Vihuela, was probably made in the middle years of the 16th c. It's likely that it was built as an examination instrument by a luthier who wished to join the guild at the completion of apprenticeship.

The level and complexity of the decoration are probably the factors responsible for its preservation. It was converted to a five-course guitar, probably during the 17th c. The bridge location was clearly changed.

Its overall size and string length (around 72 cm.) means that it is a tenor or baritone pitched instrument, suitable for accompaniment, but of limited use in the difficult solo repertoire. The stretches required in the music of Milan or Mudarra would be all but impossible on this instrument.

But it does provide a model for the construction of the body shape, the decorative scheme, the structure and joinery of the head. The placement of the tiles is static, and the five-rose pattern is probably not a regular feature of contemporary vihuela design. The width of the neck, as with many extant instruments often copied or studied, is not suited to the modern hand.

The ribs of the back, made from nearly 200 pieces, and the sides, are both stabilized by a substrate, which would make the instrument rather heavy and probably not very responsive. This is often a difficulty when assessing historical models; their preservation owes more to appearance than musical utility. The good instruments were simply played out, rarely preserved.

 

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