Predecessors of the modern classical guitar include the lute, the viheula de mano and the baroque guitar. The lute was popularly used for song accompaniment in the Medieval era but little written music remains as the majority of these songs were improvised. The Medieval lute had four or five courses and was plucked with a quill. The vihuela was composed of six double course strings and was a plucked, flat backed lute. The vihuela in Spain, or the viola da mano as it was known in Italy, is decidedly linked to the classical guitar. However, towards the end of the 15th century, some musicians began to use a bow to play the vihuela which also paved the way for the violin and other bowed instruments. In the 17th century, the baroque guitar overtook the viheula in popularity. Each of these early instruments produced bright sounds with rich overtones. The desire for a more fundamental, strong sound began in Spain. By specializing in instruments with single strings, a stronger, more pronounced tone is produced by the modern classical guitar than was generated by the baroque guitar, vihuela, or lute.
The Spanish guitar composer and virtuoso Francisco Tárrega had a profound impact on the modern guitar technique in the 19th century. Tárrega was a professor at music conservatories in Madrid and Barcelona and his teachings defined much of the musical technique and also paved the way for the revival of Spanish music that took place in the 20th century. Agustín Barrios was a Paraguayan guitarist and composer who did much for flamenco music. He frequently employed techniques such as rasgueado which strums the guitar strings with the back of the fingernails. Twentieth century guitarist Andrés Segovia popularized the Spanish classical guitar and was integral in the movement to classicize the flamenco guitar. He separated himself from Tárrega’s strumming and solely plucked the guitar strings. He was also an advocate of nylon strings. Andrés Segovia was integral to the popularity of the guitar as a solo performance instrument and he was greatly influential to the next generation of classical guitarists. Julian Bream is one of the followers of Segovia and is perhaps the greatest known contemporary guitarist.
Popular compositions for performance include early works from the classical period by composers such as the Spanish Fernando Sor or the Italian Mauro Giuliani. Johann Sebastian Bach’s music for the solo violin, solo cello, and baroque guitar are frequently adapted for the classical guitar in performance. Contemporary guitarist Julian Bream has convinced nearly every British composer to write works for the guitar, which are often dedicated to Bream, including pieces by Benjamin Britten and Maxwell Davies.
Choose from trusted guitar brands like Cordoba, Yamaha, Rodrgiguez, Ibanez, and La Patrie. Browse the varieties of flamenco and classical guitars for a beautiful instrument for performance, pleasure, or learning.