Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tiny Cathedral Windows - The Spanish Guitar: A Guest Post by Author Deborah Swift

I'm super pleased to welcome author Deborah Swift to the blog today for a guest post on the Spanish guitar.   Deborah is currently touring the blogosphere with her latest novel, A Divided Inheritance.  If you haven't already checked out my review for this fantastic novel, you can do so by clicking here.

Take it away, Deborah! 

Much of the research I do for my novels never sees the light of day. I first posted about Spanish guitars on my blog whilst I was writing A DIVIDED INHERITANCE, but it seemed a shame to let the research lie there without giving it another outing.

Up until the 17th century there were no real guitars - the only instruments similar to a guitar were the lute and, in Spain, where the novel is set, the vilhuela.

In the early 17th century the Guitarra Morrisco became popular in Spain in the Moorish areas where what we know now as flamenco guitar and dance began. This type of guitar spread to other European countries where it became known as the Baroque Guitar or sometimes simply the Spanish Guitar.  A good example of this sort of Baroque guitar can be seen in Vermeer's painting "The Guitar Player."

Vermeer's "The Guitar Player"
Also evident here is the inlaid decorative edge and "rose" or fretwork, which was a feature of this period in many instruments. In the 17th century there were specific craftsmen who made a living carving this sort of decorative panel. They are so beautiful and intricate. 

They are crafted from of wood, or for the more detailed ones, parchment, cut in ornamental layers to give a three dimensional effect.


I was tempted to invent a "rose" carver just so that I could feature a description of someone making one of these, but unfortunately I have quite a few craftsmen populating my novel already – what with swordsmiths and lace-makers and tile-painters!

The designs of these ‘roses’ are similar to those of "rose" windows such as in the great cathedrals, but in miniature.

As it is, in the book my Spanish guitarist is a "bit-player" in my cast of characters - nevertheless, I think the look and feel of the guitar is important to the book, and I listened to a lot of flamenco guitar whilst writing.

Pictures and more information from http://www.vihuelademano.com/rosesinvihuelas.htm

About the Author

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

For more information, please visit Deborah’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter