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The "Beating Guitar" Of Italy

Sep 17, 2008
The battente guitar is also known as the chitarre battente, which in Italian, translates literally as "beating guitar." (One can only assume that the verb in this translation refer to the action used to play the guitar rather than the instrument's use as a club.) At first glance, the battente guitar is very similar to the common classical guitar. However, a careful observer will note that this instrument is smaller than its classical counterpart and that it (probably) only has four strings, which are steel as opposed to nylon. The battente guitar is most commonly used in the folk music of Calabria, Puglia and Basilicata, all of which are regions in southern Italy. This geographical distribution is believed to be a holdover from previous times, during which the battente guitar is believed to have been widely used throughout southern and central Italy. Historical examples of the instrument still exist from as far back as the 17th century, and such instruments are believed to have been ancestors of the modern classical guitar

There is quite a bit of variety to be found in modern battente guitars. They come in three excepted standard sizes, these being small, medium and large. The last two are the most popular, and the small instruments are used mostly as toys and to train children. While most battente guitars have four strings strung in four courses, this characteristic can also be subject to variation. Sometimes, if the bottom two strings are tuned in unison, they are strung in a single course. If, as occasionally occurs, ten strings are used, then all are strung in pairs, creating five dual-string courses, each of which is tuned in unison. Perhaps the only standardized characteristic of the battente guitar's strings is that they always extend past the bridge to the base of the body, where they are anchored.

The shape and construction of the instrument's body can vary as well. Although the shape is typically that of an hourglass, the relativity of the curves can wax and wane according to the luthiers specifications. Different kinds of wood may be used, the shape of the back may change, the number of frets may fluctuate...clearly, the battente guitar can have any number of incarnations.

To play the battente guitar, the musician utilizes the technique of fingerpicking; that is, no plectrum is used. The strings may be plucked, strummed or beaten, the result being a wide variety of musical effects. The tuning of the strings differs significantly from that of a classical guitar. In this case, a "re-entrant" system is used wherein the strings do not simply progress up in pitch, but rather go back and forth.

This instrument is not used as a solo instrument, but rather as an accompaniment for songs and dancing. Although traditionally a folk instrument, the battente guitar has managed to make forays into other musical genres in recent years. These genres include pop, hardcore rock, progressive rock, hip hop and jazz. The instrument also has a history of limited use in classical opera, although this is not common.
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Victor Epand is an expert consultant for guitars, drums, keyboards, sheet music, guitar tab, and home theater audio. You can find the best marketplace at these sites for guitars, battente guitar, chitarre battente , sheet music, guitar tabs, and home theater audio.
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