Dean Castle Collections Highlight

Our latest collection piece from Dean Castle's Collections is a chitarra battente; which in English means "strumming guitar", however "battente" literally means "beating" related to the fact that this guitar thumps the rhythm of the music. A chordophone of the guitar family, it is similar to the 5-course baroque guitar, but larger and typically strung with five double strings, traditionally made of brass. Nowadays it is typically used by folk musicians, mainly in the southern Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, and Campania, as well as in other areas of southern Italy; in past centuries the instrument was found in most of central and southern Italy.

Considered a folk instrument, though it has its origins in the Italian court music in the early Baroque era. Musicologists refer to the "historical" as well as the "folk" chitarra battente. There are many extant historical 17th century instruments in museums, including the fine example above by Magno Stregher (Venice) dated 1621, which is elaborately inlaid with ivory, ebony & mother-of-pearl 

The instrument is played without a plectrum, and the fingers achieve a wide range of effects through plucking, strumming, beating the strings or the sound board, etc. The chitarra battente is typically used to accompany singing or dancing and can be played in an ensemble or as a solo instrument. The most important center of production is in Bisignano in the province of Cosenza. Traditionally the instrument has been made locally in the region from which its characteristics derive, often being constructed by non-professional craftsmen or simple carpenters.

 

Description:

Pictured: The arched back of this guitar has multiple ribs of ebony interposed with ivory.  The table is profusely inlaid with ivory, ebony, mother of pearl and various precious woods.  The sound-hole is inset with a pierced parchment architectural rose.  The neck, head and fingerboard are also extensively inlaid with arabesque and have 5 double courses of strings from Dean Castle - East Ayrshire Council's Collections.

 

Dean Castle will reopen in Spring of 2023.

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