The origin of the Portuguese guitar can be traced back to the Renaissance cittern through the 18th century English guitar. These instruments were mainly played at courts and upper class society in Europe. The tuning and technique of the Portuguese guitar originate in the Renaissance cittern, its form and size in the English guitar. Between 1850 and 1910 the Portuguese guitar, the main solo instrument used in Portuguese traditional urban music, became the chief accompaniment instrument of the fado. At the same time, a still vivid orally transmitted solo repertoire started developing. After 1910, during the post republican period, the Portuguese guitar was played in the upper class circles, pubs and theaters. Typical examples of this period are Armandinho’s Variações em lá menor (ca 1925), Correia Leite’s Canção de Alcipe, and later (ca 1958) Vira de Frielas by José Nunes, a brilliant guitarist who influenced Pedro Caldeira Cabral’s early pieces.
Pedro Caldeira Cabral has taught himself to play the Portuguese guitar and has composed works for this very instrument. In this respect, he has widened the scope of the repertoire for Portuguese guitar, so far limited to fado music. His playing of ancient instruments shows in his style together with popular tradition, classical music and jazz improvisation.
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