people think of fretted instruments as newcomers to traditional music in
Scotland and Ireland. The tenor banjo and mandolin started to appear around
the beginning of the 20th century. The Greek bouzouki appeared in the 1960s,
and quickly metamorphized into various types of citterns, blarges, octave
mandolins, etc. So it's a common assumption that fretted instruments are
somehow not quite as "traditional" as fiddles, flutes, or even
But interestingly enough, we have documentation
that fretted instruments were playing traditional music in Scotland before
fiddles and flutes (at least of the modern type) had even been invented!
Some folk music scholars have responded to the
Scottish lute tradition by claiming that it was entirely an upper-class
avocation unrelated to the "music of the people". Read what some
experts think about the role of folk
music in 17th and 18th century Scotland.
Did the English play the guitar at all in the
centuries before Julian Bream, John Renbourn and Eric Clapton? Yes, they
did, but you must keep in mind the changing nature of what a guitar actually
is. The main thing to remember is that an "English guitar" isn't
a guitar at all. Confused? Luckily, someone has written a book on the subject,
in which this interesting story is
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