View Full Version : a quinterne

Apr-06-2004, 10:05am
someone on the lute site posted this:


i don't speak german and was only able to pick up some of the text that accompanies the photo and run it through the altavista babelfish translation site.

does anyone know anything more about this dinosaur?

saluti - bill

Jim Garber
Apr-06-2004, 10:37am
I get the translation as this:
The robust Quinterne out of Elbing shows a manufacture technology used today yet in South American strings instruments with a hollowed out Korpus, with which an especially workable sound can be produced.

The only mention I haveof quinterne is in Bragard saying: " Instruments of the guitar family, with arched or flat backs, were given the names guiterne or quinterne in thirteenth- and fifteenth-century France. "


Apr-06-2004, 10:46am
alex timmerman is mentioned as knowing something about it. #perhaps after coffee and pad around the park he'll elucidate...

might take a look at this as well:


and this;


Apr-16-2004, 3:03pm
Hello everybody

Thanks to Jim G, I came in here because he saw our site yesterday. I play gittern for 13 years now. My first gittern (and my 2nd one, last year) were made by Carlos Gonzalez. The first one is a free copy of the Eisenach model by Ott (ca 1450), the second one is after a stone carving in Valencia, Spain (14th century)

It is an instrument with 4 (sometimes 3 or 5) courses, vibrating length ca 440 mm, and I use to play in duo with medieval lute (5 course). If you need more information you may begin with a short text at www.ensemble-gabriele-leone.org ; I have written other papers about it, one for the first International Mandolin Symposium at Trossingen 1988, one in the French Lute Society journal (Tablature) 1999, some other different contributions in Italy, France...

Someone who is teaching gittern is the well-known medieval lute player Robert Crawford Young, at Basel (Switzerland) he will give a course in Spain at the end of July... RCY played 15 years ago on a gittern by a swiss maker which was rather expensive. Another german lute maker has made a gittern and showed the building on his site 2-3 years ago, I have to check his address... I think the spanish maker Paniagua would also make very good ones (he makes wonderful medieval lutes).

Do not hesitate if you want more info about gittern...

Sincerely yours
Jean-Paul Bazin
(hello to Richard, too !)

Martin Jonas
Apr-19-2004, 5:20am
i don't speak german and was only able to pick up some of the text that accompanies the photo and run it through the altavista babelfish translation site.
jgarber has already translated the photo caption, but the main text may be of some interest as well. #It translates:

"During excavations in the former Polish Hanseatic city of Elblag/Elbing, southeast of Danzig, three medieval musical intruments were found in the latrine of a rich burgher. #They are a recorder, a very small fiddle with its bow (similar to a baroque dancing master's violin) as well as a pear-shaped lute instrument, known as a quinterne, with an angled sickle-shaped peg box. #Carefully worked details such as undercut finger holes indicate professional manufacture of the flute. #This is also supported by a manufacturer's mark burned onto the upper part of the instrument, a circle with a central dot.

There are so far only two preserved examples of the very popular medieval instrument, the quinterne."


Apr-19-2004, 6:44am
thank you martin. #broadly speaking i suppose this could be the grandfather of the mandolin but it's more closely related to the lute. #i picked up the following pictures from the site of lutier, david van edwards (hope they come out.) #they are what is called a cobsa or kobsa and - to me - look very much like the instrument found near danzig. #kind regards - bill

sorry, they didn't come out. i guess i'll have to (sigh...) reads the instructions...

Apr-19-2004, 7:32am
here is one:

Apr-19-2004, 7:34am
here is another:

Apr-19-2004, 7:36am
and for those interested in seeing the medieval instrument we were talking about:

Dec-05-2010, 8:53am
The link from billkilpatrick died, but I found an archived copy: http://web.archive.org/web/20041225142618/http://www.theiss.de/AiD/2002/6/europa1.php

Graham McDonald
Dec-05-2010, 5:39pm
Gitterns (in a variety of spellings depending where you were) were around from the 13th century until at least sometime in the 16th. The early ones, at least, were carved from solid, with a sound board attached, though by the early 16th century illustrations in early encyclopedias suggest they were built up like a lute, with a lute like fixed bridge. The best preserved gittern, in Wartburg, has a floating bridge and modern builders make them in both styles. The instrument Bill posted the image of is the only other one I know about and that was found in a disused cesspit in Poland a few years ago and written up in the Dolmech Foundation journal.

The best way to distinguish them from a small lute is that gitterns have a curved head with a finial and lutes a straight, bent-back head (and sometimes a floating bridge) I can't remember the date of the Wartburg instrument (1450?), but illustrations from the Cantigas de Santa Maria from the middle 13th century do show a plucked three string instrument with what looks like a fixed bridge (Cantiga 90). I suspect that the later build up ones might have been simply rebranded as a mandore late in the 16th century in Paris


Dec-08-2010, 8:06am
Found an article with more information online. It's in Polish, but Google's translator does a passable job.


Dec-08-2010, 5:12pm
no thread like an old thread - great photos - thanks.