Violai, viola or guitarra ?
In Portugal, the instrument known elsewhere as guitar or Spanish
guitar, is called « violaõ »or « viola
francesa ». Even if these terms mean large guitar or love viol, their precise meaning is twelve strings guitar, a term which is virtually unknown outside Portugal. The instrument is shaped like a reverse heart (to quote Hilario, one of the most famous troubadours of the last century), the short and narrow neck leads to a marvelously sculped head which fascinates all observers and is precious to all Lusitanians. According to Jean Witold, a famous French musicologist, the Moors introduced a string instrument, the cittern, during the Middle Ages invasions and it evolved eventually into the Portuguese guitar as we now know it.
Portuguese troubadours adopted this instrument and it quickly became the preferred instrument for entertainment for the Portuguese Court in Coimbra.
Generations of luthiers improved and perfected the
« guitarra portuguesa ».