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Old Spain certainly was acquainted with the Roman cithara (a harp-like instrument). After the opening which the first invaders from Northern Europe wrought in the arts, and even in the time of our Saint Isidore prelate and scholar from Seville, 579-636) the cithara gained a notable diffusion, thanks to the musical centers that came to be, at that time, Seville, Toledo, and Zaragoze. Saint Isidore, himself dedicated an interesting chapter to music in his extensive Etymologies, "and Justo-a clergyman minstrel, the oldest of those known on our peninsula skillful with the cithara and in song, who traveled through the year 690 cheering households and feasts with his songs, testifies that the minstrel art was already practiced in the seventh century, including such secluded regions as El Bierzo (Leon)." (H. Angles. Spain's Glorious Contribution to Universal Music.)

A few years later, with the arrival of the Arabs in the eighth century, the Arabic or Moorish guitar and the lute were introduced ("instruments almost alike, united by a common relationship or ancestry"), producing, therefore, in Spain, at the end of centuries, the mating of the two direct descendants of the Asian kitharah: the Latin guitar and the Moorish guitar, which certainly were different and distinct, because of the successive changes that were introduced in them during their long and separate journeys to the peninsula (Spain).

The musical culture among the Arabs dwelling in Spain attained wide distribution to the point that in the ninth century, the Arabs established in Toledo, C6rdoba, Ubeda, and Seville - continuing the Spanish tradition of Saint Isidore - Madrasas, or types of universities in whose classrooms music was studied while "Ziryab fascinated the proud court of Abderraman II, in C6rdoba, by playing the strings of lion cub gut which were used in his lute", and in the courts of Christian Spain, they (people) showed their preference for instruments of Greco-Roman origin. Ziryab was born in Mesopotamia in 789. Coming from the famous court of Harun ar-Raxid, in Bagdad, he arrived in C6rdoba in 822, when he was little more than thirty years of age, and spent the rest of his life in that city. This celebrated musician asserted himself rapidly in C6rdoban society, because of his musical talent and his material fortune.

He demonstrated himself to be an outstanding renovator in music, and created in C6rdoba, a conservatory in which Andalusian music had its origin and development. He invented the five-string lute (Levi-Provencal, The Arabian Civilization in Spain).

Concerning the influence of Arabian music in Spanish music, "much has been exaggerated"-says H. Angles - "but in spite of everything, it is incontrovertible that some instruments were introduced into Europe by way of Spain, through the influence of the Arab, Persian, Greek, and Byzantine musicians who came to our country (Spain)."

"In the eighth century, Spain was the converging point for the two instrumental currents, which, coming from Asia Minor had been blending together with special characteristics - one current between Greece and Rome and the other following a different trajectory, between Persia and Arabia. It was, then, the doors of Spain through which the Arabs chiefly introduced their instruments and the characteristic feeling of their music, especially in Andalusia, where, under the protection of the caliphate (government of a caliph, or head of the Moslem state), the most important schools of this art were established." (Emilio Pujol, Alonso de Mudarra).

From the tenth to twelfth century, during the reigns of Abderrman III, Aihakem II, Hisem II, and in the kingdoms of taifas afterwards, the Arabic culture was reflected in the music of a great many learned people in Cordoba and Seville.

During the entire tenth century, in Arabian Spain, the amatory-musical muse achieved a high degree of melancholy and spiritualism, and the poets and musicians of both sexes unleashed this type of art throughout the cities of Andalucia, of which Seville became the center. "Although all these instruments - the lute, rabel, psalter, cit hara, guitar, etc. - existed in other cities of AI-Andalus, it is in Seville where they are most accessible." (AI-Saqundi, Eulogy of Islam Spain, translated by Emilio Garcia Gomez.)

Another, certainly with more serious and austere accent, occurred in Christian Spain, whose courts of Leon and Castilla competed with each other in warlike zeal in the arts; Gothic and Romanesque monuments, epic-lyrical poetry and instrumental music used to accompany singing.

Around 1116, minstrels appear in the court of Leon, and since 1136, we have information of minstrels appointed to special service with the kings' court of Castilla. Minstrels were "all those who provided merriment" - currently singing with a string accompaniment, generally the guitar, which was plucked with a plume or plectrum, or was played by rubbing the strings with a fiddle bow.

By the year 1190, the troubadours - a more learned and poetic type of minstrel - emerged. The twelfth century troubadour and minstrel, who played the cedra (obsolete name for the zither or citara) or the mill clapper (an old instrument derived from the citara), both related to the Greco-Latin cithara, traveled on horseback through the Castilian towns performing literary works, epics or lyrics. They presented these works in the courts as well as among the common people. The most important roll which they played in the history of the culture is that of the inventors and distributors of music and poetry.

With the arrival of the thirteenth century, and with special thanks to the court of Alfonso X el Sabjo, Spain became the most advanced and refined European country in reference to music. Alfonso X diligently created a professorship of Music in Salamanca, and he, himself, already famous in so many respects, distinguished himself as a troubadour poet and musical creator.

With the professorship of Music at the University of Salamanca (which, for centuries had kept itself in existence through various methods of maintaining continuity) was formed the name of cuadrivium or ensemble of the four universal subjects: mathematics, algebra, astronomy, and music (another cuadrivium already existed among the Egyptians, and consisted of music, religion, ethics, and education).

This during the reign of Alfonso X, acquired a status until then unequaled. The wise men who worked in the court of Toledana, along with the minstrels - among whose repertoire were included songs, romances, ballads, Christmas carols, and almost all inventions of the type minstrel, formed part of the legislative body of the king and noble men. In addition, they fashioned the amatory relations already existent among the Christians and Moors, and,as an expression of the feeling which Christian hearts declared for the beautiful Moorish girls, produced on one hand, homage toward women,and on the other, "a musical language enriched with notes of sweetness, grace, tenderness and subtlety which never more would be lost."