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Review: Aux origins de la guitare: vihuela de mano by Joël Dugot

Review: Aux origins de la guitare: vihuela de mano by Joël Dugot

Reviewed by Bryan Johanson

Originally published in American Lutherie #81, 2005 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015

Aux origines de la guitare: la vihuela de mano
Joël Dugot
ISBN: 2-914147-23-6
Paris, France: Cité de la Musique, 95 pp. 2004

When I started high school, I was given the choice of taking French, Spanish, German, or Latin. This was in addition to the regular “boy” curriculum of math, English, P.E., biology, social studies, and metal shop. (“Girl” curriculum included secretarial studies and home economics.) I had heard that cute girls took French (a gross inaccuracy, as it turned out), so French seemed like a good choice. It was taught by a very round, short, bald man who insisted we call him Maitre. Every day he would breeze into class, walking quickly to the front saying, “Bonjour la classe!” as he went. We would drone back, “Bonjour, Maitre.” We could normally tell from his voice what kind of day it would be. If he was jovial, it would be bad French jokes day. If his voice was stern, we would be covering new material. If his voice sounded tired, we would be conjugating verbs. On rare days he would say nothing at all. That was the silent language of pop quiz.

For two years the main focus of the class was to learn to have a conversation with correct pronunciation. My conversational French was never very good. This was mostly due to the fact that I could barely hold a conversation in English. It was a harsh thing to take a shy, sensitive fifteen-year-old boy and stand him in front of class with an equally shy fifteen-year-old girl and make them speak to each other in clear, enunciated tones: “Hello Claire! Are you going to the library? I heard the record player does not work. Have you seen Jean? He is at the bakery. I think it is going to rain today. It is very moist....”

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