1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Symphonia

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SYMPHONIA (Gr. συμφωνία) , a much discussed word, applied at different times (1) to the bagpipe, (2) to the drum, (3) to the hurdy-gurdy, and finally (4) to a kind of clavichord. The sixth of the musical instruments enumerated in Dan. iii. s, 10, 15, erroneously translated “dulcimer,” in all probability refers to the bagpipe (q.v.). Symphonia, signifying drum, occurs in the writings of Isidor of Seville. “Tympanum est pellis vel corium ligno ex una parte extentum. Est enim pars media symphoniae in similitudinem cribri. Tympanum autem dictum quod medium est. Unde, et margaritum medium tympanum dicitur, et ipsum ut symphonia ad virgulam percutitur.” The reference comparing the tympanum (kettledrum) to half a pearl is borrowed from Pliny (Nat. hist. IX. 35, 23). Symphonia or Chifonie was applied during the 13th and 14th centuries, in the Latin countries more especially, to the hurdy-gurdy. Symphonia is applied by Praetorius[1] to an instrument which he classed with the clavichord, spinet, regals and virginal, but without giving any clue to its distinctive characteristics. (K. S.)


  1. See “Syntagm. mus.” pt. ii., De organographia, pp. 72, 73, 178 (Wolfenbüttel, 1618).