Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/18

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6
INSTRUMENT.
 

its sounds are produced not from pipes but from elastic reeds. Nevertheless the old arrangement is sufficiently comprehensive, and appears more practical than any other.

1. Wind instruments (Ger. Blasinstrumente; Ital. Stromenti da vento; Fr. Instruments à vent). These are of two kinds; namely, those in which a separate pipe or reed is provided for each note, and those in which the various notes are produced from a single tube, either by varying its length, or by the action of the lip in blowing. In the first kind the wind is provided by means of bellows, and is admitted to each individual pipe or reed by the action of a key. The instruments of this kind are the Organ, Harmonium, Concertina, and Accordion. The only members of this class which differ from the others are the Syrinx or Pan's-pipes (which although it possesses a pipe for each sound has neither keys nor bellows, but is blown directly with the breath) and the Northumbrian and Irish Bag-pipes, which are provided with bellows, but have their pipes pierced with holes, as in the flute. Wind-instruments which have but a single tube are made of either wood or metal (generally brass), and the various sounds of which they are capable are produced, in the case of two of the metal instruments—the Horn and Trumpet,—by simply altering the tension of the lips in blowing, while in the others and in the wood instruments this alteration is supplemented and assisted by varying the length of the tube. In brass instruments the length of the tube is altered in three different ways; first, by means of a slide, one part of the tube being made to slip inside the other, after the manner of a telescope; secondly, by valves, which when pressed have the effect of adding a small piece of tube to the length of the circuit through which the wind passes; and thirdly, by keys, which uncover holes in the tube, and so shorten the amount of tube which is available for the vibrating column of air. The brass instruments with slide are the Trombone[1] and Slide Trumpet; those with valves are the Cornet à pistons, Valve Horn, Valve Trumpet, Flügelhorn or Valve Bugle, Saxhorn, Valve Trombone, Euphonium, Bombardon, Bass Tuba, and Contrabass Tuba; while those with keys are the Key-bugle or Kent Bugle and the Ophicleide. All these are played with a cup-shaped mouthpiece. Wood wind-instruments have the tube pierced with holes, which are covered by the fingers or by keys, and the uncovering of the holes shortens the amount of tube available for vibration and so gives notes of higher pitch. Some of them receive the breath directly through a suitably shaped opening; these are the Flute, Piccolo (i.e. flauto piccolo, a small flute), Fife, and the Flageolet and the toy 'tin whistle,' which two last are survivors of the now obsolete family of flutes à bec. In others the sound is produced from the vibrations of a split reed, which is either single and fixed in a frame or mouthpiece, as in the Clarinet and Bassethorn [see Clarinet], or double, consisting of two reeds bound together so as to form a tube with the upper end flattened out, as in the Oboe, Cor Anglais or Oboe di Caccia, Bassoon, and Contrafagotto or Double Bassoon. One wind-instrument of wood remains to be mentioned, the use of which is becoming rare, though it is still occasionally met with in military bands. This is the Serpent, which differs from all other wood instruments in having a cup-shaped mouthpiece, similar to that of the trumpet. It is the only remaining member of a now extinct family of German wood instruments called Zinken (Ital. Cornetti), which were formerly much used in the Church service, and were in use as late as 1715 for playing chorales at the top of church towers.[2]

2. Stringed Instruments (Ger. Saiten-instrumente; Ital. Stromenti da corde; Fr. Instruments à cordes). In all these the sound is produced from stretched strings of either catgut, wire, or occasionally silk, the naturally feeble resonance of which is in all cases strengthened by a soundboard. As with the wind-instruments, some of these are provided with a separate string for each note, while in others the various sounds are obtained by shortening the strings, of which there are now never fewer than three, by pressure with the fingers. Stretched strings are thrown into vibration in three different ways—friction, plucking, and percussion.

The mode of friction usually employed is that of a bow of horse-hair, strewn with powdered rosin (see Bow), and instruments so played are called 'bowed instruments' (Ger. Streichinstrumente). They are the Violin, Viola or Tenor, Violoncello, and Contrabasso or Double Bass; and an humble though ancient member of the same family is occasionally met with in the Hurdy-gurdy, ia which the friction is produced by the edge of a wooden wheel strewn with rosin and revolving underneath the strings. In this instrument the stopping or shortening of the strings is effected by means of a series of keys, which are pressed by the fingers of the left hand, while the right hand turns the wheel. [See Hurdy-Gurdy.]

The instruments played by plucking are the Harp, in which each note has a separate string, and the Guitar, Mandoline, and Banjo, in which the strings are 'stopped' by pressure with the fingers upon a finger-board, provided with slightly-raised transverse bars, called frets. In the Cither or Zither, an instrument much used in Switzerland and the Tyrol, 4 of the 29 [App. p.685 "5 of the 30"] strings are capable of being stopped with the fingers, while the remaining 25 are played 'open,' giving but one sound each. In most of these instruments the plucking takes place with the tips of the fingers (pizzicato), but in the Zither the thumb of the right hand is armed with a ring bearing a kind of metal claw. [App. p.685 "while in the instruments of the Mandolin family a plectrum of tortoiseshell is used."] In the now obsolete Harpsichord and Spinet the strings were also played by plucking, each key being provided with a small piece of quill or stiff leather. [Jack.] Only two stringed instruments

  1. Mr. Ford's Slide-Horn is highly spoken of (see p. 794a [App. p.685 "[[Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/Horn|vol. 1 p. 749a"]), but it has not yet come into actual use.
  2. In 1636 was published in Paris a 'Phantasle à cinq parties, pour les Cornets, par H. Lejeune.' J. S. Bach occasionally uses them in his Church Cantatas.