Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/285

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VIOLIN.

formance. * Now it can be shown that until the 1 5th century no European bowed instrument, except the Marine Trumpet, which is a direct descendant of the Greek monochord, was rested on the ground during performance. [See TBOMBA MARINA.] All were played overhand, and were rested on or against the upper part of the per- former's body. This alone, independently of all inconsistencies of construction, distinguishes them from the Rebab and the Ravanastram, and strengthens our conviction of their affinity with the Lyre. Most Eastern bowed instruments appear to be rude imitations of those of Europe ; and the development of the latter is so clearly traceable that it is superfluous to seek their origin elsewhere. The fiddle has developed out of the lyre and monochord, just as our music has de- veloped out of the diatonic scale which the Greeks deduced from the use of those instruments.

Though the plurality of strings of our bowed instruments, and even their common name 1 are borrowed from the lyre, their principal parts, the elongated resonant box with its soundholes, the fingerboard, and the moveable bridge, come from the monochord. As early as the legendary age of Pythagoras the Greeks obtained the intervals of the scale by cutting off the aliquot parts of the monochord by means of a moveable bridge. For this the pressure of the finger was an obvious substitute : and practical use of the monochord in training the voice must have early

tyre

Crwth I

��VIOLIN.

��269

��Fio.l.

��suggested the discovery that its tones could be prolonged by rubbing, instead of plucking them with the plectrum or finger. 3 The lyre suggested plurality of strings, and furnished a model of manageable size. Given the lyre and the mono- chord, the fiddle must evidently have been de- veloped sooner. or later: and we now know that as early as the 3rd century B.C. an in- strument something between the two, and curiously reminding us of the stringed instruments of the middle ages, was used in the Greek colonies in Sicily. Fig. I re- presents a specimen carved on a Greek sarcophagus now used as a font in the Ca- thedral of Girgenti. A bas-relief in the Louvre shows an- other specimen of the same instrument. 4

The resemblance between this antique instru- ment and the rebec and lute is noteworthy ; and it possibly represents that particular form of lyre which was denominated * Fidicula.'

The following genealogical table may assist the reader's memory :

���Monochord

��Crowd

��Gel

��Hurdy

��'gurdy

��Trumpet

��Troubadour Fiddle Viol (Viola da Gamba, Violone or common Double Bass)

��a Viol d'Amore

The CEWTH [see that article], which appears to be a survival of the normal pattern of the small Roman Lyre in a remote part of the Empire, is an obvious link between the musical instru- ments of antiquity and those of modern Europe. 2 When and by whom the bow was applied to these instruments we cannot tell. But certainly long before the I3th century, various modifica- tions of them, some plucked with the fingers or plectrum, others sounded with a bow, were in use throughout Europe under the names of Fiddle, Crowd, Rotte, Geige (Gigue, Jig), and Rebec (Ribeb, Ribible). About the I3th century an improved instrument appeared in the south of Europe concurrently with that remarkable musi- cal and literary movement which is associated with the Troubadours. This instrument was called ' Viole ' or ' Vielle ' ; but it is convenient to assign it the name of Guitar- Fiddle, reserving the term Viol for the later instrument with cornerblocks which is permanently associated with the name. The Guitar-Fiddle, which was

1 Fiddle, <. . fldicula, - lyre.

2 The similarity between some ancient Welsh airs and the Greek modes suggests that these airs may be remnants of the popular music, of Greek origin, which spread with the sway of Borne over Western Europe.

��Violin (Tenor Violin, Violoncello or Bass Violin)

intended to accompany the voice, was larger than its predecessors, increased size being made pos- sible by giving it a waist, so as to permit the bow to reach the strings. It may be described as a rude Guitar, Hurdygurdy, and Viol in one ; for we find the same instrument, in different instances sometimes plucked, sometimes bowed, and sometimes played with the wheel. When modified and developed for plucking it became the Spanish guitar, for playing with the wheel, the Vielle or Hurdygurdy, and for bowing, the Viol. The Viol was employed, as the Guitar- Fiddle had been, to support the voice : and the development of choral singing led to the con- struction of viols of various pitches. In the fifteenth century we first meet with experiments in constructing bowed instruments of different sizes, corresponding to the various human voices. Cornerblocks, which mark the transition from the Guitar-Fiddle to the Viol, were probably invented to facilitate the construction of the larger fiddles. Their use prepared a great advance in the

If the finger be slightly rosined a continuous tone can be pro- duced. The Glass Harmonica is an example in which the finger performs the functions of a bow.

  • Carl Kngel, 'The Early History of the Violin Family,' p.lll

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