Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/292

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276

��VIOLIN.

��by this extravagant cutting of the bouts were sometimes further complicated by adding more blocks at the top, or bottom, or both, and by cutting some of the ribs in two pieces, and turning the ends in at right angles. The former of these devices was early abandoned, and few specimens of it exist : but the latter was some* times used for the viola d'amore in the last cen- tury. Its tendency is to diminish the vibrational capacity, and the intensity of the tone. Its adop- tion was partly due to artistic considerations, and it is capable of great variety in design. But it naturally went out of practical use, and the viol settled down to its normal model about the beginning of the i6th century, by the final adop- tion of the simple outline, with double corners and moderately long and shallow bouts.

Concurrently with these experiments on the outline, we trace a series of experiments on the place and shape of the soundholes and bridge. For a sketch of the development of the former, the reader is referred to the article SOUNDHOLES. Their true place, partly in the waist, and partly in the lower part of the instrument, was not de- fined until after the invention of the violin. In the guitar-fiddle the soundholes had naturally fallen into something nearly approaching their true position. But the invention of the bouts displaced them, and for nearly a century we find them shifting about on the surface of the instru- ment. Sometimes, indeed, it occurs to the early viol-makers to leave them in the waist between the bouts. But at first we frequently find them in the upper part of the instrument, and this is found even in instances where their shape is of an advanced type.

Later, we usually find the soundholes and bridge crowded into the lower part of the in- strument, near the tailpiece, the instrument- maker evidently aiming at leaving as much as possi- ble of the belly intact, for the sake of constructive strength. The illustration is from Jost Amman's 'Biichlein aller Stande,' and represents a minstrel of the 1 6th century per- forming on a three-stringed Double Bass.

Afterwards the sound- holes are placed between the bouts, the extremities of both approximately corresponding, the bridge standingbeyondthem. This arrangement prevailed dur- ing the early half of the 1 6th century. It was not until the violin model had been some time in use that the soundholes were lowered in the model, extending from the middle of the waist to a short distance below the bouts, and the bridge fixed in its true place in the middle of the soundholes.

The Bridge, the most important part of the voicing apparatus, and in reality the tongue of

��FIG. 9.

���VIOLIN.

the fiddle, was perfected last. [See STRADI- VARI.] The plan of cutting a small arch in the moveable block of the monochord, so as to check the vibration as little as possible, is probably of Greek origin, and in the Marine Trumpet the bridge, which has only one string to support, can be made proportionately small, and its vibrating function more perfect. [See TROMBA, MARINA.] The polychord instruments of the Middle Ages required a more massive support ; but the bridge-like character was always main- tained, the pattern being from time to time modified so as to produce the maximum of vibra- tion without loss of strength. The soundpost beneath the treble foot of the bridge is of un- certain antiquity. At first, it would seem, the expedient was tried of lengthening one foot of the bridge, and passing it through the sound- hole, so as to rest on the centre block of the back : this primitive bridge and soundpost in one have been found in existing specimens of the Crwth. The superior effect of a separate soundpost, supporting the bridge and augment- ing the vibration, must soon have been dis- covered : and many early pictures of fiddles with bridges leave no doubt that it was exten- sively in use. [See SOUNDPOST.]

The scale of the larger mediaeval viols makes it probable that the vibration of the belly under the bass strings was regulated by a Bass-bar. Cross-bars were early employed to strengthen the back of the viol and the belly of the lute ; and observations of their effect on the vibration possibly suggested the use of a longitudinal bar for the viol. The bass-bar is at least as old as the invention of corner blocks, and probably older. Concurrently with the development of the Viol in its larger sizes, we find a characteristic change in the head or peg-box, which completely transformed the physiognomy of the instrument. The mediaeval peg-box was invariably flat, like that of the Guitar, the pegs being inserted at right angles to the face of the instrument ; see figures 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, from the last of which the reader will at once understand how this form of peg-box facilitated the addition of bourdons, though it afforded but a weak and imperfect means of straining the strings to their due ten- sion and keeping them in their proper place. When the invention of the larger viols super- seded Bourdons, the flat peg-box gave place to the modern one, which bends back so that the strings form an obtuse angle in crossing the nut ; the pegs are transverse instead of perpendicular, and have a support in each side of the box ; the ten- sive force is applied direqtly instead of obliquely, in the direction of the fiddle's length. The top of the improved peg-box was often surmounted by a human or animal's head. This, however, obliged the fiddle-maker to have recourse to the artist for the completion of his work. A volute was therefore substituted, the well-known 'scroll ' of the fiddle, on the curves of which accom- plished fiddle-makers employed the same taste and skill which they displayed in the curved lines and surface of the body.

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