A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Chitarrone
CHITARRONE (Ital, augmentative of Chitarra). A theorbo, or double-necked lute of great length, with wire strings and two sets of tuning-pegs, the lower set having twelve, and the higher eight strings attached; the unusual extension in length affording greater development to the bass of the instrument. The Italian chitarra was not strung with catgut like the Spanish guitar, but with wire, like the German cither and the old English cithern. The chitarrone, as implied by the suffix, was a large chitarra. Like its cousin the archlute it was employed in Italy in the 16th century with the clavicembalo and other instruments to accompany the voice, forming a band, the nutty, slightly bitter timbre of which must have been very sympathetic and agreeable. Lists of these earliest orchestras are extant, notably one that was got together for the performance of Monteverde's 'Orfeo' in 1607, in which appear two chitarroni. The very fine specimen of this interesting instrument here engraved is in the South Kensington Museum. The length of it is 5 feet 4 inches. It is inscribed inside 'Andrew Taus in Siena, 1621.' In the photographs published by the Liceo Comunale di Musica of Bologna, the applications of the names chitarrone and archlute—possibly by an oversight—are reversed.
[App. p.587 "The instrument described under this name is in Italy generally called Arciliuto, the name Chitarrone being given to a large chitarra, or theorbo with a shorter neck, strung with wire, and played with a plectrum. The German authorities, Praetorius (1619) and Baron (1727), were followed by the writer."][Archlute, Cither, Lute, Theorbo.]
[ A. J. H. ]