A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Crwth

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CRWTH (i.e. Crooth) or CROWD, as far as we know the oldest stringed instrument played with the bow; probably at home in India, but in its European use apparently limited to England, and especially to Wales. It is first mentioned in some elegiacs, written about 609, by Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, running thus:

'Romanusque lyra plaudat tibi, Barbarus harpa,
Graecus achilliaca, chrotta Brittanna canat.'
Page 422 (A Dictionary of Music and Musicians-Volume 1).jpg

Its oldest form was probably the 'crwth trithant,' or with three strings, pictures of which are found in manuscripts of the nth century. We first hear it mentioned again by Daines Barrington, a Welsh judge and archæologist, who relates that he knew one John Morgan, born 1711 in the isle of Anglesey, who still played the crwth. Bingley also heard it played at Carnarvon as late as 1801; but it is now entirely out of use. In its later form it was mounted with six strings, four stretched over the finger-board and played with the bow, and two, lying at the side of the finger-board, pinched with the thumb of the left hand. The strings were tuned either as (a)—according to Edward Jones, the celebrated Welsh harp-player—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 6/4 \relative g { g4^6 g'^5 c^4^"(a)" c,^3 d^2 d'^1 \bar "||" a, a' e^"(b)" e' b b' \bar "||" } }
or as (b) according to Bingley ('Musical Biography,' 1814). The sound-holes are perfectly circular, and have a diameter of 1¼ inch. The bridge does not stand straight, but inclines toward the right, and its left foot, which is 2½ inches in length (while the right foot measures only ¾ of an inch), passes through the sound-hole and rests on the back of the instrument, thus acting the part of the sound-post in the violin. The crwth is 22½ inches in length; its width near the tailpiece is 10½ inches, near the top 9 inches; the height of the sides is 2 inches.

[ P. D. ]