A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Mute
MUTE (sordino; sourdine; dämpfer). A contrivance applied to a musical instrument for the purpose of deadening or lessening the sound. In the pianoforte the effect is produced by the dampers or the soft pedal. In instruments of the violin-tribe the mute is a piece of brass so formed as to stick on to the bridge and stand clear of the strings. It adds weight to the bridge and thus checks the vibrations of the body of the instrument. [See Appendix, Dolce Campana.] [App. p.727 "omit reference"] In the horn and trumpet a sort of leathern pear is employed, which fills the bell to a great extent, and thus prevents the sound from coming fully out.Beethoven mutes the strings of the orchestra in the slow movement of his 3rd and 5th P.F. Concertos, and in that of the Violin Concerto. A fine instance is the middie portion of Weber's Overture to Euryanthe. Mendelssohn rarely if ever uses this means of effect.
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