stances, and at an advanced age, about the year 1740. He published 'Six Suittes de Clavessin, divisées en Ouvertures, Allemandes, Courantes, Sarabandes, Gavottes, Minuets, Rondeaux, et Gigues, composées et mises en Concert pour un Violin et Flute, avec une Basse de Viole et un Archilut.'
[ W. H. H. ]
DI GIOVANNI, a very useful Italian second tenor engaged at the King's Theatre in 1818 and subsequent years. In 1821 he received a salary of £127 from Ebers, which was increased in 1822 and 23 to £180. In the latter year he played Serano in 'La Donna del Lago'; and continued to play similar parts as late as 1827.
[ J. M. ]
DIGITORIUM. An apparatus fcr exercising and strengthening the fingers, intended especially for the use of pianists, but claimed by its inventor, Myer Marks, to be of great service to all who require flexible and well-trained fingers.
It consists of a small box about six inches square, provided with five keys, fitted with strongly resisting springs, upon which keys such exercises as the five-finger exercises to be found in every Pianoforte School are to be practised. In addition, there are attached to the sides of the box certain appliances for stretching the fingers, and a support for the wrist.
The idea of sparing the ears of pianoforte students, and those who may be in their neighbourhood, by the use of dumb keyboards is by no means new, either here or abroad. Great composers in boyhood, practising under difficulties, have been reduced to muffling the wires that they might practise unheard. It is difficult however to say when the first 'dumb-piano' was manufactured. In 1847 a long article appeared in the 'Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung' censuring the employment of the dumb piano, and Schumann in his 'Musikalische Haus- und Lebensregeln' says, 'There have been invented so-called dumb keyboards; try them for a while, that you may discover them to be of no value. One cannot learn to speak from the dumb.' Though this may be incontrovertible the question is worth consideration, whether the muscles of the fingers may not be increased in speed and endurance (two essential qualities in pianoforte playing), by a suitable course of properly regulated gymnastic exercises, just as the other muscles of the body are trained for running, rowing, etc.
That considerable muscular power is required in pianoforte playing at the present day, will be seen from the following table of resistances, the one set being taken from one of the most recent concert grand pianos, and the other from a grand made in 1817, both by Messrs. Broadwood and Sons.
|Lowest C.||Middle C.||Highest C.|
|1817||2⅝ oz.||2⅜ oz.||1¾ oz.|
|1877||4 oz.||3⅛ oz.||2⅜ oz.|
The resistance offered by the Digitorium is far in excess of the above numbers; it is manufactured in three different degrees of strength, the resistance of the medium touch being no less than 12 ounces. On this account, and also because the resistance is obtained by metal springs, instead of by weights at the farther end of the lever (as in the old dumb pianos), the touch of the digitorium does not in the least resemble that of the pianoforte, but rather a heavily weighted organ-touch, and it should therefore be looked upon as a gymnastic apparatus, and by no means as a substitute for the pianoforte in the practice of exercises.
The question of finger gymnastics has received very full consideration from Mr. E. Ward Jackson, in a work entitled 'Gymnastics for the Fingers and Wrist' (London, Metzler and Co, 1874), in which he quotes opinions in favour of his system of exercises, not only from musicians, but from very eminent surgeons.
[ F. T. ]
DIGNUM, Charles, son of a master tailor, was born at Rotherhithe in 1765. His father, being a Roman Catholic, placed him when a boy in the choir of the Sardinian ambassador's chapel in Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where his fine voice attracted the attention of Samuel Webbe, the glee composer, then organist there, who undertook to instruct him. On leaving the choir he had no idea of pursuing music as a profession, but was rather solicitous of being sent to Douay to be educated for the priesthood. His father's pecuniary embarrassments however and other circumstances prevented it. He decided on adopting the profession of music, and articled himself to Thomas Linley for seven years. Linley bestowed the utmost attention on his pupil, and would not allow him to sing in public until his powers were sufficiently matured. In 1784 Dignum made his first appearance at Drury Lane Theatre as Young Meadows in 'Love in a Village,' and, although his figure was somewhat unsuited to the part, the beauty of his voice and his judicious singing secured him a favourable reception. He next appeared as the hero in Michael Arne's 'Cymon,' and fully established himself in public favour. In 1787, on the removal of Charles Bannister to the Royalty Theatre, Dignum succeeded to a cast of characters better suited to his person and voice. In 96 [App. p.614 "90"] he gained much credit by his performance of Crop the miller, in Storace's 'No song no supper,' of which he was the original representative. After singing at the theatres, at Vauxhall Gardens, and at concerts for several years, he retired in easy circumstances. He died March 29, 1827. Dignum composed several ballads. He published a volume of songs, duets, and glees, composed and adapted by himself, to which an engraved portrait of him is prefixed.
[ W. H. H. ]
DIMINISHED INTERVALS are such as are either less than perfect or less than minor by one semitone. Thus (a) being a perfect fifth, (b) is a diminished fifth; and (c) being a perfect fourth, (d) is a diminished fourth:—
- Digitoriums are occasionally made of greater compass, with black and white keys, the ordinary digitorium having only white keys.
- It will be seen that the amount of resistance is not equal throughout the key-board, and that the left hand, although the weaker, has the greatest resistance to overcome.