Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/105

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TENOR VIOLIN. Its part is written in the C alto

���vocal quartet, clef, thus

��The three uppermost strings of the Tenor are identical in pitch with the three lowest strings of the violin ; but their greater length requires them to be proportionately stouter. The fourth string, like the third, is covered with wire. The player holds the Tenor like the violin ; but the stop is somewhat longer, the bow used for it is somewhat heavier, and it requires greater mus- cular force in both hands. The method of execu- tion in other respects is identical with that on the violin. The tone of the Tenor however, owing to the disproportion between the size and pitch of its strings on the one hand, and the comparatively small size of its body on the other, is of a different quality from that of the violin. It is less powerful and brilliant, having a muffled character, but is nevertheless sympathetic and penetrating. Bad Tenors are worse than bad vio- lins ; they are unequal and ' wolfish,' and have sometimes a decided nasal twang. The instrument is humorously described by Schnyder von Warten- see, in his 'Birthday Ode* addressed to Guhr:

Mann nennt mich Frau Base, (Aunt)

Denn etwas sprech ich dutch die Nase, Doch ehrlich mein' ich es, und treu:

Altmodisch bin ich : meine Sitte

1st stets zu bleiben in der Mitte. Und nie mach' ich ein gross' Geschrei.

In this article, following common usage, the word ' Tenor ' is used to denote the intermediate member of the quartet to the exclusion of ' Alto ' : but the fact is that the Tenor and Alto were once distinct instruments, and the instrument which we call 'Tenor' is really the Alto, the true Tenor, which was a size larger, though of the same pitch, being practically obsolete.

The Tenor is an earlier instrument than the violin, and is in fact the oldest instrument of the quartet. Both 'Violino' in Italian and ' Violon ' in French appear to have originally designated the Tenor. In the first piece of music in which 'Violino' occurs, a double quar- tet in the church style, published in 1597,' this instrument has a part written in the alto clef, from which the following is an extract :

��r M ' r

��This could not be played on the violin, and was obviously written for the Tenor : and an instru- ment of such a compass capable of holding its own against a cornet and six trumpets, however lightly voiced the latter may have been, can have been no ordinary fiddle. The large and solid Tenors of this period made by Gaspar di

L Giovanni Gabriell, Sonate Plan e Forte alls quarts bassa. Printed in the Musical Appendix to Wasielewskl's ' Die Violiiie im xvn Jahr- liundert).' The lowest parts in each quartet are assigned to trum- pets iTcomboui}, the other soprano part to the cornet (Ziukeu).


Salo, the earlier Amatis, Peregrino Zanetto, etc., many of which are still in existence, appear to represent the original 'Violino.' These Tenors when new, must have had a powerful tone, and they were probably invented in order to produce a stringed instrument which should compete in church music with the cornet and trumpet. Being smaller than the ordinary bass viola, which was the form of viol chiefly in use, they obtained the name 'Violino.' This name was however soon transferred to the ordinary violin. When the latter first made its appearance in Italian music, 2 it was called ' Piccolo Violino alia Francese ' ; indi- cating that this smaller ' Violino,' to which the name has been since appropriated, though not generally employed in Italy, had come into use in France. It accords with this that the original French name of the violin is ' Pardessus ' or ' dessus ' ' de Violon,' or ' treble of the Violon,' Violon being the old French diminutive of Viole, 3 and exactly equivalent to ' Violino.' Again, the very old French name ' Quinte ' for the Tenor, and its diminutive ' Quinton,' used for the violin, seems to indicate that the latter was a diminutive of some larger instrument in general use. We have therefore good ground for concluding that the Tenor is somewhat older than the treble or common violin, and is in fact its archetype.

Very soon after the ' Orfeo ' of Monteverde, which is dated 1608, we find the above-mentioned composer, Gabrieli, writing regular violin passages in a sonata for three common violins and a Bass, the former being designated ' Violini.' * We may therefore fairly suppose that the early years of the 1 7th century saw the introduction of the violin into general use in Italy, and the transfer of the name ' Violino ' to the smaller instrument. In the same year (1615) we have a 'Canzona 6* by the same writer, with two treble violins (Violini), a cornet, a tenor violin (called Tenore) and two trumpets. 5 In Gregorio Allegri's ' Sym- phonia a 4* 6 (before 1650) the Tenor is deno- minated 'Alto,' and the Bass is assigned to the 'Basso di Viola' or Viola da Gamba. Massi- miliano Neri (1644), in his 'Canzone del terzo tuono ' 7 has a Tenor part in which the Tenor is called for the first time 'viola,' a name which has clung to it ever since.

Shortly after this (1663) we have a string quintet with two viola parts, the upper of which is assigned to the 'Viola Alto,' the lower, written in the Taille or true tenor clef, to the 'Viola Tenore.' 8 It appears from the parts that the compass of the two violas was identical, nor is any distinction observable in the treatment. This use of the two violas is common in the Italian chamber music of the end of the i?th century, a remarkable instance being the 'Se- nate Varie' of the Cremonese composer Vitali (Modena, 1684): and Handel's employment of the two instruments, mentioned lower down, is

2 In the ' Orfeo of Monteverde.

3 So vallf., vallon ; jupe, jupon, etc.

Sonata con tre Violini, 1615. Wasielewski, Appendix, p. 13.

6 Ibid. p. 15. Ibid. p. 26. ' Ibid. p. 32.

8 Sonata a cinque, da Giovanni Legrenxi. Wastelewski. Appendix, p. 43. The treble parts are assigned to violins, the bus to the ' Viola da brazzo.'

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