Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/296

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.



��sufficiently indicate the extent to which the art was cultivated. In performance, the parts were usually doubled, t. e. there were six players, two to each part, who all played in the fortes : the piano passages were played by three only. To accompany voices, theorboes were added in the bass, and 'violins in the treble : but the English violists of the I7th century long regarded the violin as an unwelcome intruder. Its compara- tively harsh tone offended their ear by destroy- ing the delicate balance of the viol concert : Mace denominates it ' the scolding violin,' and complains that it out-tops everything. 1 When the 'sharp violin,' as Dryden calls it, was making its way into music in England, it had already been nearly a century in use on the continent. The model had been developed in Italy : the treble violin had first come into general use in France.

Of the viol family the most important seems originally to have been the Tenor. This agrees with the general plan of mediaeval music, in which the tenor sustains the cantus or melody, the trebles and basses being merely accompani- ments. The violin apparently originated in the desire to produce a more manageable and powerful instrument for the leading part. The Geige and Rebec were yet in use : perhaps the contrast between their harsher tone and the softness of the discant viol may have suggested the construction of a viol with a convex back modelled like the belly. But the extreme un- handiness of the tenor viol is probably the true key to the change. It was impossible to play artistically when supported on the knee, and too large to be held under the chin. At first, it would appear that violin-makers made it handier in the latter respect by cutting away the bottom, exactly as the top was sloped away to the neck : and viols thus sloped at the bottom are still extant. The more effective expedient of assimi- lating the back to the belly not only reduced the depth at the edges but rendered it easier to retain in position. The first instrument to which we find the name Violino applied was the tenor, and the common violin, as a diminutive of this, was the ' Violino piccolo.' [See TENOR VIOLIN.]

However the idea of assimilating the model of the back to that of the belly may have ori- ginated, it must have been quickly discovered that its effect was to double the tone. The result of making the instrument with a back correlative to the belly, and connected with the latter by the sides and soundpost, was to pro- duce a repetition of the vibrations in the back, partly by transmission through the ribs, blocks, and soundpost, but probably in a greater degree by the concussion of the air enclosed in the instrument. The force which on the viol pro- duced the higher and dissonant harmonics ex- pended itself in the violin in reproducing the lower and consonant harmonics by means of the back. [See HARMONICS.]

The invention of the Violin is commonly as- signed to Gaspar Duiffoprugcar, of Bologna, and placed early in the i6th century : and it has

i Music's Monument, p. 288.


been stated there still exist three genuine vio- lins of Duiffoprugcar's work, dated before I52o. a The name is obviously a corruption. There existed in the i6th century in Italy several lute -makers of the Tyrolese name TiefFen- brucker; 3 and as some of them lived into the following century it is possible that they may have made violins. But the authenticity of any date in a violin before 1520 is question- able. No instrument of the violin pattern that can be fairly assigned to a date earlier than the middle of the i6th century is in existence, and it is scarcely credible that the violin could have been so common between 1511 and 1519, seeing that we find no mention of it in contemporary musical handbooks which minutely describe the stringed instruments of the period. In default of any better evidence, the writer agrees with Mr. Charles Reade (quoted in Mr. Hart's book, ' The Violin/ p. 68) that no true violin was made anterior to the second half of the i6th century, the period of Gaspar di Salo and Andreas Amati. The earliest date in any instrument of the violin pattern which the writer has seen, is in a tenor by Peregrino Zanetto (the younger) of Brescia, 1 580. It is, however, certain that tenors and vio- lins were common about this time, and they were chiefly made in the large towns of Lombardy, Bologna, Brescia, and Cremona. The trade had early centred in the last-named city, which for two centuries continued to be the metropolis of violin-making; and the fame of the Cremona violin quickly penetrated into other lands. In 1572 the accounts of Charles IX. of France show a payment of 50 livres to one of the king's musi- cians to buy him a Cremona violin.*

The difficulty of ascertaining the precise anti- quity of the Violin is complicated by the fact that the two essential points in which it differs from the Viol, (i) the four strings tuned by fifths, and (2) the modelled back, apparently came into use at different times. We know from early musical treatises that the three-stringed Rebec and some four-stringed Viols were tuned by fifths : and the fact that the modelled back was in use anterior to the production of the true violin is revealed to us by a very early five- stringed Viol with two Bourdons, now in the Historical Loan Collection at the Inventions Exhibition. This unique instrument, while it has the primitive peg-box with seven vertical pegs, has a modelled back and violin sound- holes : and it only needs the four strings tuned by fifths, and a violin scroll, to convert it into a Tenor of the early type.

Another very important member of the Violin family is the VIOLONCELLO, which, though its name (little Violone) would seem to derive it from the Double Bass, is really a bass Violin,

2 Wasielewski, Die Violine im xril. Jahrhundert, p. 3. The dates are Stated as 1511. 1517, and 1619.

s Besides Gaspar we hear of Magnus, Wendelln, Leonhard, Leopold and Uldrlch Tleffenbrucker. Magnus was a lute-maker at Venice, 1607. Wasielewski, Geschlchte, etc., p. 81.

A Nicolas Dolinet. Joueur de fluste et violon du diet sleur, la somme de 50 livres tournols pour luy donner moyen d'achepter un violon de Cremone pour le service du diet sleur. Archives curieuses de 1'Histolre de France, vol. viil. p. 355.

�� �