Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/797

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

In 1628 the whole question of its legality was raised by the attempt of the privy council to rack John Felton, the assassin of the duke of Buckingham. This the judges resisted, unanimously declaring its use to be contrary to the laws of England.

Britannica Rackett.jpg
From Capt. C. R. Day’s
Catalogue of Musical
, by permission
of Eyre & Spottiswoode.

RACKETT, or Rackett-Bassoon (Fr. cervelas or cervelat; Ger. Rackett, Rankett or Wurstfagott), a kind of dwarf bassoon, now obsolete, with a body measuring only from 41/2 to 11 in. in length, but nevertheless containing the necessary length of tubing to give the bassoon or contra-bassoon pitch. The rackett consists of a barrel-like body, resembling the barrel drone of the musette (see Bagpipe), made of wood or ivory. Round a centre tube are grouped eight parallel channels of very narrow cylindrical bore communicating with each other and forming a continuous tube nine times the length of the small body.

A reed mouthpiece in combination with a cylindrical tube invests the latter with the acoustic properties of a closed pipe by creating a node at the mouthpiece end; the fundamental note given by such a tube is, therefore, an octave deeper in pitch than would be an open pipe of the same length. The bassoon has a conical bore and the properties of the open pipe, wherefore the aggregate length of the channels in the rackett only requires to be half that of the bassoon, a physical phenomenon to which this curious freak owed its existence. In the rackett the holes are bored obliquely through from the channels to the circumference—three in front for the left and three for the right hand, with an additional hole for the little finger; while at the back are placed the vent and three holes, one for the left thumb and two for the right, the second hole being controlled by the ball of the thumb. The rackett is played by means of a large double reed placed within a pirouette or cap, so that the lips do not come into contact with the reed, but only send a stream of compressed air into the pirouette, whereby the reed is set in vibration. The consequence of this principle of construction, peculiar to the bagpipe chaunter and drones (with a slight variation) and to cromornes, hautbois de Poitou and a few other obsolete instruments, is that no harmonics can be obtained, since the vibrating length and the tension of the reed cannot be controlled by the player; the compass is therefore obtained by means of the fundamental and of the ten holes of the instrument, aided by cross-fingering.  (K. S.) 

RACQUETS, or Rackets, a game played in an enclosed court with a ball and an implement with which the ball is struck called a racquet, from which the game takes its name. The racquet[1] is about 21/2 ft. long, the head, which was formerly pear-shaped, being in the modern racquet nearly circular, from 7 to 8 in. in diameter and tightly cross strung with cat-gut. The balls, which are about 11/4 in. in diameter, are made of strips of cloth tightly wound over each other, with a sewn covering of smooth white leather, the floor and walls of English courts being coloured black; in India, where the floor and walls of the court are painted

Fig. 1 .-The Racquet.

white, black balls are used. There are no regulation dimensions for a racquet court, nor for the racquet or ball, though substantial uniformity is observed in practice. The game is usually played either by two or by four players; and in England the- court is the same for the four-handed and the two-handed game, the floor measuring usually 6o ft. by 30 ft., or occasionally an inch or two more each way; but in America larger courts measuring on the floor 80 ft. by 40 ft., a size formerly not uncommon in England, are sometimes built for the four handed game. Modern racquet courts have four walls and a roof, though in India they are sometimes left unroofed for the sake of coolness. The iioor, which must be perfectly level and smooth, should be made of cement; but is sometimes paved, with less. perfect results. The floor cannot be too hard since the faster the ball travels the better the game; similarly thewalls, which should be built of masonry faced with cement and most carefully smoothed, cannot be too hard and fast. The front and side walls are about go ft. high, the back wall being about half that height, with a gallery for spectators (containing the marker's and umpires' box) above it. The court is entered by a door in the centre of the back wall, and without any projecting handle. The court is lighted from the roof. The diagram (fig. 2) shows the divisions and markings of the court. On the front wall is fixed a wooden board, the upper edge of which, 26 in. from the floor, constitutes the “ play-line, ” and which usually fills the whole space from that height to the floor; and at a height from the floor of 8 ft. or a few inches more is a second line, called the' “ cut-line ” or “ service-line, ” painted white or in colour. At a distance of 38 ft. (in a

which when shut must be perfectly flush with that wall,

Floor Level

Elevation of End Wall
Gallery above

court 60 ft. by 30 ft.) from the front wall and parallel to it, a white line is, painted on the Hoor from wall to wall, called the “ short-line ”; and from the centre of the short-line to the centre of the back wall is the “fault-line, dividing into two equal rectangles the space between the back wall and the short-line. These rectangles are the service-courts and are called the right hand, and left-hand court respectively. Against the side walls outside these, ; courts, but so that one side in each case is formed by the short-line, are squares 8 ft. by S ft. called the service-boxes. Back Wall 15' high

Gallery above

FIG. 2.

The Game.-Racquets is usually played either by two

persons (“singles”), or four persons playing two against two (“ doubles ”); and the general idea of the game is the same as that in tennis, lawn tennis and fives, the object of the player in all these games being to score a point by striking the ball either before it reaches the ground or on its first bound, in accordance with the rules of the game, in such a way that his adversary may fail to make a “good,” i.e. a valid, stroke in return. In the four-handed game one of each set of partners takes the right hand court and his partner the left. The game consists of 15 points called “ aces.” Aces can only be scored by the “ hand-in ” (the player, or side, having the “innings ”), and the “ hand-out ” must therefore win a stroke or strokes to obtain innings before he or they can score an ace; in “ doubles ” each of the partners has an innings, and both must therefore bei ousted before “ hand-out ” obtains the innings; but to this rule the first innings of each game affords an exception (see below). The “hand-in” always has “service,” i.e. he opens the rally (the “ rally ” being the series of strokes-made alternately by the two sides until one or other of them fails to make a good return) by “serving” the ball from the hand. This first stroke, or “ serve, ” must be made in the following manner. The server, standing with one foot at least inside one of the service-boxes, must toss the ball from his hand, and while it is in the air he must hit it with his racquet so that it strikes the front wall above the service-line and falls to the floor within the service court on the opposite side; after striking the front wall the ball may, but need not, strike the side wall or back wall, or both, and it may do so either before or after touching the floor; The serve is a “fault” if the ball (1) strikes the front wall

  1. The word comes, through Fr. raquette, from Sp. and Port. raqueta. The origin is doubtful, but Arab. rah??ha(t), palm of the hand, has been suggested; “fives” played with the hand long preceded the game with a bat; cf. also Fr. name for fives, paume.