MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

The History And Development Of Musical Instruments From The Earliest Times.

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
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Now, it will easily be understood that an acquaintance with the musical instruments of a nation conveys a more correct idea than could otherwise be obtained of the characteristic features of the nation's musical compositions. Furthermore, in many instances the construction of the instruments reveals to us the nature of the musical intervals, scales, modulations, and suchlike noteworthy facts. True, inquiries like these have hitherto not received from musicians the attention which they deserve. The adepts in most other arts are in this respect in advance. They are convinced that useful information may be gathered by investigating the produc­tions even of uncivilized nations, and by thus tracing the gradual progress of an art from its primitive infancy to its highest degree of development.
Again, from an examination of the musical instruments of foreign nations we may derive valuable hints for the improve­ment of our own; or even for the invention of new. Several principles of construction have thus been adopted by us from eastern nations. For instance, the free reed used in the harmonium is an importation from China. The organ builder Kratzenstein, who lived in St. Petersburg during the reign of Catharine II., happened to see the Chinese instrument cheng, which is oi this construction, and it suggested to him, about the end of the last century, to apply the free reed to certain organ stops. At the pre­sent day instruments of the harmonium class have become such universal favourites in western Europe as almost to compete with the pianoforte.
Several other well-authenticated instances could be cited in which one instrument has suggested the construction of another of a superior kind. The prototype oi our pianoiorte was evidently the dulcimer, known at an early time to the Arabs and Persians who call it saniir. One of the old names given to the dulcimer by European nations is cimbal. The Poles at the present day call it cymbaly, and the Magyars in Hungary cimbalom. The clavicembalo, the predecessor of the pianoforte, was in fact nothing
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