MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS - online book

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

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MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
on the monuments of the nations of antiquity is by no means so sure a proof as has generally been supposed, that the bow was unknown. The fiddle in its primitive condition must have been a poor contrivance. It probably was despised by players who could produce better tones with greater facility by twanging the strings with their fingers, or with a plectrum. Thus it may have remained through many centuries without experiencing any material improvement. It must also be borne in mind that the monuments transmitted to us chiefly represent historical events, religious ceremonies, and royal entertainments. On such occa­sions instruments of a certain kind only were used, and these we find represented ; while others, which may have been even more common, never occur. In two thousand years' time people will possibly maintain that some highly perfected instrument popular with them was entirely unknown to us, because it is at present in so primitive a condition that no one hardly notices it. If the ravanastron was an importation of the Mahomedans it would most likely bear some resemblance to the Arabian and Persian instruments, and it would be found rather in the hands of the higher classes in the towns; whereas it is principally met with among the lower order of people, in isolated and mountainous districts. It is further remarkable that the most simple kind of ravanastron is almost identical with the Chinese fiddle called nr-heen. This species has only two strings, and its body consists of a small block of wood, hollowed out and covered with the skin of a serpent. The ur-heen has not been mentioned among the most ancient instruments of the Chinese, since there is no evidence of its having been known in China before the introduction of the Buddhist religion into that country. From indications, which to point out would lead too far here, it would appear that several instruments found in China originated in Hindustan. They seem to have been gradually diffused from Hindustan and Thibet, more or less altered in the course of time, through the east as far as Japan. Another curious Hindu instrument, probably of very high anti-
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