Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Easter Hymns

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
If more to the same purport be required, many similar allusions will.be found in the same volume. (See pages 125,126, 127, and 472, and Gifford's Notes.)
The base-viol was also played upon by ladies (at least during the following reign), although thought by some "an unmannerly instrument for a woman." The mode in which some ladies passed their time is described in the following lines, and perhaps, even in the present day, instances not wholly unlike might be found.                             " This is all that women do,
Sit and answer them that woo ;
Deck themselves in new attire,
To entangle fresh desire ;
After dinner sing and play,
Or dancing, pass the time away."
" England," says a French writer of the seventeenth century, " is the paradise of women, as Spain and Italy are their purgatory." a
The musical instruments principally in use in barbers' shops, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were the cittern, the gittern, the lute, and the virginals. Of these the cittern was the most common, perhaps because most easily played. It was in shape somewhat like the English guitar of the last century, but had only four double strings of wire, L e., two to each note." These were tuned to the notes g, b, d, and e of the present treble staff, or to correspond­ing intervals; for no rules are given concerning the pitch of these instruments, unless they were to be used in concert. The instructions for tuning are generally to draw up the treble string as high as possible, without breaking it, and to tune the others from that. A particular feature of the cittern was the carved head, which is frequently alluded to by the old writers.0 Playford in his "MusicFs Delight on the Oithren restored and refined to a more easie and pleasant manner of playing than formerly," 1666, speaks of having revived the instrument, and re­stored it to what it was in the reign of Queen Mary, and his tuning agrees with that in Anthony Holborne's Oittharn Schoole, 1597, and in Thomas Robinson's New Oitharen Lessons, 1609. The peculiarity of the cittern, or cithren, was that the third string was tuned lower than the fourth, so that if the first or highest string were tuned to e, the third would be the g below, and the fourth the intermediate K The cittern appears to have been an instrument of English invention."1
Of the gittern or ghitterne, I can say but little, not having seen any instruc­tion-book for the instrument. Eitson says it differed chiefly from the cittern
» Description of England by Jorevin de Rocheford. Paris, 1672,
b Sir John Hawkins, in his History of Music, vol. ii., p. 602, 8vo., copies the Cislrum from Merseune, as the Cittern, but it has six strings, and therefore more closely resembles the English guitar.
* In Love'i Labour Lost, act v., sc. 2, Boyet compares Holofernes' countenance to that of a cittern head. In Forde's Lovers' Melancholy, act ii., sc. 1, "Barbers shall wear thee on their citterns;" and in Fletcher's Love's Cure, " You cittern head ! you ill-countenanced cur!" &c, &c.
d The word Cetera, as employed by Galilei (father of *
the great astronomer, Galileo Galilei), I assume to mean Cittern, because the word Liuto, for Lute, was in common use. He says, " Fu la Cetera usata prima tra gli Inglesi che da altre nazioni, nella quale Isola si lavoravano gia in eccellenza; quantnnque hoggi le piu ripntate da loro siauo quelle che si Iavorano in Brescia; con tutto questo e adoperata ed apprezzata da nobili, e fu cosl detta dagli autori di essa, per forse resuscitare l'antica Cithara; ma la ditferenza che sta tra la nostra e quella, si e possuto benissimo conoscere da quel to che se n' e di sopra detto."— Diatogo di Vincenzo Galilei, nobile Fiorentino, fbl. 1331, p. 147.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III