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ENGLISH SONG AND BALLAD MUSIC.
in being strung with gut instead of wire; and, from the various allusions to it, I have no doubt of his correctness. Perhaps, also, it was somewhat less in size. Li the catalogue of musical instruments left in the charge of Philip van Wilder, at the death of Henry VIII., wc find " four Gitterons, which are called Spanish . vialles." As Galilei says, in 1581, that " Viols are little used in Spain, and that they do not make them,"a I assume Spanish viol to mean the guitarra, or guitar. The gittern is ranked with string instruments in the following extract from the old play of Lingua, written in this reign:—
" 'Tib true the finding of a dead horse-head
Was the first invention of string instruments,
Whence rose the Oitterne, Viol, and the Lute;
Though others think the Lute was first devis'd
In imitation of a tortoise back,
Whose sinews, parched by Apollo's beams,
Echo'd about the concave of the shell:
And seeing the shortest and smallest gave shrillest sound,
They found out Frets, whose sweet diversity
(Well touched by the skilful learned fingers)
Eaiseth so strange a multitude of Chords ;
Which, their opinion, many do confirm,
Because Testudo signifies a Lute."
Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. v., p. 198. Coles, in his Dictionary, describes gittern as a small sort of cittern, and Playford printed Cithren and Gfittern Lessons, with plain and easie Instructions for Beginners thereon, together in one book, in 1659. Ritson may have gained his information from this book, as he mentions it in the second edition of his Ancient Songs, but I have not succeeded in finding a copy.
The lute (derived from the Anglo-Saxon Hlud, or Lud, i. e., sounded), was once the most popular instrument in Europe, although now rarely to be seen, except represented in old pictures. It has been superseded by the guitar, but for what reason it is difficult to say, unless from the greater convenience of the bent sides of the guitar for holding the instrument, when touching the higher notes of the finger-board. The tone of the lute is decidedly superior to the guitar, being larger, and having a convex back, somewhat like the vertical section of a gourd, or more nearly resembling that of a pear. As it was used chiefly for accompanying the voice, there were only eight frets, or divisions of the finger-board, and these frets (so called from fretting, or stopping the strings) were made by tying pieces of cord, dipped in glue, tightly round the neck of the lute, at intervals of a semitone. It had virtually six strings, because, although the number was eleven or twelve, five, at least, were doubled, the first, or treble, being sometimes a single string.* The head, in which the pegs to turn the strings were
" "La viola da gamba, e da braccio, nella Spagna non lutes of various sizes, from the mandura, or mandore,
se ne fanno, e poco vi si usano."—Dialogo della Itiuiat, to the theorbo and arch-lute; some with less, and others
fol. 1581., p. 147. with more strings.
1 I speak only of the usual English lute. There were'