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 Shopping Discounts



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
REIGN OF ELIZABETH.
103
inserted, receded almost at a right angle. The most usual mode of tuning it was as follows: assuming c in the third space of the treble clef to be the pitch of the first string (i.e., cc in the scale given at page 14), the base, or sixth string would be O; the tenor, or fifth, _F; the counter-tenor, or fourth, b flat; the great mean, or third, d ; the small mean, or second, g; and the minikin, or treble, cc*
Lute stringsb were a usual present to ladies as new-year's gifts. Erom Nichols' Progresses we learn that queen Elizabeth received a box of lute-strings, as a new-year's gift, from Innocent Oorry, and at the same time, a box of lute­strings and a glass of sweet water from Ambrose Lupo. When young men in want of money went to usurers, it was their common practice to lend it in the shape of goods which could only be re-sold at a great loss; and lute-strings were then as commonly the medium employed as bad wine is now. In Lodge's Looking Gflasse for London and Miglande, 1594, the usurer being very-urgent for the repayment of his loan, is thus answered,," I pray you, Sir, consider that my loss was great by the commodity I took up; you know, Sir, I borrowed of you forty pounds, -whereof I had ten pounds in money, and thirty pounds in lute­strings, which, when I came to sell again, I could get but five pounds for them, so had I, Sir, but fifteen pounds for my forty." So in Dekker's A Night's Con­juring, the spendthrift, speaking of his father, says, " He cozen'd young gentle­men of their land, only for me, had acres mortgaged to him by wiseacres for three hundred pounds, paid in hobby-horses, dogs, bells, and lute-strings, which, if they had been sold by the drum, or at an out-rop (auction), with the cry of ' No man better?' would never have yielded £50." Nash alludes twice to the custom. Li Will Summer's Last Will and Testament, he says, " I know one that ran in debt, in the space of four or five years, above fourteen thousand pounds in lute-strings and grey paper;" and in CJirist's Tears over Jerusalem, 1593; " Li the first in­stance, spendthrifts and prodigals obtain what they desire, but at the second time of their coming, it is doubtful to say whether they shall have money or no: the world grows hard, and we are all mortal: let them make him any assurance before a judge, and they shall have some hundred pounds (per consequence) in silks and velvets. The third time, if they come, they have baser commodities. The fourth time, lute-strings and grey paper; and then, I pray you pardon me, I am not for you: pay me what you owe me, anil you shall have anything." (Dodsley, v. 9, p. 22.) *
The virginals (probably so called because chiefly played upon by young girls), resembled in shape the " square" pianoforte of the present day, as the harpsichord did the "grand." The sound of the pianoforte is produced by a hammer striking the strings, but when the keys of the virginals or harpsichord were pressed, the "jacks," (slender pieces of wood, armed at the upper ends with quills) were
* The notes which these letters represent will be seen by referring to the scale at p. 14.
*  Mace, in his Mustek's Monument, 1678, speaking of lute-strings, says, "Chuse your trebles, seconds, and thirds, and some of your small octaves, especially the sixth, out of your Minikins; the fourth and fifth, and most of your octaves, of Venice Catlina; your Pistoys or Lyons only far the great bases." In the list of Custom-
House duties printed in 1545, the import duty on "lute­strings called Mynikins" was 22d. the gross, but as no other lute-strings are named, I assume that only the smallest were then occasionally imported. Minikin is one of the many words, derived from music or musical instruments, which have puzzled the commentators on the old dramatists. The first string of a violin was also called a minikin.