Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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Baltazarini, an Italian musician, and native of Piedmont, is said to have been " le meilleur violon " of his time. He was taken to France by Marshal de Brissac in 1577, and appointed director of music to Catherine de Medecis. It is as difficult, however, to distinguish between viola da braccio and violin in French history as in English; because, at least during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, instruments of all sizes were included under the name of violin. Mersenne speaks of the French royal band of " twenty-four violons," although the instruments were of four sizes, just as Ben Jonson, or, as in the time of Charles II., we called our royal band " four-and-twenty fiddlers."
In the Prom,ptorium Parvulorum, the date of which is about 1440, "fydyll" and "fyyele" (viol) are Latinized " viella, fidicina, vitula," while " crowde, instrument of musyke," is translated " chorus." In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the names of crowd, fiddle, and violin, were often indiscriminately applied to the same instrument.
In Spain, the viol can have been but little known in the first half of the sixteenth century, for Juan Bermudo, who published a folio volume on musical instruments in 1555, does not include any one in which the bow was employed. The Spanish vihuelas or viguelas were guitars, distinguished from the guitarra by having six strings instead of four. Bermudo says, " no es otra cosa esta guitarra eino una vihuela quitada la sexta y la prima cuerda." The " gitterons which are called Spanish vialles," among the musical instruments of our Henry VIII., were, no doubt, Spanish vihuelas, in all respects the same as the modern Spanish guitar.
The German word, bratsche, for tenor, is evidently an abbreviation of viola da braccio.
' I will not follow M. Fe"tis in his newly-adopted Eastern theory for the bow. The only evidence he adduces is its present use in the East, and the primitive form of Eastern instruments; coupled with a tradition among Buhddist priests, that one of the instruments to which it is now applied was " invented by Ravana, King of Ceylon, five thousand years before the Christian era." This is a tolerably lengthy " tradition." I would ask, however, " how comes it that the bow was unknown to the Greeks, Romans, and other nations ? Did not Alexander the Great conquer India and Persia ? and were not those countries better known to the ancients than to the moderns until within the last three hundred years ?" The Spaniards derived their instruments from the Moors, but the bow was not among them. Once seen, it is an easy thing to imitate, and the power of imitation is by no means confined to the West.
The earliest drawing of the bow, now extant, is probably that which was copied by Gerbert into his De Cantu, ii. 138, plate 32, for an instrument of the fiddle kind with one string. It is taken from the same manuscript as the Cythara Anglica (a well-formed harp with twelve strings), which is beside it. To this manuscript M. Fetis assigns the date of " commencement of the ninth century." Gerbert places it much earlier.
p. 7. Chanson Roland.—It is a curious coincidence that this tune is exactly fitted to the Anglo-Norman romance, Chanson de Roland, by Turold, which, according to Mr. T. Wright (author of the Biographia Britannica IAterarid), " was undoubtedly intended to be recited with the accompaniment of the minstrel's harp." Dr. Crotch first printed the air in the Appendix to the Specimens of various hinds of Music,— therefore many years before this romance was published. Mr. Wright dates the ma­nuscript in the Bodleian Library, " as old as the latter half of the twelfth century,"

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