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somewhat of bagpipe fashion, is supposed, after many modifications, to have been the origin of
the organ. Both the Chinese and the Hindoos had many varieties of the flute species and
pizzicato instruments, or lutes. But the Chinese were more remarkable for their percussion
instruments, such as the King, which consisted of rows of variously-sized stone, wood, or copper
plates ; and the Hindoos for the Serinda, which some believe to have been the earliest form of
bowed instrument.

As no evidence of what music they played could possibly have been handed down to us from
those far away times, there is little to interest us in our present study, except to notice that there
is good reason for supposing that it was the practice to use the instruments in combination,
even if that combination only took the form of playing in unison with the voice, or even as
some assert, that the instrumental share merely consisted of rhythmic noises ; as Shakespeare
says, " Like a child on a recorder, a sound, but not in government."

Turning now to the Greek and Roman musical instruments, we are struck, not only by the
greater variety in them, but also by the improvement in their shape and compass. There is
every evidence of the Greeks having, as in the other arts, achieved a high standard of excellence
in music ; that this was so, is fully borne out by their theoretical works and the prominence
which was given to music at their competitions. With the Romans, on the other hand, there
does not seem to have been the same feeling for the art. Certainly they had their instrumental
music when required in the army, at their festivals, at religious celebrations and funeral
solemnities ; but being a more matter-of-fact people, they seem to have been satisfied to borrow
their instruments from their more artistic neighbours.

The Sambuca (a-ap-fivKr)) was an instrument resembling our harp, sometimes of small size,
as was the Welsh harp, but oftener a large richly decorated instrument. Another, related to
this was the Psaltery (^aXr-fipiov) or Kinnor of the Hebrews, of which the framework or sound-
board rested on the shoulder. The Cithara (Kiddpa), another stringed instrument, was doubtless
the origin of our guitar and mandoline, and was played with a plectrum, or quill. The Lyra
(Av/aa), the invention of which was credited to Mercury, was, as we have seen, of Egyptian
origin. This instrument was played with a plectrum held between the fingers of one hand,
whilst the fingers of the other plucked the strings. It had originally three strings only, but
with the advance of time this number was increased to nine, and ultimately to eighteen. The
Testudo (xeAvs), a similar instrument, with the addition of a sounding-board in the form of a
tortoise-shell (whence the name), was of course more powerful in tone. The Barbiton
(f3dp(3t.Tov), another instrument of the same family as the Lyre, but of greater size, and having
longer and thicker strings, produced a rich, full tone, and no doubt served as the bass of the
family. Other stringed instruments were the Magadis, Epignonion, and Pektis. Among wind
instruments the most important was the Aulos (Latin, Tibia). This, the flute family, was in
very common use, and was made of reed, cane, boxwood, horn, metal, and the tibia or shinbone
of certain animals. There were many varieties, but all had from two to five sound holes
answering to the degrees of the scale. The Tibia Longa, which was about five feet long,
terminated in a bell ; its mouthpiece was not, as in the other models to be mentioned, placed
between the lips, but, as in our modern brass instruments, applied to the lips. The Tibia
Obliqua was held as is our bassoon, and had a mouthpiece protruding from the side. The
Tibia Vasca was a less powerful variety of the Tibia Obliqua. The Tibia Curva (eAv/zos) was
made of boxwood, with a bent end like a horn. The Diaulos or Tibiae Pares was a pair of
pipes of equal length and bore, therefore in unison, and played by the same musician. The


Tibise Impares were of unequal length and bore ; wherefore some writers maintain that the
player was enabled to play in two parts. The two flutes were distinguished as Tibia Dextra
and Sinistra, but are occasionally described as Tibia Incentiva and Succentiva ; and this fact
gives rise to the more probable theory that they were in different modes, or scales, therefore
that parts of a melody which could not be played on the one were taken up on the other.

The Lituus was a brass trumpet, and used by the Roman Legions. It consisted of a long
tube curved slightly upwards at the end. It was about four feet long, and was made in three
sections. The Tuba (Salpinx) was a wind instrument, made of bronze with bell-shaped mouth ;
the tone was hard and coarse. Besides these we have the Buccina (/Jv/cav??), used much
as our field bugles are. It was a spiral or twisted horn, made with a large metal bell, and
is of interest to us as being the forerunner of our trombone, as the German name Posaune
indicates. The Keras (Cornu or Cornu Venatorum), the Horn, was originally made of horn,
but latterly of bronze. It was of a large circular model, and carried round the body of the
performer, as the circular basses are in our military bands. We see an illustration of one on
the Arch of Constantine in Rome. Percussion instruments were well represented by the
Crotalum and Crusmata ; the former were after the type of our nigger-bones, and the latter
resembled our castanets. The Cymbala were rather more hollowed out or cup-shaped than
our cymbals, and much smaller.

To the Greeks the art of playing in parts seems not to have been known. We know that
songs accompanied by any of the stringed instruments were classified as Kitharodie, with flute
accompaniment, Aulodie. We know that the musician who accompanied the chorus in the
theatre, or played along with the chorus in the dance, was called the Choraules ; and in dis-
tinction to this accompanist we have the Auloedus, or player of an instrumental solo. It is
matter for regret that we have no trace of any of their solos handed down to us. Who knows ?
the recent discovery of the " Ode to Apollo " lends encouragement to the hope that, as explora-
tion proceeds, we may yet find in our department, that, which would be as great a gratification
to us, as the before-mentioned work is to those more directly interested in song. The players
on the Tibia, the Tibicen (avA^Tou), the players on the Tuba, the Tubicen (o-aA.7riyKT(u), and
the players on the Lituus, the Liticen, were held in high estimation, and, as said before,
were much employed at all festivities and solemnities. They each formed a corporation
(collegium) of their own in Rome.

Leaving now the period of antiquity, we shall glance at the progress made in instrumental
music during the Middle Ages. In doing so, the first matter that claims our attention is the intro-
duction of bowed instruments. The exact period of their invention is really not known. Some
writers ascribe the principle of exciting the vibration of a string with a bow to the Arabians,
and others to the Hindoos. In the absence of any possibility of arriving at a conclusion on
this point, it is sufficient for us to know that Fortunatus, the Poet- Bishop of Poitiers, as early
as the middle of the sixth century, speaks of the British " Chrotta," by which we understand
the Welsh cnvth or crowd, and which is, therefore, doubtless the oldest European bowed
instrument. This instrument belonged more especially to the Celtic peoples, and we believe
might have been found, with its old shape perfectly preserved, so recently as the beginning of
the nineteenth century, in the more remote parts of Wales, Ireland, and Brittany. It had the
square framework shape of the ancient Cithara, with the addition of a finger-board. Of its five
strings, three were fingered and the other two played as a drone accompaniment It is not
within our purpose to trace the development of the bowed instrument through successive
centuries, nor all its modifications in shape under its varying names, such as Rubeba, Rubella,
Rebab, Rebel, Rebec, Gigue, Giga, Lira, the Anglo-Saxon Fithele, Fidele, Fidula, Viella, and
Viol ; suffice it to say, that the bowed instrument reached its present form during the sixteenth
century, since when, no attempts to further improve it have met with any success, and we incline
to the belief, that it is a wise conservatism that makes violinists intolerant of any such attempts.
Of course before this stage the viols had well prepared the way for the violin. They differed


somewhat in outline and build from our present violin, the shape of the sound holes was
different, and the finger-board had frets marking the positions of the tones or semitones, as the
guitar, mandoline, and zither have to this day. They were made in different sizes, which were
known as discant, alto, and bass, and they were the equivalents of our violin, viola, and 'cello.
At the period we are now referring to the sixteenth century when the art of polyphonic or
contrapuntal writing had reached its climax, of which the life work of Palestrina (15 15-94) may
be said to have been the culminating point ; the viols were used mainly for the purpose of doubling
the corresponding voice-part. Not only the viols, but also the different families of wind instru-
ments which we shall glance at immediately, were used thus, namely, to play the voice part of the
same pitch, or the part of another corresponding instrument. This is made amply clear from many
of the musical works of the time which have been preserved. Thus we have Anthony Holborne's
" Pavans, Galliards, Almains, and other short airs both grave and light, in five parts for Viols,
Violins, or other musicall winde instruments," (1599); while many other published works have
the indication "to be sung or played on instruments of every kind." The instruments of every
kind here referred to were doubtless Flutes, Schalmeis and Zinks. As these instruments are
the immediate precursors of our modern instruments both orchestral and military, it will be
necessary to say a few words upon them. The flute of the Middle Ages was of two varieties ;
the Flute-a-bec and the Flute traversiere or Flauto traverso. The first of these varieties, the
Flute-a-bec, may also be heard of under the names Schnabelflote, Blochflote, or Schwegel
(German); Flute droite, or Galoubet (French); or Flauto diretto, Flauto Dolce or Suegale
(Italian); and Recorder (English). This flute was held between the lips, and blown as is our
now fast disappearing flageolet, or to make a more homely comparison, the penny whistle. It
was made in six sizes, each with a compass of about two octaves ; the number of finger-holes
varied from two to six. The instrument is now quite obsolete, and is only remembered by our
poets having handed it down to us as the Pipe, and which we read of in combination with the
Tabor. In this connection the "pipe" had only three holes which were stopped with the
fingers of the left hand, while the fingers of the right were employed to beat the tabor or
drum, the tabor being supported by a belt slung over the left arm. The compass of this
little instrument, by using the harmonic or overblowing notes, extended to no less than two
octaves and a half.

The other variety of flute, the Flauto traverso, Querflote, Schweitzerpfeife, Flute Allemande
or German Flute, was practically the flute as we now know it. It had six holes, and, after the
manner of the time, it was made in three sizes, in this case, however, with the addition of a
Zwergpfeife (dwarfpipe) or Piccolo, which was an octave higher, and doubled the melody in
octaves with the treble flute. This little instrument, with very little alteration or improvement,
is still in vogue as the Fife (Fifre, French) of our fife and drum bands. The full name, Flauto
traverso, was still retained by Bach in his scores, as a distinction to the Flutes-a-becs, which,
though he did not write for them, existed till within one hundred and fifty years ago.

We now pass on to another very interesting class, namely, the Shawm. The name, derived
from the Latin Calamus, from which we get our word halm or haulm straw or stalk is to
be found with many variations of spelling Chalumeau, Chalemiax, Chalemelle, Chalemie,
Schalmei, Shawm. This instrument had a double reed, resembling that of our oboe or bagpipe.
Originally, however, this reed, unlike that of our oboe, was encased in another joint, the
extremity of which was held between the lips, in this respect exactly resembling our Highland
bagpipes. The larger sizes were called by another generic name, also with many variations in
the spelling, doubtless according to the period or the country where they were adopted. This
name was Pommer, Bommert, Bomhart, Bombarde, or Bombazet in English. The Pommers
were made in six sizes, from the Bombardino, the smallest, which was the Schalmei itself, up to
the Contrabass Bomhart, or Great Double Quint Bomhart, which latter, being over ten feet in
length, required the services of a second man to carry the end furthest from the player, which
he did over his shoulder. To the device of Afranio of Ferrara, in 1539, of doubling up this


inconveniently long tube, we owe the idea of the Bassoon, or Fagotto, a faggot, as the word
derived from the Latin, Fax, doubtless implies. The greatest improvement which befell this
class of instruments, however, was the abandonment of the wooden mouthpiece enclosing the
reed, of which we have already spoken. For, before the end of the century, it became the
custom to hold the reed itself in the mouth. This, as can be readily surmised, caused a radical
change, but not in the instrument, nor even in the distinctive tone of the instrument. Up to
this time it had had a harsh, screaming, unyielding tone, such as we have heard occasionally
from the Savoyard Pifferaro in our streets, on his Zampugna, the modern Italian name of the
Schalmei, accompanied by his friend with the Cornemuse. After this change took place, the
player, by direct contact of his lips with the reed, was enabled to make every gradation of tone
till the expressive and plaintive sound we recognise so readily in our orchestras was attained.
With the change of nature a change of name was also made, and the French " Hautbois," with
its phonetic copies in other countries, Hoboe in Germany, Hautboy in England, and Oboe in
Italy became the recognised appellation. Of course the other sizes of pommers made at the
same time the same change as the schalmeis. We had then the Oboe d'Amore, a minor third
lower, and the Oboe da Caccia, a fifth lower than the oboe ; while of the fagotti species we
had the Quint Fagott (which did not exist long, however), the ordinary Fagott, and the Contra

The next class of instruments we have to consider are the Zinks or Kornetts. Directly
descended from the Roman Lituus and Buccina, the Zink was the predecessor of our cornets,
horns, and trombones. It consisted of a tube with finger-holes at intervals, and was played
with a cup-shaped mouthpiece, as with our brass instruments, pressed against the lips. The
mouthpiece was generally made of either ivory or hard wood. The zinks themselves were not
made of brass, but of wood. The small Zinks were straight (Italian, Cornetto diretto ; German,
Grader zink) ; the Quart-zink, a fourth higher in pitch (the Cornettino), was also called the
White Zink, to distinguish it from the Black Zink, which was made of two pieces of wood
hollowed out, fastened together with glue, aud covered with leather. Of these there were also
two varieties, the Cornetto Curvo, or Krummer Zink, and the Cornetto Torto (Cornon). This
latter, which from its size required an S-shaped mouthpiece to enable the performer to reach
the sound holes, ultimately (1590) developed into the serpent, a bass instrument that remained
in use both in orchestral and military bands until some sixty years ago. The compass of the
Zink was about two octaves ; and having the chromatic scale complete, it was considered a very
valuable instrument. It lasted till well into the eighteenth century, when, principally on
account of the harshness of its tone, and the difficulty of playing it in tune, it had at last to
give way to keyed instruments. Its players were called Zinkenisten on the continent ; and of
these the town bands were principally composed.

The Trumpet (Tromba, Clarino, Clareta, Trompete, Trompette) was, during the sixteenth
century, a natural instrument. By the term natural instrument we understand one which can
only produce the natural series of harmonics or open notes, and does not possess any artificial
or mechanical means for bridging over the interval from one of these open notes to the next
From the harmonic sounds here given, it will be perceived that the trumpet of those days did
not possess a very extensive scale, especially as these notes are not even all good.

r f

In fact its chief use was in fanfares or flourishes. An example of one for six trumpets and
drums is given here :






Trumpets were at first made straight, but after a while curves were made in the tube to reduce
its great length. The trumpet, in its original form, is now only to be found preserved in the
artillery and cavalry services, where it is employed as a signal instrument, its carrying power at
long distances recommending it before the bugle, which is used in the infantry on account of its
more easy mastery. The profession of trumpeter was, during the Middle Ages, a very honour-
able one. Trumpeters were only allowed in royal or noble households, and by the rules of
their guild were forbidden to play at town festivities.

The Trombone, literally large trumpet (German, Posaune), had even during the Middle
Ages the slide applied to it, in order to complete its scale. It was made in three "voices" or
sizes alto, tenor, and bass, as at present.

Among the percussion instruments of the Middle Ages were Kettle-drums (Tympani,
Pauken), which they had already begun to tune as a rule to D and A, as will be seen in the
foregoing illustration, so as to form a tonic and dominant bass to the trumpets, which were
usually pitched in the key of D. Then there were the Tintinnabulae, or bells arranged to
form a scale or Glockenspiel, as it is now called, and the Strohfiedel, a row of variously-tuned
strips of wood on a straw base, which we now term a Xylophone or Xylorganon.

As it has not been attempted in the foregoing resume to make an historical research into the
instruments of the past, but merely to trace the early beginnings of our twentieth century ones,
there have been omitted many instruments, indeed many families of instruments, which, having
become obsolete, and having left no successors behind them, have little interest for the
orchestral student. We may at least recall the names of some of these. Of such families,
perhaps the most important was the Lute, in appearance somewhat of the shape of a large
mandoline; it is supposed to have been of very ancient origin. Coming from Egypt, it
became a favourite Arabian instrument. Thence advancing through Spain and Italy during
the fourteenth century, it overspread the whole of Europe, and for the next three hundred
years occupied the position now held by our " household orchestra," the domestic piano. The
development and improvement in virginals, spinets, harpsichords, pianos, also the violin,
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in their turn drove the lute and all its kindred
from the field. The lute was a pizzicato instrument, and had six strings, and later, four
additional bass strings. A smaller kind was called the Quinterne, or Chiterna, with its larger
variety, the Chitarrone. This had a flat sound box, and was the true forerunner of our guitar.

A larger lute was called the Arch-lute, and a kindred instrument, or bass lute, was the Theorbo
(Tiorbe, Tuorba), which had a separate set of strings to act as drone bass to the melody strings.
The largest variety of this instrument was as large as our Contrabass.

The Cromornes were, during the i6th and the zyth centuries, very popular instruments.
They were double reed wind instruments of very crooked shape, as the name (German,
Krummhorn) denotes ; they were made in four sizes, and, except as being sponsor to an organ
stop, they have left no trace behind them. Another family of the Fagotto kind was the
Courtaud, or Kortholt, made in several sizes, and the Dulcian, or Dolzian, which, having its top
partially covered, served to render the tone less harsh. Other varieties of Schalmeis, or Fagotti,
were the Ranket, or Rackett, and Cervalas. In the last-named instrument the long tube was
divided some eight times, and the sections, being packed closely together, no doubt bore
some resemblance to a bundle of sausages, from which it derived its name. The Sordune
and Basanelli were instruments of the same class, but have left nothing to posterity but
their names.

It must be remembered that during the time of which we have been treating, instrumental
music had but little existence apart from song. The very dance tunes, Pavans, Galliards,
Tourdions, Basse dances, and Salterelles being sung and accompanied by instruments, anything
in the nature of orchestral combination was undreamt of. The only attempt at banding instru-
ments together was in having complete "choirs" of the same family of instruments. And
though we know that the composers of the contrapuntal school did write for instruments, yet


much of their work was designed for the church, where the organ had already taken its place
as well. Therefore, in as few sentences as possible, we propose to enumerate a few of the com-
posers and works in vogue during this transition period, from the Middle Ages to modern times ^
from the ascendancy of contrapuntal art to the rise of accompanied melody or monody ; from
the one-instrument orchestra to the beginning of the complex organisation that is now the .
vehicle for the ultimate expression of the greatest musical minds.

One of the earliest instrumental books we can find, then, is by Joan Ambrosio Dalza, and
is entitled "Tabalatura de Lauto," 1508; another by Arnold Schiick, "Tabulatur Ettlicher
Lobgesang und Liedlein uff die Orgeln und Lauten," 1512; literally translated "Notation of
several songs of Praise and little Songs on the Organs and Lutes." Pierre Attaignant published a
collection of dances in 1530. Stadtmusikus Tylman Susato, one of the earliest music publishers,
also published a collection of dances at Antwerp in 1551. Hans Gerle gave out his " Musica
Teusch," a collection of music for four viols, 1532. Adrian Willaert, born in 1480 in Bruges,
deserves mention as an early instrumental writer, one of his best known works being " Fantasie
o Ricercare, a 4 e 5 voci." Willaert's fame, however, rests more particularly on his church works
and madrigals, and on his being the originator of the double chorus. As in the above case, it
is often found in this old music that the parts for the different instruments are styled "voci,"
or voices, clearly showing the close connection which existed between singing and playing in
those times. It is interesting to observe that this habit continues to the present day in Germany,
where orchestral parts are called stimmen, i.e., voices. Towards the end of the century we
become aware of a decided step forward. Instruments had before only been used to strengthen
the voice parts ; but gradually, under the hands of the great masters of counterpoint, separate
parts were now written for them, or sometimes, through a deficiency in singers, instrumentalists
might be called upon to fill their parts till at last they began to take their place as part of the
" consorts " of the time.

Some of the instrumental composers of the later part of the century were Giovanni Gabrieli,
1557-1612; Gerolamo Frescobaldi, 1583-1644; and Claudio Monteverde, i566(?)-i65i (?).
Monteverde's work marks a distinct turning point in the history of instrumental music.
Credited with being the founder of the art of instrumentation, he was one of the first to desert
in his compositions the old dry-as-dust church modes, and to employ modern scales and
harmonies. To him is even ascribed the first use of the chord of the dominant seventh.
With regard to his instrumentation, we are told that he first used the tremolo for the strings ;
that in his opera of Orfeo, Orfeo sings his lament to the accompaniment of bass viols ; that he

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