Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Autor: Daniel Larson

A Set of Vihuelas: Matching Tone for Polyphonic Music


One of the most challenging aspects of historical instrument construction is the concept of the instrument set. The idea that a musical instrument could be scaled into larger and smaller sizes seems to coincide with two important developments in Western music culminating in the 15th century.[1]Organum consisting of two lines was expanded into the more complex part form of polyphony and liturgical and secular forms of music combined. This union of the improvised secular songs and dance music where instruments were in common use with the more formal, composed vocal forms of church music necessitated that the range of the instruments were expanded to match the range of parts.Just as it is impractical for one human voice to cover the full musical range, it was equally impossible to design one instrument that was capable of producing all of those notes.Therefore it was necessary for the instrument makers like Sebastian da Verona[2] to develop instruments in different sizes forming a family or set of instruments that could play the full necessary musical range. By 1511 Sebastian Virdung[3]was picturing a family of four sizes of crumhorn and in 1528 Martin Agricola[4] shows a plate of four sizes of geigen, or viols. Evidence indicates that these sets of instruments were often made by a single maker, or at least were made in one maker’s workshop, for a patron who could afford the luxury of a matched set of instruments.Many examples of these sets are known, including a set of thirty eight violins that Andrea Amati made for Charles IX of France[5] and a set of viols made by Zenatto of Treviso for a girl’s orphanage[6] in Antonio Stradivari is known to have made sets of instruments for the Duke of Savoy, King Charles III of and the Duke of...

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