minstrel: Re: minstrel-digest V1 #882

Fred Ross fred at horace.ls.net
Sun Apr 23 19:46:07 PDT 2000

Alright, alright...I know it's a major bone of contention and speculation.
I meant the line partially in jest.

The gamba was seen mostly in little groups of nobles playing in their four
or five instrument consorts.  The violin family had a much more piercing
sound, which contributed to its adoption by professional mucisians in
courts where they needed to be heard over din and in large spaces.  This
is one possible factor.  It even is pretty likely.  Yet a survey of the
potential causes would make a good thesis paper.

Yet making the disappearance of the gamba more puzzling, the violin in its
early entrance into groups was played in Italian position, which is much
like what some fiddlers use today: rested on the shoulder and the
fingering hand.  This would make the gamba a more versatile instrument
unless the mucisian did not rest the instrument on his hand but on a music
stand.  Even then the gamba would probably be a lot less troublesome.

I don't know much about the gamba.  I am no great scholar on the history
of the violin.  Technical details of the violin I know, and most of them
aren't period.  I can only really sneak in because the Amati father and
sons began the Cremonese school in the 16th century, even if I have a
Stradavarius style instrument, which is flagrantly out of period -
resulting in and because of (probably both instead of one or the other)
the violin taking on an ever more prevalent role as a solo instrument.

Essentially, I'll shut my mouth on my rather strong ideas (which I am told
are because of my age).  I'll be less grumpy and argumentative when I
break the composer's block affecting me.

Fred Ross
s.k.a. Philippe de Minerve
a.k.a. Sgath

On Sun, 23 Apr 2000, Greg Lindahl wrote:

> The minute you get a time machine is the minute you can tell why the
> gamba fell out of fashion. Most musicologists say it has little to do
> with the precision of bowing, but that's just opinion, too. I prefer
> to stick to facts instead of speculations.
> -- Gregory Blount

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