Jewish Rabbis refer their use to Genesis. xxii. 13
A Sambuca or triangular harp
Group of Harps and other musical instruments
A framework with loose metal bars inserted, sometimes with metal rings added, shaken by the hand.
Assyrian Harpist , beating time with his foot
The next natural step for the use of music would be that of victory and triumph. The first notice of this kind is the song of Miriam. And here we may rightly conjecture the introduction of an Egyptian, and therefore cultured element. " Miriam took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances " (Exod. xv. 2o).
The history of the Harp may be traced with much the same clearness. The twanging of the bow probably suggested the original idea; and the variation of sound was obtained by lengthening and shortening a multiplicity of strings. These were made, at first, of some fibrous material, or the long hair of animals. Perhaps even the tresses of wives and daughters were turned to such musical use, as we read in the Greek and Roman historians that the bows of the Carthaginians were thus supplied with strings in their last war with the Romans. Harps, too, like the bow, were portable, about four feet long; and all Oriental harps, so far as we can judge from surviving sculptures, unlike ours, had no front pillar. Their bow-like shape and characteristics long remained. Without entering at greater length on their further and later development, we can easily imagine how soon the need of pegs for tightening and loosening the strings was felt; how a sounding-board was found to add to the body of sound; how Strings of fibre or hair were supplanted by those of catgut, of steel, and even of silver. Whether the fingers or whether the quill and plectrum were the first manipulators of the strings, is a matter of debate. Certainly fingers were made long before either quills or plectra! Be it as it may, after these latter had been introduced, hammers wielded by the hand in due time followed. And thus we see how the "stringed instruments" of primaeval and ancient days became the parent of the dulcimer, the spinet, the harpsichord, and the piano.
".. put two such pipes into the mouth, and you get the double Egyptian and Assyrian pipe, such as may be still seen sculptured on their monuments. In the holes or apertures of some of these pipes, which have
been discovered in the tombs and other places, small straws have been found, plainly intended to act the part of reeds in our modern oboes and clarionets. "
The first and primaeval musical instruments must have been of the simplest kind.
A hollow reed, uttering, when blown with the mouth, one monotonous sound would be the first successful attempt at such an invention. The next step was to vary the sound by perforating it with holes, like to our " Penny Whistle."
“Clay pipe from Babylon, the most ancient yet found, apparently modelled to imitate the skull of some animal. It still sounds clearly the intervals of the common chord.”
Musical instrument divider
The idea of forming of a number of bells a musical instrument such as the carillon is said by some to have suggested itself first to the English and Dutch; but what we have seen in Asiatic countries sufficiently refutes this. Moreover, not only the Romans employed variously arranged and attuned bells, but also among the Etruscan antiquities an instrument has been discovered which is constructed of a number of bronze vessels placed in a row on a metal rod. Numerous bells, varying in size and tone, have also been found in Etruscan tombs. Among the later contrivances of this kind in European countries the sets of bells suspended in a wooden frame, which we find in mediæval illuminations, deserve notice. In the British museum is a manuscript of the fourteenth century in which king David is depicted holding in each hand a hammer with which he strikes upon bells of different dimensions, suspended on a wooden stand.
The woodcut represents a very beautiful vielle; French, of about 1550, with monograms of Henry II. This is at South Kensington.
The contrivance of placing a string or two at the side of the finger-board is evidently very old, and was also gradually adopted on other instruments of the violin class of a somewhat later period than that of the vielle; for instance, on the lira di braccio of the Italians. It was likewise adopted on the lute, to obtain a fuller power in the bass; and hence arose the theorbo, the archlute, and other varieties of the old lute.
The minstrels’ gallery of Exeter cathedral dates from the fourteenth century. The front is divided into twelve niches, each of which contains a winged figure or an angel playing on an instrument of music. The instruments are so much dilapidated that some of them cannot be clearly recognized; but, as far as may be ascertained, they appear to be as follows:—1. The cittern. 2. The bagpipe. 3. The clarion, a small trumpet having a shrill sound. 4. The rebec. 5. The psaltery. 6. The syrinx. 7. The sackbut. 8. The regals. 9. The gittern, a small guitar strung with catgut. 10. The shalm. 11. The timbrel; resembling our present tambourine, with a double row of gingles. 12. Cymbals.
The shalm, or shawm, was a pipe with a reed in the mouth-hole. The wait was an English wind instrument of the same construction. If it differed in any respect from the shalm, the difference consisted probably in the size only. The wait obtained its name from being used principally by watchmen, or waights, to proclaim the time of night. Such were the poor ancestors of our fine oboe and clarinet.
The bagpipe appears to have been from time immemorial a special favourite instrument with the Celtic races; but it was perhaps quite as much admired by the Slavonic nations. In Poland, and in the Ukraine, it used to be made of the whole skin of the goat in which the shape of the animal, whenever the bagpipe was expanded with air, appeared fully retained, exhibiting even the head with the horns; hence the bagpipe was called kosa, which signifies a goat. The woodcut represents a Scotch bagpipe of the eighteenth century.
Of the little portable organ, known as the regal or regals, often tastefully shaped and embellished, some interesting sculptured representations are still extant in the old ecclesiastical edifices of England and Scotland. There is, for instance, in Beverley minster a figure of a man playing on a single regal, or a regal provided with only one set of pipes; and in Melrose abbey the figure of an angel holding in his arms a double regal, the pipes of which are in two sets. The regal generally had keys like those of the organ but smaller. A painting in the national Gallery, by Melozzo da Forli who lived in the fifteenth century, contains a regal which has keys of a peculiar shape, rather resembling the pistons of certain brass instruments. The illustration has been drawn from that painting. To avoid misapprehension, it is necessary to mention that the name regal (or regals, rigols) was also applied to an instrument of percussion with sonorous slabs of wood.
That there was, in the time of Shakespeare, a musical instrument called recorder is undoubtedly known to most readers from the stage direction in Hamlet: Re-enter players with recorders. But not many are likely to have ever seen a recorder, as it has now become very scarce: we therefore give an illustration of this old instrument, which is copied from “The Genteel Companion; Being exact Directions for the Recorder: etc.” London, 1683.
The pneumatic organ is sculptured on an obelisk which was erected in Constantinople under Theodosius the great, towards the end of the fourth century. The bellows were pressed by men standing on them: see page 103. This interesting monument also exhibits performers on the double flute. The hydraulic organ, which is recorded to have been already known about two hundred years before the Christian era, was according to some statements occasionally employed in churches during the earlier centuries of the middle ages. Probably it was more frequently heard in secular entertainments for which it was more suitable; and at the beginning of the fourteenth century appears to have been entirely supplanted by the pneumatic organ. The earliest organs had only about a dozen pipes.
The monochord was mounted with a single string stretched over two bridges which were fixed on an oblong box. The string could be tightened or slackened by means of a turning screw inserted into one end of the box. The intervals of the scale were marked on the side, and were regulated by a sort of movable bridge placed beneath the string when required. As might be expected, the monochord was chiefly used by theorists; for any musical performance it was but little suitable. About a thousand years ago when this monochord was in use the musical scale was diatonic, with the exception of the interval of the seventh, which was chromatic inasmuch as both b-flat and b-natural formed part of the scale. The notation on the preceding page exhibits the compass as well as the order of intervals adhered to about the tenth century.
The lute was made of various sizes according to the purpose for which it was intended in performance. The treble-lute was of the smallest dimensions, and the bass-lute of the largest. The theorbo, or double-necked lute which appears to have come into use during the sixteenth century, had in addition to the strings situated over the finger-board a number of others running at the left side of the finger-board which could not be shortened by the fingers, and which produced the bass tones. The largest kinds of theorbo were the archlute and the chitarrone.
The bagpipe is of high antiquity in Ireland, and is alluded to in Irish poetry and prose said to date from the tenth century. A pig gravely engaged in playing the bagpipe is represented in an illuminated Irish manuscript, of the year 1300: and we give a copy of a woodcut from “The Image of Ireland,” a book printed in London in 1581.
The player on the viola da gamba, shown in the engraving, is a reduced copy of an illustration in “The Division Violist,” London, 1659. It shows exactly how the frets were regulated, and how the bow was held. The most popular instruments played with a bow, at that time, were the treble-viol, the tenor-viol, and the bass-viol. It was usual for viol players to have “a chest of viols,” a case containing four or more viols, of different sizes. Thus, Thomas Mace in his directions for the use of the viol, “Musick’s Monument” 1676, remarks, “Your best provision, and most complete, will be a good chest of viols, six in number, viz., two basses, two tenors, and two trebles, all truly and proportionably suited.” The violist, to be properly furnished with his requirements, had therefore 119to supply himself with a larger stock of instruments than the violinist of the present day.
Of the syrinx there are extant some illustrations of the ninth and tenth centuries, which exhibit the instrument with a number of tubes tied together, just like the Pandean pipe still in use. In one specimen engraved from a manuscript of the eleventh century the tubes were inserted into a bowl-shaped box. This is probably the frestele, fretel, or fretiau, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was in favour with the French ménétriers.
The construction of the organistrum requires but little explanation. A glance at the finger-board reveals at once that the different tones were obtained by raising the keys placed on the neck under the strings, and that the keys were raised by means of the handles at the side of the neck. Of the two bridges shown on the body, the one situated nearest the middle was formed by a wheel in the inside, which projected through the sound-board. The wheel which slightly touched the strings vibrated them by friction when turned by the handle at the end. The order of intervals was c, d, e, f, g, a, b-flat, b-natural, c, and were obtainable on the highest string. There is reason to suppose that the other two strings were generally tuned a fifth and an octave below the highest. The organistrum may be regarded as the predecessor of the hurdy-gurdy, and was a rather cumbrous contrivance. Two persons seem to have been required to sound it, one to turn the handle and the other to manage the keys. Thus it is generally represented in mediæval concerts.
A German fiddle of the ninth century, called lyra, copied by Gerbert from the manuscript of St. Blasius, has only one string.
An interesting drawing of an Anglo-saxon fiddle—or fithele, as it was called—is given in a manuscript of the eleventh century in the British museum (Cotton, Tiberius, c. 6). The instrument is of a pear shape, with four strings, and the bridge is not indicated.
Copy of an illumination from a manuscript in the Bibliothèque royale at Paris of the eleventh century. The player wears a crown on his head; and in the original some musicians placed at his side are performing on the psalterium and other instruments. These last are figured with uncovered heads; whence M. de Coussemaker concludes that the crout was considered 95by the artist who drew the figures as the noblest instrument. It was probably identical with the rotta of the same century on the continent.
A player on the crwth or crowd (a crowder) from a bas-relief on the under part of the seats of the choir in Worcester cathedral dates from the twelfth or thirteenth century
Howbeit, the Welsh crwth (Anglo-saxon, crudh; English, crowd) is only known as a species of fiddle closely resembling the rotta, but having a finger-board in the middle of the open frame and being strung with only a few strings; while the rotta had sometimes above twenty strings. As it may interest the reader to examine the form of the modern crwth we give a woodcut of it. Edward Jones, in his “Musical and poetical relicks of the Welsh bards,” records that the Welsh had before this kind of crwth a three-stringed one called “Crwth Trithant,” which was, he says, “a sort of violin, or more properly a rebeck.” The three-stringed crwth was chiefly used by the inferior class of bards; and was probably the Moorish fiddle which is still the favourite instrument of the itinerant bards of the Bretons in France, who call it rébek. The Bretons, it will be remembered, are close kinsmen of the Welsh.
A very interesting representation of the Psalmist [King David] with a kind of rotta occurs in a manuscript of the tenth century, in the British museum (Vitellius F. XI.). The manuscript has been much injured by a fire in the year 1731, but Professor Westwood has succeeded, with great care, and with the aid of a magnifying glass, in making out the lines of the figure. As it has been ascertained that the psalter is written in the Irish semi-uncial character it is highly probable that the kind of rotta represents the Irish cionar cruit, which was played by twanging the strings and also by the application of a bow.
A representation of David playing on the rotta, from a psalter of the seventh century in the British museum (Cott. Vesp. A. I). According to tradition, this psalter is one of the manuscripts which were sent by pope Gregory to St. Augustine.
In the rotta the ancient Asiatic lyre is easily to be recognized.
One of the most interesting stringed instruments of the middle ages is the rotta (German, rotte; English, rote). It was sounded by twanging the strings, and also by the application of the bow. The first method was, of course, the elder one. There can hardly be a doubt that when the bow came into use it was applied to certain popular instruments which previously had been treated like the cithara or the psalterium.
Perhaps the addition [of the front pillar] was also non-existent in the earliest specimens appertaining to European nations; and a sculptured figure of a small harp constructed like the ancient eastern harp has been discovered in the old church of Ullard in the county of Kilkenny. Of this curious relic, which is said to date from a period anterior to the year 800, a fac-simile taken from Bunting’s “Ancient Music of Ireland” is given. As Bunting 90was the first who drew attention to this sculpture his account of it may interest the reader. “The drawing” he says “is taken from one of the ornamental compartments of a sculptured cross, at the old church of Ullard. From the style of the workmanship, as well as from the worn condition of the cross, it seems older than the similar monument at Monasterboice which is known to have been set up before the year 830.
In the illustration from the manuscript of the monastery of St. Blasius twelve strings and two sound holes are given to it. A harp similar in form and size, but without the front pillar, was known to the ancient Egyptians.
The Anglo-saxons frequently accompanied their vocal effusions with a harp, more or less triangular in shape,—an instrument which may be considered rather as constituting the transition of the lyre into the harp. The representation of king David playing the harp is from an Anglo-saxon manuscript of the beginning of the eleventh century, in the British museum. The harp was especially popular in central and northern Europe, and was the favourite instrument of the German and Celtic bards and of the Scandinavian skalds.
A small psalterium with strings placed over a sound-board was apparently the prototype of the citole; a kind of dulcimer which was played with the fingers. The names were not only often vaguely applied by the mediæval writers but they changed also 89in almost every century. The psalterium, or psalterion (Italian salterio, English psaltery), of the fourteenth century and later had the trapezium shape of the dulcimer.
a very simple stringed instrument of a triangular shape, and a somewhat similar one of a square shape were designated by the name of psalterium
It is noteworthy that these yotl are found figured in the picture-writings representing the various objects which the Aztecs used to pay as tribute to their sovereigns. The collection of Mexican antiquities in the British museum contains a cluster of yotl-bells. Being nearly round, they closely resemble the Schellen which the Germans are in the habit of affixing to their horses, particularly in the winter when they are driving their noiseless sledges.
As regards instruments of percussion, a kind of drum deserves special notice on account of the ingenuity evinced in its construction. The Mexicans called it teponaztli. They generally made it of a single block of very hard wood, somewhat oblong square in shape, which they hollowed, leaving at each end a solid piece about three or four inches in thickness, and at its upper side a kind of sound-board about a quarter of an inch in thickness. In this sound-board, if it may be called so, they made three incisions; namely, two running parallel some distance lengthwise of the drum, and a third running across from one of these to the other just in the centre. By this means they obtained two vibrating tongues of wood which, when beaten with a stick, produced sounds as clearly defined as are those of our kettle drums. By making one of the tongues thinner than the other they ensured two different sounds, the pitch of which they were enabled to regulate by shaving off more or less of the wood. The bottom of the drum they cut almost entirely open.
The teponaztli was generally carved with various fanciful and ingenious designs. It was beaten with two drumsticks covered at the end with an elastic gum, called ule, which was obtained from the milky juice extracted from the ule-tree. Some of these drums were small enough to be carried on a string or strap suspended round the neck of the player; others, again, measured upwards of five feet in length, and their sound was so powerful that it could be heard at a distance of three miles. In some rare instances a specimen of the teponaztli is still preserved by the Indians in Mexico, especially among tribes who have been comparatively but little affected by intercourse with their European aggressors.
The botuto, which Gumilla saw used by some tribes near the river Orinoco (of which we engrave two examples), was evidently an ancient Indian contrivance, but appears to have fallen almost into oblivion during the last two centuries. It was made of baked clay and was commonly from three to four feet long: but some trumpets of this kind were of enormous size. The botuto with two bellies was usually made thicker than that with three bellies and emitted a deeper sound, which is described as having been really terrific. These trumpets were used on occasions of mourning and funeral dances. Alexander von Humboldt saw the botuto among some Indian tribes near the river Orinoco.
Trumpets are often mentioned by writers who have recorded the manners and customs of the Indians at the time of the discovery of America. There are, however, scarcely any illustrations to be relied on of these instruments transmitted to us. The Conch was frequently used as a trumpet for conveying signals in war.
The engraving represents a kind of trumpet made of wood, and nearly seven feet in length, which Gumilla found among the Indians in the vicinity of the Orinoco. It somewhat resembles the juruparis, a mysterious instrument of the Indians on the Rio Haupés, a tributary of the Rio Negro, south America. The juruparis is regarded as an object of great veneration. Women are never permitted to see it. So stringent is this law that any woman obtaining a sight of it is put to death—usually by poison. No youths are allowed to see it until they have been subjected to a series of initiatory fastings and scourgings. The juruparis is usually kept hidden in the bed of some stream, deep in the forest; and no one dares to drink out of that sanctified stream, or to bathe in its water. At feasts the juruparis is brought out during the night, and is blown outside the houses of entertainment. The inner portion of the instrument consists of a tube made of slips of the Paxiaba palm (Triartea exorrhiza). When the Indians are about to use the instrument they nearly close the upper end of the tube with clay, and also tie above the oblong square hole (shown in the engraving) a portion of the leaf of the Uaruma, one of the arrow-root family. Round the tube are wrapped long strips of the tough bark of the Jébaru (Parivoa grandiflora). This covering descends in folds below the tube. The length of the instrument is from four to five feet. The illustration, which exhibits the juruparis with its cover and without it, has been taken from a specimen in the museum at Kew gardens. The mysteries connected with this trumpet are evidently founded 69on an old tradition from prehistoric Indian ancestors. Jurupari means “demon”; and with several Indian tribes on the Amazon customs and ceremonies still prevail in honour of Jurupari.
The British museum possesses a huayra-puhura consisting of fourteen reed pipes of a brownish colour, tied together in two rows by means of thread, so as to form a double set of seven reeds. Both sets are almost exactly of the same dimensions and are placed side by side. The shortest of these reeds measure three inches, and the longest six and a half. In one set they are open at the bottom, and in the other they are closed. Consequently, octaves are produced. The reader is probably aware that the closing of a pipe at the end raises its pitch an octave. Thus, in our organ, the so-called stopped diapason, a set of closed pipes, requires tubes of only half the length of those which constitute the open diapason, although both these stops produce tones in the same pitch; the only difference between them being the quality of sound, which in the former is less bright than in the latter.
Among the instruments of this kind from central America the most complete have four finger-holes. By means of three holes, four sounds (including the sound which is produced when none of the holes are closed) can be emitted: the fourth finger-hole, when closed, has the effect of lowering the pitch a semitone. By a particular process two or three lower notes are obtainable.
Rather more complete than the above specimens are some of the whistles and small pipes which have been found in graves of the Indians of Chiriqui in central America. The pipe or whistle which is represented in the accompanying engraving appears, to judge from the somewhat obscure description transmitted to us, to possess about half a dozen tones. It is of pottery, painted in red and black on a cream-coloured ground, and in length about five inches.
The Mexicans possessed a small whistle formed of baked clay, a considerable number of which have been found. Some specimens are singularly grotesque in shape, representing caricatures of the human face and figure, birds, beasts, and flowers. Some were provided at the top with a finger-hole which, when closed, altered the pitch of the sound, so that two different tones were producible on the instrument. Others had a little ball of baked clay lying loose inside the air-chamber. When the instrument was blown the current of air set the ball in a vibrating motion, thereby causing a shrill and whirring sound.
Unfortunately we possess no exact descriptions of the Persian and Arabian instruments between the tenth and fourteenth centuries, otherwise we should probably have earlier accounts of some instrument of the violin kind in Persia. Ash-shakandi, who lived in Spain about A.D. 1200, mentions the rebab, which may have been in use for centuries without having been thought worthy of notice on account of its rudeness. Persian writers of the fourteenth century speak of two instruments of the violin class, viz., the rebab and the kemangeh. As regards the kemangeh, the Arabs themselves assert that they obtained it from Persia, and their statement appears all the more worthy of belief from the fact that both names, rebab and kemangeh, are originally Persian. We engrave the rebab from an example at South Kensington.
The engraving, taken from a Persian painting at Teheran, represents an old Persian santir, the prototype of our dulcimer, mounted with wire strings and played upon with two slightly curved sticks.
An interesting representation of a Turkish woman playing the harp sketched from life by Melchior Lorich in the seventeenth century, probably exhibits an old Persian chang; for the Turks derived their music principally from Persia. Here we have an introduction into Europe of the oriental frame without a front pillar.
The vina is undoubtedly of high antiquity. It has seven wire strings, and movable frets which are generally fastened with wax. Two hollowed gourds, often tastefully ornamented, are affixed to it for the purpose of increasing the sonorousness. There are several kinds of the vina in different districts; but that represented in the illustration is regarded as the oldest. The performer shown is Jeewan Shah, a celebrated virtuoso on the vina, who lived about a hundred years ago. The Hindus divided their musical scale into several intervals smaller than our modern semitones. They adopted twenty-two intervals called sruti in the compass of an octave, which may therefore be compared to our chromatic intervals. As the frets of the vina are movable the performer can easily regulate them according to the scale, or mode, which he requires for his music.
The ancient ou was constructed with only six tones which were attuned thus—f, g, a, c, d, f. The instrument appears to have become deteriorated in the course of time; for, although it has gradually acquired as many as twenty-seven pieces of metal, it evidently serves at the present day more for the production of rhythmical noise than for the execution of any melody. The modern ou is made of a species of wood called kieou or tsieou: and the tiger rests generally on a hollow wooden pedestal about three feet six inches long, which serves as a sound-board.
The kin-kou (engraved), a large drum fixed on a pedestal which raises it above six feet from the ground, is embellished with symbolical designs. A similar drum on which natural phenomena are depicted is called lei-kou; and another of the kind, with figures of certain birds and beasts which are regarded as symbols of long life, is called ling-kou, and also lou-kou.
Another curious wind-instrument of high antiquity, the cheng, is still in use. Formerly it had either 13, 19, or 24 tubes, placed in a calabash; and a long curved tube served as a mouth-piece. In olden time it was called yu.
According to their records, the Chinese possessed their much-esteemed king 2200 years before our Christian era, and employed it for accompanying songs of praise. It was regarded as a sacred instrument. During religious observances at the solemn moment when the king was sounded sticks of incense were burnt. It was likewise played before the emperor early in the morning when he awoke. The Chinese have long since constructed various kinds of the king, one of which is here engraved, by using different species of stones. Their most famous stone selected for this purpose is called yu. It is not only very sonorous but also beautiful in appearance. The yu is found in mountain streams and crevices of rocks. The largest specimens found measure from two to three feet in diameter, but of this size examples rarely occur. The yu is very hard and heavy. Some European mineralogists, to whom the missionaries transmitted specimens for examination, pronounce it to be a species of agate. It is found of different colours, and the Chinese appear to have preferred in different centuries particular colours for the king.
The hiuen-tchung was, according to popular tradition, included with the antique instruments at the time of Confucius, and came into popular use during the Han dynasty (from B.C. 200 until A.D. 200). It was of a peculiar oval shape and had nearly the same quaint ornamentation as the té-tchung; this consisted of symbolical figures, in four divisions, each containing nine mammals. The mouth was crescent-shaped. Every figure had a deep meaning referring to the seasons and to the mysteries of the Buddhist religion. The largest hiuen-tchung was about twenty inches in length; and, like the té-tchung, was sounded by means of a small wooden mallet with an oval knob. None of the bells of this description had a clapper. It would, however, appear that the Chinese had at an early period some kind of bell provided with a wooden tongue: this was used for military purposes as well as for calling the people together when an imperial messenger promulgated his sovereign’s commands. An expression of Confucius is recorded to the effect that he wished to be “A wooden-tongued bell of Heaven,” i.e. a herald of heaven to proclaim the divine purposes to the multitude.
The British museum contains a mosaic figure of a Roman girl playing the tibia, which is stated to have been disinterred in the year 1823 on the Via Appia. Here the holmos or mouth-piece, somewhat resembling the reed of our oboe, is distinctly shown. The finger-holes, probably four, are not indicated, although they undoubtedly existed on the instrument.
The tuba was a straight trumpet. Both the cornu and the tuba were employed in war to convey signals. The same was the case with the buccina,—originally perhaps a conch shell, and afterwards a simple horn of an animal,—and the lituus, which was bent at the broad end but otherwise straight.
To the Etruscans is also attributed by some the invention of the hydraulic organ. The Greeks possessed a somewhat similar contrivance which they called hydraulos, i.e. water-flute, and which probably was identical with the organum hydraulicum of the Romans. The instrument ought more properly to be regarded as a pneumatic organ, for the sound was produced by the current of air through the pipes; the water applied serving merely to give the necessary pressure to the bellows and to regulate their action. The pipes were probably caused to sound by means of stops, perhaps resembling those on our organ, which were drawn out or pushed in. The construction was evidently but a primitive contrivance, contained in a case which could be carried by one or two persons and which was placed on a table. The highest degree of perfection which the hydraulic organ obtained with the ancients is perhaps shown in a representation on a coin of the emperor Nero, in the British museum. Only ten pipes are given to it and there is no indication of any key board, which would probably have been shown had it existed. The man standing at the side and holding a laurel leaf in his hand is surmised to represent a victor in the exhibitions of the circus or the amphitheatre. The hydraulic organ probably was played on such occasions; and the medal containing an impression of it may have been bestowed upon the victor.
The flutes of the Etruscans were not unfrequently made of ivory; those used in religious sacrifices were of box-wood, of a species of the lotus, of ass’ bone, bronze and silver. A bronze flute, somewhat resembling our flageolet, has been found in a tomb; likewise a huge trumpet of bronze. An Etruscan cornu is deposited in the British museum, and measures about four feet in length.
The single flute was called monaulos, and the double one diaulos. A diaulos, which was found in a tomb at Athens, is in the British museum. The wood of which it is made seems to be cedar, and the tubes are fifteen inches in length. Each tube has a separate mouth-piece and six finger-holes, five of which are at the upper side and one is underneath.
The Greeks had lyres of various kinds, more or less differing in construction, form, and size, and distinguished by different names; such as lyra, 30kithara, chelys, phorminx, etc. Lyra appears to have implied instruments of this class in general, and also the lyre with a body oval at the base and held upon the lap or in the arms of the performer; while the kithara had a square base and was held against the breast. These distinctions have, however, not been satisfactorily ascertained. The chelys was a small lyre with the body made of the shell of a tortoise, or of wood in imitation of the tortoise. The phorminx was a large lyre; and, like the kithara, was used at an early period singly, for accompanying recitations. It is recorded that the kithara was employed for solo performances as early as B.C. 700.
The flute, aulos, of which there were many varieties, was a highly popular instrument, and differed in construction from the flutes and pipes of the ancient Egyptians. Instead of being blown through a hole at the side near the top it was held like a flageolet, and a vibrating reed was inserted into the mouth-piece, so that it might be more properly described as a kind of oboe or clarionet. The Greeks were accustomed to designate by the name of aulos all wind instruments of the flute and oboe kind, some of which were constructed like the flageolet or like our antiquated flûte à bec.
The representation of Polyhymnia with a harp, depicted on a splendid Greek vase now in the Munich museum, may be noted as an exceptional instance. This valuable relic dates from the time of Alexander the great. The instrument resembles in construction as well as in shape the Assyrian harp, and has thirteen strings. Polyhymnia is touching them with both hands, using the right hand for the treble and the left for the bass. She is seated, holding the instrument in her lap. Even the little tuning-pegs, which in number are not in accordance with the strings, are placed on the sound-board at the upper part of the frame, exactly as on the Assyrian harp. If then we have here the Greek harp, it was more likely an importation from Asia than from Egypt. In short, as far as can be ascertained, the most complete of the Greek instruments appear to be of Asiatic origin.
A musical relic has recently been exhumed in the department of Dordogne in France, which was constructed in an age when the fauna of France included the reindeer, the rhinoceros, and the mammoth, the hyæna, the bear, and the cave-lion. It is a small bone somewhat less than two inches in length, in which is a hole, evidently bored by means of one of the little flint knives which men used before acquaintance with the employment of metal for tools and weapons. Many of these flints were found in the same place with the bones. Only about half a dozen of the bones, of which a considerable number have been exhumed, possess the artificial hole.
A Niam-niam minstrel
As the darkness came on. our camp was enlivened by the appearance of the grotesque figure of a singer, who came with a huge bunch of feathers in his hat, and these, as he wagged his head to the time of his music, became all entangled with the braids of his hair. Altogether the head was like the head of Medusa. These "minne-singers" among the Niam-niam as known as "nzangah." They are as sparing of their voices as a worn-out prima donna; except for those close by, it is impossible to hear what they are singing. Their instrument is the local guitar, the thin jingling of which accords perfectly well with the nasal humming of the minstrel's recitative.
The occupation of these nzangah, however, notwithstanding the general love of the people for music, would not appear to be held in very high esteem, as the same designation is applied to those unfortunate women, friendless and fallen, who are never absent from any community.
Young girl listens to her brother practising on his tuba, even though he is not very good.
At the age of four Amy was finally allowed to play on the piano. Often when her aunt was seated at the instrument, little Amy would stand on a hassock and play with her, making up an accompaniment as she went along.
Just as other little girls plan how to arrange their playhouses or how to make new dresses for their dolls, this little girl used to think out tunes. Once, when she was visiting at a house where there was no piano, she composed a little piece of music. She remembered it and three months later was able to play it correctly on the piano at home. She had composed three other little pieces before she was seven years old.
The King next requested him to play a six-part fugue, and Bach extemporised one on a theme selected by himself. The King, who stood behind the composer's chair, clapped his hands with delight, and exclaimed repeatedly, 'Only one Bach! Only one Bach!' It was a visit replete with honours for the old master, and when he returned home he expressed his gratitude by writing down and elaborating the piece which he had composed on the King's theme, dedicating it to His Majesty under the title of 'Musikalisches Opfer' (Musical Offering), and sending it to Potsdam with a letter begging its acceptance.
In the picture are two boys who are fond of music. One has a flute, which is made of bamboo wood. These flutes are easy to make, as bamboo wood grows hollow, with cross divisions at intervals. If you cut a piece with a division forming one end you need only make the outside holes in order to finish your flute.
The child sitting down has a drum. His drum and the paper lanterns hanging up have painted on them an ornament which is also the crest of the house of "Arima." If these boys belong to this family they wear the same crest embroidered on the centre of the backs of their coats.
frequently the different members of the same band of minstrels present differences of costume, as in the instance here given, from the title-page of the fourteenth century MS. Add., 10,293; proving that the minstrels did not affect any uniformity of costume whatever.
In the MSS. we not unfrequently find the ordinary musical instruments placed in the hands of the angels; e.g., in the early fourteenth-century MS. Royal 2 B. vii., in a representation of the creation, with the morning stars singing together, and all the sons of God shouting for joy, an angelic choir are making melody on the trumpet, violin, cittern, shalm (or psaltery), and harp.
Another of these guilds was the ancient company or fraternity of minstrels in Beverley, of which an account is given in Poulson’s “Beverlac”. When the fraternity originated we do not know; but they were of some consideration and wealth in the reign of Henry VI., when the Church of St. Mary’s, Beverley, was built.
Besides the pipe and horn, the bagpipe was also a rustic instrument. The picture is a shepherd playing upon one.
In the accompanying woodcut from a Late Saxon MS. in the British Museum we have a curious evidence of the way in which custom blinded men to any incongruity there may be in the association of the harper and the juggler, for here we have David singing his Psalms and accompanying himself on the harp, the dove reminding us that he sang and harped under the influence of inspiration. He is accompanied by performers who must be Levites; and yet the Saxon illuminator was so used to see a mime form one of a minstrel band, that he has introduced one playing the common feat of tossing three knives and three balls.
It is curious to find that even at so late a period as the time of Queen Mary, the shepherds still officiated at weddings and other merrymakings in their villages, so as to excite the jealousy of the professors of the joyous science.
The accompanying wood-cut, from a MS. in the French National library, may represent such a rustic merry-making.