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.
The Girl Whose Violin Spread Afar The Message of Music
The sweet strains of one of Mozart’s violin sonatas filled the room. One of the players was a bright-eyed little girl. The other, it was easy to guess from the proud and tender look that she gave her little companion, was the child’s mother. Both mother and daughter loved these hours together with their violins.
Music meant much to this mother. She enjoyed composing as well as playing. She was very happy to know that music gave pleasure to her little daughter also. The hope was in this mother’s heart that some day little Maud would be a great musician. It was a hope that was realized, for, in later years, Maud Powell became known as the foremost American violinist.
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.
The picture is of a royal dinner of about the time of our Edward IV., “taken from an illumination of the romance of the Compte d’Artois, in the possession of M. Barrois, a distinguished and well-known collector in Paris
Regals or Organ (Royal, 14 E iii).
Regals and Double Pipe (Royal 2 B vii).
The picture is a curious illumination from the Royal MS. 2 B vii., representing a friar and a nun themselves making minstrelsy.
A group of musical instruments from one of the illustrations of “Der Weise König,” a work of the close of the fifteenth century.
In the illustration, of early fourteenth-century date, the scene of the dance is not indicated; the minstrels themselves appear to be joining in the saltitation which they inspire.
The shepherds, throughout the Middle Ages, seem to have been as musical as the swains of Theocritus or Virgil; in the MS. illuminations we constantly find them represented playing upon instruments; we give a couple of goatherds from the MS. Royal 2 B vii. folio 83, of early fourteenth-century date.
Cymbals and Trumpets
In a MS. volume of romances of the early part of the fourteenth century in the British Museum, the title-page of the romance of the “Quête du St. Graal” is adorned with an illumination of a royal banquet; a squire on his knee (as in the illustration given on opposite page) is carving, and a minstrel stands beside the table playing the violin
The knuckles must not protrude in the least, the fingers also help by being allowed to bend easily at their middle joints, the upper phalanges having an almost horizontal position over the bow
Most pupils are surprised I have no doubt, at the evident discrepancy seen in the plates usually published with 'cello schools, when compared with the manner in which our first class artists hold their instruments.
Basset Horn: a wood-wind instrument, not a "horn," member of the clarinet family, of which it is the tenor. The basset horn consists of a nearly cylindrical tube of wood (generally cocus or box-wood), having a cylindrical bore and terminating in a metal bell wider than that of the clarinet.
Bassoon, a woodwind instrument with double reed mouthpiece, a member of the oboe (q.v.) family, of which it is the bass. The German and Italian names of the instrument were bestowed from a fancied resemblance to a bundle of sticks, the bassoon being the first instrument of the kind to be doubled back upon itself; its direct ancestor, the bass pommer, 6 ft. in length, was quite straight. The English and French names refer to the pitch of the instrument as the bass of the wood-wind.
The next step in the evolution produced the double curtail, a converted bass pommer an octave below the single curtail and therefore identical in pitch as in construction with the early fagotto in C. The instrument is shown the figure, the reproduction of a drawing in the MS. of The Academy of Armoury by Randle Holme, written some time before 1688.
Large stationary barrel-organ worked by hydraulic power, from Solomon de Caus, Les Raisons des forces mouvantes (Frankfort-on-Main, 1615).
The origin of the barrel-organ is now clearly established, and many will doubtless be surprised to find that it must be sought in the Netherlands as early as the middle of the 15th century, and that accurate and detailed diagrams of every part of the mechanism for a large stationary barrel-organ worked by hydraulic power were published in 1615
Barbiton , an ancient stringed instrument known to us from the Greek and Roman classics, but derived from Persia.
Although in use in Asia Minor, Italy, Sicily, and Greece, it is evident that the barbiton never won for itself a place in the affections of the Greeks of Hellas; it was regarded as a barbarian instrument affected by those only whose tastes in matters of art were unorthodox. It had fallen into disuse in the days of Aristotle, but reappeared under the Romans.
After the horse has learned to take hold readily of anything offered to him, which knowledge he will have acquired if he has already learned to perform the tricks heretofore mentioned, the only additional instruction necessary will be to initiate him into the mysteries of turning the handle. When he has taken hold of the handle, gently move his head so as to produce the desired motion. If, when you let go of his head, he ceases the motion, speak sharply to him and put his head again in motion. With almost any horse a few lessons, and judicious rewards when he does what is required, will accomplish the object, and he will soon both be able and willing to grind out Old Dog Tray, or Norma, if not in exact time at least with as much correctness as many performers on this instrument.
Another favourite instrument is the 'kimmori.' This also derives its sounding powers from gourds, of which three are usually slung from the tube forming the body. It is said by the natives to have been invented by one of the singers of the 'Brahma Loka,' or heaven of the Brahmins. The 'kimmori' is made of a pipe of bamboo or blackwood, with frets or screws, which should be fashioned of the scales of the pangolin, or scaly ant-eater, though more often they are made of bone or metal. It has only two strings, one touching the frets, the other carried above them. The tail-piece is always carved like the breast of a kite, and the instrument is frequently found sculptured on ancient temples and shrines, especially in Mysore, in the south of Hindustan.
The 'bin,' or 'vina,' may be regarded as the national instrument of India.
The 'bin' is made of wood, and has seven strings, two of steel, the rest of silver, and these are plucked by the two first fingers of the performer, who wears little metal shields made for the purpose. It is tuned by pegs, and has two gourds suspended below, each usually measuring about fourteen inches across. These, being of irregular shape and gaily coloured, give a very picturesque look to the instrument.
A kind of dulcimer. Wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl. It contains twenty-five sets of wire strings, each set consisting of four strings which are tuned in unison.
The body consists of a wooden frame, over which a parchment is stretched. One string of white horse-hair.
The case is in the shape of a fork, and is intended to rest on the ground.
A kind of Lute, Wood, painted. Ten strings, of which nine are ctgut, and one of silk covered with thin wire.
A species of kobsa with eight strings is an old popular instrument of the Russians.
Case of deal, black japanned; with internal ornaments of flowers painted, and inscriptions in gold.
Made by Andrea Ruckers, of Antwerp, 1651
A therbo. Wood, inlaid with ebony, ivory, and coloured woods. Two sets of wooden tuning-pegs, the lower containing twelve, and the higher eight. The instrument had wire strings.
Containing 17 pipes of small bamboo reeds, arranged in five sets, each having pipes of equal length.
A kind of lute. The body is of wood, lacquered black, and ornamented with a band of Japanese design in gold lacquer. Four strings and two very small soundholes.
The instruments has mtal strings, one for each tone, whiched are twanged by means of small portions of quill, attached to slips of wood called "jacks" and provided with thin metal springs. German. About 1600
Viola di Bardone
The finger-board is carved in open fret-work terminating in three lions' heads; above the bridge are two figures of negrose, carved and gilt. German 1686
Bamboo, with 13 strings of silk neatly twisted. The body ornamented with embroidered work, and painted with inscriptions, flowers and foliage ; in the center is carved an open fan.
Wood, inlaid with ivory and tortoise-shell, engraved. Two sets of tuning pegs, the lower containing fourteen, and the higher, ten.
On the middle of the neck is an ovl plate of mother-of-pearl, bering the German inscription, Gott der Herr ist Sonne und Schield ("God, the Lord, is sun and shield.") About 1700
Negro Trumpet. Ivory. From the regions of the White Nile
The large ivory trumpet is used by the Niam-Niams, and other negro tribes, for transmitting signals in times of war.
Small kettle drum
The name tabl shamee, signifying 'Syrian drum', indicates that this kind of drum was probably introduced into Egypt from Western Asia. It is usually made from tinned copper, with a parchment face.
The Egyptians use the Tabl shamee especially in bridal processions, and on similar festive occasions. The performer carries it suspended from his neck and beats it with two slender sticks.
The Rebab, an Arab instrument of the violin class, is especially used for accompanying the voice.
Sword-dance to the sound of the Bagpipe.--Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the British Museum (Fourteenth Century).
Olifant, or Hunting-horn, in Ivory (Fourteenth Century).--From an Original existing in England.
Musicians accompanying the Dancing.--Fac-simile of a Wood Engraving in the "Orchésographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).
The Street Vocalists are almost as large a body as the street musicians. It will be seen that there are 50 Ethiopian serenaders, and above 250 who live by ballad-singing alone.