Modo Antiquo

«The Viola da Gamba»

Routledge, 2018
Translated by Paul Ferguson

The viola da gamba was a central instrument in European music from the late 15th century well into the late 18th. In this comprehensive study, Bettina Hoffmann offers both an introduction to the instrument -- its construction, technique and history -- for the non-specialist, interweaving this information with a wealth of original archival scholarship that experts will relish. The book begins with a description of the instrument, and here Hoffmann grapples with the complexity of various names applied to this and related instruments. Following two chapters on the instrument's construction and ancestry, the core of the book is given to a historical and geographical survey of the instrument from its origins into the classical period. The book closes with a look at the revival of interest in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Table of Contents

I. Getting acquainted
I.1 What exactly is a viol?
I.2 What is the viol called?
In Italian - In German - In Spanish - In French - In English - In Greek and Latin
I.3 What are the instruments of the viol family?
I.4 How is the viol tuned?
I.5 What does the viol sound like?

II. Anatomy of a viol
II.1 The body
II.2 The neck and fretboard
II.3 The bridge
II.4 Decoration
II.5 The bow
II.6 The strings
II.7 Frets and temperaments: problems of compatibility

III. Antecedents
III.1 Origins
III.2 Shapes
III.3 Names
III.4 Some technical details
III.5 Playing-positions
III.6 Musical and social fields of application
III.7 The innovations of the Early Renaissance

IV. Renaissance

IV.1 Italy, c. 1500
The archival sources - A technical drawing - The iconographic sources - Results

IV.2 A new instrument achieves recognition in Europe (c. 1510-1550)
Germany - Italy - Other European countries

IV.3 Repertoire
"To sing, and to play on all kinds of instruments" - What? - With whom? - How? - Idiomaticisation and soloism. The viola bastarda

IV.4 Tunings
Pitch and Transposition - Viol tunings in 16th century treatises - Consequences - The tuning of the viola bastarda

IV.5 Playing technique

IV.6 Viol structures and viol makers
False witnesses? - Details - The road to standardisation

V. Baroque and Classical

V.1 Italy
The early 17th century - After 1640: on the scent - Instruments - Italian viol music in Italy - Miscellaneous theoretical accounts - Interchange across the Alps

V. 2 England
The Golden Age (c. 1600-1660) - The Instruments: "Three sorts of Bass Viols" - Tunings - Sympathetic strings - The music: "Three manners of ways in playing" - Music for Consort Viol - Music for Lyra Viol - Music for Division Viol - Technique - The End of the Golden Age: Amateurs and Foreigners

V.3 France
From 5 to 6 strings - From 6 to 7 strings - En famille - The Querelle - The ‘high school’ of the viol - Playing technique - Avec la basse? - En compagnie - Viol construction - The decline. The pardessus de viole

V.4 The German Empire and the Netherlands
Germania monstro simile - The viol consort: "Sonderlich mit Violin de Gamba, In Mangelung aber de Bracio" - The viol consort: instruments, tunings and measures - The solo viol: the shaping of an idiom - The 18th century - Musical functions. The repertoire. - Instruments and lutherie after c. 1650 - The final decades

VI. The Revival
Italy in the second half of the 18th century - The first half of the 19th century - The last decades of the 19th century - The twentieth century - Today

VII. Appendix
Glossary - Bibliography





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