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Title: Musical Instruments
Author: Engel, Carl
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_These Handbooks are reprints of the dissertations prefixed to the
large catalogues of the chief divisions of works of art in the Museum
at South Kensington; arranged and so far abridged as to bring each into
a portable shape. The Lords of the Committee of Council on Education
having determined on the publication of them, the editor trusts that
they will meet the purpose intended; namely, to be useful, not alone
for the collections at South Kensington but for other collections, by
enabling the public at a trifling cost to understand something of the
history and character of the subjects treated of._

_The authorities referred to in each book are given in the large
catalogues; where will also be found detailed descriptions of the very
numerous examples in the South Kensington Museum._

  W. M.

_August, 1875._

      *      *      *      *      *      *




With Numerous Woodcuts


Published for the Committee of Council on Education
Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London.



  Prehistoric whistle                                                  9

  Ancient Egyptian flute concert                                      13

  The supposed Hebrew lyre at Beni Hassan                             22

  Ancient bagpipe from Tarsus                                         24

  Hebrew trumpets, from the arch of Titus                             25

  Grecian harp and lyre                                               28

  Greek lyres                                                         29

  Greek flutes                                                        31

  The _diaulos_                                                       32

  Etruscan _cornu_                                                    33

  Hydraulic organ                                                     34

  Roman girl and _tibia_                                              36

  Roman trumpets                                                      36

  Chinese king                                                        39

     "   pien-tchung                                                  41

     "   hiuen-tchung                                                 42

     "   ou                                                           43

     "   tchou                                                        43

     "   kin-kou                                                      44

     "   hiuen                                                        45

     "   cheng                                                        46

  Hindustan, vina                                                     49

  Persian, chang                                                      51

     "     bagpipe                                                    52

  Turkish harp                                                        53

  Persian dulcimer                                                    55

  The _rebab_                                                         56

  Aztec whistles                                                      60

  Antique pipe from central America                                   61

  Pipes of the Aztecs                                                 62

  Peruvian bone pipe                                                  64

      "    huayra-puhura                                              65

      "          "                                                    66

  Orinoco Indian trumpet                                              67

  South American Juruparis                                            68

  Indian trumpets                                                     70

  Aztec drums                                                         72

  San Domingo drum                                                    73

  Peruvian bell                                                       75

  Aztec cluster of bells                                              76

  Cithara, ninth century                                              86

  Psalterium                                                          87

  Nablum                                                              87

  Citole                                                              88

  Anglo-saxon harp                                                    89

  Harp, ninth century                                                 90

  Ancient Irish harp                                                  91

  German rotte                                                        91

  Rotta                                                               92

  Irish rotta                                                         93

  The crwth                                                           94

  The old English "crowd"                                             95

  The French crout                                                    96

  Anglo-saxon fiddle                                                  97

  German fiddle, ninth century                                        97

  Organistrum                                                         99

  Monochord                                                          100

  Single chorus                                                      101

  Double chorus                                                      101

  Sackbut                                                            101

  Syrinx                                                             102

  Pneumatic organ, fourth century                                    103

  Organ, twelfth century                                             104

  Regal                                                              104

  Cymbalum, ninth century                                            105

  Bunibulum                                                          106

  Orchestra on bas-relief                                            108

  Vielle                                                             109

  Orchestra, twelfth century, at Santiago                            110

  The minstrels’ gallery, at Exeter cathedral                        112

  Virginal                                                           114

  Lute, Elizabethan                                                  116

  Viola da gamba                                                     118

  Recorder                                                           119

  Scotch bagpipe, eighteenth century                                 120

  Irish bagpipe, sixteenth century                                   121

  Carillon, Netherlands                                              122



Music, in however primitive a stage of development it may be with some
nations, is universally appreciated as one of the Fine Arts. The origin
of vocal music may have been coeval with that of language; and the
construction of musical instruments evidently dates with the earliest
inventions which suggested themselves to human ingenuity. There exist
even at the present day some savage tribes in Australia and South
America who, although they have no more than the five first numerals
in their language and are thereby unable to count the fingers of both
hands together, nevertheless possess musical instruments of their own
contrivance, with which they accompany their songs and dances.

Wood, metal, and the hide of animals, are the most common substances
used in the construction of musical instruments. In tropical countries
bamboo or some similar kind of cane and gourds are especially made
use of for this purpose. The ingenuity of man has contrived to
employ in producing music, horn, bone, glass, pottery, slabs of
sonorous stone,--in fact, almost all vibrating matter. The strings of
instruments have been made of the hair of animals, of silk, the runners
of creeping plants, the fibrous roots of certain trees, of cane, catgut
(which absurdly referred to the cat, is from the sheep, goat, lamb,
camel, and some other animals), metal, &c.

The mode in which individual nations or tribes are in the habit of
embellishing their musical instruments is sometimes as characteristic
as it is singular. The negroes in several districts of western Africa
affix to their drums human skulls. A war-trumpet of the king of
Ashantee which was brought to England is surrounded by human jawbones.
The Maories in New Zealand carve around the mouth-hole of their
trumpets a figure intended, it is said, to represent female lips. The
materials for ornamentation chiefly employed by savages are bright
colours, beads, shells, grasses, the bark of trees, feathers, stones,
gilding, pieces of looking-glass inlaid like mosaic, &c. Uncivilized
nations are sure to consider anything which is bright and glittering
ornamental, especially if it is also scarce. Captain Tuckey saw in
Congo a negro instrument which was ornamented with part of the broken
frame of a looking-glass, to which were affixed in a semicircle a
number of brass buttons with the head of Louis XVI. on them,--perhaps a
relic of some French sailor drowned near the coast years ago.

Again, musical instruments are not unfrequently formed in the shape of
certain animals. Thus, a kind of harmonicon of the Chinese represents
the figure of a crouching tiger. The Burmese possess a stringed
instrument in the shape of an alligator. Even more grotesque are the
imitations of various beasts adopted by the Javanese. The natives of
New Guinea have a singularly shaped drum, terminating in the head of a
reptile. A wooden rattle like a bird is a favourite instrument of the
Indians of Nootka Sound. In short, not only the inner construction of
the instruments and their peculiar quality of sound exhibit in most
nations certain distinctive characteristics, but it is also in great
measure true as to their outward appearance.

An arrangement of the various kinds of musical instruments in a regular
order, beginning with that kind which is the most universally known
and progressing gradually to the least usual, gives the following
results. Instruments of percussion of indefinite sonorousness or, in
other words, pulsatile instruments which have not a sound of a fixed
pitch, as the drum, rattle, castanets, &c., are most universal. Wind
instruments of the flute kind,--including pipes, whistles, flutes,
Pandean pipes, &c.--are also to be found almost everywhere.

Much the same is the case with wind instruments of the trumpet kind.
These are often made of the horns, bones, and tusks of animals;
frequently of vegetable substances and of metal. Instruments of
percussion of definite sonorousness are chiefly met with in China,
Japan, Burmah, Siam, and Java. They not unfrequently contain a series
of tones produced by slabs of wood or metal, which are beaten with a
sort of hammer, as our harmonicon is played.

Stringed instruments without a finger board, or any similar contrivance
which enables the performer to produce a number of different tones
on one string, are generally found among nations whose musical
accomplishments have emerged from the earliest state of infancy. The
strings are twanged with the fingers or with a piece of wood, horn,
metal, or any other suitable substance serving as a _plectrum_; or
are made to vibrate by being beaten with a hammer, as our dulcimer.
Stringed instruments provided with a finger-board on which different
tones are producible on one string by the performer shortening it more
or less,--as on the guitar and violin,--are met with almost exclusively
among nations in a somewhat advanced stage of musical progress. Such
as are played with a bow are the least common; they are, however,
known to the Chinese, Japanese, Hindus, Persians, Arabs, and a few
other nations, besides those of Europe and their descendants in other

Wind instruments of the organ kind,--_i.e._, such as are constructed of
a number of tubes which can be sounded together by means of a common
mouthpiece or some similar contrivance, and upon which therefore
chords and combinations of chords, or harmony, can be produced,--are
comparatively of rare occurrence. Some interesting specimens of them
exist in China, Japan, Laos, and Siam.

Besides these various kinds of sound-producing means employed in
musical performances, a few others less widely diffused could be
pointed out, which are of a construction not represented in any of
our well-known European specimens. For instance, some nations have
peculiar instruments of friction, which can hardly be classed with our
instruments of percussion. Again, there are contrivances in which a
number of strings are caused to vibrate by a current of air, much as
is the case with the Æolian harp; which might with equal propriety be
considered either as stringed instruments or as wind instruments. In
short, our usual classification of all the various species into three
distinct divisions, viz. _Stringed Instruments_, _Wind Instruments_,
and _Instruments of Percussion_, is not tenable if we extend our
researches over the whole globe.

The collection at South Kensington contains several foreign instruments
which cannot fail to prove interesting to the musician. Recent
investigations have more and more elicited the fact that the music
of every nation exhibits some distinctive characteristics which may
afford valuable hints to a composer or performer. A familiarity with
the popular songs of different countries is advisable on account of
the remarkable originality of the airs: these mostly spring from the
heart. Hence the natural and true expression, the delightful health and
vigour by which they are generally distinguished. Our more artificial
compositions are, on the other hand, not unfrequently deficient in
these charms, because they often emanate from the fingers or the pen
rather than from the heart. Howbeit, the predominance of expressive
melody and effective rhythm over harmonious combinations, so usual in
the popular compositions of various nations, would alone suffice to
recommend them to the careful attention of our modern musicians. The
same may be said with regard to the surprising variety in construction
and in manner of expression prevailing in the popular songs and
dance-tunes of different countries. Indeed, every nation’s musical
effusions exhibit a character peculiarly their own, with which the
musician would find it advantageous to familiarize himself.

Now, it will easily be understood that an acquaintance with the
musical instruments of a nation conveys a more correct idea than could
otherwise be obtained of the characteristic features of the nation’s
musical compositions. Furthermore, in many instances the construction
of the instruments reveals to us the nature of the musical intervals,
scales, modulations, and suchlike noteworthy facts. True, inquiries
like these have hitherto not received from musicians the attention
which they deserve. The adepts in most other arts are in this respect
in advance. They are convinced that useful information may be gathered
by investigating the productions even of uncivilized nations, and by
thus tracing the gradual progress of an art from its primitive infancy
to its highest degree of development.

Again, from an examination of the musical instruments of foreign
nations we may derive valuable hints for the improvement of our own;
or even for the invention of new. Several principles of construction
have thus been adopted by us from eastern nations. For instance, the
_free reed_ used in the harmonium is an importation from China. The
organ builder Kratzenstein, who lived in St. Petersburg during the
reign of Catharine II., happened to see the Chinese instrument _cheng_,
which is of this construction, and it suggested to him, about the end
of the last century, to apply the _free reed_ to certain organ stops.
At the present day instruments of the harmonium class have become such
universal favourites in western Europe as almost to compete with the

Several other well-authenticated instances could be cited in which one
instrument has suggested the construction of another of a superior
kind. The prototype of our pianoforte was evidently the dulcimer,
known at an early time to the Arabs and Persians who call it _santir_.
One of the old names given to the dulcimer by European nations is
_cimbal_. The Poles at the present day call it _cymbaly_, and the
Magyars in Hungary _cimbalom_. The _clavicembalo_, the predecessor of
the pianoforte, was in fact nothing but a _cembalo_ with a key-board
attached to it; and some of the old _clavicembali_, still preserved,
exhibit the trapezium shape, the round hole in the middle of the
sound-board, and other peculiarities of the first dulcimer. Again, the
gradual development of the dulcimer from a rude contrivance, consisting
merely of a wooden board across which a few strings are stretched,
is distinctly traceable by a reference to the musical instruments of
nations in different stages of civilization. The same is the case with
our highly perfected harp, of which curious specimens, representing the
instrument in its most primitive condition, are still to be found among
several barbarous tribes. We might perhaps infer from its shape that it
originally consisted of nothing more than an elastic stick bent by a
string. The Damaras, a native tribe of South-western Africa, actually
use their bow occasionally as a musical instrument, when they are not
engaged in war or in the chase. They tighten the string nearly in the
middle by means of a leathern thong, whereby they obtain two distinct
sounds, which, for want of a sound-board, are of course very weak and
scarcely audible to anyone but the performer. Some neighbouring tribes,
however, possess a musical instrument very similar in appearance to the
bow, to which they attach a gourd, hollowed and open at the top, which
serves as a sound-board. Again, other African tribes have a similar
instrument, superior in construction only inasmuch as it contains more
than one string, and is provided with a sound-board consisting of a
suitable piece of sonorous wood. In short, the more improved we find
these contrivances the closer they approach our harp. And it could be
shown if this were requisite for our present purpose that much the same
gradual progress towards perfection, which we observe in the African
harp, is traceable in the harps of several nations in different parts
of the world.

Moreover, a collection of musical instruments deserves the attention
of the ethnologist as much as of the musician. Indeed, this may be
asserted of national music in general; for it gives us an insight
into the heart of man, reveals to us the feelings and predilections
of different races on the globe, and affords us a clue to the natural
affinity which exists between different families of men. Again, a
collection must prove interesting in a historical point of view.
Scholars will find among old instruments specimens which were in
common use in England at the time of queen Elizabeth, and which are
not unfrequently mentioned in the literature of that period. In many
instances the passages in which allusion is made to them can hardly be
understood, if we are unacquainted with the shape and construction of
the instruments. Furthermore, these relics of bygone times bring before
our eyes the manners and customs of our forefathers, and assist us in
understanding them correctly.

It will be seen that the modification which our orchestra has
undergone, in the course of scarcely more than a century, is great
indeed. Most of the instruments which were highly popular about a
hundred years ago have either fallen into disuse or are now so much
altered that they may almost be considered as new inventions. Among
Asiatic nations, on the other hand, we meet with several instruments
which have retained unchanged through many centuries their old
construction and outward appearance. At South Kensington may be seen
instruments still in use in Egypt and western Asia, precisely like
specimens represented on monuments dating from a period of three
thousand years ago. By a reference to the eastern instruments of the
present time we obtain therefore a key for investigating the earlier
Egyptian and Assyrian representations of musical performances; and,
likewise, for appreciating more exactly the biblical records respecting
the music of the Hebrews. Perhaps these evidences will convey to some
inquirers a less high opinion than they have hitherto entertained,
regarding the musical accomplishments of the Hebrew bands in the solemn
processions of king David or in Solomon’s temple; but the opinion will
be all the nearer to the truth.

There is another point of interest about such collections, and
especially that at South Kensington, which must not be left unnoticed.
Several instruments are remarkable on account of their elegant shape
and tasteful ornamentation. This is particularly the case with some
specimens from Asiatic countries. The beautiful designs with which they
are embellished may afford valuable patterns for study and for adoption
in works of art.


A really complete account of all the musical instruments from the
earliest time known to us would require much more space than can here
be afforded. We can attempt only a concise historical survey. We
venture to hope that the illustrations interspersed throughout the text
will to the intelligent reader elucidate many facts which, for the
reason stated, are touched upon but cursorily.



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. We give a woodcut of one of them.

M. Lartet surmises the perforated bone to have been used as a whistle
in hunting animals. It is the first digital phalanx of a ruminant,
drilled to a certain depth by a smooth cylindrical bore on its lower
surface near the expanded upper articulation. On applying it to the
lower lip and blowing into it a shrill sound is yielded. Three of
these phalanges are of reindeer, one is of Chamois. Again, among the
relics which have been brought to light from the cave of Lombrive, in
the department of Ariège, occur several eye-teeth of the dog which
have a hole drilled into them near the root. Probably they also yield
sounds like those reindeer bones, or like the tube of a key. Another
whistle--or rather a pipe, for it has three finger-holes by means of
which different tones could be produced--was found in a burying-place,
dating from the stone period, in the vicinity of Poitiers in France:
it is rudely constructed from a fragment of stag’s-horn. It is blown
at the end, like a _flûte à bec_ and the three finger-holes are placed
equidistantly. Four distinct tones must have been easily obtainable
on it: the lowest, when all the finger-holes were covered; the other
three, by opening the finger-holes successively. From the character
of the stone utensils and weapons discovered with this pipe it is
conjectured that the burying-place from which it was exhumed dates from
the latest time of the stone age. Therefore, however old it may be, it
is a more recent contrivance than the reindeer-bone whistle from the
cavern of the Dordogne.


The most ancient nations historically known possessed musical
instruments which, though in acoustic construction greatly inferior to
our own, exhibit a degree of perfection which could have been attained
only after a long period of cultivation. Many tribes of the present day
have not yet reached this stage of musical progress.

As regards the instruments of the ancient Egyptians we now possess
perhaps more detailed information than of those appertaining to any
other nation of antiquity. This information we owe especially to the
exactness with which the instruments are depicted in sculptures and
paintings. Whoever has examined these interesting monuments with even
ordinary care cannot but be convinced that the representations which
they exhibit are faithful transcripts from life. Moreover, if there
remained any doubt respecting the accuracy of the representations of
the musical instruments it might be dispelled by existing evidence.
Several specimens have been discovered in tombs preserved in a more or
less perfect condition.

The Egyptians possessed various kinds of harps, some of which were
elegantly shaped and tastefully ornamented. The largest were about six
and a half feet high; and the small ones frequently had some sort of
stand which enabled the performer to play upon the instrument while
standing. The name of the harp was _buni_. Its frame had no front
pillar; the tension of the strings therefore cannot have been anything
like so strong as on our present harp.

The Egyptian harps most remarkable for elegance of form and elaborate
decoration are the two which were first noticed by Bruce, who found
them painted in fresco on the wall of a sepulchre at Thebes, supposed
to be the tomb of Rameses III. who reigned about 1250 B.C. Bruce’s
discovery created sensation among the musicians. The fact that at so
remote an age the Egyptians should have possessed harps which vie with
our own in elegance and beauty of form appeared to some so incredible
that the correctness of Bruce’s representations, as engraved in his
“Travels,” was greatly doubted. Sketches of the same harps, taken
subsequently and at different times from the frescoes, have since
been published, but they differ more or less from each other in
appearance and in the number of strings. A kind of triangular harp of
the Egyptians was discovered in a well-preserved condition and is now
deposited in the Louvre. It has twenty-one strings; a greater number
than is generally represented on the monuments. All these instruments,
however much they differed from each other in form, had one peculiarity
in common, namely the absence of the fore pillar.

The _nofre_, a kind of guitar, was almost identical in construction
with the Tamboura at the present day in use among several eastern
nations. It was evidently a great favourite with the ancient
Egyptians. A figure of it is found among their hieroglyphs, signifying
“good.” It occurs in representations of concerts dating earlier than
from B.C. 1500. The _nofre_ affords the best proof that the Egyptians
had made considerable progress in music at a very early age; since it
shows that they understood how to produce on a few strings, by means of
the finger-board, a greater number of notes than were obtainable even
on their harps. The instrument had two or four strings, was played with
a plectrum and appears to have been sometimes, if not always, provided
with frets. In the British museum is a fragment of a fresco obtained
from a tomb at Thebes, on which two female performers on the _nofre_
are represented. The painter has distinctly indicated the frets.

Small pipes of the Egyptians have been discovered, made of reed, with
three, four, five, or more finger-holes. There are some interesting
examples in the British museum; one of which has seven holes burnt in
at the side. Two straws were found with it of nearly the same length
as the pipe, which is about one foot long. In some other pipes pieces
of a kind of thick straw have also been found inserted into the tube,
obviously serving for a similar purpose as the _reed_ in our oboe or

The _sêbi_, a single flute, was of considerable length, and the
performer appears to have been obliged to extend his arms almost at
full length in order to reach the furthest finger-hole. As _sêbi_
is also the name of the leg-bone (like the Latin _tibia_) it may be
supposed that the Egyptian flute was originally made of bone. Those,
however, which have been found are of wood or reed.

A flute-concert is painted on one of the tombs in the pyramids of Gizeh
and dates, according to Lepsius, from an age earlier than B.C. 2000.
Eight musicians (as seen in the woodcut) are performing on flutes.
Three of them, one behind the other, are kneeling and holding their
flutes in exactly the same manner. Facing these are three others, in a
precisely similar position. A seventh is sitting on the ground to the
left of the six, with his back turned towards them, but also in the
act of blowing his flute, like the others. An eighth is standing at the
right side of the group with his face turned towards them, holding his
flute before him with both hands, as if he were going to put it to his
mouth, or had just left off playing. He is clothed, while the others
have only a narrow girdle round their loins. Perhaps he is the director
of this singular band, or the _solo_ performer who is waiting for the
termination of the _tutti_ before renewing his part of the performance.
The division of the players into two sets, facing each other, suggests
the possibility that the instruments were classed somewhat like the
first and second violins, or the _flauto primo_ and _flauto secondo_ of
our orchestras. The occasional employment of the interval of the third,
or the fifth, as accompaniment to the melody, is not unusual even with
nations less advanced in music than were the ancient Egyptians.


The Double-Pipe, called _mam_, appears to have been a very popular
instrument, if we judge from the frequency of its occurrence in
the representations of musical performances. Furthermore, the
Egyptians had, as far as is known to us, two kinds of trumpets;
three kinds of tambourines, or little hand drums; three kinds of
drums, chiefly barrel-shaped; and various kinds of gongs, bells,
cymbals, and castanets. The trumpet appears to have been usually of
brass. A peculiar wind-instrument, somewhat the shape of a champagne
bottle and perhaps made of pottery or wood, occurs only once in the
representations transmitted to us.

The Egyptian drum was from two to three feet in length, covered with
parchment at both ends and braced by cords. The performer carried it
before him, generally by means of a band over his shoulder, while he
was beating it with his hands on both ends. Of another kind of drum an
actual specimen has been found in the excavations made in the year 1823
at Thebes. It was 1½ feet high and 2 feet broad, and had cords for
bracing it. A piece of catgut encircled each end of the drum, being
wound round each cord, by means of which the cords could be tightened
or slackened at pleasure by pushing the two bands of catgut towards or
from each other. It was beaten with two drumsticks slightly bent. The
Egyptians had also straight drumsticks with a handle, and a knob at
the end. The Berlin museum possesses some of these. The third kind of
drum was almost identical with the _darabouka_ (or _darabukkeh_) of the
modern Egyptians. The Tambourine was either round, like that which is
at the present time in use in Europe as well as in the east; or it was
of an oblong square shape, slightly incurved on the four sides.

The Sistrum consisted of a frame of bronze or brass into which three
or four metal bars were loosely inserted, so as to produce a jingling
noise when the instrument was shaken. The bars were often made in
the form of snakes, or they terminated in the head of a goose. Not
unfrequently a few metal rings were strung on the bars, to increase
the noise. The frame was sometimes ornamented with the figure of a cat.
The largest sistra which have been found are about eighteen inches in
length, and the smallest about nine inches. The sistrum was principally
used by females in religious performances. Its Egyptian name was

The Egyptian cymbals closely resembled our own in shape. There are two
pairs of them in the British museum. One pair was found in a coffin
enclosing the mummy of a sacred musician, and is deposited in the same
case with the mummy and coffin. Among the Egyptian antiquities in the
British museum are also several small bells of bronze. The largest is
2¼ inches in height, and the smallest three-quarters of an inch.
Some of them have a hole at the side near the top wherein the clapper
was fastened.



Our acquaintance with the Assyrian instruments has been derived almost
entirely from the famous bas-reliefs which have been excavated from the
mounds of Nimroud, Khorsabad, and Kouyunjik, situated near the river
Tigris in the vicinity of the town of Mosul in Asiatic Turkey.

The Assyrian harp was about four feet high, and appears of larger size
than it actually was on account of the ornamental appendages which were
affixed to the lower part of its frame. It must have been but light in
weight, since we find it not unfrequently represented in the hands of
persons who are playing upon it while they are dancing. Like all the
Oriental harps, modern as well as ancient, it was not provided with a
front pillar. The upper portion of the frame contained the sound-holes,
somewhat in the shape of an hour-glass. Below them were the screws, or
tuning-pegs, arranged in regular order. The strings were perhaps made
of silk, like those which the Burmese use at the present time on their
harps; or they may have been of catgut, which was used by the ancient

The largest assemblage of Assyrian musicians which has been discovered
on any monument consists of eleven performers upon instruments, besides
a chorus of singers. The first musician--probably the leader of the
band, as he marches alone at the head of the procession--is playing
upon a harp. Behind him are two men; one with a dulcimer and the
other with a double-pipe: then follow two men with harps. Next come
six female musicians, four of whom are playing upon harps, while one
is blowing a double-pipe and another is beating a small hand-drum
covered only at the top. Close behind the instrumental performers are
the singers, consisting of a chorus of females and children. They are
clapping their hands in time with the music, and some of the musicians
are dancing to the measure. One of the female singers is holding her
hand to her throat in the same manner as the women in Syria, Arabia,
and Persia are in the habit of doing at the present day when producing,
on festive occasions, those peculiarly shrill sounds of rejoicing which
have been repeatedly noticed by travellers.

The dulcimer is in too imperfect a state on the bas-relief to
familiarize us with its construction. The slab representing the
procession in which it occurs has been injured; the defect which
extended over a portion of the dulcimer has been repaired, and it
cannot be said that in repairing it much musical knowledge has been

The instrument of the Trigonon species was held horizontally, and was
twanged with a rather long plectrum slightly bent at the end at which
it was held by the performer. It is of frequent occurrence on the
bas-reliefs. A number of them appear to have been generally played
together. At any rate, we find almost invariably on the monuments two
together, evidently implying “more than one,” “a number.” The left hand
of the performer seems to have been occupied in checking the vibration
of the strings when its discontinuance was required. From the position
of the strings the performer could not have struck them as those of
the dulcimer are struck. If he did not twang them, he may have drawn
the plectrum across them. Indeed, for twanging, a short plectrum would
have been more practical, considering that the strings are placed
horizontally one above the other at regular distances. It is therefore
by no means improbable that we have here a rude prototype of the violin

The Lyre occurs in three different forms, and is held horizontally
in playing, or at least nearly so. Its front bar was generally either
oblique or slightly curved. The strings were tied round the bar so as
to allow of their being pushed upwards or downwards. In the former case
the tension of the strings increases, and the notes become therefore
higher; on the other hand, if the strings are pushed lower down the
pitch of the notes must become deeper. The lyre was played with a small
plectrum as well as with the fingers.

The Assyrian trumpet was very similar to the Egyptian. Furthermore, we
meet with three kinds of drums, of which one is especially noteworthy
on account of its odd shape, somewhat resembling a sugar-loaf; with
the tambourine; with two kinds of cymbals; and with bells, of which
a considerable number have been found in the mound of Nimroud. These
bells, which have greatly withstood the devastation of time, are but
small in size, the largest of them being only 3¼ inches in height
and 2½ inches in diameter. Most of them have a hole at the top, in
which probably the clapper was fastened. They are made of copper mixed
with 14 per cent. of tin.

Instrumental music was used by the Assyrians and Babylonians in their
religious observances. This is obvious from the sculptures, and is to
some extent confirmed by the mode of worship paid by command of king
Nebuchadnezzar to the golden image: “Then an herald cried aloud, To
you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what
time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery,
dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden
image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up.” The kings appear
to have maintained at their courts musical bands, whose office it
was to perform secular music at certain times of the day or on fixed
occasions. Of king Darius we are told that, when he had cast Daniel
into the den of lions, he “went to his palace, and passed the night
fasting, neither were instruments of musick brought before him;” from
which we may conclude that his band was in the habit of playing before
him in the evening. A similar custom prevailed also at the court of
Jerusalem, at least in the time of David and Solomon; both of whom
appear to have had their royal private bands, besides a large number of
singers and instrumental performers of sacred music who were engaged in
the Temple.


As regards the musical instruments of the Hebrews, we are from biblical
records acquainted with the names of many of them; but representations
to be trusted are still wanting, and it is chiefly from an examination
of the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian instruments that we can conjecture
almost to a certainty their construction and capabilities. From various
indications, which it would be too circumstantial here to point out, we
believe the Hebrews to have possessed the following instruments:

THE HARP. There cannot be a doubt that the Hebrews possessed the
harp, seeing that it was a common instrument among the Egyptians
and Assyrians. But it is uncertain which of the Hebrew names of the
stringed instruments occurring in the Bible really designates the harp.

THE DULCIMER. Some writers on Hebrew music consider the _nebel_ to have
been a kind of dulcimer; others conjecture the same of the _psanterin_
mentioned in the book of Daniel,--a name which appears to be synonymous
with the _psalterion_ of the Greeks, and from which also the present
oriental dulcimer, _santir_, may have been derived. Some of the
instruments mentioned in the book of Daniel may have been synonymous
with some which occur in other parts of the Bible under Hebrew names;
the names given in Daniel being Chaldæan. The _asor_ was a ten-stringed
instrument played with a plectrum, and is supposed to have borne some
resemblance to the _nebel_.

THE LYRE. This instrument is represented on some Hebrew coins generally
ascribed to Judas Maccabæus, who lived in the second century before the
Christian era. There are several of them in the British museum; some
are of silver, and the others of copper. On three of them are lyres
with three strings, another has one with five, and another one with six
strings. The two sides of the frame appear to have been made of the
horns of animals, or they may have been of wood formed in imitation of
two horns which originally were used. Lyres thus constructed are still
found in Abyssinia. The Hebrew square-shaped lyre of the time of Simon
Maccabæus is probably identical with the _psalterion_. The _kinnor_,
the favourite instrument of king David, was most likely a lyre if not a
small triangular harp. The lyre was evidently an universally known and
favoured instrument among ancient eastern nations. Being more simple
in construction than most other stringed instruments it undoubtedly
preceded them in antiquity. The _kinnor_ is mentioned in the Bible as
the oldest stringed instrument, and as the invention of Jubal. Even
if the name of one particular stringed instrument is here used for
stringed instruments in general, which may possibly be the case, it
is only reasonable to suppose that the oldest and most universally
known stringed instrument would be mentioned as a representative of
the whole class rather than any other. Besides, the _kinnor_ was a
light and easily portable instrument; king David, according to the
Rabbinic records, used to suspend it during the night over his pillow.
All its uses mentioned in the Bible are especially applicable to the
lyre. And the resemblance of the word _kinnor_ to _kithara_, _kissar_,
and similar names known to denote the lyre, also tends to confirm
the supposition that it refers to this instrument. It is, however,
not likely that the instruments of the Hebrews--indeed their music
altogether--should have remained entirely unchanged during a period
of many centuries. Some modifications were likely to occur even from
accidental causes; such, for instance, as the influence of neighbouring
nations when the Hebrews came into closer contact with them. Thus
may be explained why the accounts of the Hebrew instruments given by
Josephus, who lived in the first century of the Christian era, are not
in exact accordance with those in the Bible. The lyres at the time of
Simon Maccabæus may probably be different from those which were in use
about a thousand years earlier, or at the time of David and Solomon
when the art of music with the Hebrews was at its zenith.

There appears to be a probability that a Hebrew lyre of the time of
Joseph (about 1700 B.C.) is represented on an ancient Egyptian painting
discovered in a tomb at Beni Hassan,--which is the name of certain
grottoes on the eastern bank of the Nile. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, in his
“Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,” observes: “If, when we
become better acquainted with the interpretation of hieroglyphics, the
‘Strangers’ at Beni Hassan should prove to be the arrival of Jacob’s
family in Egypt, we may examine the Jewish lyre drawn by an Egyptian
artist. That this event took place about the period when the inmate
of the tomb lived is highly probable--at least, if I am correct in
considering Osirtasen I. to be the Pharaoh the patron of Joseph; and
it remains for us to decide whether the disagreement in the number
of persons here introduced--thirty-seven being written over them in
hieroglyphics--is a sufficient objection to their identity. It will
not be foreign to the present subject to introduce those figures which
are curious, if only considered as illustrative of ancient customs
at that early period, and which will be looked upon with unbounded
interest should they ever be found to refer to the Jews. The first
figure is an Egyptian scribe, who presents an account of their arrival
to a person seated, the owner of the tomb, and one of the principal
officers of the reigning Pharaoh. The next, also an Egyptian, ushers
them into his presence; and two advance bringing presents, the wild
goat or ibex and the gazelle, the productions of their country. Four
men, carrying bows and clubs, follow, leading an ass on which two
children are placed in panniers, accompanied by a boy and four women;
and, last of all, another ass laden, and two men--one holding a bow and
club, the other a lyre, which he plays with a plectrum. All the men
have beards, contrary to the custom of the Egyptians, but very general
in the East at that period, and noticed as a peculiarity of foreign
uncivilized nations throughout their sculptures. The men have sandals,
the women a sort of boot reaching to the ankle--both which were worn by
many Asiatic people. The lyre is rude, and differs in form from those
generally used in Egypt.” In the engraving the lyre-player, another
man, and some strange animals from this group, are represented.


THE TAMBOURA. _Minnim_, _machalath_, and _nebel_ are usually supposed
to be the names of instruments of the lute or guitar kind. _Minnim_,
however, appears more likely to imply stringed instruments in general
than any particular instrument.

THE SINGLE PIPE. _Chalil_ and _nekeb_ were the names of the Hebrew
pipes or flutes.

THE DOUBLE PIPE. Probably the _mishrokitha_ mentioned in Daniel. The
_mishrokitha_ is represented in the drawings of our histories of music
as a small organ, consisting of seven pipes placed in a box with a
mouthpiece for blowing. But the shape of the pipes and of the box as
well as the row of keys for the fingers exhibited in the representation
of the _mishrokitha_ have too much of the European type not to suggest
that they are probably a product of the imagination. Respecting the
illustrations of Hebrew instruments which usually accompany historical
treatises on music and commentaries on the Bible, it ought to be borne
in mind that most of them are merely the offspring of conjectures
founded on some obscure hints in the Bible, or vague accounts by the

THE SYRINX OR PANDEAN PIPE. Probably the _ugab_, which in the English
authorized version of the Bible is rendered “organ.”

THE BAGPIPE. The word _sumphonia_, which occurs in the book of
Daniel, is, by Forkel and others, supposed to denote a bagpipe. It
is remarkable that at the present day the bagpipe is called by the
Italian peasantry Zampogna. Another Hebrew instrument, the _magrepha_,
generally described as an organ, was more likely only a kind of
bagpipe. The _magrepha_ is not mentioned in the Bible but is described
in the Talmud. In tract Erachin it is recorded to have been a powerful
organ which stood in the temple at Jerusalem, and consisted of a case
or wind-chest, with ten holes, containing ten pipes. Each pipe was
capable of emitting ten different sounds, by means of finger-holes or
some similar contrivance: thus one hundred different sounds could be
produced on this instrument. Further, the _magrepha_ is said to have
been provided with two pairs of bellows and with ten keys, by means of
which it was played with the fingers. Its tone was, according to the
Rabbinic accounts, so loud that it could be heard at an incredibly long
distance from the temple. Authorities so widely differ that we must
leave it uncertain whether the much-lauded _magrepha_ was a bagpipe,
an organ, or a kettle-drum. Of the real nature of the Hebrew bagpipe
perhaps some idea may be formed from a syrinx with bellows, which has
been found represented on one of the ancient terra-cottas excavated in
Tarsus, Asia-minor, some years since, and here engraved. These remains
are believed to be about 2000 years old, judging from the figures upon
them, and from some coins struck about 200 years B.C. having been found
embedded with them. We have therefore before us, probably, the oldest
representation of a bagpipe hitherto discovered.


THE TRUMPET. Three kinds are mentioned in the Bible, viz. the _keren_,
the _shophar_, and the _chatzozerah_. The first two were more or less
curved and might properly be considered as horns. Most commentators are
of opinion that the _keren_--made of ram’s horn--was almost identical
with the _shophar_, the only difference being that the latter was more
curved than the former. The _shophar_ is especially remarkable as being
the only Hebrew musical instrument which has been preserved to the
present day in the religious services of the Jews. It is still blown in
the synagogue, as in time of old, at the Jewish new-year’s festival,
according to the command of Moses (Numb. XXIX. I). The _chatzozerah_
was a straight trumpet, about two feet in length, and was sometimes
made of silver. Two of these straight trumpets are shown in the famous
triumphal procession after the fall of Jerusalem on the arch of Titus,
engraved on the next page.

THE DRUM. There can be no doubt that the Hebrews had several kinds of
drums. We know, however, only of the _toph_, which appears to have
been a tambourine or a small hand-drum like the Egyptian darabouka.
In the English version of the Bible the word is rendered _timbrel_
or _tabret_. This instrument was especially used in processions on
occasions of rejoicing, and also frequently by females. We find it
in the hands of Miriam, when she was celebrating with the Israelitish
women in songs of joy the destruction of Pharaoh’s host; and in the
hands of Jephtha’s daughter, when she went out to welcome her father.
There exists at the present day in the East a small hand-drum called
_doff_, _diff_, or _adufe_--a name which appears to be synonymous with
the Hebrew _toph_.


THE SISTRUM. Winer, Saalfchütz, and several other commentators are of
opinion that the _menaaneim_, mentioned in 2 Sam. vi. 5, denotes the
sistrum. In the English Bible the original is translated _cymbals_.

CYMBALS. The _tzeltzclim_, _metzilloth_, and _metzilthaim_, appear
to have been cymbals or similar metallic instruments of percussion,
differing in shape and sound.

BELLS. The little bells on the vestments of the high-priest were called
_phaamon_. Small golden bells were attached to the lower part of the
robes of the high-priest in his sacred ministrations. The Jews have, at
the present day, in their synagogues small bells fastened to the rolls
of the Law containing the Pentateuch: a kind of ornamentation which is
supposed to have been in use from time immemorial.

Besides the names of Hebrew instruments already given there occur
several others in the Old Testament, upon the real meaning of which
much diversity of opinion prevails. _Jobel_ is by some commentators
classed with the trumpets, but it is by others believed to designate a
loud and cheerful blast of the trumpet, used on particular occasions.
If _Jobel_ (from which _jubilare_ is supposed to be derived) is
identical with the name _Jubal_, the inventor of musical instruments,
it would appear that the Hebrews appreciated pre-eminently the
exhilarating power of music. _Shalisbim_ is supposed to denote a
triangle. _Nechiloth_, _gittith_, and _machalath_, which occur in
the headings of some psalms, are also by commentators supposed to
be musical instruments. _Nechiloth_ is said to have been a flute,
and _gittith_ and _machalath_ to have been stringed instruments, and
_machol_ a kind of flute. Again, others maintain that the words denote
peculiar modes of performance or certain favourite melodies to which
the psalms were directed to be sung, or chanted. According to the
records of the Rabbins, the Hebrews in the time of David and Solomon
possessed thirty-six different musical instruments. In the Bible only
about half that number are mentioned.

Most nations of antiquity ascribed the invention of their musical
instruments to their gods, or to certain superhuman beings. The Hebrews
attributed it to man; Jubal is mentioned in Genesis as “the father of
all such as handle the harp and organ” (_i.e._, performers on stringed
instruments and wind instruments). As instruments of percussion are
almost invariably in use long before people are led to construct
stringed and wind instruments it might perhaps be surmised that Jubal
was not regarded as the inventor of all the Hebrew instruments, but
rather as the first professional cultivator of instrumental music.



Many musical instruments of the ancient Greeks are known to us by name;
but respecting their exact construction and capabilities there still
prevails almost as much diversity of opinion as is the case with those
of the Hebrews.

It is generally believed that the Greeks derived their musical system
from the Egyptians. Pythagoras and other philosophers are said to have
studied music in Egypt. It would, however, appear that the Egyptian
influence upon Greece, as far as regards this art, has been overrated.
Not only have the more perfect Egyptian instruments--such as the
larger harps, the tamboura--never been much in favour with the Greeks,
but almost all the stringed instruments which the Greeks possessed
are stated to have been originally derived from Asia. Strabo says:
“Those who regard the whole of Asia, as far as India, as consecrated
to Bacchus, point to that country as the origin of a great portion of
the present music. One author speaks of ‘striking forcibly the Asiatic
kithara,’ another calls the pipes Berecynthian and Phrygian. Some of
the instruments also have foreign names, as Nabla, Sambuka, Barbiton,
Magadis, and many others.”

We know at present little more of these instruments than that they
were in use in Greece. Of the Magadis it is even not satisfactorily
ascertained whether it was a stringed or a wind instrument. The other
three are known to have been stringed instruments. But they cannot have
been anything like such universal favourites as the lyre, because this
instrument and perhaps the _trigonon_ are almost the only stringed
instruments represented in the Greek paintings on pottery and other
monumental records. If, as might perhaps be suggested, their taste for
beauty of form induced the Greeks to represent the elegant lyre in
preference to other stringed instruments, we might at least expect to
meet with the harp; an instrument which equals if it does not surpass
the lyre in elegance of form.


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. Especially from the nations
who inhabited Asia-minor the Greeks are stated to have adopted several
of the most popular. Thus we may read of the short and shrill-sounding
pipes of the Carians; of the Phrygian pastoral flute, consisting of
several tubes united; of the three-stringed _kithara_ of the Lydians;
and so on.

The Greeks called the harp _kinyra_, and this may be the reason why in
the English translation of the Bible the _kinnor_ of the Hebrews, the
favourite instrument of king David, is rendered _harp_.


The Greeks had lyres of various kinds, shown in the accompanying
woodcuts, more or less differing in construction, form, and size, and
distinguished by different names; such as _lyra, ithara_, _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 design on the Grecian vase at Munich (already alluded to)
represents the nine muses, of whom three are given in the engraving,
viz., Polyhymnia with the harp, and Kalliope and Erato with lyres. It
will be observed that some of the lyres engraved in the woodcuts on
page 29 are provided with a bridge, while others are without it. The
largest were held probably on or between the knees, or were attached
to the left arm by means of a band, to enable the performer to use his
hands without impediment. The strings, made of catgut or sinew, were
more usually twanged with a _plektron_ than merely with the fingers.
The _plektron_ was a short stem of ivory or metal pointed at both ends.

A fragment of a Greek lyre which was found in a tomb near Athens is
deposited in the British museum. The two pieces constituting its frame
are of wood. Their length is about eighteen inches, and the length
of the cross-bar at the top is about nine inches. The instrument is
unhappily in a condition too dilapidated and imperfect to be of any
essential use to the musical inquirer.

The _trigonon_ consisted originally of an angular frame, to which the
strings were affixed. In the course of time a third bar was added to
resist the tension of the strings, and its triangular frame resembled
in shape the Greek delta. Subsequently it was still further improved,
the upper bar of the frame being made slightly curved, whereby the
instrument obtained greater strength and more elegance of form.

The _magadis_, also called _pektis_, had twenty strings which were
tuned in octaves, and therefore produced only ten tones. It appears
to have been some sort of dulcimer, but information respecting its
construction is still wanting. There appears to have been also a
kind of bagpipe in use called _magadis_, of which nothing certain is
known. Possibly, the same name may have been applied to two different


The _barbiton_ was likewise a stringed instrument of this kind. The
_sambyke_ is traditionally said to have been invented by Ibykos, B.C.
540. The _simmikon_ had thirty-five strings, and derived its name from
its inventor, Simos, who lived about B.C. 600. It was perhaps a kind of
dulcimer. The _nabla_ had only two strings, and probably resembled the
_nebel_ of the Hebrews, of which but little is known with certainty.
The _pandoura_ is supposed to have been a kind of lute with three
strings. Several of the instruments just noticed were used in Greece,
chiefly by musicians who had immigrated from Asia; they can therefore
hardly be considered as national musical instruments of the Greeks. The
_monochord_ had (as its name implies) only a single string, and was
used in teaching singing and the laws of acoustics.


The flute, _aulos_, of which there were many varieties, as shown in
the woodcut p. 31, 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 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 _syrinx_, or Pandean pipe, had from three to nine tubes, but seven
was the usual number. The straight trumpet, _salpinx_, and the curved
horn, _keras_, made of brass, were used exclusively in war. The small
hand-drum, called _tympanon_, resembled in shape our tambourine, but
was covered with parchment at the back as well as at the front. The
_kymbala_ were made of metal, and resembled our small cymbals. The
_krotala_ were almost identical with our castanets, and were made of
wood or metal.


The Romans are recorded to have derived some of their most popular
instruments originally from the Etruscans; a people which at an early
period excelled all other Italian nations in the cultivation of the
arts as well as in social refinement, and which possessed musical
instruments similar to those of the Greeks. It must, however, be
remembered that many of the vases and other specimens of art which
have been found in Etruscan tombs, and on which delineations of lyres
and other instruments occur, are supposed to be productions of Greek
artists whose works were obtained from Greece by the Etruscans, or who
were induced to settle in Etruria.

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_ (engraved) is deposited in the
British museum, and measures about four feet in length.


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.


During the time of the republic, and especially subsequently under
the reign of the emperors, the Romans adopted many new instruments
from Greece, Egypt, and even from western Asia; without essentially
improving any of their importations.

Their most favourite stringed instrument was the lyre, of which they
had various kinds, called, according to their form and arrangement
of strings, _lyra_, _cithara_, _chelys_, _testudo_, _fidis_ (or
_fides_), and _cornu_. The name _cornu_ was given to the lyre when the
sides of the frame terminated at the top in the shape of two horns.
The _barbitos_ was a kind of lyre with a large body, which gave the
instrument somewhat the shape of the Welsh _crwth_. The _psalterium_
was a kind of lyre of an oblong square shape. Like most of the Roman
lyres, it was played with a rather large plectrum. The _trigonum_ was
the same as the Greek _trigonon_, and was probably originally derived
from Egypt. It is recorded that a certain musician of the name of
Alexander Alexandrinus was so admirable a performer upon it that when
exhibiting his skill in Rome he created the greatest _furore_. Less
common, and derived from Asia, were the _sambuca_ and _nablia_, the
exact construction of which is unknown.

The flute, _tibia_, was originally made of the shin bone, and had a
mouth-hole and four finger-holes. Its shape was retained even when,
at a later period, it was constructed of other substances than bone.
The _tibia gingrina_ consisted of a long and thin tube of reed with
a mouth-hole at the side of one end. The _tibia obliqua_ and _tibia
vasca_ were provided with mouth-pieces affixed at a right angle to the
tube; a contrivance somewhat similar to that on our bassoon. The _tibia
longa_ was especially used in religious worship. The _tibia curva_
was curved at its broadest end. The _tibia ligula_ appears to have
resembled our flageolet. The _calamus_ was nothing more than a simple
pipe cut off the kind of reed which the ancients used as a pen for

The Romans had double flutes as well as single flutes. The double flute
consisted of two tubes united, either so as to have a mouth-piece
in common or to have each a separate mouth-piece. If the tubes were
exactly alike the double flute was called _Tibiæ pares_; if they were
different from each other, _Tibiæ impares_. Little plugs, or stoppers,
were inserted into the finger-holes to regulate the order of intervals.
The _tibia_ was made in various shapes. The _tibia dextra_ was usually
constructed of the upper and thinner part of a reed; and the _tibia
sinistra_, of the lower and broader part. The performers used also the
_capistrum_,--a bandage round the cheeks identical with the _phorbeia_
of the Greeks.

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


Furthermore, the Romans had two kinds of Pandean pipes, viz. the
_syrinx_ and the _fistula_. The bagpipe, _tibia utricularis_, is said
to have been a favourite instrument of the emperor Nero.


The _cornu_ was a large horn of bronze, curved. The performer held
it under his arm with the broad end upwards over his shoulder. It is
represented in the engraving, with the _tuba_ and the _lituus_.

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. The _tympanum_ resembled the tambourine and was
beaten like the latter with the hands. Among the Roman instruments
of percussion the _scabillum_, which consisted of two plates combined
by means of a sort of hinge, deserves to be noticed; it was fastened
under the foot and trodden in time, to produce certain rhythmical
effects in musical performances. The _cymbalum_ consisted of two metal
plates similar to our cymbals. The _crotala_ and the _crusmata_ were
kinds of castanets, the former being oblong and of a larger size than
the latter. The Romans had also a _triangulum_, which resembled the
triangle occasionally used in our orchestra. The _sistrum_ they derived
from Egypt with the introduction of the worship of Isis. Metal bells,
arranged according to a regular order of intervals and placed in a
frame, were called _tintinnabula_. The _crepitaculum_ appears to have
been a somewhat similar contrivance on a hoop with a handle.

Through the Greeks and Romans we have the first well-authenticated
proof of musical instruments having been introduced into Europe from
Asia. The Romans in their conquests undoubtedly made their musical
instruments known, to some extent, also in western Europe. But the
Greeks and Romans are not the only nations which introduced eastern
instruments into Europe. The Phœnicians at an early period colonized
Sardinia, and traces of them are still to be found on that island.
Among these is a peculiarly constructed double-pipe, called _lionedda_
or _launedda_. Again, at a much later period the Arabs introduced
several of their instruments into Spain, from which country they became
known in France, Germany, and England. Also the crusaders, during the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, may have helped to familiarize the
western European nations with instruments of the east.



Allowing for any exaggeration as to chronology, natural to the lively
imagination of Asiatics, there is no reason to doubt that the Chinese
possessed long before our Christian era musical instruments to which
they attribute a fabulously high antiquity. There is an ancient
tradition, according to which they obtained their musical scale from
a miraculous bird, called foung-hoang, which appears to have been a
sort of phœnix. When Confucius, who lived about B.C. 500, happened to
hear on a certain occasion some Chinese music, he became so greatly
enraptured that he could not take any food for three months afterwards.
The sounds which produced this effect were those of Kouei, the Orpheus
of the Chinese, whose performance on the _king_--a kind of harmonicon
constructed of slabs of sonorous stone--would draw wild animals around
him and make them subservient to his will. As regards the invention of
musical instruments the Chinese have other traditions. In one of these
we are told that the origin of some of their most popular instruments
dates from the period when China was under the dominion of heavenly
spirits, called Ki. Another assigns the invention of several stringed
instruments to the great Fohi who was the founder of the empire and
who lived about B.C. 3000, which was long after the dominion of the
Ki, or spirits. Again, another tradition holds that the most important
instruments and systematic arrangements of sounds are an invention of
Niuva, a supernatural female, who lived at the time of Fohi.


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 Chinese consider the _yu_ especially valuable for musical purposes,
because it always retains exactly the same pitch. All other musical
instruments, they say, are in this respect doubtful; but the tone of
the _yu_ is neither influenced by cold nor heat, nor by humidity, nor

The stones used for the _king_ have been cut from time to time in
various grotesque shapes. Some represent animals: as, for instance, a
bat with outstretched wings; or two fishes placed side by side: others
are in the shape of an ancient Chinese bell. The angular shape shown
in the engraving appears to be the oldest and is still retained in the
ornamented stones of the _pien-king_, which is a more modern instrument
than the _king_. The tones of the _pien-king_ are attuned according
to the Chinese intervals called _lu_, of which there are twelve in
the compass of an octave. The same is the case with the other Chinese
instruments of this class. They vary, however, in pitch. The pitch of
the _soung-king_, for instance, is four intervals lower than that of
the _pien-king_.

Sonorous stones have always been used by the Chinese also singly, as
rhythmical instruments. Such a single stone is called _tse-king_.
Probably certain curious relics belonging to a temple in Peking,
erected for the worship of Confucius, serve a similar purpose. In one
of the outbuildings or the temple are ten sonorous stones, shaped like
drums, which are asserted to have been cut about three thousand years
ago. The primitive Chinese characters engraven upon them are nearly

The ancient Chinese had several kinds of bells, frequently arranged in
sets so as to constitute a musical scale. The Chinese name for the bell
is _tchung_. At an early period they had a somewhat square-shaped bell
called _té-tchung_. Like other ancient Chinese bells it was made of
copper alloyed with tin, the proportion being one pound of tin to six
of copper. The _té-tchung_, which is also known by the name of _piao_,
was principally used to indicate the time and divisions in musical
performances. It had a fixed pitch of sound, and several of these bells
attuned to a certain order of intervals were not unfrequently ranged
in a regular succession, thus forming a musical instrument which was
called _pien-tchung_. The musical scale of the sixteen bells which
the _pien-tchung_ contained was the same as that of the _king_ before


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 _fang-hiang_ was a kind of wood-harmonicon. It contained sixteen
wooden slabs of an oblong square shape, suspended in a wooden frame
elegantly decorated. The slabs were arranged in two tiers, one above
the other, and were all of equal length and breadth but differed in
thickness. The _tchoung-tou_ consisted of twelve slips of bamboo, and
was used for beating time and for rhythmical purposes. The slips being
banded together at one end could be expanded somewhat like a fan. The
Chinese state that they used the _tchoung-tou_ for writing upon before
they invented paper.

The _ou_, of which we give a woodcut, likewise an ancient Chinese
instrument of percussion and still in use, is made of wood in the shape
of a crouching tiger. It is hollow, and along its back are about twenty
small pieces of metal, pointed, and in appearance not unlike the teeth
of a saw. The performer strikes them with a sort of plectrum resembling
a brush, or with a small stick called _tchen_. Occasionally the _ou_ is
made with pieces of metal shaped like reeds.


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 _tchou_, likewise an instrument of percussion, was made of the
wood of a tree called _kieou-mou_, the stem of which resembles that of
the pine and whose foliage is much like that of the cypress. It was
constructed of boards about three-quarters of an inch in thickness. In
the middle of one of the sides was an aperture into which the hand was
passed for the purpose of holding the handle of a wooden hammer, the
end of which entered into a hole situated in the bottom of the _tchou_.
The handle was kept in its place by means of a wooden pin, on which it
moved right and left when the instrument was struck with a hammer. The
Chinese ascribe to the _tchou_ a very high antiquity, as they almost
invariably do with any of their inventions when the date of its origin
is unknown to them.

The _po-fou_ was a drum, about one foot four inches in length, and
seven inches in diameter. It had a parchment at each end, which was
prepared in a peculiar way by being boiled in water. The _po-fou_ used
to be partly filled with a preparation made from the husk of rice, in
order to mellow the sound. The Chinese name for the drum is _kou_.


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_.

The flutes, _ty_, _yo_, and _tché_ were generally made of bamboo. The
_koan-tsee_ was a Pandean pipe containing twelve tubes of bamboo.
The _siao_, likewise a Pandean pipe, contained sixteen tubes. The
_pai-siao_ differed from the _siao_ inasmuch as the tubes were inserted
into an oddly-shaped case highly ornamented with grotesque designs and
silken appendages.


The Chinese are known to have constructed at an early period a curious
wind-instrument, called _hiuen_. It was made of baked clay and had five
finger-holes, three of which were placed on one side and two on the
opposite side, as in the cut. Its tones were in conformity with the
pentatonic scale. The reader unacquainted with the pentatonic scale may
ascertain its character by playing on the pianoforte the scale of C
major with the omission of _f_ and _b_ (the _fourth_ and _seventh_); or
by striking the black keys in regular succession from _f_-sharp to the
next _f_-sharp above or below.

Another curious wind-instrument of high antiquity, the _cheng_,
(engraved, p. 46) 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_.

The ancient stringed instruments, the _kin_ and _chê_, were of the
dulcimer kind: they are still in use, and specimens of them are in the
South Kensington museum.

The Buddhists introduced from Thibet into China their god of music,
who is represented as a rather jovial-looking man with a moustache
and an imperial, playing the _pepa_, a kind of lute with four silken
strings. Perhaps some interesting information respecting the ancient
Chinese musical instruments may be gathered from the famous ruins of
the Buddhist temples _Ongcor-Wat_ and _Ongcor-Thôm_, in Cambodia.
These splendid ruins are supposed to be above two thousand years old:
and, at any rate, the circumstance of their age not being known to the
Cambodians suggests a high antiquity. On the bas-reliefs with which the
temples were enriched are figured musical instruments, which European
travellers describe as “flutes, organs, trumpets, and drums, resembling
those of the Chinese.” Faithful sketches of these representations
might, very likely, afford valuable hints to the student of musical



In the Brahmin mythology of the Hindus the god Nareda is the inventor
of the _vina_, the principal national instrument of Hindustan.
Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, may be regarded as the Minerva of
the Hindus. She is the goddess of music as well as of speech; to her
is attributed the invention of the systematic arrangement of the
sounds into a musical scale. She is represented seated on a peacock
and playing on a stringed instrument of the lute kind. Brahma himself
we find depicted as a vigorous man with four handsome heads, beating
with his hands upon a small drum; and Vishnu, in his incarnation as
Krishna, is represented as a beautiful youth playing upon a flute. The
Hindus construct a peculiar kind of flute, which they consider as the
favourite instrument of Krishna. They have also the divinity Ganesa,
the god of Wisdom, who is represented as a man with the head of an
elephant, holding a _tamboura_ in his hands.

It is a suggestive fact that we find among several nations in different
parts of the world an ancient tradition, according to which their most
popular stringed instrument was originally derived from the water.

In Hindu mythology the god Nareda invented the _vina_--the principal
national instrument of Hindustan--which has also the name _cach’-hapi_,
signifying a tortoise (_testudo_). Moreover, _nara_ denotes in Sanskrit
water, and _narada_, or _nareda_, the giver of water. Like Nareda,
Nereus and his fifty daughters, the Nereides, were much renowned for
their musical accomplishments; and Hermes (it will be remembered) made
his lyre, the _chelys_, of a tortoise-shell. The Scandinavian god Odin,
the originator of magic songs, is mentioned as the ruler of the sea,
and as such he had the name of _Nikarr_. In the depth of the sea he
played the harp with his subordinate spirits, who occasionally came up
to the surface of the water to teach some favoured human being their
wonderful instrument. Wäinämöinen, the divine player on the Finnish
_kantele_ (according to the Kalewala, the old national epic of the
Finns) constructed his instrument of fish-bones. The frame he made out
of the bones of the pike; and the teeth of the pike he used for the

Jacob Grimm in his work on German mythology points out an old
tradition, preserved in Swedish and Scotch national ballads, of a
skilful harper who constructs his instrument out of the bones of a
young girl drowned by a wicked woman. Her fingers he uses for the
tuning screws, and her golden hair for the strings. The harper plays,
and his music kills the murderess. A similar story is told in the old
Icelandic national songs; and the same tradition has been preserved in
the Faroe islands, as well as in Norway and Denmark.

May not the agreeable impression produced by the rhythmical flow of
the waves and the soothing murmur of running water have led various
nations, independently of each other, to the widespread conception that
they obtained their favourite instrument of music from the water? Or is
the notion traceable to a common source dating from a pre-historic age,
perhaps from the early period when the Aryan race is surmised to have
diffused its lore through various countries? Or did it originate in the
old belief that the world, with all its charms and delights, arose from
a chaos in which water constituted the predominant element?

Howbeit, Nareda, the giver of water, was evidently also the ruler of
the clouds; and Odin had his throne in the skies. Indeed, many of the
musical water-spirits appear to have been originally considered as rain
deities. Their music may therefore be regarded as derived from the
clouds rather than from the sea. In short, the traditions respecting
spirits and water are not in contradiction to the opinion of the
ancient Hindus that music is of heavenly origin, but rather tend to
support it.

The earliest musical instruments of the Hindus on record have, almost
all of them, remained in popular use until the present day scarcely
altered. Besides these, the Hindus possess several Arabic and Persian
instruments which are of comparatively modern date in Hindustan:
evidently having been introduced into that country scarcely a thousand
years ago, at the time of the Mahomedan irruption. There is a treatise
on music extant, written in Sanskrit, which contains a description of
the ancient instruments. Its title is _Sângita râthnakara_. If, as
may be hoped, it be translated by a Sanskrit scholar who is at the
same time a good musician, we shall probably be enabled to ascertain
more exactly which of the Hindu instruments of the present day are of
comparatively modern origin.

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 harp, _chang_, has become almost obsolete. If some Hindu drawings
of it can be relied upon, it had at an early time a triangular frame
and was in construction as well as in shape and size almost identical
with the Assyrian harp.

The Hindus claim to have invented the violin bow. They maintain that
the _ravanastron_, one of their old instruments played with the bow,
was invented about five thousand years ago by Ravanon, a mighty king
of Ceylon. However this may be there is a great probability that the
fiddle-bow originated in Hindustan; because Sanskrit scholars inform
us that there are names for it in works which cannot be less than
from 1500 to 2000 years old. The non-occurrence of any instrument
played with a bow on the monuments of the nations of antiquity is
by no means so sure a proof as has generally been supposed, that the
bow was unknown. The fiddle in its primitive condition must have been
a poor contrivance. It probably was despised by players who could
produce better tones with greater facility by twanging the strings
with their fingers, or with a plectrum. Thus it may have remained
through many centuries without experiencing any material improvement.
It must also be borne in mind that the monuments transmitted to us
chiefly represent historical events, religious ceremonies, and royal
entertainments. On such occasions instruments of a certain kind only
were used, and these we find represented; while others, which may
have been even more common, never occur. In two thousand years’ time
people will possibly maintain that some highly perfected instrument
popular with them was entirely unknown to us, because it is at present
in so primitive a condition that no one hardly notices it. If the
_ravanastron_ was an importation of the Mahomedans it would most likely
bear some resemblance to the Arabian and Persian instruments, and it
would be found rather in the hands of the higher classes in the towns;
whereas it is principally met with among the lower order of people, in
isolated and mountainous districts. It is further remarkable that the
most simple kind of _ravanastron_ is almost identical with the Chinese
fiddle called _ur-heen_. This species has only two strings, and its
body consists of a small block of wood, hollowed out and covered with
the skin of a serpent. The _ur-heen_ has not been mentioned among the
most ancient instruments of the Chinese, since there is no evidence of
its having been known in China before the introduction of the Buddhist
religion into that country. From indications, which to point out would
lead too far here, it would appear that several instruments found
in China originated in Hindustan. They seem to have been gradually
diffused from Hindustan and Thibet, more or less altered in the course
of time, through the east as far as Japan.

Another curious Hindu instrument, probably of very high antiquity,
is the _poongi_, also called _toumrie_ and _magoudi_. It consists
of a gourd or of the Cuddos nut, hollowed, into which two pipes are
inserted. The _poongi_ therefore somewhat resembles in appearance a
bagpipe. It is generally used by the _Sampuris_ or snake charmers,
who play upon it when they exhibit the antics of the cobra. The name
_magoudi_, given in certain districts to this instrument, rather
tends to corroborate the opinion of some musical historians that the
_magadis_ of the ancient Greeks was a sort of double-pipe, or bagpipe.

Many instruments of Hindustan are known by different names in different
districts; and, besides, there are varieties of them. On the whole, the
Hindus possess about fifty instruments. To describe them properly would
fill a volume. Some, which are in the Kensington museum, will be found
noticed in the large catalogue of that collection.


Of the musical instruments of the ancient Persians, before the
Christian era, scarcely anything is known. It may be surmised that they
closely resembled those of the Assyrians, and probably also those of
the Hebrews.


The harp, _chang_, in olden time a favourite instrument of the
Persians, has gradually fallen into desuetude. The illustration of a
small harp given in the woodcut has been sketched from the celebrated
sculptures, perhaps of the sixth century, which exist on a stupendous
rock, called Tackt-i-Bostan, in the vicinity of the town of Kermanshah.
These sculptures are said to have been executed during the lifetime
of the Persian monarch Khosroo Purviz. They form the ornaments of
two lofty arches, and consist of representations of field sports
and aquatic amusements. In one of the boats is seated a man in an
ornamental dress, with a halo round his head, who is receiving an
arrow from one of his attendants; while a female, who is sitting
near him, plays on a Trigonon. Towards the top of the bas-relief
is represented a stage, on which are performers on small straight
trumpets and little hand drums; six harpers; and four other musicians,
apparently females,--the first of whom plays a flute; the second,
a sort of pandean pipe; the third, an instrument which is too much
defaced to be recognizable; and the fourth, a bagpipe. Two harps of a
peculiar shape were copied by Sir Gore Ousely from Persian manuscripts
about four hundred years old resembling, in the principle on which they
are constructed, all other oriental harps. There existed evidently
various kinds of the _chang_. It may be remarked here that the
instrument _tschenk_ (or _chang_) in use at the present day in Persia,
is more like a dulcimer than a harp. The Arabs adopted the harp from
the Persians, and called it _junk_. An interesting representation of a
Turkish woman playing the harp (p. 53) 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 Persians appear to have adopted, at an early period, smaller
musical intervals than semitones. When the Arabs conquered Persia (A.D.
641) the Persians had already attained a higher degree of civilisation
than their conquerors. The latter found in Persia the cultivation of
music considerably in advance of their own, and the musical instruments
superior also. They soon adopted the Persian instruments, and there
can be no doubt that the musical system exhibited by the earliest
Arab writers whose works on the theory of music have been preserved
was based upon an older system of the Persians. In these works the
octave is divided in seventeen _one-third-tones_--intervals which are
still made use of in the east. Some of the Arabian instruments are
constructed so as to enable the performer to produce the intervals
with exactness. The frets on the lute and tamboura, for instance, are
regulated with a view to this object.


The Arabs had to some extent become acquainted with many of the
Persian instruments before the time of their conquest of Persia. An
Arab musician of the name of Nadr Ben el-Hares Ben Kelde is recorded
as having been sent to the Persian king Khosroo Purviz, in the sixth
century, for the purpose of learning Persian singing and performing
on the lute. Through him, it is said, the lute was brought to Mekka.
Saib Chatir, the son of a Persian, is spoken of as the first performer
on the lute in Medina, A.D. 682; and of an Arab lutist, Ebn Soreidsch
from Mekka, A.D. 683, it is especially mentioned that he played in the
Persian style; evidently the superior one. The lute, _el-oud_, had
before the tenth century only four strings, or four pairs producing
four tones, each tone having two strings tuned in unison. About the
tenth century a string for a fifth tone was added. The strings were
made of silk neatly twisted. The neck of the instrument was provided
with frets of string, which were carefully regulated according to
the system of seventeen intervals in the compass of an octave before
mentioned. Other favourite stringed instruments were the _tamboura_,
a kind of lute with a long neck, and the _kanoon_, a kind of dulcimer
strung with lamb’s gut strings (generally three in unison for each
tone) and played upon with two little plectra which the performer had
fastened to his fingers. The _kanoon_ is likewise still in use in
countries inhabited by Mahomedans. 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.


Al-Farabi, one of the earliest Arabian musical theorists known, who
lived in the beginning of the tenth century, does not allude to the
fiddle-bow. This is noteworthy inasmuch as it seems in some measure
to support the opinion maintained by some historians that the bow
originated in England or Wales. 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 _nay_, a flute, and the _surnay_, a species of oboe, are still
popular in the east.

The Arabs must have been indefatigable constructors of musical
instruments. Kiesewetter gives a list of above two hundred names of
Arabian instruments, and this does not include many known to us through
Spanish historians. A careful investigation of the musical instruments
of the Arabs during their sojourn in Spain is particularly interesting
to the student of mediæval music, inasmuch as it reveals the eastern
origin of many instruments which are generally regarded as European
inventions. Introduced into Spain by the Saracens and the Moors they
were gradually diffused towards northern Europe. The English, for
instance, adopted not only the Moorish dance (morrice dance) but also
the _kuitra_ (gittern), the _el-oud_ (lute), the _rebab_ (rebec), the
_nakkarah_ (naker), and several others. In an old Cornish sacred drama,
supposed to date from the fourteenth century, we have in an enumeration
of musical instruments the _nakrys_, designating “kettle-drums.” It
must be remembered that the Cornish language, which has now become
obsolete, was nearly akin to the Welsh. Indeed, names of musical
instruments derived from the Moors in Spain occur in almost every
European language.

Not a few fanciful stories are traditionally preserved among the Arabs
testifying to the wonderful effects they ascribed to the power of their
instrumental performances. One example will suffice. Al-Farabi had
acquired his proficiency in Spain, in one of the schools at Cordova
which flourished as early as towards the end of the ninth century: and
his reputation became so great that ultimately it extended to Asia.
The mighty caliph of Bagdad himself desired to hear the celebrated
musician, and sent messengers to Spain with instructions to offer rich
presents to him and to convey him to the court. But Al-Farabi feared
that if he went he should be retained in Asia, and should never again
see the home to which he felt deeply attached. At last he resolved
to disguise himself, and ventured to undertake the journey which
promised him a rich harvest. Dressed in a mean costume, he made his
appearance at the court just at the time when the caliph was being
entertained with his daily concert. Al-Farabi, unknown to everyone, was
permitted to exhibit his skill on the lute. Scarcer had he commenced
his performance in a certain musical mode when he set all his audience
laughing aloud, notwithstanding the efforts of the courtiers to
suppress so unbecoming an exhibition of mirth in the royal presence. In
truth, even the caliph himself was compelled to burst out into a fit
of laughter. Presently the performer changed to another mode, and the
effect was that immediately all his hearers began to sigh, and soon
tears of sadness replaced the previous tears of mirth. Again he played
in another mode, which excited his audience to such a rage that they
would have fought each other if he, seeing the danger, had not directly
gone over to an appeasing mode. After this wonderful exhibition of his
skill Al-Farabi concluded in a mode which had the effect of making
his listeners fall into a profound sleep, during which he took his

It will be seen that this incident is almost identical with one
recorded as having happened about twelve hundred years earlier at the
court of Alexander the great, and which forms the subject of Dryden’s
“Alexander’s Feast.” The distinguished flutist Timotheus successively
aroused and subdued different passions by changing the musical modes
during his performance, exactly in the same way as did Al-Farabi.



If the preserved antiquities of the American Indians, dating from a
period anterior to our discovery of the western hemisphere, possess
an extraordinary interest because they afford trustworthy evidence
of the degree of progress which the aborigines had attained in the
cultivation of the arts and in their social condition before they came
in contact with Europeans, it must be admitted that the ancient musical
instruments of the American Indians are also worthy of examination.
Several of them are constructed in a manner which, in some degree,
reveals the characteristics of the musical system prevalent among the
people who used the instruments. And although most of these interesting
relics, which have been obtained from tombs and other hiding-places,
may not be of great antiquity, it has been satisfactorily ascertained
that they are genuine contrivances of the Indians before they were
influenced by European civilization.

Some account of these relics is therefore likely to prove of interest
also to the ethnologist, especially as several facts may perhaps be
found of assistance in elucidating the still unsolved problem as to the
probable original connection of the American with Asiatic races.

Among the instruments of the Aztecs in Mexico and of the Peruvians
none have been found so frequently, and have been preserved in their
former condition so unaltered, as pipes and flutes. They are generally
made of pottery or of bone, substances which are unsuitable for the
construction of most other instruments, but which are remarkably
well qualified to withstand the decaying influence of time. There
is, therefore, no reason to conclude from the frequent occurrence of
such instruments that they were more common than other kinds of which
specimens have rarely been discovered.


The Mexicans possessed a small whistle formed of baked clay, a
considerable number of which have been found. Some specimens (of which
we give engravings) 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. A similar contrivance is sometimes made
use of by Englishmen for conveying signals. The Mexican whistle most
likely served principally the same purpose, but it may possibly have
been used also in musical entertainments. In the Russian horn band
each musician is restricted to a single tone; and similar combinations
of performers--only, of course, much more rude--have been witnessed by
travellers among some tribes in Africa and America.


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. Among the instruments of this
kind from central America the most complete have four finger-holes.
By means of three the following four sounds (including the sound
which is produced when none of the holes are closed) can be emitted:
[Illustration] 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.



The pipe of the Aztecs, which is called by the Mexican Spaniards
_pito_, somewhat resembled our flageolet: the material was a reddish
pottery, and it was provided with four finger-holes. Although among
about half a dozen specimens which the writer has examined some are
considerably larger than others they all have, singularly enough, the
same pitch of sound. The smallest is about six inches in length, and
the largest about nine inches. Several _pitos_ have been found in a
remarkably well-preserved condition. They are easy to blow, and their
order of intervals is in conformity with the pentatonic scale, thus:
[Illustration] The usual shape of the _pito_ is that here represented;
showing the upper side of one pipe, and a side view of another. A
specimen of a less common shape, also engraved, is in the British
museum. Indications suggestive of the popular estimation in which the
flute (or perhaps, more strictly speaking, the pipe) was held by the
Aztecs are not wanting. It was played in religious observances and
we find it referred to allegorically in orations delivered on solemn
occasions. For instance, at the religious festival which was held in
honour of Tezcatlepoca--a divinity depicted as a handsome youth, and
considered second only to the supreme being--a young man was sacrificed
who, in preparation for the ceremony, had been instructed in the art of
playing the flute. Twenty days before his death four young girls, named
after the principal goddesses, were given to him as companions; and
when the hour arrived in which he was to be sacrificed he observed the
established symbolical rite of breaking a flute on each of the steps,
as he ascended the temple.

Again, at the public ceremonies which took place on the accession of
a prince to the throne the new monarch addressed a prayer to the god,
in which occurred the following allegorical expression:--“I am thy
flute; reveal to me thy will; breathe into me thy breath like into a
flute, as thou hast done to my predecessors on the throne. As thou
hast opened their eyes, their ears, and their mouth to utter what is
good, so likewise do to me. I resign myself entirely to thy guidance.”
Similar sentences occur in the orations addressed to the monarch. In
reading them one can hardly fail to be reminded of Hamlet’s reflections
addressed to Guildenstern, when the servile courtier expresses his
inability to “govern the ventages” of the pipe and to make the
instrument “discourse most eloquent music,” which the prince bids him
to do.

M. de Castelnau in his “Expédition dans l’Amérique” gives among the
illustrations of objects discovered in ancient Peruvian tombs a flute
made of a human bone. It has four finger-holes at its upper surface
and appears to have been blown into at one end. Two bone-flutes, in
appearance similar to the engraving given by M. de Castelnau, which
have been disinterred at Truxillo are deposited in the British museum.
They are about six inches in length, and each is provided with five
finger-holes. One of these has all the holes at its upper side, and one
of the holes is considerably smaller than the rest. The specimen which
we engrave (p. 64) is ornamented with some simple designs in black.

The other has four holes at its upper side and one underneath, the
latter being placed near to the end at which the instrument evidently
was blown. In the aperture of this end some remains of a hardened
paste, or resinous substance, are still preserved. This substance
probably was inserted for the purpose of narrowing the end of the
tube, in order to facilitate the producing of the sounds. The same
contrivance is still resorted to in the construction of the bone-flutes
by some Indian tribes in Guiana. The bones of slain enemies appear
to have been considered especially appropriate for such flutes. The
Araucanians, having killed a prisoner, made flutes of his bones, and
danced and “thundered out their dreadful war-songs, accompanied by the
mournful sounds of these horrid instruments.” Alonso de Ovalle says
of the Indians in Chili: “Their flutes, which they play upon in their
dances, are made of the bones of the Spaniards and other enemies whom
they have overcome in war. This they do by way of triumph and glory for
their victory. They make them likewise of bones of animals; but the
warriors dance only to the flutes made of their enemies.” The Mexicans
and Peruvians obviously possessed a great variety of pipes and flutes,
some of which are still in use among certain Indian tribes. Those which
were found in the famous ruins at Palenque are deposited in the museum
in Mexico. They are:--The _cuyvi_, a pipe on which only five tones
were producible; the _huayllaca_, a sort of flageolet; the _pincullu_,
a flute; and the _chayna_, which is described as “a flute whose
lugubrious and melancholy tones filled the heart with indescribable
sadness, and brought involuntary tears into the eyes.” It was perhaps a
kind of oboe.


The Peruvians had the syrinx, which they called _huayra-puhura_. Some
clue to the proper meaning of this name may perhaps be gathered from
the word _huayra_, which signifies “air.” The _huayra-puhura_ was made
of cane, and also of stone. Sometimes an embroidery of needle-work was
attached to it as an ornament. One specimen which has been disinterred
is adorned with twelve figures precisely resembling Maltese crosses.
The cross is a figure which may readily be supposed to suggest itself
very naturally; and it is therefore not so surprising, as it may appear
at a first glance, that the American Indians used it not unfrequently
in designs and sculptures before they came in contact with Christians.


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.

The tones yielded by the _huayra-puhura_ in question are as follows:
[Illustration] The highest octave is indistinct, owing to some injury
done to the shortest tubes; but sufficient evidence remains to show
that the intervals were purposely arranged according to the pentatonic
scale. This interesting relic was brought to light from a tomb at Arica.


Another _huayra-puhura_, likewise still yielding sounds, was discovered
placed over a corpse in a Peruvian tomb, and was procured by the French
general, Paroissien. This instrument is made of a greenish stone which
is a species of talc, and contains eight pipes. In the Berlin museum
may be seen a good plaster cast taken from this curious relic. The
height is 5⅜ inches, and its width 6¼ inches. Four of the tubes
have small lateral finger-holes which, when closed, lower the pitch a
semitone. These holes are on the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh
pipe, as shown in the engraving. When the holes are open, the tones
are: [Illustration] and when they are closed: [Illustration] The other
tubes have unalterable tones. The following notation exhibits all the
tones producible on the instrument:


The musician is likely to speculate what could have induced the
Peruvians to adopt so strange a series of intervals: it seems rather
arbitrary than premeditated.


If (and this seems not to be improbable) the Peruvians considered those
tones which are produced by closing the lateral holes as additional
intervals only, a variety of scales or kinds of _modes_ may have been
contrived by the admission of one or other of these tones among the
essential ones. If we may conjecture from some remarks of Garcilasso
de la Vega, and other historians, the Peruvians appear to have used
different orders of intervals for different kinds of tunes, in a way
similar to what we find to be the case with certain Asiatic nations. We
are told for instance “Each poem, or song, had its appropriate tune,
and they could not put two different songs to one tune; and this was
why the enamoured gallant, making music at night on his flute, with the
tune which belonged to it, told the lady and all the world the joy or
sorrow of his soul, the favour or ill-will which he possessed; so that
it might be said that he spoke by the flute.” Thus also the Hindus have
certain tunes for certain seasons and fixed occasions, and likewise a
number of different modes or scales used for particular kinds of songs.

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 on 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 Caroados, an Indian tribe in Brazil, have a war trumpet which
closely resembles the _juruparis_. With this people it is the custom
for the chief to give on his war trumpet the signal for battle, and to
continue blowing as long as he wishes the battle to last. The trumpet
is made of wood, and its sound is described by travellers as very deep
but rather pleasant. The sound is easily produced, and its continuance
does not require much exertion; but a peculiar vibration of the lips
is necessary which requires practice. Another trumpet, the _turé_, is
common with many Indian tribes on the Amazon who use it chiefly in war.
It is made of a long and thick bamboo, and there is a split reed in the
mouthpiece. It therefore partakes rather of the character of an oboe
or clarinet. Its tone is described as loud and harsh. The _turé_ is
especially used by the sentinels of predatory hordes, who, mounted on a
lofty tree, give the signal of attack to their comrades.

Again, the aborigines in Mexico had a curious contrivance of this kind,
the _acocotl_, now more usually called _clarin_. The former word is
its old Indian name, and the latter appears to have been first given
to the instrument by the Spaniards. The _acocotl_ consists of a very
thin tube from eight to ten feet in length, and generally not quite
straight but with some irregular curves. This tube, which is often not
thicker than a couple of inches in diameter, terminates at one end in
a sort of bell, and has at the other end a small mouthpiece resembling
in shape that of a clarinet. The tube is made of the dry stalk of a
plant which is common in Mexico, and which likewise the Indians call
_acocotl_. The most singular characteristic of the instrument is that
the performer does not blow into it, but inhales the air through it; or
rather, he produces the sound by sucking the mouthpiece. It is said to
require strong lungs to perform on the _acocotl_ effectively according
to Indian notions of taste.


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.

Besides those which have been noticed, other antique wind instruments
of the Indians are mentioned by historians; but the descriptions given
of them are too superficial to convey a distinct notion as to their
form and purport. Several of these barbarous contrivances scarcely
deserve to be classed with musical instruments. This may, for instance,
be said of certain musical jars or earthen vessels producing sounds,
which the Peruvians constructed for their amusement. These vessels
were made double; and the sounds imitated the cries of animals or
birds. A similar contrivance of the Indians in Chili, preserved in
the museum at Santiago, is described by the traveller S. S. Hill as
follows:--“It consists of two earthen vessels in the form of our
india-rubber bottles, but somewhat larger, with a flat tube from four
to six inches in length, uniting their necks near the top and slightly
curved upwards, and with a small hole on the upper side one third of
the length of the tube from one side of the necks. To produce the
sounds the bottles were filled with water and suspended to the bough
of a tree, or to a beam, by a string attached to the middle of the
curved tube, and then swung backwards and forwards in such a manner as
to cause each end to be alternately the highest and lowest, so that
the water might pass backwards and forwards from one bottle to the
other through the tube between them. By this means soothing sounds were
produced which, it is said, were employed to lull to repose the drowsy
chiefs who usually slept away the hottest hours of the day. In the
meantime, as the bottles were porous, the water within them diminished
by evaporation, and the sound died gradually away.”


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 traveller, M. Nebel, was told by archæologists in
Mexico that these instruments always contained the interval of a third,
but on examining several specimens which he saw in museums he found
some in which the two sounds stood towards each other in the relation
of a fourth; while in others they constituted a fifth, in others a
sixth, and in some even an octave. This is noteworthy in so far as it
points to a conformity with our diatonic series of intervals, excepting
the seventh.

The _teponaztli_ (engraved above) 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. Herr Heller saw
such an instrument in the hands of the Indians of Huatusco--a village
near Mirador in the Tierra templada, or temperate region, occupying
the slopes of the Cordilleras. Its sound is described as so very loud
as to be distinctly audible at an incredibly great distance. This
circumstance, which has been noticed by several travellers, may perhaps
be owing in some measure to the condition of the atmosphere in Mexico.


Instruments of percussion constructed on a principle more or less
similar to the _teponaztli_ were in use in several other parts of
America, as well as in Mexico. Oviedo gives a drawing of a drum from
San Domingo which, as it shows distinctly both the upper and under
side of the instrument, is here inserted.

The largest kind of Mexican _teponaztli_ appears to have been
generally of a cylindrical shape. Clavigero gives a drawing of
such an instrument. Drums, also, constructed of skin or parchment
in combination with wood were not unknown to the Indians. Of this
description was, for instance, the _huehuetl_ of the Aztecs in Mexico,
which consisted, according to Clavigero, of a wooden cylinder somewhat
above three feet in height, curiously carved and painted and covered
at the top with carefully prepared deer-skin. And, what appears the
most remarkable, the parchment (we are told) could be tightened or
slackened by means of cords in nearly the same way as with our own
drum. The _huehuetl_ was not beaten with drumsticks but merely struck
with the fingers, and much dexterity was required to strike it in the
proper manner. Oviedo states that the Indians in Cuba had drums which
were stretched with human skin. And Bernal Diaz relates that when he
was with Cortés in Mexico they ascended together the _Teocalli_ (“House
of God”), a large temple in which human sacrifices were offered by
the aborigines; and there the Spanish visitors saw a large drum which
was made, Diaz tells us, with skins of great serpents. This “hellish
instrument,” as he calls it, produced, when struck, a doleful sound
which was so loud that it could be heard at a distance of two leagues.

The name of the Peruvian drum was _huanca_: they had also an instrument
of percussion, called _chhilchiles_, which appears to have been a sort
of tambourine.

The rattle was likewise popular with the Indians before the discovery
of America. The Mexicans called it _ajacaxtli_. In construction it was
similar to the rattle at the present day commonly used by the Indians.
It was oval or round in shape, and appears to have been usually made
of a gourd into which holes were pierced, and to which a wooden handle
was affixed. A number of little pebbles were enclosed in the hollowed
gourd. They were also made of pottery. The little balls in the
_ajacaxtli_ of pottery, enclosed as they are, may at a first glance
appear a puzzle. Probably, when the rattle was being formed they were
attached to the inside as slightly as possible; and after the clay had
been baked they were detached by means of an implement passed through
the holes.


The Tezcucans (or Acolhuans) belonged to the same race as the Aztecs,
whom they greatly surpassed in knowledge and social refinement.
Nezahualcoyotl, a wise monarch of the Tezcucans, abhorred human
sacrifices, and erected a large temple which he dedicated to “The
unknown god, the cause of causes.” This edifice had a tower nine
stories high, on the top of which were placed a number of musical
instruments of various kinds which were used to summon the worshippers
to prayer. Respecting these instruments especial mention is made
of a sonorous metal which was struck with a mallet. This is stated
in a historical essay written by Ixtlilxochitl, a native of Mexico
and of royal descent, who lived in the beginning of the seventeenth
century, and who may be supposed to have been familiar with the musical
practices of his countrymen. But whether the sonorous metal alluded to
was a gong or a bell is not clear from the vague record transmitted to
us. That the bell was known to the Peruvians appears to be no longer
doubtful, since a small copper specimen has been found in one of the
old Peruvian tombs. This interesting relic is now deposited in the
museum at Lima. M. de Castelnau has published a drawing of it, which
is here reproduced. The Peruvians called their bells _chanrares_; it
remains questionable whether this name did not designate rather the
so-called horse bells, which were certainly known to the Mexicans
who called them _yotl_. 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


Again, in south America sonorous stones are not unknown, and were used
in olden time for musical purposes. The traveller G. T. Vigne saw
among the Indian antiquities preserved in the town of Cuzco, in Peru,
“a musical instrument of green sonorous stone, about a foot long, and
an inch and a half wide, flat-sided, pointed at both ends, and arched
at the back, where it was about a quarter of an inch thick, whence it
diminished to an edge, like the blade of a knife.... In the middle of
the back was a small hole, through which a piece of string was passed;
and when suspended and struck by any hard substance a singularly
musical note was produced.” Humboldt mentions the Amazon-stone, which
on being struck by any hard substance yields a metallic sound. It was
formerly cut by the American Indians into very thin plates, perforated
in the centre and suspended by a string. These plates were remarkably
sonorous. This kind of stone is not, as might be conjectured from its
name, found exclusively near the Amazon. The name was given to it as
well as to the river by the first European visitors to America, in
allusion to the female warriors respecting whom strange stories are
told. The natives pretending, according to an ancient tradition, that
the stone came from the country of “Women without husbands,” or “Women
living alone.”

As regards the ancient stringed instruments of the American Indians
our information is indeed but scanty. Clavigero says that the Mexicans
were entirely unacquainted with stringed instruments: a statement
the correctness of which is questionable, considering the stage of
civilization to which these people had attained. At any rate, we
generally find one or other kind of such instruments with nations
whose intellectual progress and social condition are decidedly
inferior. The Aztecs had many claims to the character of a civilized
community and (as before said) the Tezcucans were even more advanced
in the cultivation of the arts and sciences than the Aztecs. “The
best histories,” Prescott observes, “the best poems, the best code
of laws, the purest dialect, were all allowed to be Tezcucan. The
Aztecs rivalled their neighbours in splendour of living, and even
in the magnificence of their structures. They displayed a pomp and
ostentatious pageantry, truly Asiatic.” Unfortunately historians
are sometimes not sufficiently discerning in their communications
respecting musical questions. J. Ranking, in describing the grandeur
of the establishment maintained by Montezuma, says that during the
repasts of this monarch “there was music of fiddle, flute, snail-shell,
a kettle-drum, and other strange instruments.” But as this writer does
not indicate the source whence he drew his information respecting
Montezuma’s orchestra including the fiddle, the assertion deserves
scarcely a passing notice.

The Peruvians possessed a stringed instrument, called _tinya_, which
was provided with five or seven strings. To conjecture from the
unsatisfactory account of it transmitted to us, the _tinya_ appears to
have been a kind of guitar. Considering the fragility of the materials
of which such instruments are generally constructed, it is perhaps
not surprising that we do not meet with any specimens of them in the
museums of American antiquities.

A few remarks will not be out of place here referring to the musical
performances of the ancient Indians; since an acquaintance with the
nature of the performances is likely to afford additional assistance
in appreciating the characteristics of the instruments. In Peru, where
the military system was carefully organised, each division of the army
had its trumpeters, called _cqueppacamayo_, and its drummers, called
_huancarcamayo_. When the Inca returned with his troops victorious from
battle his first act was to repair to the temple of the Sun in order
to offer up thanksgiving; and after the conclusion of this ceremony
the people celebrated the event with festivities, of which music and
dancing constituted a principal part. Musical performances appear to
have been considered indispensable on occasions of public celebrations;
and frequent mention is made of them by historians who have described
the festivals annually observed by the Peruvians.

About the month of October the Peruvians celebrated a solemn feast in
honour of the dead, at which ceremony they executed lugubrious songs
and plaintive instrumental music. Compositions of a similar character
were performed on occasion of the decease of a monarch. As soon as it
was made known to the people that their Inca had been “called home to
the mansions of his father the sun” they prepared to celebrate his
obsequies with becoming solemnity. Prescott, in his graphic description
of these observances, says: “At stated intervals, for a year, the
people assembled to renew the expressions of their sorrow; processions
were made displaying the banner of the departed monarch; bards and
minstrels were appointed to chronicle his achievements, and their songs
continued to be rehearsed at high festivals in the presence of the
reigning monarch,--thus stimulating the living by the glorious example
of the dead.” The Peruvians had also particular agricultural songs,
which they were in the habit of singing while engaged in tilling the
lands of the Inca; a duty which devolved upon the whole nation. The
subject of these songs, or rather hymns, referred especially to the
noble deeds and glorious achievements of the Inca and his dynasty.
While thus singing, the labourers regulated their work to the rhythm
of the music, thereby ensuring a pleasant excitement and a stimulant in
their occupation, like soldiers regulating their steps to the music of
the military band. These hymns pleased the Spanish invaders so greatly
that they not only adopted several of them but also composed some in a
similar form and style. This appears, however, to have been the case
rather with the poetry than with the music.

The name of the Peruvian elegiac songs was _haravi_. Some tunes of
these songs, pronounced to be genuine specimens, have been published
in recent works; but their genuineness is questionable. At all events
they must have been much tampered with, as they exhibit exactly the
form of the Spanish _bolero_. Even allowing that the melodies of
these compositions have been derived from Peruvian _harivaris_, it is
impossible to determine with any degree of certainty how much in them
has been retained of the original tunes, and how much has been supplied
besides the harmony, which is entirely an addition of the European
arranger. The Peruvians had minstrels, called _haravecs_ (_i.e._,
“inventors”), whose occupation it was to compose and to recite the

The Mexicans possessed a class of songs which served as a record
of historical events. Furthermore they had war-songs, love-songs,
and other secular vocal compositions, as well as sacred chants, in
the practice of which boys were instructed by the priests in order
that they might assist in the musical performances of the temple.
It appertained to the office of the priests to burn incense, and
to perform music in the temple at stated times of the day. The
commencement of the religious observances which took place regularly
at sunrise, at mid-day, at sunset, and at midnight, was announced by
signals blown on trumpets and pipes. Persons of high position retained
in their service professional musicians whose duty it was to compose
ballads, and to perform vocal music with instrumental accompaniment.
The nobles themselves, and occasionally even the monarch, not
unfrequently delighted in composing ballads and odes.

Especially to be noticed is the institution termed “Council of music,”
which the wise monarch Nezahualcoyotl founded in Tezcuco. This
institution was not intended exclusively for promoting the cultivation
of music; its aim comprised the advancement of various arts, and of
sciences such as history, astronomy, &c. In fact, it was an academy
for general education. Probably no better evidence could be cited
testifying to the remarkable intellectual attainments of the Mexican
Indians before the discovery of America than this council of music.
Although in some respects it appears to have resembled the board of
music of the Chinese, it was planned on a more enlightened and more
comprehensive principle. The Chinese “board of music,” called _Yo
Poo_, is an office connected with the _Lé Poo_ or “board of rites,”
established by the imperial government at Peking. The principal object
of the board of rites is to regulate the ceremonies on occasions
of sacrifices offered to the gods; of festivals and certain court
solemnities; of military reviews; of presentations, congratulations,
marriages, deaths, burials,--in short, concerning almost every possible
event in social and public life.

The reader is probably aware that in one of the various hypotheses
which have been advanced respecting the Asiatic origin of the American
Indians China is assigned to them as their ancient home. Some
historians suppose them to be emigrants from Mongolia, Thibet, or
Hindustan; others maintain that they are the offspring of Phœnician
colonists who settled in central America. Even more curious are the
arguments of certain inquirers who have no doubt whatever that the
ancestors of the American Indians were the lost ten tribes of Israel,
of whom since about the time of the Babylonian captivity history is
silent. Whatever may be thought as to which particular one of these
speculations hits the truth, they certainly have all proved useful
in so far as they have made ethnologists more exactly acquainted with
the habits and predilections of the American aborigines than would
otherwise have been the case. For, as the advocates of each hypothesis
have carefully collected and adduced every evidence they were able
to obtain tending to support their views, the result is that (so to
say) no stone has been left unturned. Nevertheless, any such hints as
suggest themselves from an examination of musical instruments have
hitherto remained unheeded. It may therefore perhaps interest the
reader to have his attention drawn to a few suggestive similarities
occurring between instruments of the American Indians and of certain
nations inhabiting the eastern hemisphere.

We have seen that the Mexican pipe and the Peruvian syrinx were
purposely constructed so as to produce the intervals of the pentatonic
scale only. There are some additional indications of this scale having
been at one time in use with the American Indians. For instance, the
music of the Peruvian dance _cachua_ is described as having been very
similar to some Scotch national dances; and the most conspicuous
characteristics of the Scotch tunes are occasioned by the frequently
exclusive employment of intervals appertaining to the pentatonic scale.
We find precisely the same series of intervals adopted on certain
Chinese instruments, and evidences are not wanting of the pentatonic
scale having been popular among various races in Asia at a remote
period. The series of intervals appertaining to the Chiriqui pipe,
mentioned page 61, consisted of a semitone and two whole tones, like
the _tetrachord_ of the ancient Greeks.

In the Peruvian _huayra-puhura_ made of talc some of the pipes possess
lateral holes. This contrivance, which is rather unusual, occurs on the
Chinese _cheng_. The _chayna_, mentioned page 64, seems to have been
provided with a reed, like the oboe: and in Hindustan we find a species
of oboe called _shehna_. The _turé_ of the Indian tribes on the Amazon,
mentioned page 69, reminds us of the trumpets _tooree_, or _tootooree_,
of the Hindus. The name appears to have been known also to the Arabs;
but there is no indication whatever of its having been transmitted to
the peninsula by the Moors, and afterwards to south America by the
Portuguese and Spaniards.

The wooden tongues in the drum _teponaztli_ may be considered as a
contrivance exclusively of the ancient American Indians. Nevertheless
a construction nearly akin to it may be observed in certain drums of
the Tonga and Feejee islanders, and of the natives of some islands
in Torres strait. Likewise some negro tribes in western and central
Africa have certain instruments of percussion which are constructed on
a principle somewhat reminding us of the _teponaztli_. The method of
bracing the drum by means of cords, as exhibited in the _huehueil_ of
the Mexican Indians, is evidently of very high antiquity in the east.
It was known to the ancient Egyptians.

Rattles, pandean pipes made of reed, and conch trumpets, are found
almost all over the world, wherever the materials of which they are
constructed are easily obtainable. Still, it may be noteworthy that
the Mexicans employed the conch trumpet in their religious observances
apparently in much the same way as it is used in the Buddhist worship
of the Thibetans and Kalmuks.

As regards the sonorous metal in the great temple at Tezcuco some
inquirers are sure that it was a gong: but it must be borne in mind
that these inquirers detect everywhere traces proving an invasion of
the Mongols, which they maintain to have happened about six hundred
years ago. Had they been acquainted with the little Peruvian bell
(engraved on page 75) they would have had more tangible musical
evidence in support of their theory than the supposed gong; for this
bell certainly bears a suggestive resemblance to the little hand-bell
which the Buddhists use in their religious ceremonies.

The Peruvians interpolated certain songs, especially those which they
were in the habit of singing while cultivating the fields, with the
word _hailli_ which signified “Triumph.” As the subject of these
compositions was principally the glorification of the Inca, the burden
_hailli_ is perhaps all the more likely to remind Europeans of the
Hebrew _hallelujah_. Moreover, Adair, who lived among the Indians of
north America during a period of about forty years, speaks of some
other words which he found used as burdens in hymns sung on solemn
occasions, and which appeared to him to correspond with certain Hebrew
words of a sacred import.

As regards the musical accomplishments of the Indian tribes at the
present day they are far below the standard which we have found among
their ancestors. A period of three hundred years of oppression has
evidently had the effect of subduing the melodious expressions of
happiness and contentedness which in former times appear to have
been quite as prevalent with the Indians as they generally are with
independent and flourishing nations. The innate talent for music
evinced by those of the North American Indians who were converted to
Christianity soon after the emigration of the puritans to New England
is very favourably commented on by some old writers. In the year 1661
John Elliot published a translation of the psalms into Indian verse.
The singing of these metrical psalms by the Indian converts in their
places of worship appears to have been actually superior to the sacred
vocal performances of their Christian brethren from Europe; for we find
it described by several witnesses as “excellent” and “most ravishing.”

In other parts of America the catholic priests from Spain did not
neglect to turn to account the susceptibility of the Indians for
music. Thus, in central America the Dominicans composed as early as in
the middle of the sixteenth century a sacred poem in the Guatemalian
dialect containing a narrative of the most important events recorded
in the Bible. This production they sang to the natives, and to enhance
the effect they accompanied the singing with musical instruments. The
alluring music soon captivated the heart of a powerful cazique, who
was thus induced to adopt the doctrines embodied in the composition,
and to diffuse them among his subjects who likewise delighted in the
performances. In Peru a similar experiment, resorted to by the priests
who accompanied Pizarro’s expedition, proved equally successful. They
dramatized certain scenes in the life of Christ and represented them
with music, which so greatly fascinated the Indians that many of them
readily embraced the new faith. Nor are these entertainments dispensed
with even at the present day by the Indian Christians, especially
in the village churches of the Sierra in Peru; and as several
religious ceremonies have been retained by these people from their
heathen forefathers, it may be conjectured that their sacred musical
performances also retain much of their ancient heathen character.

Most of the musical instruments found among the American Indians at
the present day are evidently genuine old Indian contrivances as they
existed long before the discovery of America. Take, for example, the
peculiarly shaped rattles, drums, flutes, and whistles of the North
American Indians, of which some specimens in the Kensington museum are
described in the large catalogue. A few African instruments, introduced
by the negro slaves, are now occasionally found in the hands of the
Indians, and have been by some travellers erroneously described as
genuine Indian inventions. This is the case with the African _marimba_,
which has become rather popular with the natives of Guatemala in
central America: but such adaptations are very easily discernible.



Many representations of musical instruments of the middle ages have
been preserved in manuscripts, as well as in sculptures and paintings
forming ornamental portions of churches and other buildings. Valuable
facts and hints are obtainable from these evidences, provided they
are judiciously selected and carefully examined. The subject is,
however, so large that only a few observations on the most interesting
instruments can be offered here. Unfortunately there still prevails
much uncertainty respecting several of the earliest representations
as to the precise century from which they date, and there is reason
to believe that in some instances the archæological zeal of musical
investigators has assigned a higher antiquity to such discoveries than
can be satisfactorily proved.

It appears certain that the most ancient European instruments known to
us were in form and construction more like the Asiatic than was the
case with later ones. Before a nation has attained to a rather high
degree of civilisation its progress in the cultivation of music, as an
art, is very slow indeed. The instruments found at the present day in
Asia are scarcely superior to those which were in use among oriental
nations about three thousand years ago. It is, therefore, perhaps
not surprising that no material improvement is perceptible in the
construction of the instruments of European countries during the lapse
of nearly a thousand years. True, evidences to be relied on referring
to the first five or six centuries of the Christian era are but scanty;
although indications are not wanting which may help the reflecting



There are some early monuments of Christian art dating from the fourth
century in which the lyre is represented. In one of them Christ is
depicted as Apollo touching the lyre. This instrument occurs at an
early period in western Europe as used in popular pastimes. In an
Anglo-saxon manuscript of the ninth century in the British museum
(Cleopatra C. VIII.) are the figures of two gleemen, one playing the
lyre and the other a double-pipe. M. de Coussemaker has published in
the “Annales Archéologiques” the figure of a crowned personage playing
the lyre, which he found in a manuscript of the ninth or tenth century
in the library at Angers. The player twangs the strings with his
fingers, while the Anglo-saxon gleeman before mentioned uses a plectrum.

_Cithara_ was a name applied to several stringed instruments greatly
varying in form, power of sound, and compass. The illustration
represents a cithara from a manuscript of the ninth century, formerly
in the library of the great monastery of St. Blasius in the Black
Forest. When in the year 1768 the monastery was destroyed by fire, this
valuable book perished in the flames; fortunately the celebrated abbot
Gerbert possessed tracings of the illustrations, which were saved from
destruction. He published them, in the year 1774, in his work “De cantu
et musica sacra.” Several illustrations in the following pages, it
will be seen, have been derived from this interesting source. As the
older works on music were generally written in Latin we do not learn
from them the popular names of the instruments; the writers merely
adopted such Latin names as they thought the most appropriate. Thus,
for instance, 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_; and we further give a woodcut of the square kind
(p. 86), and of a _cithara_ (above) from the same manuscript.



This last instrument is evidently an improvement upon the triangular
psalterium, because it has a sort of small sound-board at the top.
Scarcely better, with regard to acoustics, appears to have been the
instrument designated as _nablum_, which we engrave (p. 87) from a
manuscript of the ninth century at Angers.


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 in almost every century.
The psalterium, or psalterion (Italian _salterio_, English _psaltery_),
of the fourteenth century and later had the trapezium shape of the


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. In the next 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.
Perhaps the addition 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 (p.
91). As Bunting was 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. The sculpture is rude; the circular rim which binds the arms
of the cross together is not pierced in the quadrants, and many of the
figures originally in relievo are now wholly abraded. It is difficult
to determine whether the number of strings represented is six or seven;
but, as has been already remarked, accuracy in this respect cannot be
expected either in sculptures or in many picturesque drawings.” The
Finns had a harp (_harpu_, _kantele_) with a similar frame, devoid of
a front pillar, still in use until the commencement of the present




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_. The Hindus at the present day use their _suroda_
sometimes as a lute and sometimes as a fiddle. In some measure we
do the same with the violin by playing occasionally _pizzicato_. The
_rotta_ (shown p. 91) from the manuscript of St. Blasius is called in
Gerbert’s work _cithara teutonica_, while the harp is called _cithara
anglica_; from which it would appear that the former was regarded as
pre-eminently a German instrument. Possibly its name may have been
originally _chrotta_ and the continental nations may have adopted it
from the Celtic races of the British isles, dropping the guttural
sound. This hypothesis is, however, one of those which have been
advanced by some musical historians without any satisfactory evidence.



We engrave also another 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.
The instrument much resembles the lyre in the hand of the musician
(see p. 22) who is supposed to be a Hebrew of the time of Joseph. In
the _rotta_ the ancient Asiatic lyre is easily to be recognized. An
illumination of king David playing the _rotta_ forms the frontispiece
of a manuscript of the eighth century preserved in the cathedral
library of Durham; and which is musically interesting inasmuch as
it represents a _rotta_ of an oblong square shape like that just
noticed and resembling the Welsh _crwth_. It has only five strings
which the performer twangs with his fingers. Again, a very interesting
representation (which we engrave) of the Psalmist 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. Unfortunately we possess no well-authenticated representation
of the Welsh _crwth_ of an early period; otherwise we should in all
probability find it played with the fingers, or with a plectrum.
Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian who lived in the second half of the
sixth century, mentions in a poem the “Chrotta Britanna.” He does
not, however, allude to the bow, and there is no reason to suppose
that it existed in England. 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 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 (engraved
p. 95) dates from the twelfth or thirteenth century; and we give (p.
96) a 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 by the artist who drew the figures as the
noblest instrument. It was probably identical with the _rotta_ of the
same century on the continent.


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. A German
fiddle of the ninth century, called _lyra_, copied by Gerbert from the
manuscript of St. Blasius, has only one string. These are shown in the
woodcuts (p. 97). Other records of the employment of the fiddle-bow
in Germany in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are not wanting.
For instance, in the famous ‘Nibelungenlied’ Volker is described as
wielding the fiddle-bow not less dexterously than the sword. And in
‘Chronicon picturatum Brunswicense’ of the year 1203, the following
miraculous sign is recorded as having occurred in the village of
Ossemer: “On Wednesday in Whitsun-week, while the parson was fiddling
to his peasants who were dancing, there came a flash of lightning
and struck the parson’s arm which held the fiddle-bow, and killed
twenty-four people on the spot.”


Among the oldest representations of performers on instruments of the
violin kind found in England those deserve to be noticed which are
painted on the interior of the roof of Peterborough cathedral. They
are said to date from the twelfth century. One of these figures is
particularly interesting on account of the surprising resemblance which
his instrument bears to our present violin. Not only the incurvations
on the sides of the body but also the two sound-holes are nearly
identical in shape with those made at the present day. Respecting the
reliance to be placed on such evidence, it is necessary to state that
the roof, originally constructed between the years 1177 and 1194, was
thoroughly repaired in the year 1835. Although we find it asserted that
“the greatest care was taken to retain every part, or to restore it
to its original state, so that the figures, even where retouched, are
in effect the same as when first painted,” it nevertheless remains a
debatable question whether the restorers have not admitted some slight
alterations, and have thereby somewhat modernised the appearance of
the instruments. A slight touch with the brush at the sound-holes, the
screws, or the curvatures, would suffice to produce modifications which
might to the artist appear as being only a renovation of the original
representation, but which to the musical investigator greatly impair
the value of the evidence. Sculptures are, therefore, more to be
relied upon in evidence than frescoes.




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.



The _monochord_ (p. 100) 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

This ought to be borne in mind in examining the representations of
musical instruments transmitted to us from that period.

As regards the wind instruments popular during the middle ages, some
were of quaint form as well as of rude construction.

The _chorus_, or _choron_, had either one or two tubes, as in the
woodcut page 101. There were several varieties of this instrument;
sometimes it was constructed with a bladder into which the tube is
inserted; this kind of _chorus_ resembled the bagpipe; another kind
resembled the _poongi_ of the Hindus, mentioned page 51. The name
_chorus_ was also applied to certain stringed instruments. One of
these had much the form of the _cithara_, page 86. It appears however,
probable that _chorus_ or _choron_ originally designated a horn
(Hebrew, _Keren_; Greek, _Keras_; Latin, _cornu_).


The flutes of the middle ages were blown at the end, like the
flageolet. 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 (page 102) 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.

Some large Anglo-saxon trumpets may be seen in a manuscript of the
eighth century in the British museum. The largest kind of trumpet was
placed on a stand when blown. Of the _oliphant_, or hunting horn, some
fine specimens are in the South Kensington collection. The _sackbut_
(of which we give a woodcut) probably made of metal, could be drawn
out to alter the pitch of sound. The sackbut of the ninth century had,
however, a very different shape to that in use about three centuries
ago, and much more resembled the present _trombone_. The name _sackbut_
is supposed to be a corruption of _sambuca_. The French, about the
fifteenth century, called it _sacqueboute_ and _saquebutte_.



The most important wind instrument--in fact, the king of all the
musical instruments--is the organ.



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 largest, which were made
about nine hundred years ago, had only three octaves, in which the
chromatic intervals did not occur. Some progress in the construction
of the organ is exhibited in an illustration (engraved p. 104) dating
from the twelfth century, in a psalter of Eadwine, in the library of
Trinity college, Cambridge. The instrument has ten pipes, or perhaps
fourteen, as four of them appear to be double pipes. It required four
men exerting all their power to produce the necessary wind, and two men
to play the instrument. Moreover, both players seem also to be busily
engaged in directing the blowers about the proper supply of wind. Six
men and only fourteen pipes! It must be admitted that since the twelfth
century some progress has been made, at all events, in the construction
of the organ.


The pedal is generally believed to have been invented by Bernhard, a
German, who lived in Venice about the year 1470. There are, however,
indications extant pointing to an earlier date of its invention.
Perhaps Bernhard was the first who, by adopting a more practicable
construction, made the pedal more generally known. On the earliest
organs the keys of the finger-board were of enormous size, compared
with those of the present day; so that a finger-board with only nine
keys had a breadth of from four to five feet. The organist struck the
keys down with his fist, as is done in playing the _carillon_ still in
use on the continent, of which presently some account will be given.



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. This contrivance was, in
short, a kind of harmonica, resembling in shape as well as in the
principle of its construction the little glass harmonica, a mere toy,
in which slips of glass are arranged according to our musical scale.
In England it appears to have been still known in the beginning of the
eighteenth century. Grassineau describes the “Rigols” as “a kind of
musical instrument consisting of several sticks bound together, only
separated by beads. It makes a tolerable harmony, being well struck
with a ball at the end of a stick.” In the earlier centuries of the
middle ages there appear to have been some instruments of percussion in
favour, to which Grassineau’s expression “a tolerable harmony” would
scarcely have been applicable. Drums, of course, were known; and their
rhythmical noise must have been soft music, compared with the shrill
sounds of the _cymbalum_; a contrivance consisting of a number of metal
plates suspended on cords, so that they could be clashed together
simultaneously; or with the clangour of the _cymbalum_ constructed
with bells instead of plates; or with the piercing noise of the
_bunibulum_, or _bombulom_; an instrument which consisted of an angular
frame to which were loosely attached metal plates of various shapes
and sizes. The lower part of the frame constituted the handle: and to
produce the noise it evidently was shaken somewhat like the sistrum of
the ancient Egyptians. We give woodcuts of the three instruments.


The _triangle_ nearly resembled the instrument of this name in use
at the present day; it was more elegant in shape and had some metal
ornamentation in the middle.

The _tintinnabulum_ consisted of a number of bells arranged in regular
order and suspended in a frame.



Respecting the orchestras, or musical bands, represented on monuments
of the middle ages, there can hardly be a doubt that the artists who
sculptured them were not unfrequently led by their imagination rather
than by an adherence to actual fact. It is, however, not likely that
they introduced into such representations instruments that were never
admitted in the orchestras, and which would have appeared inappropriate
to the contemporaries of the artists. An examination of one or two
of the orchestras may therefore find a place here, especially as
they throw some additional light upon the characteristics of the
instrumental music of mediæval time.

A very interesting group of music performers dating, it is said, from
the end of the eleventh century is preserved in a bas-relief which
formerly ornamented the abbey of St. Georges de Boscherville and which
is now removed to the museum of Rouen. The orchestra comprises twelve
performers, most of whom wear a crown. The first of them plays upon
a viol, which he holds between his knees as the violoncello is held.
His instrument is scarcely as large as the smallest viola da gamba. By
his side are a royal lady and her attendant, the former playing on an
_organistrum_ of which the latter is turning the wheel. Next to these
is represented a performer on a _syrinx_ of the kind shown in the
engraving p. 112; and next to him a performer on a stringed instrument
resembling a lute, which, however, is too much dilapidated to be
recognisable. Then we have a musician with a small stringed instrument
resembling the _nablum_, p. 87. The next musician, also represented as
a royal personage, plays on a small species of harp. Then follows a
crowned musician playing the viol which he holds in almost precisely
the same manner as the violin is held. Again, another, likewise
crowned, plays upon a harp, using with the right hand a plectrum
and with the left hand merely his fingers. The last two performers,
apparently a gentleman and a gentlewoman, are engaged in striking the
_tintinnabulum_,--a set of bells in a frame.


In this group of crowned minstrels the sculptor has introduced a
tumbler standing on his head, perhaps the vocalist of the company, as
he has no instrument to play upon. Possibly the sculptor desired to
symbolise the hilarious effects which music is capable of producing, as
well as its elevating influence upon the devotional feelings.


The two positions in which we find the viol held is worthy of notice,
inasmuch as it refers the inquirer further back than might be expected
for the origin of our peculiar method of holding the violin, and the
violoncello, in playing. There were several kinds of the viol in use
differing in size and in compass of sound. The most common number of
strings was five, and it was tuned in various ways. One kind had a
string tuned to the note [Illustration] running at the side of the
finger-board instead of over it; this string was, therefore, only
capable of producing a single tone. The four other strings were tuned
thus: [Illustration] Two other species, on which all the strings
were placed over the finger-board, were tuned: [Illustration] and:
[Illustration] The woodcut above represents a very beautiful _vielle_;
French, of about 1550, with monograms of Henry II. This is at South

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.




A grand assemblage of musical performers is represented on the
Portico della gloria of the famous pilgrimage church of Santiago da
Compostella, in Spain. This triple portal, which is stated by an
inscription on the lintel to have been executed in the year 1188,
consists of a large semicircular arch with a smaller arch on either
side. The central arch is filled by a tympanum, round which are
twenty-four life-sized seated figures, in high relief, representing the
twenty-four elders seen by St. John in the Apocalypse, each with an
instrument of music. These instruments are carefully represented and
are of great interest as showing those in use in Spain at about the
twelfth century. A cast of this sculpture is in the Kensington museum.

In examining the group of musicians on this sculpture the reader will
probably recognise several instruments in their hands, which are
identical with those already described in the preceding pages. The
_organistrum_, played by two persons, is placed in the centre of the
group, perhaps owing to its being the largest of the instruments rather
than that it was distinguished by any superiority in sound or musical
effect. Besides the small harp seen in the hands of the eighth and
nineteenth musicians (in form nearly identical with the Anglo-saxon
harp) we find a small triangular harp, without a front-pillar, held on
the lap by the fifth and eighteenth musicians. The _salterio_ on the
lap of the tenth and seventeenth musicians resembles the dulcimer, but
seems to be played with the fingers instead of with hammers. The most
interesting instrument in this orchestra is the _vihuela_, or Spanish
viol, of the twelfth century. The first, second, third, sixth, seventh,
ninth, twentieth, twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth
musicians are depicted with a _vihuela_ which bears a close resemblance
to the _rebec_. The instrument is represented with three strings,
although in one or two instances five tuning-pegs are indicated. A
large species of _vihuela_ is given to the eleventh, fourteenth,
fifteenth, and sixteenth musicians. This instrument differs from the
_rebec_ in as far as its body is broader and has incurvations at the
sides. Also the sound-holes are different in form and position. The bow
does not occur with any of these viols. But, as will be observed, the
musicians are not represented in the act of playing; they are tuning
and preparing for the performance, and the second of them is adjusting
the bridge of his instrument.


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.
There is a cast also of this famous sculpture at South Kensington. 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._ Most of these instruments have been already noticed in the
preceding pages. 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



Attention must now be drawn to some instruments which originated during
the middle ages, but which attained their highest popularity at a
somewhat later period.


Among the best known of these was the _virginal_, of which we give an
engraving from a specimen of the time of Elizabeth at South Kensington.
Another was the _lute_, which about three hundred years ago was almost
as popular as is at the present day the pianoforte. Originally it had
eight thin catgut strings arranged in four pairs, each pair being tuned
in unison; so that its open strings produced four tones; but in the
course of time more strings were added. Until the sixteenth century
twelve was the largest number or, rather, six pairs. Eleven appear
for some centuries to have been the most usual number of strings:
these produced six tones, since they were arranged in five pairs and a
single string. The latter, called the _chanterelle_, was the highest.
According to Thomas Mace, the English lute in common use during the
seventeenth century had twenty-four strings, arranged in twelve pairs,
of which six pairs ran over the finger-board and the other six by
the side of it. This lute was therefore, more properly speaking, a
theorbo. The neck of the lute, and also of the theorbo, had frets
consisting of catgut strings tightly fastened round it at the proper
distances required for ensuring a chromatic succession of intervals.
The illustration on the next page represents a lute-player of the
sixteenth century. The frets are not indicated in the old engraving
from which the illustration has been taken. The order of tones adopted
for the open strings varied in different centuries and countries:
and this was also the case with the notation of lute music. The most
common practice was to write the music on six lines, the upper line
representing the first string; the second line, the second string, &c.,
and to mark with letters on the lines the frets at which the fingers
ought to be placed--_a_ indicating the open string, _b_ the first fret,
_c_ the second fret, and so on.

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_.

It is unnecessary to enter here into a detailed description of some
other instruments which have been popular during the last three
centuries, for the museum at Kensington contains specimens of many
of them of which an account is given in the large catalogue of that
collection. It must suffice to refer the reader to the illustrations
there of the cither, virginal, spinet, clavichord, harpsichord, and
other antiquated instruments much esteemed by our forefathers.

Students who examine these old relics will probably wish to know
something about their quality of tone. “How do they sound? Might
they still be made effective in our present state of the art?” are
questions which naturally occur to the musical inquirer having such
instruments brought before him. A few words bearing on these questions
may therefore not be out of place here.


It is generally and justly admitted that in no other branch of the art
of music has greater progress been made since the last century than
in the construction of musical instruments. Nevertheless, there are
people who think that we have also lost something here which might
with advantage be restored. Our various instruments by being more and
more perfected are becoming too much alike in quality of sound, or in
that character of tone which the French call _timbre_, and the Germans
_Klangfarbe_, and which professor Tyndall in his lectures on sound has
translated _clang-tint_. Every musical composer knows how much more
suitable one _clang-tint_ is for the expression of a certain emotion
than another. Our old instruments, imperfect though they were in many
respects, possessed this variety of _clang-tint_ to a high degree.
Neither were they on this account less capable of expression than the
modern ones. That no improvement has been made during the last two
centuries in instruments of the violin class is a well-known fact. As
to lutes and cithers the collection at Kensington contains specimens
so rich and mellow in tone as to cause musicians to regret that these
instruments have entirely fallen into oblivion.

As regards beauty of appearance our earlier instruments were certainly
superior to the modern. Indeed, we have now scarcely a musical
instrument which can be called beautiful. The old lutes, spinets,
viols, dulcimers, &c., are not only elegant in shape but are also often
tastefully ornamented with carvings, designs in marquetry, and painting.


The player on the _viola da gamba_, shown in the next 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 to supply himself with a larger stock
of instruments than the violinist of the present day.


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 _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 p. 120
represents a Scotch bagpipe of the last century.

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 p. 121 a copy of a woodcut
from “The Image of Ireland,” a book printed in London in 1581.


The _bell_ has always been so much in popular favour in England that
some account of it must not be omitted. Paul Hentzner a German, who
visited England in the year 1598, records in his journal: “The people
are vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear, such as the firing
of cannon, drums, and the ringing of bells; so that in London it is
common for a number of them that have got a glass in their heads to go
up into some belfry, and ring the bells for hours together for the sake
of exercise.” This may be exaggeration,--not unusual with travellers.
It is, however, a fact that bell-ringing has been a favourite amusement
with Englishmen for centuries.

The way in which church bells are suspended and fastened, so as to
permit of their being made to vibrate in the most effective manner
without damaging by their vibration the building in which they are
placed, is in some countries very peculiar. The Italian _campanile_, or
tower of bells, is not unfrequently separated from the church itself.
In Servia the church bells are often hung in a frame-work of timber
built near the west end of the church. In Zante and other islands of
Greece the belfry is usually separate from the church. The reason
assigned by the Greeks for having adopted this plan is that in case
of an earthquake the bells are likely to fall and, were they placed
in a tower, would destroy the roof of the church and might cause the
destruction of the whole building. Also in Russia a special edifice
for the bells is generally separate from the church. In the Russian
villages the bells are not unfrequently hung in the branches of an
oak-tree near the church. In Iceland the bell is usually placed in the
lych-gate leading to the graveyard.



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.

It may be supposed that the device of playing tunes by means of bells
merely swung by the hand is also of ancient date. In Lancashire each
of the ringers manages two bells, holding one in either hand. Thus, an
assemblage of seven ringers insures fourteen different tones; and as
each ringer may change his two notes by substituting two other bells if
required, even compositions with various modulations, and of a somewhat
intricate character, may be executed,--provided the ringers are good
timeists; for each has, of course, to take care to fall in with his
note, just as a member of the Russian horn band contributes his single
note whenever it occurs.

Peal-ringing is another pastime of the kind which may be regarded as
pre-eminently national to England. The bells constituting a peal are
frequently of the number of eight, attuned to the diatonic scale. Also
peals of ten bells, and even of twelve, are occasionally formed. A
peculiar feature of peal-ringing is that the bells, which are provided
with clappers, are generally swung so forcibly as to raise the mouth
completely upwards. The largest peal, and one of the finest, is at
Exeter cathedral: another celebrated one is that of St. Margaret’s,
Leicester, which consists of ten bells. Peal-ringing is of an early
date in England; Egelric, abbot of Croyland, is recorded to have cast
about the year 960 a set of six bells.

The _carillon_ (engraved on the opposite page) is especially popular
in the Netherlands and Belgium, but is also found in Germany, Italy,
and some other European countries. It is generally placed in the church
tower and also sometimes in other public edifices. The statement
repeated by several writers that the first carillon was invented in
the year 1481 in the town of Alost is not to be trusted, for the town
of Bruges claims to have possessed similar chimes in the year 1300.
There are two kinds of carillons in use on the continent, viz.: clock
chimes, which are moved by machinery, like a self-acting barrel-organ;
and such as are provided with a set of keys, by means of which the
tunes are played by a musician. The carillon in the ‘Parochial-Kirche’
at Berlin, which is one of the finest in Germany, contains thirty-seven
bells; and is provided with a key-board for the hands and with a pedal,
which together place at the disposal of the performer a compass of
rather more than three octaves. The keys of the manual are metal rods
somewhat above a foot in length; and are pressed down with the palms of
the hand. The keys of the pedal are of wood; the instrument requires
not only great dexterity but also a considerable physical power. It
is astonishing how rapidly passages can be executed upon it by the
player, who is generally the organist of the church in which he acts as
_carilloneur_. When engaged in the last-named capacity he usually wears
leathern gloves to protect his fingers, as they are otherwise apt to
become ill fit for the more delicate treatment of the organ.

The want of a contrivance in the _carillon_ for stopping the vibration
has the effect of making rapid passages, if heard near, sound as a
confused noise; only at some distance are they tolerable. It must be
remembered that the _carillon_ is intended especially to be heard from
a distance. Successions of tones which form a consonant chord, and
which have some duration, are evidently the most suitable for this

Indeed, every musical instrument possesses certain characteristics
which render it especially suitable for the production of some
particular effects. The invention of a new instrument of music has,
therefore, not unfrequently led to the adoption of new effects in
compositions. Take the pianoforte, which was invented in the beginning
of the eighteenth century, and which has now obtained so great a
popularity: its characteristics inspired our great composers to the
invention of effects, or expressions, which cannot be properly rendered
on any other instrument, however superior in some respects it may be to
the pianoforte. Thus also the improvements which have been made during
the present century in the construction of our brass instruments, and
the invention of several new brass instruments, have evidently been
not without influence upon the conceptions displayed in our modern
orchestral works.

Imperfect though this essay may be it will probably have convinced
the reader that a reference to the history of the music of different
nations elucidates many facts illustrative of our own musical
instruments, which to the unprepared observer must appear misty and
impenetrable. In truth, it is with this study as with any other
scientific pursuit. The unassisted eye sees only faint nebulæ where
with the aid of the telescope bright stars are revealed.


  Al-Farabi, a great performer on the lute, 57

  American Indian instruments, 59, 77

    "      value of inquiry, 59

    "      trumpets, 67

    "      theories as to origin from musical instruments, 80

  Arab instruments very numerous, 56

  Archlute, 109, 115

  Ashantee trumpet, 2

  Asor explained, 19

  Assyrian instruments, 16

  “Aulos,” 32

  Bagpipe, Hebrew, 23

    "      Greek, 31

    "      Celtic, 119

  Barbiton, 31, 34

  Bells, Hebrew, 25

    "    Peruvian, 75

    "    and ringing, 121-123

  Blasius, Saint, the manuscript, 86

  Bones, traditions about them, 47

    "    made into flutes, 64

  Bottles, as musical instruments, 71

  Bow, see Violin

  Bruce, his discovery of harps on frescoes, 11

  Capistrum, 35

  Carillon, 121, 124

  Catgut, how made, 1

  Chanterelle, 114

  Chelys, 30

  Chinese instruments, 38

    "     bells, 40

    "     drum, 44

    "     flutes, 45

    "     board of music, 80

  Chorus, 99

  Cimbal, or dulcimer, 5

  Cithara, 86

    "   Anglican, 92

  Cittern, 113

  Clarion, 113

  Cornu, 36

  Crowd, 94

  Crwth, 34, 93

  Cymbals, Hebrew, 25

    "   or cymbalum, 105

    "   113

  David’s (King) private band, 19

    "   his favourite instrument, 20

  Diaulos, 32

  Drum, Hebrew, 24

    "   Greek, 32

    "   Chinese, 44

    "   Mexican, 71, 73

  Dulcimer, 5

    "   Assyrian, 17

    "   Hebrew, 19

    "   Persian prototype, 54

  Egyptian (ancient) musical instruments, 10

  Egyptian harps, 11

    "   flutes, 12

  Etruscan instruments, 33

    "   flutes, 33

    "   trumpet, 33

  Fiddle, originally a poor contrivance, 50

  Fiddle, Anglo-saxon, 95

    "   early German, 95

  Fistula, 36

  Flute, Greek, 32

    "   Persian, 56

    "   Mexican, 63

    "   Peruvian, 63

    "   mediæval, 100

  “Free reed,” whence imported, 5

  Gerbert, abbot, 86

  Greek instruments, 27

    "   music, whence derived, 27

  Hallelujah, compared with Peruvian song, 82

  Harmonicon, Chinese, 42

  Harp, Egyptian, 11

    "   Assyrian, 16

    "   Hebrew, 19

    "   Greek, 28

    "   Anglo-saxon, 89

    "   Irish, 90

  Hebrew instruments, 19, 26

    "   pipe, 22

    "   drum, 24

    "   cymbals, 25

    "   words among Indians, 83

  Hindu instruments, 46-48

  Hurdy-gurdy, 107

  Hydraulos, hydraulic organ, 33

  Instruments, curious shapes, 2

    "   value and use of collections, 4, 5, 7

  Instruments, Assyrian and Babylonian, 18

  Jubal, 26

  Juruparis, its sacred character, 68

  Kinnor, 20

  King, Chinese, 39

    "   various shapes, 40

  Lute, Chinese, 46

    "   Persian, 54

    "   Moorish, 57

    "   Elizabethan, 114

  Lyre, Assyrian, 17

    "   Hebrew, 19

    "      "   of the time of Joseph, 21

  Lyre, Greek, 29, 30

    "   Roman, 34

    "     "   various kinds, 34

    "   early Christian, 86

    "   early German “_lyra_,” 95

  Magadis, 27, 31

  Magrepha, 23

  Maori trumpet, 2

  Materials, commonly, of instruments, 1

  Mediæval musical instruments, 85

    "         "        "   derived from Asia, 85

  Mexican instruments, 60

    "   whistle, 60

    "   pipe, 61, 81

    "   flute, 63

    "   trumpet, 69, 82

    "   drum, 71

    "   songs, 79

    "   council of music, 80

  Minnim, 22

  Monochord, 98

  Moorish instruments adopted in England, 56

  Muses on a vase at Munich, 30

  Music one of the fine arts, 1

  Nablia, 35, 88

  Nadr ben el-Hares, 54

  Nareda, inventor of Hindu instruments, 46

  Nero coin with an organ, 34

  Nofre, a guitar, 11

  Oboe, Persian, 56

  Oliphant, 101

  Orchestra, 107

    "   modifications, 7

  Organistrum, 98, 111

  Organ, 101

    "   pneumatic and hydraulic, 101

    "   in MS. of Eadwine, 103

  Pandoura, 31

  Pedal, invented, 103

  Persian instruments, 51

    "    harp, 51

  Peruvian pipes, 65

    "   drum, 74

    "   bells, 75

    "   stringed instruments, 77

    "   songs, 78, 79

  Peterborough paintings of violins, 95

  Pipe, single and double, 22

    "   Mexican, 61

    "   Peruvian, 65

  Plektron, 30

  Poongi, Hindu, 51

  Pre-historic instruments, 9

  Psalterium, 35, 87, 89, 111, 113

  Rattle of Nootka Sound, 2

    "   American Indian, 74

  Rebeck, 94, 113

  Recorder, 119

  Regal, 103

  Roman musical instruments, 34

    "   lyre, 34

  Rotta, or rote, 91, 92

  Sackbut, 101, 113

  Sambuca, 35

  Santir, 5, 54

  Sêbi, the, 12

  Shalm, 113

  Shophar, still used by the Jews, 24

  Sistrum, Hebrew, 25

    "   Roman, 37

  Songs, Peruvian and Mexican, 79

  Stringed instruments, 3

  Syrinx, 23, 113

    "   Greek, 32

    "   Roman, 36

    "   Peruvian, 64, 81

  Tamboura, 22, 47

  Temples in China, 46

  Theorbo, 109, 115

  Tibia, 35

  Timbrel, 113

  Tintinnabulum, 106

  Triangle, 106

  Trigonon, 27, 30, 35

  Trumpet, Assyrian, 18

    "   Hebrew, 24

    "   Greek, 32

    "   Roman, 36

    "   American Indian, 67

    "   of the Caroados, 69

    "   Mexican, 69, 82

  Tympanon, 32

  Universality of musical instruments, 1

  Vielle, 107, 108

  Vihuela, 111

  Vina, Hindu, 47

    "   performer, 48

  Viol, Spanish, 111, 117

    "   da gamba, 117

  Violin bow invented by Hindus? 49

     "   Persian, 50

     "   mediæval, 95

  Virginal, 114

  Wait, the instrument, 113

  Water, supposed origin of musical instruments, 47

  Whistle, prehistoric, 9

     "     Mexican, 60

  Wind instruments, 3

  Yu, Chinese stone, 39

    "     "   wind instrument, 45


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Inconsistent punctuation and capitalization are as in the original.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.

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