Viola da gamba

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Viola da gamba
Italian: viola da gamba
English: viol
French:  viole de gambe
Gamba by Joachim Tielke (1673) in the Museum of Art and Industry
string instrument
Tunings (treble, alto / tenor, bass)
Tunings of the viola da gamba after Silvestro Ganassi del Fontegos Regola Rubertina (1542)
Related instruments
Baryton , viola d'amore , viola bastarda ,
lira da gamba , lira da braccio
Category: Gambist
The viol family: 1st 2nd 3rd viola da gamba 4th violone, large viol-de gamba bass (from the Syntagma musicum )

Viola da gamba ( Italian [vjɔːla since ɡamba] to viola "violin" and gamba "leg"; in English viol , formerly knee violin , leg violin or lap fiddle ) is a collective term for a family of historical string instruments . It was created at the same time as the violin family. The name da gamba is derived from the playing posture. The instruments of all voices - treble , alto / tenor , bass viol and violone - are held between the legs, in contrast to the viole da braccio , that is, "arm violins". The smaller types are also placed with the body on the lap so that the neck protrudes upwards.

The viols were probably made in Spain in the 15th century . You have five or six, and later seven strings in Quart - third master tuning and with collars provided fretboard . The player holds the bow under grip. The viols asserted themselves in the music of numerous European countries up to the 18th century, primarily in Italy and France, England and Germany, each with their own characteristics of the length and construction as well as with different functions in solo, ensemble and figured bass playing . With the advent of the violoncello and double bass , the viols, which until then had dominated the chamber music of academies, aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie, gradually fell into oblivion, but passed on some of their structural and technical peculiarities to modern instruments. The viola da gamba has experienced a renaissance since the beginning of the 20th century, primarily due to its historical performance practice .

Word and word history

The expression viola, which comes from Italian or Old Provençal , and its etymological relatives ( old French vielle ' hurdy-gurdy ' and vièle ' fidel ' ) have been known since the Middle Ages. Their relationship to the Middle High German word fidel is transparent. Is the earliest occupies the Middle Latin viella, which also means the Fidel. The different types of tone generation are most noticeably reflected in the family of the Spanish Vihuelas , which has been attested since the 13th century and is marked as Vihuela de péndola with a quill , as Vihuela de arco with a bow and as Vihuela de mano is plucked with the fingers ; this name lasted until the 16th century, while the word "viola" was soon narrowed to string instruments in other languages. Whether all these terms, as Johann Christoph Adelung suspects, go back to the Latin fideslyra ” via the Middle Latin fiala “string instrument” cannot be clarified.

In the 16th century, with the development of instrument making, derivatives of viola were formed . On the one hand, these concerned the format, e.g. B. violino and violetta as a smaller, violone as an enlarged design; on the other hand, the viola family was divided into arm violins ( viole di braccio ) and knee violins ( viole di gamba ) according to their playing position , with the generic terms viola and lira being largely used synonymously in Italy . The hurdy-gurdy was called lira tedesca or lira rustica in Italy . The name viola da gamba was preceded by the more popular name violone , which was still used in Diego Ortiz ' Tratado de Glosas in 1553 as a name for the whole family before it was reserved for bass instruments alone.

The term viola initially applied to the violin and violin families in all registers. A Germanized Violdigamme or Violdigamb formed the transition, although the generic names viola and violin did not separate until the middle of the 18th century. The separation and the grouping as an instrument family did not take place until the end of the century, parallel to the formation of the knee violin, while the tenor and bass instruments gradually gave way to the cello and the treble viol to the baroque violin . In the 18th century, the modern forms of construction had already replaced the viols to such an extent that the word was limited to the lower vocal ranges.

In almost all other European languages, the Italian term viola di [da] gamba prevailed, so in English viol (de gamba) and partly gambo (violl) , in French viole (de gambe) , in (early) Dutch fiool de gamba , in Russian виола . To distinguish it from the viola in use today, a new name emerged, which is named after the pitch of the viola: English and French alto, Polish Altówka , Russian альт . Only Norwegian , like German, knows bratsj and gamba .


Michael Praetorius describes in De Organographia (1619), the second part of Syntagma musicum , follows the family of Gamben:

"And that's why they got the name / that the first [d. H. Viole de Gamba] between the legs: Because gamba is an Italian word / and means a leg / legambe, the legs. And meanwhile this much larger corpora, and because of the collar length / the posts also have a longer train / so they give a more lovely response / than the other de bracio, which are held on the arm. (…) The violas de gamba have sixth strings / are tuned by fourths, and a third in the middle / same as the six chorus lute. (…) The ancients had this violen de gamba, as to be found in the Agricola / dreyerley types: Then some are with three seeds; Quite a few with four; And quite a few (...) with five seeds. "

- Michael Praetorius : De Organographia


The viol family has three ancestors: the rabāb , the lute and the viella. The Rabāb ( arab. رباب) came to Spain with the Moorish culture and has been known since the 10th century as a non- fret plucked and stringed instrument with two single or double strings . As a string instrument, it is held in the lap or hangs from the grip hand. The player leads the long bow in underhand grip. Its length allows him to play entire passages on one stroke instead of having to switch between up and down for each note.

Also the lute, the playing technique and the name of the oud (arab.عود) was a development of the Arab culture. In Spain alone it was in competition with the vihuela in the 16th century, in the rest of Europe it developed into the most popular plucked instrument in numerous designs, because the number of strings allowed the player to transpose it as desired . The frets and the tablature notation based on them made the instrument easy to learn. Information about playing technique could be written down relatively easily.

Much speaks for the origin of the Viella from northern France or Flanders . It was a “fashion instrument” of the 12th century, similar to the Fidel, that came to Spain and lived on in the Vihuela, both etymologically and structurally: In contrast to the round corpora of rebabs and lutes, it has a flat bottom and rounded sides like the Guitar . The vihuelas described by Johannes Tinctoris in De usu et inventione musicae (around 1487) are distinguished according to their playing techniques, plucking and bowing. Some images of the Vihuela da mano from the 15th century already clearly show the later gamba shape. The viola da gamba was a crossed vihuela da mano with tuning, frets and number of strings of the lute as well as playing position and bow position of the rebab.

As a product of three building types, the violas remained structurally without uniform standards, which knew long and short necks, round and flat shoulders, different shapes of sound holes ; On the other hand, in their variety they are suitable for solo play as a melody instrument as well as in the gamba consort as a chord instrument - and not least in the figured bass . The viola da gamba came to Italy as the product of three cultures when the Catholic Kings of Spain expelled Jews and Muslims from Spain at the end of the Reconquista in 1492 to “keep the blood clean”. With Jewish musicians she came to Ferrara to the court of the Estonians and to the humanistic academies .

General design

The viola da gamba was built in three sizes, treble , alto / tenor and bass . The main difference between your two stages of development is the mood. While the north alpine type, which may have been of Flemish origin, had five strings tuned in fourths, the south alpine type from Italy had six strings and had adopted the fourth-third tuning of the lute. The Italian form proved to be better and displaced the northern Alpine one in the course of the 17th century. It already showed the design features of the classic gamba, the tapering upper bow or shoulders and the flat base.

Until the beginning of the 17th century, instruments in the 12 'register, as described by the theorists Praetorius, Pietro Cerone and Adriano Banchieri . Even the bass instrument depicted in Marin Mersennes Harmonie universelle (1636) and marked with a height of 4¼  Paris feet (146 cm) retained this position, which required transpositions in ensemble playing in order to adapt the moods of the different instruments to one another. The length of the string measures around 80 cm (for comparison: the double bass is 102–108 cm, the violoncello 69–71 cm on a vibrating string), tenor viols around 60 cm, alto 50 cm, and treble 40 cm.

Like many historical instruments, the viola da gamba never had a uniform shape; the body shapes differed in details such as outline, sides or sound holes. The outlines shown here are from the same era, but they were built by masters from different regions. From left to right:
Jakob Stainer (Absam in Tirol 1673), Joachim Tielke (Hamburg around 1699), Barak Norman (London 1699), Nicolas Bertrand (Paris 1701), Pieter Rombouts (Amsterdam 1708)

The top of the viola da gamba is usually made of spruce wood , the back, sides and neck including scroll are made of different maple woods . Also, birch and fruit woods such as plum and cherry are appropriate soil woods. The frame wreath, which is reinforced with corner blocks, sits on the bottom, reinforced with strips on the inside, which is bevelled below the top block. In contrast to the violin shape, however, these do not protrude, the central bows remain blunt. In contrast to today's industrially manufactured double basses, the instrument maker did not usually use steam to bend the top, but instead cut it out of solid wood. Modern replicas are turning more and more to steam bending. In contrast to the violin type, the top does not protrude over the sides. The fingerboard and tailpiece have been made from ebony since the 17th century , as is common today for string instruments. Before that, maple and pear were the preferred woods. Hardwoods are suitable for the lateral vertebrae . Since the Baroque era are among the viols sound post with base plate and the bass bar in use.

Bridge of a seven-string French bass viol by Dieulafait (around 1720)

The footbridge was partly glued to the ceiling and partly moveable. In the Lettione seconda (1543), Silvestro Ganassi recommended changing the bridge depending on the playing practice: a flatter bridge allows easier playing of chords, a round one is better suited for solo playing on the individual string. Furthermore, the design of the bridge has a great influence on the sound. Over time, the bridges were made less bulky and more open, so that they provided a clear, slightly nasal sound. They sit roughly in the middle of the two sound holes.

These sound openings appear in ƒ- or C-shape and many individual designs by the gamba maker. In some of the ceilings there are also rosettes reminiscent of the lute, clad with carved or sawn latticework. Many copies of the viola da gamba are adorned with elaborate decorations: carved lion and dragon, human and angel heads in place of the snail, inlay work made of veneer and ivory on the fingerboard and tailpiece, back and sides, pyrography , with colored edging, gilding etc. This is especially true of English instruments, compared to which the French are much simpler.

The viola da gamba originally had seven frets, and since the 17th century occasionally eight frets (the last as an octave fret) at semitone intervals. They are made of gut - sometimes worn out strings are used for this - and are looped and knotted around the fingerboard once or twice. (Today frets made of polyamide are also available.) A fret is not to be understood as a grip aid, it serves as an artificial saddle that makes the sound of the vibrating string clearer.


Gamba instruments are usually strung with gut strings 0.3 to 4 mm thick. However, since viols were never “standardized”, the correct stringing depends on several factors, on the construction, the position of the wolf tone and the tuning. In practice, the ratios of the string intervals (4: 3 for the fourth, 5: 4 for the major third) were inversely proportional to the corresponding string gauges, so that the highest string of a six-string instrument still a quarter, that of a seven-string instrument almost a fifth of the diameter of the bass string.

In addition to simple strings made from sheep or cattle intestine, the viola da gamba is also strung with twisted or wound strings (Florentines and catlines). It was only experimentally played with metal strings in the course of its rediscovery. The louder, but at the same time sharp and less substantial sound of the metal strings met with resistance as early as the 17th century. There were also individual attempts with synthetic strings.


Model of a typical rounded baroque arch after Christopher Simpson's Viol division (1665). The covering is 68.8 cm long, the entire arch measures 79 cm. An additional weight at the frog end gives the player better balance.

The viol bow is a round constructed Renaissance or Baroque bow type. It is generally longer than comparable modern designs. Mersennes Harmonie universelle recommended the vibrating string length of the instrument as the maximum. English textbooks advised a pole length of about 30 inches (about 76 cm). A replica bass viol bow is 72 cm long today. The bows of the Renaissance and French Baroque were up to 90 cm long and were therefore longer than the body of the instrument. At the end of the handle of the bow there were sometimes additional weights to improve balance.

The hairs of a plug-in frog's bow are attached to the back of a groove. If the player clamps the separate frog between the bow pole and the string, the hair is put under tension (above). To relax, remove the frog (below).

In contrast to today's rigid bow rod, the rod of the viol bow is straight and only bends when the hair is pulled. Older arches made of maple and red beech have been preserved, but most of them were made from snakewood (usually from Brosimum guianense or related species) and from the second half of the 18th century from pernambuco , which has long arched poles due to its high specific weight Thin lace that was elastic and stable at the same time and stayed for centuries. The rod cross-section is usually round. However, some preserved arches also have octagonal rods that taper off rhomboid at the top . Fluting has been proven since the 18th century.

The covering consisted of different types of horsehair . Jean Rousseau's Traité de la viole (1687) advocated white hair for smaller ones and black hair for bass instruments. Since black hair is stronger, thick gut strings respond more easily when bowed.

The frog was a nesting frog from the beginning of the 17th to the late 18th century. With this construction principle, the bow hairs are firmly connected to the bow rod on both sides and are stretched by a separate, up to 22 mm high frog, which the player snaps into a groove on the inside of the bow rod. A disadvantage of this closed system is that the tension can only be regulated with additional finger pressure. Advantages of the plug-in frog bow are its considerable stability and durability compared to the screw frog invented around 1720, the mechanics of which become unusable more quickly, while old plug-in frog bows have remained functional up to the present day. In contrast to screw-in or crémaillère arches, in which a metal bolt lies in a cut-out notch, they were seldom relaxed.

Types of the viol family

The instruments of the viola da gamba family were not subject to any standardization, their construction types differ greatly in construction technology and stringing, tuning, sound and playing style. They were built in different countries and over several centuries for different uses.

The proportions of individual instruments:

instrument Body size minimal Body size maximum Minimal scale length Scale length maximum
Pardessus de viole 31.5 cm 33.5 cm 33.0 cm 33.5 cm

Treble viola Treble viol
Dessus de viole
35.0 cm 39.0 cm 35.0 cm 35.5 cm
Altviola 35.0 cm 41.0 cm 35.0 cm 40.5 cm
Tenor viola
47.5 cm 53.0 cm 45.0 cm 52.0 cm
Lyre viol 55.5 cm 60.0 cm 53.5 cm 60.0 cm
Division viol 62.0 cm 68.0 cm 65.0 cm 66.0 cm
Bass viola
Consort bass
Basse de viole
68.0 cm 71.0 cm 68.0 cm 70.5 cm
Violone 98.5 cm 105.0 cm 97.0 cm 105.0 cm

The viola bastarda

Viola bastarda. Illustration from Praetorius' Syntagma musicum
See main article: Viola bastarda

It is a controversial issue of music history whether viola bastarda is to be understood as a separate type of instrument or as a way of playing viola da gamba.

As an instrument it was u. a. by Praetorius with a conventional scroll and an additional rosette on the ceiling. He describes it as a tenor viola with slightly smaller dimensions compared to the normal pitch. For the interpretation of the term as a figurative way of playing in the ensemble, its description as an instrument with an assertive sound - while other instruments were classified according to their structural characteristics - and the spread. North of the Alps, Viola Bastarda was practically a synonym for the solo viol. In Italy it was an ensemble instrument for playing diminutions. The designation alla bastarda can also be found in music texts for lute or trombone , so that one might refer to the playability for different instruments, i.e. H. to the possibility of performing music in flexible line-ups. In both cases the viola bastarda could have been an instrument in a fourth-fifth tuning or a seven-string viol with an extension in the bass register. It is at least certain that it was played in the consort or integrated there as an accompanying chordal instrument at the turn of the 17th century.

The division viol

Division viol. Illustration from Simpsons The Division Viol

The viol division (English division " Figural Variation ") is a smaller sized bass viol in the style of the viola bastarda with a length of about 30 inches (76 cm) and a total height of 130 cm. It was particularly suitable for chord playing, which was practiced in England in the 17th century, and for improvisation over a basso ostinato ( divisions upon a ground ). Thus it was a connection to the solo instrument, which z. B. was played in an instrumentation of two violas and organ .

It was a technical advance because it was already approaching the shape of the violin. In terms of construction, it differed from the Italian models, as its ceiling was no longer just pricked, but often bent. In the course of the 17th century, the scale decreased to an average of 69 cm, which is why it was ultimately considered a model for the English consort bass . The viol division is more responsive than other viol instruments and has a clear, protruding sound in all registers.

The lyre viol

Lyra viol, back view

The Lyra viol or Lyra-Viol (English also lyra-viol ) was a development for playing chords in changing moods. She was unknown outside of England. The German bastard violet corresponds most closely to it . It is smaller than the viol division , its body size tends towards the old register. The bridge is significantly flattened for easier chord playing and the strings are less strong. The relationship to the lute is most pronounced among the viols in the violin lyre . Since the beginning of the 17th century, it was built with a choir of metal sympathetic strings that ran on an obliquely glued bridge into an elongated pegbox. The sympathetic strings went out of fashion again by 1650 at the latest and only reappeared later with the baryton and the viola d'amore . The repertoire of lute, guitar and lyre viol overlapped. One of the composers for the lyra viol is the English violist Thomas Ford ( Mr. Southcote's Pavan for two “lyra-viols” in Musicke of Sundry Kinds from 1607).

In a first phase between 1600 and 1645, the lyre viol with a range of three and a half octaves was a polyphonic instrument that appeared in the consort in one to three instrumentation. When English culture reoriented itself after the Civil War , the lyre viol developed into an elegant solo instrument and finally into an amateur instrument with simplified string tunings by the 18th century . As with the Harp ways mentioned Dur - / Minor - triads . Except for the bridge, it could no longer be distinguished from the viola bastarda. The numerous different moods, because of which the literature was recorded in tablature rather than in musical notation, made it necessary to change the strings for individual compositions.

Other sympathetic string instruments

Baryton. Illustration from the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1878 ff.)

The baryton was probably a southern German development of the old lyre violet in the 17th century. In addition to six main strings and a single or double set of sympathetic strings on the bass side of the top, it had a third choir that ran inside the neck. If you wanted to pluck these strings with your hand , you opened a flap on the back of the strongly widened neck reinforced with struts. The broad neck gave the instrument a slightly clumsy appearance, all the more inlays and carving served to embellish it. This appearance, its soft sound, which is silvery due to its many overtones, as well as the extraordinarily nuanced types of tone generation made the baryton popular in sensitive society in the 18th century , right up to Prince Esterházy , for whom Joseph Haydn composed a total of 126 trios . The extremely complicated way of playing limited its distribution again.

During the time of the sympathetic string fashion, other viols began to be provided with such covers as well. Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie (1751–1772) erroneously referred to the form as Viole bâtarde, since Praetorius' De Organographia had dealt with the sympathetic strings in the Violbastarda section . As Gamba d'amore in Italy or Basse de viole d'amour in France, they differed from normal designs only in their six to eight sympathetic strings and were forgotten again at the end of the 18th century.

The aliquot viols include the six-string viol and violoncelli all'inglese, which are common in Italy . Little is known about her, apart from some compositions that Antonio Vivaldi left for her. Apparently the nickname did not refer to England, but was borrowed from English Violet . These instruments came from Bohemia and had an "angelic" sound, which led to the wrong name when translated back into Italian.

The seven-string bass viola

Right: seven-string viola da gamba in the bass register (Paris, Musée de la Musique), on the left a baroque cello for comparison

The invention of the bass viola with an additional string wound with silver wire in Kontra-A is generally attributed to Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe . Instruments of this type did not only become known in Germany at the same time, they were seen much earlier in Italian paintings, e.g. B. on Jacopo Tintoretto's women making music (approx. 1555) or Domenichinos Santa Cecilia (1618). Then there was the interest in antiquity of the Italian humanists. They had interpreted the Greek lyre as a string instrument and tried to recreate it in the lira da braccio .

The German types were different from the French. It can therefore be assumed that the development took place in parallel. This type was only fully developed in France. Antonio Stradivari's construction plans for a seven-string viola alla francese show that it was also a French specialty in Italy. The addition of a lower instead of a higher string, with which the player could have avoided changing positions, followed a trend around 1600. Music had discovered the bass register. The shift further into the bass region made the middle and high registers appear softer. The double A string increased the resonance. The instrument offered more opportunities to play chords.

The alto and tenor viola

Portrait of the composer Carl Friedrich Abel with a bass viol. Painting by Thomas Gainsborough (1765)

During the Renaissance there was only one instrument for the alto and tenor registers , which was known in English as the tenor and in French as the waist ("middle"). In Germany today it is mostly called "alto viol". The Chest of viols (English "a set of viols ") of an English house in the 17th century comprised six instruments, two each for the treble, tenor and bass.

The alto / tenor viola was indispensable in consort playing in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was used exclusively in ensemble play; there is almost no solo literature for this instrument. It was mostly tuned along the lines of the lute - a fourth above the bass viol. Sometimes a small tenor viola was also tuned a whole tone higher, but less for reasons of the range than for sound differentiation in the upper middle register.

The construction of alto / tenor violas continued in Germany into the early 18th century. After that, the instrument under the name Violetta coincided with the viola , because the external voices in the musical movement became increasingly important. Whether one continues to use the alto viola can only be found in a few compositions, e.g. B. clarify clearly by Carolus Hacquart . Clefs in orchestral scores up to the middle of the century at least suggest and also support the assumption that it has remained an ensemble instrument. Late examples of its use are Georg Philipp Telemann's Concerto for Two Violets in G major, Johann Sebastian Bach's 6th Brandenburg Concerto and his Cantata 18 .

The treble violas

Treble viola after Praetorius' Syntagma musicum

The six-string treble viola is tuned an octave above the bass viola. She was a permanent member of the consort from the middle of the 16th to the end of the 17th century. However, because of its relatively weak sound, it was unable to assert itself and was therefore treated as an alla bastarda instrument in mixed ensembles, i.e. H. Replaced by alto viola or baroque violin as desired. Her playing was more figurative-soloistic than chordal. The English treble viol had been in strong competition with the violin since the second third of the 17th century. Only a few decades later it had established itself as a solo instrument with its own virtuoso literature, particularly as the French Dessus de viole (French soprano viola, literally "above the viola"). Although this sounded less brilliant than contemporary violins, it had a soft tone that was capable of modulation. Similar to the seven-string bass viol, the lowest string was mainly used to strengthen the resonance. That is why the Dessus was valued in addition to the violin into the 18th century and was given original literature such as Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonata in G major (TWV 41: G 6) or solo sonatas by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach .

Around 1700 the Dessus was supplemented by the Pardessus de viole (French: "still above [above the Dessus]"). It was an even smaller viola with five to six strings, one of which was also high. Its body adapted to the shape of the violin thanks to the extended corners on the central frame. In the case of the five-string pardessus, the Quinton, the curved bottoms and the overhang of the ceiling of the modern violin occurred occasionally. However, the characteristic flat upper bows were retained at all times. The difference between Pardessus and Quinton was more reflected in the literature for the instruments, since the latter was not strung in a fourth-third, but in a fourth-fifth. The Quinton was a hybrid form between the viola da gamba and the violin. It always remained a pure solo instrument that never found its way into the consort. Its high and sweet sound, which remains soft up to the d '' ', is diminished in the low due to the lack of a string and appears thin and insubstantial there.

The violone

Violone after Praetorius' Syntagma musicum

The violone is known as a bridge instrument to the double bass. However, this design is just as difficult to classify as the viola bastarda.

The term violone (Italian for "large viola") had been in use for several types of viol since the 16th century, including instruments above the bass register. Merely a mention as contrabasso di viola indicated a bass viol. Strictly speaking, the violone is not part of the gamba viol, as it is a 16 'instrument that it stands on the floor to be played on. Peculiarities such as the body shape with curved central bows make it more recognizable as a violin instrument. In addition to the sloping shoulders, however, the fourth tuning is the decisive factor for belonging to the viols. Both continue in the double bass.

The difference between bass viola and violone is related to the musical function of both instruments. In the figured bass , a double bass instrument is only recorded as the lowest voice around 1630. The representation in Praetorius' Syntagma musicum seems to be dimensioned too small for its register. As the other viola da gamba instruments continued to shrink from the middle of the 16th century, the Renaissance bass viol became a 12 'violone, while the contrabasso di viola evolved into a 16' instrument.


The characteristic difference between the violas and the violins lies in their string tuning, the leading interval of which is not the fifth, but the fourth. A tuning exclusively in fourths, as it is still used today for the double bass, was evident in the instruments of the French Renaissance . The German viols of this epoch added a third interval, the position of which, however, changed. The German musicians adopted this string tuning from the Italian ones, who transferred the vocal practice of the lute to the violas. On the one hand, the fourth of the six strings - the number of strings also adapted to the lute - was spaced a major third, on the other hand, the Italians preferred the highest possible tuning and therefore tensed the highest choir as much as possible. Martin Agricola's Musica instrumentalis deudsch (1529) even recommended that the highest string should be stretched just before the break point. On the other hand, a tuning of the lowest string on D became common, as it would later also be in practice in the multi-choir baroque lute.

The fourth tuning became the standard in the following period, so that the additional strings of the French pardessus and the seven-string violas were each a fourth apart from the next one below. The tunings of the German viola bastarda , the English lyra viol and the baryton were not fixed. They adjusted to the key of the piece to be played. In any case, the moods given in historical works are not to be regarded as absolute rules, but only as relative models. On the one hand, they refer to the highest string as a reference tone (which in turn depends on the type of construction, the individual instrument and its stringing and can therefore vary considerably); on the other hand, a common pitch is necessary in ensemble play. If the highest string of a viola lyre is given as d ', this is not to be understood as a tuning tone in today's sense.

The development to a fixed concert pitch was not made until the English instruments around 1620, which could be tuned together with the violins and the keyboard instruments commonly used at the time, such as the virginal and spinet , as is still practiced in chamber and orchestral music to this day . This reduced the need for transposition for the players and the gamba got a “fixed” mood in the ensemble. The tuning given by Ganassi in the Regola Rubertina (1542) can be taken as the standard :

  • Treble viol: dgc′-e′-a′-d ′ ′
  • Alto viol: Gcfad′-g ′
  • Tenor viol: DGcead ′
  • Great bass viol: ′ D-′GCEAd

The solo tunings sometimes differ considerably from the ensemble tunings. Mainly the English lyre viol and the German dessus de viole changed from a chord to a melody instrument through their moods, especially in the works of solo literature from the 18th century onwards, which required a characteristic timbre.

Ensemble regulations for the viola da gamba:

16th century
16th century
16th century
17th century
17th century
Jörg Weltzell (1523) Philibert Jambe de Fer (1556) John Playford (1652) Gianmaria Lanfranco (1533) Marin Mersenne (1636)
VdG tuning Ens 01.jpg
VdG Mood Ens 02.jpg

Alto / tenor bass
VdG tuning Ens 03.jpg
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VdG Mood Ens 05.jpg
VdG tuning Ens 03.jpg

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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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VdG Mood Ens 11.jpg
VdG Mood Ens 12.jpg

VdG tuning Ens 09.jpg

Alto / tenor bass
VdG mood Ens 13.jpg

VdG Mood Ens 11.jpg

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Alto / tenor bass
VdG mood Ens 10.jpg

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Martin Agricola (1528) Samuel Mareschall (1589) Adriano Banchieri (1609) and Pedro Cerone (1613) Thomas Mace (1676) Jean Rousseau (1687)
VdG mood Ens 14.jpg

Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto tenor bass
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Hans Gerle (1532)
  Scipione Cerreto (1601) James Talbot (before 1700)  
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Martin Agricola (1545)   Ludovico Zacconi (1592), Michael Praetorius (1619)    
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Alto / tenor bass
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Alto / tenor bass
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Solo tuning of individual types of instruments:

Viola Bastarda
Praetorius (1619)
Lyra viol and
viola bastarda
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Lyra way
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Fifths or Alfonso way Eights or Alfonso his second way Harp way sharp Harp way flat High harp way sharp High harp way flat
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Basse de viole Dessus de viole Pardessus de viole
and Quinton
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Playing technique

The playing stance

This player shows the correct playing posture of the viola da gamba on a bass instrument.

In contrast to the violoncello, which had stood on a spike since the first half of the 19th century, the viola da gamba had no auxiliary means. The larger instruments are wedged tightly between the legs, but the player does not use the knees - which could lead to cramping and chronic pain, as Le Sieur Danoville describes in L'Art de Toucher le Dessus et Basse de Violle (1687) - but the thigh muscles. On the one hand, this clarifies why the instrument is called da gamba ; on the other hand, it shows that the Germanized word “Kniegeige” is basically factually incorrect.

For this play posture, the seat must be high enough that both legs bend at right angles in the knee joints and the thighs are horizontal. The viol is supported on the calves and thus sits higher than the violoncello; as a result, the vibrations of the lower frames are less dampened and the sound develops more strongly. In addition, the player is in a more favorable position to strike the strings immediately above the bridge. If the player pushes his left foot forward a little, he gets more bow freedom on the high strings, especially with a bass viol. The neck is tilted back to play against the left shoulder, but not ajar. The slope gives the bow hand more space.

It is unclear whether the position of the feet negatively influenced the playing posture. A large number of the portraits from the 17th and 18th centuries show players in the typical high-heeled shoes of their time, so that they could not put their soles flat on the ground.

The left hand

Playing the viola da gamba was influenced by lute practice until the end of the 17th century. The fingering differs in many ways from the technique on modern string instruments. The notes held at their grip position are essential for playing - called holds in English literature , tenues in French - which the player only releases when he needs his finger for another note or when the finger position becomes uncomfortable. The viola fingering technique is generally designed for an instrument played with several voices. The handles that are held also combine economic and tonal aspects. On the one hand, they train the player to generally not lift their fingers too far so that they can easily be put back on the fingerboard. On the other hand, they lengthen the swing of the string. In addition, there is the aesthetic impression of playing the viola, which, according to textbooks such as Thomas Maces Musick’s Monument (1676), has to be done in calm, gentle movements, including the stepping up or stepping down required by the tenues . In individual cases this technique requires a wide spread of the hand from the second to the seventh fret. Jean Baptiste Besard's Isagoge (1617) mentions methods that practice tension but tend to damage the hand:

“You can find them vil / who both raise / stretch / expand / expand their fingers by hand. Others stretch the same on a table etc. Quite a few rub their hands with Tartar Oli : So I saw in Italy too / that some of them put heavy rings / and made out of Bley / or nice gloves on their fingers. "

- Jean Baptiste Besard : Isagogue in artem testudinariam

As in the lute fingering technique, the position of the left thumb also changed. Since the viol literature z. In the work of Monsieur Demachy and Marin Marais, for example, if the straight position was assumed for double grips, the thumb gradually moved from its position opposite the index finger to the middle finger.

The grip hand on the tenor and bass viol is held with an angled wrist, the fingers lie directly behind the frets, the thumb holds the index finger opposite the neck of the instrument.

If the string technique on modern instruments avoids the open strings, because they sound less colorful due to the thinner overtone structure (and since vibrato , which has been established as a "normal" playing technique since the 1920s, only works by tapping), then they become with who prefers the viola da gamba. Up until the end of the 17th century, players used empty strings even for passages that required multiple string changes. English and German tablatures as well as French fingerings explicitly required this. The playing technique only presupposed the fingered notes for embellishments such as vibrato or trills or used them for unison double fingerings that either serve to reinforce the tone or, with alternately bowed empty and fingered strings, change the timbre of the tone. Trills on two strings are possible in principle, but rarely make sense in terms of playing technique. After all, the fingered string was discussed in ensemble play as a means to leave out unmatched open strings, since the pitch can be corrected by the fingering.

The position game developed unevenly across regions . In Italy it developed in the 16th century, in England during and in Germany only towards the end of the 17th century. The highest notated notes in Italian literature are f '', g '' and finally h '' in Richardo Rogniono . They speak for an expansion of the general tonal range and for an increasingly complex technique, since they appeared in figurative solo works. Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger used the English division viol up to the f ", the following generations up to the a" or up to the 17th semitone. In general, the frame interval of the works for the lyre viol moved up. Extreme locations, however, remained the isolated case. In the beginning of the 18th century, layered playing, which facilitated double stops and the polyphonic setting due to the smaller reach, marked the bridging between the lute and the cello in terms of technology and sound; technically by playing in fretless regions close to the bridge, tonally in the adjustment to the high instruments and in the expansion of the timbre, e.g. B. by high set chords on the lower strings.

A special feature of the 17th century are Dessus and Pardessus de viole as well as the octave position of the bass viol. Deviating from the usual technique, they are fingered in diatonic steps. The little finger supports the grip hand by resting on the seventh fret. Danoville first described this grip mode. In the case of treble instruments, the change results from the small size of the instrument, which complicates chromatic fingering in solo playing. With the bass viol it is a logical consequence of double the size, so that the scale length one octave above the open string corresponds exactly to the treble.

The right hand

The bowing technique of the viola da gamba is hardly documented in the Renaissance. The direction of the stroke must have played a subordinate role. Only Ganassis Lettione seconda drew an analogy to the lute technique and equated the flap of the thumb of the right hand with the upstroke, i.e. H. with the arching movement from the tip to the frog. The stroke style of modern instruments is exactly the opposite, here the smear is the main stroke. The difference can be explained when one takes into account that a powerful stroke, as it is the violin-typical overhand grip, did not correspond to the style ideal of the time. Especially the strong accent near the frog was considered undesirable, Ortiz ' Tratado admonished to avoid it. Mace instructed:

“Now being thus far ready for exercise attempt the striking of your strings; but before you do that, Arm yourself with Preparative Resolutions to gain a Handsome-Sweet-Smart-Clear-Stroke; or else Play not at all: for your Viol be never so good, if you have an Unhandsom-Harsh-Rugged-Scratching-Scraping-Stroak, (as too many have) your Viol will seem Bad, and your Play Worse. "

- Thomas Mace : Musick's Monument

Well, when you're ready to practice, try bowing your strings; but before you do that, prepare yourself with the resolution to create a pleasant, soft, smooth and clear stroke, but otherwise not to play at all, because your viol will never sound good. With an uncomfortable, rough, wild, scratchy and scraping stroke (like too many have) your viol will seem bad and your playing even worse. "

- translation

The player uses the entire length of the bow. He leads it in a straight line at right angles to the strings, without moving the tip up or down. The desired stroke creates a long, full sound. Dynamic differences, especially the swelling and swelling, which were part of the sound production up to and including the Baroque era, are accomplished by the player by adjusting the pressure on the bow pole. This was the only way to liven up the tone as the vibrato was only used as an ornament.

Holding the bow under grip: thumb and index finger hold the bow, the index finger presses on the bow stick, while the middle finger tensions the bow hair. At the beginning of the smear (above) the wrist is bent and "opens" with the smear (below).

To hold it, the thumb and index finger grasp the bow stick, the first two limbs of the index finger are on the stick. The middle finger slides between the bar and the hair to give the cover additional tension. The ring finger can also support the middle finger. The upward movement is carried out three-quarters of the way from the shoulder joint with the wrist bent, then the wrist completes the stroke with a stretching movement. Conversely, the smear begins from the shoulder and the wrist returns to its "closed" starting position. Some schools recommended handling the bow directly on the frog; other teachers, such as Mace, recommended two to three inches (5–8 cm) clearance. The position affects the game. A grip closer to the frog makes the whole bow heavier on the strings due to more weight at the tip. On the other hand, if you keep the bow in the bar, it becomes “lighter” and favors the movements when changing strings. The bow hold requires some skill, because the interaction of bar pressure and pressure on bow hair must be balanced, the wrist at the same time in a relaxed position and the musculoskeletal system of the arm up to the shoulder relaxed in order to execute fast passages with quick bow strokes easily and fluently. This is especially important in the smear. If the overhand grip changes the volume, since finger pressure and arm weight add up, the two forces can be used independently for articulation in the underhand grip position. The position of the upper arm - straight outstretched or swinging with the bow movement - has been the subject of controversial discussion in historical viol schools.

Another controversial issue was the distance between the bridge and the painted area. While Christopher Simpsons The Division Viol (1665) allowed two to three inches for the bass viol , Danoville gave three fingers (approx. 5½ cm) as a guideline. Overall, the distance was much smaller than with today's instruments and the tolerance for deviations was just as small. The reason lies in the way the viola da gamba is addressed. Stroking on the bridge requires more bow pressure and produces a hard tone, but near the fingerboard it sounds queasy and has few overtones. The flat design of the bridge and fingerboard also harbors the risk of accidentally painting several strings if the bow pressure is too strong. However, the otherwise undesirable timbre changes were also used for articulation and affect shaping in solo play.

Polyphony on the viola da gamba consists of arpeggio playing , which was already known in the 17th century. Francesco Corbetta brought the guitar to Paris in 1656. Louis XIV liked it so much that it soon became a fashion instrument. The striking technique, which is fundamentally different from plucking the lute, made the instrument popular. Although there are no representations from the 17th century that prove the arpeggio as a basic technique of polyphonic viol playing, it was only in the preface to his Pièces de clavecin en concert (1741) that Jean-Philippe Rameau gave a clear indication of the execution of chords. Nonetheless, it is likely that the arpeggio had previously been particularly cultivated on the violin lyre, since the polyphonic cadences by Simpson and Tobias Hume suggest that it was not only used as an ornament. A similar way of playing in French music is the en plein (French for "in the middle") used by Marais , i. H. the simultaneous painting of three strings. Because stronger bow pressure is required for this, the distance to the bridge is also increased in order to avoid background noise. To support the tension, the ring finger next to the middle finger is essential.

Marin Marais: La Guitare.  Pièces de violes III No. 107 (1711)

An example of arpeggio playing is Marais' La Guitare from Pièces de violes III (1711). Musical text and execution options

Analogous to this, the style brisé (French: "broken style") of the French lute technique in England developed a set of three- and four-part playing on two strings by interlacing two voices on each string: the player jumps cross and skipping back and forth with the bow between the strings, so that a pseudo polyphony of broken melody lines is created. The bowing for this requires, on the one hand, lightness, on the other hand, the grip hand must ensure that the notes do not fade away too quickly.

Alfonso Ferrabosco d.  J .: Almaine 16. Lessons (1609)

The openwork work of the Style brisé in Alfonso Ferrabosco's three-part Almaine 16 from the Lessons (1609)

History and repertoire

Seamless viols in Martin Agricola's Musica instrumentalis deudsch (1529)

The viola da gamba appeared at the end of the 15th century in Italy and Flanders as an ensemble instrument with five or six strings. Their playing technique was strongly influenced by the lute, the music by the Franco-Flemings and the Venetian School . The diminution game received special attention , i. H. the decoration of melodic lines. The viola da gamba was popular in Germany and France as a bass instrument and a basso continuo instrument used. Especially in England it developed into a solo instrument under Italian influence. In the course of the 17th century, the viol division and the viol lyre, which were suitable for playing with several voices, were created here. This was the starting point for further training in playing technique in France. While in Germany and England cultural life stagnated due to the wars, viol music flourished in France. New types such as the seven-string bass viol and two types of treble violas were introduced. The stylized dance and suite sets were considered a stylistic model for the age of absolutism throughout Europe until the 18th century. Then the popularity of the viola da gamba waned, as two new instruments, the violin and cello, took its place. The viol was almost forgotten until the turn of the 20th century. Then a new interest in the instrument family awoke. In addition to a thorough research into the history of music , the viola playing was rediscovered in the course of historical performance practice . In the present day the viola da gamba is once again part of the concert life of early music .

16th century


Instruments of the viola da gamba style first appeared in Italy towards the end of the 15th century at the papal courts of the Borgia in Ferrara , Mantua and Urbino . All three houses had close political and cultural ties with Spain. A letter from Bernardo Prospero, then Chancellor of the Este in Ferrara, described the novelty in the sound of a Spanish viol ensemble as più presto dolce che de multa arte (Italian: “rather sweet than artful”). There had already been chordal playing on the minstrel's fiddle , and melodic playing in mixed ensembles of wind and string instruments. What was new about a string instrument was the playing position between the legs.

Lattanzio Gambara : Detail from a fresco (around 1560). The middle register instrument is still strongly reminiscent of a vihuela due to its fully rounded rim.

The viol ensemble was created parallel to the Dutch polyphony . Both combined the homogeneous ensemble sound of the movement with equal parts, which are arranged in registers following the example of the human voice . A tendency towards the bass register became apparent early on. H. for building enlarged instruments for low frequency ranges. The viola ensemble stayed in the 12 'register for over two centuries. In doing so, the musicians pursued the goal of creating independent instrumental sound bodies that were able to cover all pitches even without the singing voice . The first painted evidence of a viola da gamba can be found on a picture by Timoteo Viti (around 1500). Baldassare Castigliones Libro del Cortigiano (1508–1516, published 1528) already mentions the playing of a gamba consort based on the vocal leading style of the Dutch. Complete sets of six or seven instruments in the style of the chest of viols were already available. The solo play was not yet known. The viola da gamba types differed north and south of the Alps. In the north area five-string instruments were preferred, in the south area six-string instruments, which took over the tuning and playing technique from the lute. The southern type would ultimately prove to be decisive.

The viola da gamba spread in Italy in the academies and educated circles. After the vihuela, they were initially called simply viola, then because of their frets viola da tasti (Italian "with frets") or, to clarify the string technique, viola de arco (Italian "with bow"). To distinguish it from the small string instruments that one held in one's arm while playing, one also used viole grande and violoni (not to be confused with the violone), which ultimately led to paradoxes such as soprano di viole grande or soprano di violoni - which had the meaning became so independent that the violas had become a generic term. In the lexicons and music schools of the time, with Hans Gerle , Hans Judenkönig and Martin Agricola , they were treated as relatives of the lute, which was to be reflected in the playing technique and tablature notation in the following years . With two and a half octaves, the instruments had a larger pitch range than others and, thanks to their adaptable tuning, allowed chromatic and enharmonic movements that the mid-tone tuning could not achieve.

The viola da gamba was used by Nicolas Gombert and Adrian Willaert , Philippe de Monte and Luca Marenzio as a new type of medium of expression that reflects human affects through the tone design , and in some cases (while a variable line-up was quite common at this time) was even required. At this time, the practice of rewriting vocal works such as madrigals and motets as instrumental movements began. This formed the basis of the consort repertoire. The treble instruments were not of great importance before 1580, bass and tenor viols dominated the line-up. For the lowest possible pitch, the bridge was sometimes moved down when it was movable.

During this time, instrumental playing first became the subject of discussions and, finally, of the viol schools, which established practice and aesthetics. The technique first developed the layer game above the frets, the practice of the consorts the diminution game , as described in Diego Ortiz ' Tratado (1553): improvising embellishments of the individual part in the context of contrapuntal voice leading. This playing technique came to England through Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder . Girolamo Dalla Casa's two-volume basic work II vero modo di diminuir con le tutte le sorte di stromenti (1584) coined the term Bastarda for the diminishing voices. Praetorius described him in De Organographia as follows:

“Don't know / whether that's why they got the name / that it is, as it were, a bastard of all voices; Always tied to no voice alone / but a good master of the madrigals, and whatever else he wants to music on this instrument / nimps in front of him / and the fugues and harmony with all diligence through all voices through and through / now above out of Cant, soon below the bass / soon in the middle of the tenor and alto search / adorns with saltibus and diminutionibus / and tractiret so that you can hear almost all the voices in their fugues and cadents. "

- Michael Praetorius : De Organographia

From this it is not clear whether it was a question of a new instrument development or a playing practice for all voices. After all, it can also express that the viola bastarda played every theme in every part. It developed into a solo instrument at the end of the 16th century. Francesco Rognioni , son of Richardo Rogniono, was one of the first virtuosos .

Diego Ortiz: Recercada on "O felici occhi miei"

The early polyphonic style in a madrigal arrangement by Diego Ortiz: Recercada on O felici occhi miei

Cover picture of the Regola Rubertina

The Italians only played chords as a song accompaniment in a mixed ensemble. Giuliano Tiburtino and Ludovico Lasagnino remained the only champions that Silvestro Ganassis Lettione seconda considered worth mentioning. The viola da gamba was still overshadowed by the lute, and while Rognioni believed it to become the “queen of all diminishing instruments” in solo play, the lira da gamba and lira da braccio took over the chordal tasks. Although some musicians, such as Alessandro Striggio the Elder, mastered both liras and violas, the difference between the instruments seems to have hardly been noticed by contemporary observers.


The angel concert on the second side of Matthias Grünewald's Isenheimer Altar (approx. 1506–1515) is one of the most famous representations in German Renaissance painting. The instrument roughly corresponds to Agricola's depiction, but the angel's playing technique is more symbolic than realistic.

The great German textbooks of the 16th century, Sebastian Virdungs Musica tutscht und pulled out (1511) and Agricolas Musica instrumentalis deudsch (1529), dealt with the wind instruments that were more abundant. The representation of the string instruments remained poor - the number of strings, the representation of bridges, the assignment to instrument families, the body outlines were rarely correct - and was based on the fact that the authors had less practical knowledge than, for example, B. Ganassi could acquire. German music was dominated by wind instruments such as zinc and trombone , shryari , shawms and recorders , as well as organ and shelf . Gerle's and Agricola's works pursued a pedagogical rather than an artistic-philosophical claim, because they wanted to introduce the string instruments into German musical life, which during the Reformation period was fundamentally different from the Italian Renaissance. The situation only changed towards the end of the century. In 1571 a dealer, on behalf of the Fugger, bought a Chest of viols, six “large French violins” made in London for the court in Munich . The viola da gamba also found its way into the German musical landscape.

Hans Mielich : The court chapel in Munich (16th century). The ensemble took up the orchestral technique that Orlando di Lasso had learned in Italy.

From 1562 Orlando di Lasso worked as court music director in Munich. He had experienced Italian musical life during his student days. As a "fundamental instrument" he integrated the viola da gamba in the Munich court orchestra, which later became the model for the ensembles oriented towards figured bass. The practice of diminution benefited from this both directly and indirectly, and also the compositional style of the polychoral . The viola da gamba had become an element of musical renewal and at the same time had taken on a supporting function in ensemble playing. The German viols were mostly five-string and differed from the Italian models in construction, which was less influenced by the lute . Their moods were particularly suitable for ensemble playing. Diminutions have been recommended to embellish clauses . The virtuoso solo playing was just beginning. As in Italy, literature mainly comprised vocal forms such as song and motet sentences. In contrast to Italian music, the line-up never explicitly required gamba parts. They also did not take into account the dance movements that appeared parallel to the French suites . This was a consequence of the German wind tradition.


The first French viols described by Philibert Jambe de Fers Epitome musical (1556) were more related to the German than to the Italian. Initially, the shape of the body had characteristics of the violin type. In addition, they were always tuned in fourths without the lute-typical third in the middle. In addition, Jambe de Fer emphasized the high social status of the game of the viola. The sound of the violin he described as plus rude (fr. "Very rough"), she was a minstrel's instrument, not an instrument of making. The contemporary action books indicated Italian, German and Flemish names of musicians. They had brought their southern and northern Alpine instrument types with them into the country. The musicians from the northern Alps seem to have enjoyed a special reputation. They were used for presentation to foreign state guests. In contrast to the Italian chamber music of the academic circles, the French musical life was more oriented towards the display of festive splendor. Consorts in the typical cast of six played on public occasions, at theater performances, even in the open air.

The pictorial works of the 16th century indicate that the bass-heaviness continued in France. Overman-high basse-contre instruments were built, larger than the violone . Although the Italian six-string viola da gamba type had already been introduced in the second half of the century and promoted by Jacques Mauduit , the five-string instrument still predominated until the middle of the 17th century and was the preferred school instrument. The repertoire included chanson and motet arrangements, dances as preliminary forms of the French suite and fantasies . The compositions by Claude Gervaise , Eustache du Caurroy , Estienne du Tertre , Jacques Moderne and Claude Le Jeune are often still purely homophonic and not very artful.


While German music gave the wind instruments a higher rank, the English developed a special interest in stringed instruments from the late Middle Ages . Around 1547 Henry VIII's inventory included 54 violas and lutes. By the time of Elizabeth I , the consort business matured to full bloom. The gamba spread in England until 1540. King's Musick, the court orchestra of the kings, was open to international musicians. Since the middle of the 16th century, numerous Italians settled in London, especially former Jewish converts from northern Italy who had fled the continent before the Spanish Inquisition . They included the Bassano family, whose head Jeronimo had come to the royal court from Venice . The descendants, u. a. his son Anthony Bassano , worked as a flutist and violist in a six-part consort in the chapel. Courtly musical life was entirely in Italian hands and mingled with a fully developed national tradition: the vocal works were written in English texts, the folk song melodies were of great importance. Composers such as William Byrd and later Orlando Gibbons wrote madrigal compositions that were played as instrumental versions in the viol consort. The four- to five-part consort song emerged from the folk airs as a mixed vocal-instrumental line- up .

17th century


The viola da gamba remained a valued solo instrument and had left the chord playing to the lira da gamba. However, this should not prevail over the long term. At the end of the 17th century it went out of style. A tendency of the Italian Renaissance was the development of a modern concert life with the separation of performers and listeners. Instrumental ensembles were formed with a solo viola, violins and prongs . The viol consort lost its leading role in Italy after 1600. Although many sources from the late 17th century still show gambists, chamber music playing was only practiced occasionally in sacred concerts or academies. In the meantime the viola bastarda has developed into a solo part with continuo accompaniment in court circles. More important, however, was the development of the violin literature. In contrast to the bass heaviness of other musical cultures, the Italians preferred high registers. They focused their interest on the upper part and only used the bass as a harmonic support function. The brilliant sound of the baroque violin quickly overtook the treble viol. The bass viols remained only as continuo instruments.


Detail from Abraham Lambertsz. van den Tempels David Leeuw with his family (1671). The gambist is Leeuw's son Pieter. His viola bastarda, which has two individually shaped sound holes and a rosette, has a significantly narrower lower frame. This certainly made it easier for the young instrumentalist to play.

The consort game enjoyed undiminished popularity. The English musicians also made use of the lute, it remained on a par with the viola. Textbooks such as Thomas Robinson's The Schoole of Musicke (1603) mostly dealt with both instruments. Title pages with scoring information such as to be sung to the lute or viol (English "to sing with lute or viol accompaniment ") left a free choice in the execution. The lyre viol continued to use the French lute tablature. The two instruments coexisted as solo instruments with no points of contact. Many players mastered both the viola and the lute or the theorbo , which was predominant as a figured bass instrument until 1620; later (unlike on the continent) the organ was used. But apart from John Dowland's Lachrimae or Seaven Teares (1604), no work has survived that combined consort and solo lute.

Violone in a picture by Peter Lely (around 1650). The painting shows an English division viol with ƒ-shaped sound holes and flat upper bows.

The music of the English upper class was determined by two institutions, the court orchestra in the secular and the Chapel Royal in the spiritual sphere. Both of them continued to employ Italian musical dynasties, but also domestic composers such as Nicholas Lanier , John Bull , Thomas Lupo , Robert Johnson , Thomas Ford , William Lawes , John Jenkins and Thomas Tomkins , who enjoyed a privileged position as state dignitaries. In this elite class, the viola da gamba functioned as a status symbol. The instruments were decorated with inlays and carvings and painted with family crests. The gut strings were imported from Italy at high cost. Printed songs and madrigals were sometimes dedicated to commoners, but the solo viol literature was only dedicated to members of the aristocracy. With a few exceptions, the consort music did not appear in print, but was limited to handwritten copies.

From 1600 on, diminutions with a strong rhythmic component over an ostinate bass are known, the divisions upon a ground . The viol division, its players and the divisions were also famous in continental Europe. The English showed no interest in the lira da gamba. They preferred the violet lyre because it was suitable for a variety of string tunings; these were derived from triad breaks . In terms of playing technique, Division viol and Lyra viol were not completely separated from each other. The viol division was suitable for both chordal playing and the viol lyre for diminutions.

Christopher Simpson: Ground and Division

Christopher Simpson: The Ground and a Division possibility

Some theorists, among them musicians such as Praetorius and Mersenne, scientists such as René Descartes and Francis Bacon , had dealt in depth with the excitation of resonances in vibratory systems . The invention of the era was sympathetic strings; H. those that pick up the vibration of bowed strings and amplify the instrumental sound. The lyre viol was the first sympathetic string instrument that could be played.

Around 1625 there was a turning point in English culture. Around the coronation year of Charles I and at a high point in English music history, numerous well-known English composers, Byrd, Gibbons, Cooper, Dowland, Bull and Ferrabosco died. On her move, the young Queen Henrietta Maria brought a retinue of musicians to London who replaced the Italian influence with the French: two-part dance forms, subtle embellishments and the precious taste of the time. The consort literature and the music of the lyre viol took the French lute music as a model. New ensemble forms with heterogeneous line-ups were formed. Lawes' Harp Consorts are combined for violin, division viol, harp and theorbo, for harmonies of gut and metal strings. Jacques Gaultier revitalized lute music with compositions in the brisé style, that is, with multi-part melody lines shifted against each other. Gamba music later imitated this technique. New moods of three thirds and scordatures for the lute were created. The music experienced an aesthetic over-refinement.

The civil war and the subsequent republican period destroyed public cultural life. No new sheet music appeared in print for a good two decades. The schools no longer trained any offspring. Most of the musicians were expelled or withdrew into private life. English music fell back on the status of amateurism , which still had productive composers such as John Jenkins or Christopher Simpson , but no longer had technically experienced instrumentalists. A new national music school resided in exile in Oxford . Here the students showed that the violin was still quite unknown to them compared to the viol: they tuned it in fourths instead of fifths and held it between their legs like a treble viol. But even after the coronation of Charles II and the return to the monarchy, the tradition did not recover. The viol consort remained in the private circles of the gentry instead of returning to the court orchestra. The viol division was able to hold its own for a while next to the emerging violin. After that, French taste in the style of Jean-Baptiste Lully's Vingt-Quatre Violons du Roy dominated King's Musick . Some of Henry Purcell's fantasies have survived. Consorts played in the country until the 18th century. In 1652 the publisher John Playford published the school work Musick's Recreation on the Lyra-viol (English. "Musical recovery on the Lyra viol"), which only became more undemanding with each of the three new editions. Then the viola da gamba was forgotten.


Johann Kupetzky : Portrait of a musical lady (17th century). The treble viol, here a dessus de viole, was considered a typical women's instrument.

Consort music remained the exception in France. Few composers such as Claude Le Jeune , Louis Couperin and Marc-Antoine Charpentier wrote ensemble works, and these too had a maximum of four voices. The ensemble model remained Lully's Vingt-Quatre Violons du Roy, whose sound and orchestral discipline better accentuated the representative music of the Bourbon kings. The wording differed from the English. While the treble part played brilliant solo passages for the Dessus de viole, the middle and lower voices only played an accompanying and supporting role. The six-string viol had become generally accepted. From the experiences with the lute a solo playing technique developed in France in a short time. Famous soloists of the time were André Maugars and Nicolas Hotman .

Marin Marais with the seven-string Basse de viole. Portrait of an anonymous painter

The lute and viol repertoire consisted of two-part dance movements, of branches or pairs of one fast and one slow dance, of airs , pieces in free form and preludes . The individual movements were put together to form suites , the connecting element was the key . Its most famous representative as a composer and instrumentalist was Marin Marais . French music showed no interest in diminutions. The refined playing technique turned its attention to the formation of the tone and above all to the ornamentation. The decorations not only became more subtle, they appeared for the first time in large numbers in the musical text, abbreviated or notated with letters and additional symbols. Numerous rules of the game can be found in Jean Rousseau's Traité de la viole, in Simpsons Division Viol, and later in Johann Joachim Quantz 's attempt at an instruction to play the flute traverse (1752).

Marin Marais: idyll

Layer play and ornamentation at Marin Marais: Idylle

Princess Henriette de France as a young viol player. The historicizing portrait of Jean-Marc Nattier was created in 1754.

Presumably Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe introduced the seventh string in Contra-A on the bass viola. Seven-string viols were already known and the trend towards bass heaviness was reflected in the deep French tone. In 1688 there was a public dispute between Rousseau and Demachy over melodic and harmonic playing. The ostensible reason for the polemic was the position of the left thumb. Demachy claimed the old lute technique of holding the thumb across from the index finger. Rousseau appealed to Sainte-Colombe, denied a relationship to lute technique and advocated the position opposite the middle finger. As a result, a distinction was made in violin music between pièces de mélodie and pièces d'harmonie . The textbooks separated.

Germany and the Netherlands

Jan Verkolje : Elegant Couple (around 1674). The viola da gamba corresponds to the typical design of its time.

The English influence on German musical life continued. When the elector Friedrich Elisabeth Stuart married in 1613 , John Cooper settled at the Heidelberg court. Other compatriots followed him and spread the consort technology in the principalities. With the musicians came the instruments, English and Italian viols, and Claudio Monteverdi's five-part madrigals . Johann Hermann Schein's Banchetto musicale (1617) and Samuel Scheidt's Ludi musici (1621) recreated the English soundscape of William Brade and Thomas Simpson . The figured bass from lute, theorbo and harpsichord had already developed further than in other countries. Up to this point, however, the solo literature for the viola da gamba was mainly improvisation and was hardly notated. There are no printed works.

The Thirty Years War shook musical life in Germany, Poland , Bohemia and the Netherlands lastingly. The royal courts fired their musicians, downsized or closed their chapels. The printing of notes stagnated. In 1648 the era of the gamba consort in Germany was over. The English gambists no longer had any standing, and were replaced by Italian musicians who introduced the baroque violin. Due to the political fragmentation of Germany, a diverse musical culture of regional contrasts developed. There was no uniform public carrier of culture. Sacred music came more to the fore. Instrumental music was not in demand in Protestant areas, where word-stressed music was cultivated, and in Calvinist areas , where the believers completely renounced art music. After all , composers such as Johann Philipp Krieger , Philipp Heinrich Erlebach and Dietrich Buxtehude created a German version for violin, viola da gamba and figured bass from the Italian trio sonata for two violins and bass . Playing was limited to the upper three strings and the higher registers, and chordal playing disappeared completely.

Carolus Hacquart. Contemporary engraving in a sheet music edition.

In northern Germany, the Hanseatic cities of Lübeck and Hamburg built their own musical life, which combined the English consort tradition with multi-choir and Italian solo playing. One remembered the previously practiced interchangeability of trombone and viol parts, so that the string instruments found their way back into festive church music. Treble and alto viols disappeared. The bass viol remained as a continuo and solo instrument. Leading institutions were the Hamburger Collegium Musicum to Matthias Weckmann , Johann Schop , Thomas Selle and Christoph Bernhard , originally from Franz Tunder justified Abendmusiken in St. Mary's of Lübeck and the Consort of Frederick William of Brandenburg .

Since the death of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the Netherlands had hardly produced any music of its own, but instead absorbed a lot of foreign influences. The great religious tolerance encouraged the settlement of refugees from all over Europe, Spanish and Portuguese Jews and French Huguenots . Artists such as Walter Rowe , Dietrich Steffkins , Nicolas Hotman , Carolus Hacquart and finally Johannes Schenck , who became the viol player at the Düsseldorf court of Johann Wilhelm II of the Palatinate , worked here. He maintained a mixed style with French-style suites and church sonatas . In its polyphony, however, the set image is sometimes so complicated and overloaded that it seems to have been composed without the gamba fingering technique.

The German viol literature of the 17th century is difficult to judge as a whole because numerous printed tablatures have been lost.

The 18th century


Portrait of the Marquis de Baussan by an anonymous 18th century. The French nobleman holds the pardessus de viole, the smallest of the viol family, in his hand.
Antoine Forqueray: La Marella, the IV. Suite for viola da gamba and basso continuo

After the seven-string Basse de viole had finally established itself in France, Rousseau, Le Sieur Danoville and Marais created a technical foundation for it with compositions for one to three instruments. The repertoire was based on the now formally consolidated suite, on dance movements and character pieces . Marais' spelling was bass-related, the game in the treble register above the continuo, which was popular in Germany and England, was only of secondary importance. In general, the figured bass was treated as secondary, it often only took on a reduction of the main voices.

Hubert Le Blanc's pamphlet Défense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les prétensions du violoncelle (1740) brought a critical discussion . On the one hand she preferred the viola da gamba to the emerging violin and cello, on the other hand she criticized the French pièces and suites as one-sided. Antoine Forqueray brought about a stylistic renewal by introducing suggestions from Italian music into the playing technique. His compositions use the full range of the bass viol and previously unknown chord combinations in all registers. His son Jean-Baptiste , himself a famous gambist, published the compositions after his death.

Another novelty of the century were the two types of treble viol, the Dessus and the Pardessus de viole . A historical point of contention is whether they were originally developed as "ladies' instruments". Both were valued in chamber music because they offered themselves as alternatives to the violin, oboe and the still new transverse flute. The older Forqueray had used it instead of the Basse de viole.


The shape of the viola da gamba was never clearly defined. It experienced its greatest change in the 17th century.

Germany and the rest of Europe adopted the French style. The viola da gamba retained its status as a solo instrument for private use among the aristocracy. Several princes ruled the game, Friedrich Wilhelm I of Brandenburg, Max Emanuel of Bavaria , Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen and Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia .

Carl Friedrich Abel , the son of Christian Ferdinand Abel , is considered the last German virtuoso of the century. Since the end of the 17th century, the viol soloists have become professional traveling musicians (comparable to today's professional instrumental soloists), permanent chamber musicians with diplomatic court posts, such as those held by Johannes Schenck and Ernst Christian Hesse , or they supplemented their field of work with the cello playing. With this step the traditional combination of viol and lute broke off. As in England, the viola had become an amateur instrument and its role was restricted to a substitute instrument. Johann Mattheson commented in The newly opened Orchester (1713):

"Their main use at concerts is to amplify the bass, and some even pretend to bring a (...) general bass to the way / of which I have so far seen a perfect sample / have not had the luck (...)."

- Johann Mattheson : The newly opened orchestra
Gabriel Metsu : Reverie (1663). The sensitive age, however, turned its interest more to the violin and the cello.

Friedrich Wilhelm II tried again to cultivate the viola da gamba. With his teacher Ludwig Christian Hesse , the son of Ernst Christian, he asked Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Forqueray for grades and technical instruction. The contact was made, the compositions sent to Prussia are no longer preserved. Some of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's sonatas for the treble viol were composed during this time. In mixed line-ups with Carl Heinrich Graun , Carl Stamitz a . a. the bass viol was often still an obligatory instrument. Georg Philipp Telemann composed Twelve Fantasies for viola da gamba solo ( Fantaisies pour la Basse de Violle ), which he published in 1735. For the treble viol, which in Germany corresponded more to the Dessus than the Pardessus, Johann Daniel Hardt , Telemann, C. Ph. E. Bach and Johann Melchior Molter wrote works of partly very demanding technique. The rest of the literature consisted mostly of violin music, which was arranged for the viol. At the same time, the instrument makers tried to make technical modifications to improve the sound, even if some characteristics were lost in the process. The neck of these viols tilts back, the bottom is arched, the walls and inner beams are reinforced. But the new guy had no chance and was not accepted into the orchestra .

The last new discovery of the sensitive age was the baryton , which had been played as an instrument for lovers since the end of the 17th century , together with the viola d'amore . Its sound was soft, extremely nuanced and silvery, but the playing technique was relatively difficult because of three strings, one of which was used for plucking . As court musician at Esterházy Palace , Joseph Haydn composed 126 trios for his employer, Prince Nikolaus I. The instrument went out of fashion with the pre-classical period .

Carl Friedrich Abel: Solo sonata for treble viol

Treble viol playing with Carl Friedrich Abel: Sonata for viola da gamba solo in G major, 2nd movement

19th century

With the exception of a few interpreters such as Franz Xaver Hammer or Joseph Fiala , the viola da gamba was practically forgotten in the 19th century. Neither music practice nor specialist literature had dealt with it to any significant extent. In the meantime, the violoncello was seen as a reference point for the viol and played the instruments that were still available without frets , held the bow in the upper handle and placed it on a spike. Many instruments were "converted" into cellos, some were destroyed in the process, and most of the others no longer have the original necks. Numerous viols “discovered” during this period later turned out to be forgeries. The sides were cut lower, the bottoms of treble viols beveled at the lower end so that they can be played in the viola da braccio position; Small instruments were sawed out of the top and bottom of bass viols; the inside of the ceiling was sanded out or lined, and the inner beams were replaced by stronger ones. In addition, some instruments were strung with metal strings, so that the top and bottom collapsed under the pressure.

It was only around 1880 that interest in the viola da gamba reawakened in order to include it in the music of the time. However, this was more of a museum inclination. At the world premiere of Julius Rietz 's opera Georg Neumark und die Gambe (1885) in Weimar, a viola da gamba appeared on the stage, for which Rietz had composed historicizing original music. But the plans to reintegrate the instrument into the orchestra and concert system failed. Instead, viol arrangements were made based on romantic music.

From the 20th century

At the turn of the century, the English instrument maker and music researcher Arnold Dolmetsch , who is considered a pioneer of historical performance practice , set new accents . After studying the sources and doing practical experiments, he founded a six-part consort from members of his family and demonstrated playing the viol in a historically correct playing technique and aesthetic in public concerts. The events were popular and attracted the attention of the English music world.

Textbooks and game music

The first German attempts in textbooks by Paul Grümmer (1928) and Christian Döbereiner (1936), on the other hand, were limited to the solo bass viol. They recognized the historical playing technique, but considered it obsolete. It was not until Joseph Bacher (1932) and August Wenzinger (1935) turned to the historical originals in the course of the youth music movement . In addition to rediscovering old game music for amateur ensembles, they also took up historical playing technique again, albeit only in rudiments. They largely rejected playing on open strings. Only Jean-Louis Charbonnier's Jouer et apprendre la viole de gambe (1976) for the French solo lamb and Play the viol (1989) by Alison Crum and Sonia Jackson for the consort playing provided precise instrumental pedagogical descriptions .

New compositions for viola da gamba

New music for the viola da gamba originated in the youth music movement u. a. by Jens Rohwer , but only very rarely in the further course of the 20th century, e. B. Pierre Bartholomée's Tombeau de Marin Marais for violin, two viols and clarinet or Dieter Krickeberg's quarter-tone Fantasia for four viols , which draws on the chromatic experiments of the 16th century.

In 1931 Hugo Herrmann wrote a concerto for viol and string orchestra (op.79c, UA Vienna), which had its German premiere in Cologne in 1932 with Paul Grümmer and is also dedicated to this early violist of the 20th century.

Jazz, avant-garde and pop composers such as George Benjamin , Michael Nyman , Elvis Costello , Tan Dun , Alexander Goehr , Gavin Bryars , Barrington Pheloung , Barry Guy and Moondog also wrote viol music for individual CD projects . The seventh string ( Tous les matins du monde, 1991) by the French author and director Alain Corneau, based on the novel by Pascal Quignard, reminded the film audience of the music of the 17th century in the form of the viol player Sainte-Colombe ( Jean-Pierre Marielle ) and Marais ( Gérard and Guillaume Depardieu ).

Important gambists and ensembles of the 20th and 21st centuries

Important gambists of the 20th and 21st centuries are August Wenzinger , Wieland Kuijken , Jordi Savall , Josef Ulsamer , Simone Eckert , Susanne Heinrich , Paul Grümmer , Hille Perl , Hans-Georg Kramer , Paolo Pandolfo and Thomas Fritzsch ( 2017 Echo Klassik Prize winners for the world premiere recording of the Twelve Fantasies for viola da gamba solo by Telemann ).

Well-known ensembles for consort music are Fretwork , Ulsamer-Collegium , Phantasm , Hamburger Ratsmusik , the Marais Consort (directed by Hans-Georg Kramer) and The Baltimore Consort .


Historical works

Viola da gamba

  • Christopher Simpson : The Division Viol or The Art of Playing Ex Tempore Upon a Ground. London 1665. Facsimile reprint ed. by J. Curwen & Sons, London 1955.
  • Thomas Mace : Musick's Monument. London 1676. Facsimile reprint ed. from the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 1966.
  • Le Sieur Danoville : L'Art de toucher le dessus et le basse de violle. Paris 1687. Facsimile reprint ed. von Minkoff, Geneva 1972
  • Jean Rousseau : Traité de la viole. Paris 1687. Facsimile reprint ed. von Minkoff, Geneva 1975.
  • Michel Corrette : Méthode pour apprendre facilement à jouer du pardessus de viole à 5 et à 6 cordes avec des leçons a I. and II. Parties. Paris 1738. Facsimile reprint ed. von Minkoff, Geneva 1983.
  • Hubert Le Blanc : Defense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les prétensions du violoncelle. Amsterdam 1740; Facsimile reprint ed. by Karel Lelieveld, The Hague 1983.
  • Michel Corrette: Méthodes pour apprendre à jouer de la contre-basse à 3, à 4 et à 5 cordes, de la quinte ou Alto et de la viole d'Orphée, Nouvel instrument ajousté sur l'ancienne viole. Paris 1781. Facsimile reprint ed. von Minkoff, Geneva 1977.

Game practice and theory

  • Girolamo Dalla Casa : II vero modo di diminuir con le tutte le sorte di stromenti. 2 volumes. Venice 1584. Facsimile reprint ed. by Giuseppe Vecchi, Bologna 1970.
  • Scipione Cerreto : Della Prattica musica vocale, et strumentale. Opera necessaria a coloro, che di musica si dilettano. Carlino, Naples 1601.
  • Pietro Cerone : El Melopeo. Tractado de musica theorica y pratica. Naples 1613. Facsimile reprint ed. by Franco Alberto Gallo, Bologna 1969.
  • Jean Baptiste Besard : Isagogue in artem testudinariam. Augsburg 1617. Facsimile reprint ed. by Peter Päffgen. Junghänel Päffgen Schäffer, Neuss 1974.
  • Marin Mersenne : Harmonie Universelle, contenant La Théorie et la Pratique de la Musique. Paris 1636. Facsimile reprint ed. from the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 1965.
  • Marin Mersenne: Harmonicorum Libri XII. Paris 1648. Facsimile reprint ed. von Minkoff, Geneva 1972.

further reading


  • Christian Döbereiner: About the viola da gamba and the revival of old music on old instruments. Special print from the magazine for music. 1940, issue 10, Leipzig 1940.
  • Hans Bol: La Basse de viole du temps de Marin Marais et d'Antoine Forqueray. Creyghton, Bilthoven 1973 (dissertation).
  • John Rutledge: How did the Viola da gamba sound? In: Early Music. 7 (January 1979), pp. 59-69.
  • Adolf Heinrich König: The viola da gamba. Instructions for studying and making the instruments of the viola da gamba family. A professional knowledge for gamba makers. Erwin Bochinsky, Frankfurt am Main 1985, ISBN 3-923639-64-3 .
  • Annette Otterstedt: The English Lyra Viol. Instrument and technology. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1989, ISBN 3-7618-0968-9 (dissertation).
  • Christian Ahrens: viola da gamba and viola da braccio. Symposium as part of the 27th Days of Early Music in Herne 2002. Munich 2006, ISBN 3-87397-583-1 .
  • Friedemann and Barbara Hellwig: Joachim Tielke. Ornate baroque musical instruments. Deutscher Kunstverlag Berlin / Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-422-07078-3 .
  • Imke David: The sixteen strings of the Italian lira da gamba. Orfeo-Verlag, Osnabrück 1999, ISBN 3-9806730-0-6 .

Web links to the instrument

Instrumental play and music

  • Barbara Schwendowius: The solo gamba music in France from 1650-1740 (= Cologne contributions to music research. Volume 59). Bosse, Regensburg 1970, ISBN 3-7649-2563-9 (also dissertation).
  • Veronika Gutmann: Improvisation on the viola da gamba in England in the 17th century and its roots in the 16th century (= Viennese publications on musicology. Volume 19). Schneider, Tutzing 1979.
  • Alison Crum / Sonia Jackson: Play the viol. The complete guide to playing the treble, tenor, and bass viol. Oxford University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-19-317422-7 .
  • Mark Lindley: Lutes, Gambas and Moods. German by Alois Hoizkrumm. Wilsingen 1990, ISBN 3-927445-02-9 .
  • Fred Flassig: Solo viol music in Germany in the 18th century. Cuvillier, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-89712-241-3 (also dissertation).


Used literature

  • Michael Praetorius : De Organographia . Wolfenbüttel 1619. Reprint Kassel 1929.
  • Alfred Einstein : On German literature for viola da gamba in the 16th and 17th centuries. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig 1905 (dissertation); Reprinted 1972, ISBN 3-500-24050-X .
  • Nathalie Dolmetsch: The viola da gamba. Its origin and history, its technique and musical resources. Hinrichsen Edition, New York / London / Frankfurt am Main / Zurich 1962.
  • Nikolaus Harders: The viola da gamba and special features of its construction. Verlag Das Musikinstrument, Frankfurt am Main 1977, ISBN 3-920112-58-X .
  • Ian Woodfield : The Early History of the Viol . Cambridge University Press, 1984, ISBN 0-521-24292-4 .
  • Annette Otterstedt : The viol. Cultural history and practical guide. Bärenreiter, Kassel u. a. 1994, ISBN 3-7618-1152-7 .
  • Article viola da gamba. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second, revised edition. Bärenreiter, Kassel and JB Metzler, Stuttgart 1998, Sachteil Vol. 9, Sp. 1572–1597 (cited as MGG-S ).

Individual evidence

  1. a b Dolmetsch, p. 24.
  2. a b c d Article Viola da gamba. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . 2nd, revised edition. Bärenreiter, Kassel, and JB Metzler, Stuttgart 1998, Sachteil Vol. 9, Sp. 1572–1597, here: Sp. 1573 (hereinafter cited as MGG-S ).
  3. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (Ed.): Meyers Taschenlexikon Musik. Volume 3: On-Zz. Bibliographisches Institut, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1984, ISBN 3-411-01998-0 , p. 297.
  4. Viola , f . In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 26 : Vesche – Vulkanisch - (XII, 2nd section). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1951, Sp. 365 ( ).
  5. Kaspar von Stieler: The Teutsche Sprache family tree and growth / or Teutscher Sprachschatz. Nuremberg 1691, p. 490.
  6. Johann Mattheson: The perfect Capellmeister. Hamburg 1739, p. 479.
  7. Johann Christoph Adelung : Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect , with constant comparison of the other dialects, but especially the Upper German. 2nd Edition. Leipzig 1793-1801. Volume 4, Col. 1213.
  8. ^ Johann Georg Krünitz : Economic Encyclopedia or general system of the state, city, house and agriculture. Berlin 1773-1858. Volume 225, p. 23.
  9. Viola da gamba. In: Johann Heinrich Zedler : Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts . Volume 48, Leipzig 1746, column 1652.
  10. Praetorius, p. 44 f.
  11. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (Ed.): Meyers Taschenlexikon Musik. Volume 3: On-Zz. Bibliographical Institute, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich 1984, ISBN 3-411-01998-0 , p. 87.
  12. Otterstedt, p. 16.
  13. Otterstedt, p. 17.
  14. Otterstedt, p. 18.
  15. a b c d e MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1580.
  16. Harders, p. 25.
  17. Otterstedt, p. 155.
  18. Harders, p. 26 f.
  19. a b c Otterstedt, p. 202.
  20. Harders, p. 37.
  21. Otterstedt, p. 214.
  22. Otterstedt, p. 212.
  23. Otterstedt, p. 211 f.
  24. Otterstedt, p. 210.
  25. Otterstedt, p. 215 ff.
  26. a b c MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1581.
  27. a b c d Otterstedt, p. 221.
  28. a b Otterstedt, p. 222.
  29. Otterstedt, p. 219.
  30. ^ Jean Rousseau: Traité de la viole . P. 39 f.
  31. Otterstedt, p. 224.
  32. Dolmetsch, p. 31.
  33. Otterstedt, p. 121.
  34. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1582.
  35. a b Otterstedt, p. 125.
  36. Otterstedt, p. 124.
  37. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1583.
  38. Frederick Noad: The Renaissance Guitar (= . The Frederick Noad Guitar Anthology Part 1). Ariel Publications, New York 1974; Reprint: Amsco Publications, New York / London / Sydney, UK ISBN 0-7119-0958-X , US ISBN 0-8256-9950-9 , p. 18 ( Music for the Bandore and Lyra-Viol ).
  39. Frederick Noad: The Renaissance Guitar (= . The Frederick Noad Guitar Anthology Part 1). Ariel Publications, New York 1974; Reprint: Amsco Publications, New York / London / Sydney, UK ISBN 0-7119-0958-X , US ISBN 0-8256-9950-9 , pp. 18, 20 and 116 f.
  40. MGG-S Vol. 9, Col. 1584.
  41. Otterstedt, p. 127.
  42. a b Otterstedt, p. 128.
  43. a b c MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1585.
  44. Denis Diderot / Jean le Rond d'Alembert: Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers . Paris 1751-1772. Vol. 17, p. 311.
  45. a b Praetorius, p. 47.
  46. a b c Otterstedt, p. 129.
  47. Otterstedt, p. 130.
  48. Otterstedt, p. 131.
  49. a b Otterstedt, p. 132.
  50. Dolmetsch, p. 79.
  51. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1586.
  52. a b c d MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1587.
  53. Otterstedt, p. 134.
  54. Otterstedt, p. 133.
  55. Otterstedt, p. 135.
  56. Otterstedt, p. 136.
  57. Otterstedt, p. 139.
  58. Erich Valentin : Handbuch der Musikinstrumentenkunde. Gustav Bosse, Regensburg 1954, p. 426.
  59. a b Einstein, p. 37.
  60. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1589.
  61. Otterstedt, p. 176 ff.
  62. Otterstedt, p. 178.
  63. ^ Jean Baptiste Besard: Isagogue in artem testudinariam. P. 2.
  64. Otterstedt, p. 179.
  65. Otterstedt, p. 180.
  66. a b Otterstedt, p. 181.
  67. a b Otterstedt, p. 182.
  68. Thomas Mace: Musick's Monument . P. 248.
  69. Otterstedt, p. 183.
  70. Otterstedt, p. 184.
  71. Otterstedt, p. 185.
  72. Dolmetsch, p. 37.
  73. a b Otterstedt, p. 187.
  74. a b Otterstedt, p. 186.
  75. Otterstedt, p. 188.
  76. Otterstedt, p. 190.
  77. Otterstedt, p. 191.
  78. Woodfield, p. 81.
  79. Otterstedt, p. 19.
  80. Woodfield, p. 182 ff.
  81. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1574.
  82. Otterstedt, p. 20.
  83. Otterstedt, p. 21.
  84. Otterstedt, p. 26.
  85. Otterstedt, p. 27.
  86. Otterstedt, p. 28.
  87. a b Otterstedt, p. 29 f.
  88. a b c d e MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1575.
  89. Otterstedt, p. 31.
  90. Otterstedt, p. 32.
  91. Otterstedt, p. 22.
  92. Otterstedt, p. 24.
  93. a b Otterstedt, p. 34.
  94. Dolmetsch, p. 78.
  95. a b Otterstedt, p. 35.
  96. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1576.
  97. Otterstedt, p. 63.
  98. Otterstedt, p. 36.
  99. Otterstedt, p. 37.
  100. Otterstedt, p. 42.
  101. Otterstedt, p. 43.
  102. Otterstedt, p. 44.
  103. Otterstedt, p. 45.
  104. Otterstedt, p. 46.
  105. Otterstedt, p. 65 f.
  106. a b MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1577.
  107. Otterstedt, p. 73 f.
  108. Otterstedt, p. 33.
  109. Otterstedt, p. 57.
  110. a b c Otterstedt, p. 58.
  111. a b c MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1578.
  112. Otterstedt, p. 59.
  113. Otterstedt, p. 59 f.
  114. Otterstedt, p. 61 f.
  115. a b c MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1579.
  116. ^ Johann Mattheson: The newly opened orchestra . Hamburg 1713. p. 284.
  117. a b Otterstedt, p. 85.
  118. Otterstedt, p. 87.
  119. Otterstedt, p. 90 f.
  120. Otterstedt, p. 92.
  121. Otterstedt, p. 93.
  122. MGG-S vol. 9, col. 1592 f.
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