Thursday, January 13, 8535

Giorgio Mainerio (1535-1582) - Old and New

Giorgio Mainerio (1535-1582) - Il Primo Libro di Balli (1578)

Ballo Anglese (Mandora, Violin, Bass Viols, Violone)

Ballo Francese (Xylophone)

Caro Ortolano (Consort of Racketts)

Ungaresca (Hungarian Dance), considerably updated...

Giorgio Mainerio (c. 1530-1540 - May 3 or 4, 1582) was an Italian musician and composer.

Mainerio was born in Parma between 1530 and 1540. His father was possibly of Scottish origin. This hypothesis is based on the fact that Giorgio in his signature used Mayner as family name. During his education he studied also music, but he did not start from the very beginning a musical carrier. In 1560, being a presbyter, he tried to be hired as chaplain and altarista by the church of Santa Maria Annunziata in Udine.

In Udine Mainerio spent ten years (from 1560 up to 1570) and there, thanks to his previous musical knowledge and to the lessons given to him by two local contrapuntists, Gabriele Martinengo (Maestro di cappella from 1562 to 1567) and Ippolito Chiamater├▓ (Maestro di cappella from 1567 to 1570), he started his musical carrier (which was surely more lucrative for him than the religious one). After the first three years in Udine he began to be interested in occultism (astrology, magic and necromancy) and there were rumours that -together with some women- he was attending night rites. The Inquisition in Aquileia started a preliminary investigation, pursuing a possible trial but, since no further evidence was found, the case was closed. Anyway, also after the end of his problems with the justice, Mainiero had more and more troubles with his colleagues of the Chapter of Udine and, after applying for a position at the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia, he decided to quit partially the job in Udine, motivating his decision with "impellent although honest reasons." He got finally the job in Aquileia and moved there, living not in the centre of the town but in the buildings of the Patriarchate, that lied in a quiet and isolated position.

In 1578 he became Maestro di cappella at the church of S. Chiesa d'Aquilegia. During the last years of his life he had problems with his health, escaping often his duty as master of the church, in favour of travels to Venice, Ancona and thermal baths.

The announcement of his death was given during the meeting of the Chapter which took place on May 4, 1582.

Mainerio wrote mainly works of Musica Sacra, nevertheless publishing also a collection of popular songs and dances, Il primo libro de' balli.

Il primo libro de balli accomodati per cantar et sonar d'ogni sorte de instromenti di Giorgio Mainerio Parmeggiano Maestro di Capella della S. Chiesa d'Aquilegia was printed by Gardano in Venice in 1578. Before that work, Mainerio had published a book of Magnificat octo tonorum...cum quatuor vocibus containing a Regina coeli printed in Venezia by G. Bariletto in 1574. Later he published other ten Magnificat collected under the title of Sacra cantica Beatissimae M Virg omnitonum sex vocum parium canenda, integrated by a motet (also six-part) named O sacrum convivium: they all were printed in Venezia in 1580 by Angelo Gardano.


The mandora or mandore, also known as the gallizona or gallichon, is a type of 6 or 8-course bass lute (possibly a descendant of guiterne and/or chitarra italiana) used mainly for basso continuo, in Germany, Austria and Bohemia, particularly during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The Mandora is often mistaken for Mandore, a small 16th- and 17th-century French type of a lute, or mandola.

The construction of the mandora is similar to other baroque lutes. It has a vaulted body (shell) constructed of separate ribs, a flat soundboard with either a carved rose or one which is inset into the soundhole, and a bridge (without a saddle) consisting of a wooden bar acting as a string-holder glued to the soundboard. Unique to this instrument is the neck, which is long enough to allow for ten to 12 tied gut frets. The pegbox is either straight and set at a sharp angle to the neck (much like a lute pegbox), or gently curving and set at a shallow angle, either case being fitted with laterally-inserted tuning pegs (although sometimes a flat pegboard with sagittal pegs is found). The strings were of gut (now replaced by such sustitutes as nylon) and are strung either singly or, especially on Italian instruments, in double courses. However, on German-made instruments, the first course (highest in pitch) is usually single (a chanterelle) and often has its own separate raised peg rider/holder attached to the pegbox. The number of courses varies from six to eight. Open string lengths tend to be fairly long (62–72 cm) on German instruments, but shorter (55–65 cm) on late Italian ones, probably because they tended to be tuned to a higher pitch.

At least 50 original instruments survive in collections around the world. Many of these instruments are found in a more or less unaltered state, and therefore are often used as models for modern reconstructions. Examples are found in museums in Berlin, Claremont (California), Copenhagen, Edinburgh, The Hague, Leipzig, Milan, Munich and Paris, New York and St. Petersburg.

The luthiers who produced Mandoras were Gregor Ferdinand Wenger in Augsburg, Jacob Goldt of Hamburg, Jacob Weiss of Salzburg, David Buchstetter of Regensburg and Mattias Greisser of Innsbruck, all dating from the first half of the 18th century. Italian-style instruments are represented by Martino Hell of Genoa, Enrico Ebar of Venice, David Tecchler of Rome, Antonio Scoti of Milan and, toward the end of the century, Antonio Monzino and Giuseppe Presbler of Milan.

Two tuning's are reported: a ‘galizona’ or ‘colachon’ is tuned A'( or ) –B'( or ) –C–D–G–c–e–a, and, under a separate heading, ‘mandora’ is given as D ( or ) –E ( or ) –F–G–c–f–a–d' (i.e. the same tuning but a 4th higher). or )-E–A–d–g–b–e' (identical to that of the modern guitar)
The playing technique for the mandora involves the same basic right-hand finger style as for all 18th-century lutes and, because of the tuning intervals of the upper five courses, a left-hand technique that is similar to that of the 18th-century guitar.

There are about 55 sources of mandora music in tablature, all in manuscript (none printed) and nearly all of Germanic origin. These manuscripts contain solos, duets, song accompaniments, and chamber music. Few studies of these manuscript sources have appeared, and very little of the music has been transcribed and published despite its quality. Critical editions are especially rare. Many sources have no composer attributions, but in recent years a many studies of concordances are beginning to uncover music by composers such as S.L. Weiss and Johann Anton Logy. The sources do mention some composers names such as Duke Clement of Bavaria, Placidus von Camerloher, Johann Paul Schiffelholz, J.M. Zink, Andrea Mayr, G.A. Brescianello and others. Other composers include J.F. Daube and Johann Albrechtsberger, whose three concertinos for mandora, crembalum (Jaw's harp), and strings has been performed and recorded.


The viol (also called viola da gamba) is any one of a family of bowed, fretted, stringed musical instruments developed in the 1400s and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Spanish vihuela (a guitarlike plucked string instrument). Some degree of developmental influence, if only in playing posture, is credited to the Moorish rebab as well.

Vihuelists began playing their flat-bridged instruments with a bow in the second half of the 15th century. Within two or three decades, this led to the evolution of an entirely new and dedicated bowed string instrument that retained many of the features of the original plucked vihuela: a flat back, sharp waist-cuts, frets, thin ribs (initially), and an identical tuning—hence its Spanish name vihuela de arco (arco, meaning "bow"). Inspired by another local instrument, the Moorish rebab, this new vihuela was usually held upright, either resting on the lap or held between the legs, similar to the playing posture of a cello. This a gamba playing position was more suited to larger instruments than was the a braccio position of the modern violin. The instrument was imported to Italy from Spain by the Borgia family. This gave rise to its Italian name viola da gamba, meaning "viol for the leg," which also helped differentiate it from the early violin family, which the Italians called viola da braccio (lit. "viol for the arm"). and was played along with the crumhorn by henry VIII

Viols most commonly had six strings, although many 16th-century instruments had five or even four strings. Viols were (and are) strung with (low-tension) gut strings, unlike the steel strings used by members of the modern violin family. Gut strings produce a sonority far different from steel, the former generally described as softer and sweeter. Around 1660, gut or silk core strings overspun with copper wire first became available; these were then used for the lowest-pitched bass strings on viols, and on many other string instruments as well. Viols are fretted in a manner similar to early guitars or lutes, by means of movable wrapped-around and tied-on gut frets. A low seventh string was supposedly added in France to the bass viol by Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (c. 1640–1690), whose students included the French gamba virtuoso and composer Marin Marais. Also, the painting Saint Cecilia with an Angel (1618) by Domenichino (1581–1641) shows what may be a seven-string viol.

Unlike members of the violin family, which are tuned in fifths, viols are usually tuned in fourths with a major third in the middle, mirroring the tuning employed on the vihuela de mano and lute during the 16th century and similar to that of the modern six-string guitar.

Viols were first constructed much like the vihuela de mano, with all surfaces, top, back, and sides made from flat slabs or pieces of joined wood, bent or curved as required. However, some viols, both early and later, had carved tops, similar to those more commonly associated with instruments of the violin family. The ribs or sides of early viols were usually quite shallow, reflecting more the construction of their plucked vihuela counterparts. Rib depth increased during the course of the 16th century, finally coming to resemble the greater depth of the classic 17th-century pattern. The flat backs of most viols have a sharply angled break or canted bend in their surface close to where the neck meets the body. This serves to taper the back (and overall body depth) at its upper end to meet the back of the neck joint flush with its heel.

Traditional construction uses animal glue, and internal joints are often reinforced with strips of either linen or vellum soaked in hot animal glue -- a practice also employed in early plucked vihuela construction. The peg boxes of viols (which hold the tuning pegs) were typically decorated either with elaborate carved heads of animals or people or with the now familiar spiral scroll finial.

The earliest vihuelas and violas, both plucked and bowed, all had sharp cuts to their waists, similar to the profile of a modern violin. This is a key and new feature—first appearing in the mid-1400s -- and from then on, it was employed on many different types of string instruments. This feature is also key in seeing and understanding the connection between the plucked and bowed versions of early vihuelas. If one were to go searching for very early viols with smooth-curved figure-eight bodies, like those found on the only slightly later plucked vihuelas and the modern guitar, they would be out of luck. By the mid-1500s, however, "guitar-shaped" viols were fairly common, and a few of them survive.

The earliest viols had flat, glued-down bridges just like their plucked counterpart vihuelas. Soon after, however, viols adopted the wider and high-arched bridge that facilitated the bowing of single strings. The earliest of viols would also have had the ends of their fretboards flat on the deck, level with or resting upon the top or sound board. Once the end of their fretboards were elevated above the top of the instrument's face, the entire top could vibrate freely. Early viols did not have sound posts, either (again reflecting their plucked vihuela siblings). This reduced dampening again meant that their tops could vibrate more freely, contributing to the characteristic "humming" sound of viols; yet the absence of a sound post also resulted in a quieter and softer voice overall.

It is commonly believed that C-holes (a type and shape of pierced sound port visible on the top face or belly of string instruments) are a definitive feature of viols, a feature used to distinguish viols from instruments in the violin family, which typically had F-shaped holes. This generality, however, renders an incomplete picture. The earliest viols had either large, open, round, sound holes (or even round pierced rosettes like those found on lutes and vihuelas), or they had some kind of C-holes. Viols sometimes had as many as four small C-holes—one placed in each corner of the bouts—but more commonly, they had two. The two C-holes might be placed in the upper bouts, centrally, or in the lower bouts. In the formative years, C-holes were most often placed facing each other or turned inwards. In addition to round or C-holes, however, and as early as the first quarter of the 16th century, some viols adopted S-shaped holes, again facing inward. By the mid-1500s, S-holes morphed into the classic F-shaped holes, which were then used by viols and members of the violin family alike. By the mid- to late 16th century, the viol's C-holes facing direction was reversed, becoming outward facing. That configuration then became a standard feature of what we today call the “classic” 17th-century pattern. Yet another style of sound holes found on some viols was a pair of flame-shaped Arabesques placed left and right.

The lute and vihuelalike round or oval ports or rosettes became a standard feature of German and Austrian viols and was retained to the very end. That feature or “genetic marker” was exclusively unique to viols and reminded one always of the viol's more ancient plucked vihuela roots, the "luteness" of viols.

Historians, makers, and players generally distinguish between Renaissance and Baroque viols. The latter are more heavily constructed and are fitted with a bass bar and sound post, like modern stringed instruments.

The bow is held underhand (palm up), similar to a German double bass bow grip, but away from the frog towards the balance point. The stick's curvature is generally convex as were violin bows of the period, rather than concave like a modern violin bow. The "frog" (which holds the bowhair and adjusts its tension) is also different from that of modern bows: whereas a violin bow frog has a "slide" (often made of mother of pearl) to hold the hair flat across the frog, viol bows have an open frog that allows more movement of the hair. This is essential to allow the traditional playing technique in which the player tensions the bow hair with one or two fingers of the right hand between the hair and the bow stick in order to control articulation and inflection while playing.

The gamba (as the name is often abbreviated for convenience) comes in six sizes: "pardessus de viole" (which is relatively rare), treble, alto, tenor, bass, and contrabass (also known as a violone). The treble is about the size of a violin, but with a deeper body; the standard bass is a bit smaller than a cello. The English made smaller basses known as division viols, and the still-smaller Lyra viol. German consort basses were larger than the French instruments designed for continuo. Two closely related instruments include the baryton and the viola d'amore, although the latter is played under the chin, viola-fashion.

The standard tuning of the viol is in fourths, with a major third in the middle (like the standard Renaissance lute tuning). For bass viols, the notes would be (from the lowest) D-G-c-e-a-d', with an additional low A for seven-string bass viols. For the tenor viol, the tuning is G-c-f-a-d'-g'. The treble viol is one octave higher than the bass.

Alternate tunings (called scordatura) were often employed, particularly in the solo lyra viol style of playing, which also made use of many techniques such as chords and pizzicato, not generally used in consort playing. An unusual style of pizzicato was known as a thump. Lyra viol music was also commonly written in tablature. There is a vast repertoire of this music, some by well-known composers and much by anonymous ones.

Much viol music predates the adoption of equal temperament tuning by musicians. The moveable nature of the tied-on frets permits the viol player to make adjustments to the tempering of the instrument, and some players and consorts adopt meantone temperaments, which are arguably more suited to Renaissance music. There are several recognised fretting schemes in which the frets are spaced unevenly in order to give "better-sounding" chords in a limited number of keys. In some of these schemes, the two strands of gut that comprise the fret are separated so that the player can finger a slightly sharper or flatter version of a note to suit different circumstances.

Viols were second in popularity only to the lute (although this is disputed), and like lutes, were very often played by amateurs. Affluent homes might have a so-called chest of viols, which would contain one or more instruments of each size. Gamba ensembles, called consorts, were common in the 16th and 17th centuries, when they performed vocal music (consort songs or verse anthems) as well as that written specifically for instruments. Only the treble, tenor, and bass sizes were regular members of the viol consort, which consisted of three, four, five, or six instruments. Music for consorts was very popular in England in Elizabethan times, with composers such as William Byrd and John Dowland, and, during the reign of King Charles I, John Jenkins and William Lawes. The last music for viol consorts before their modern revival was probably written in the early 1680s by Henry Purcell.

Perhaps even more common than the pure consort of viols was the mixed or broken consort (also called Morley consort). Broken consorts combined a mixture of different instruments—a small band, essentially—usually comprising a gathering of social amateurs and typically including such instruments as a bass viol, a lute or orpharion (a wire-strung lute, metal-fretted, flat-backed, and festoon-shaped), a cittern, a treble viol (or violin, as time progressed), sometimes an early keyboard instrument (virginal, spinet, or harpsichord), and whatever other instruments or players (or singers) might be available at the moment. The single most common and ubiquitous pairing of all was always and everywhere the lute and bass viol: for centuries, the inseparable duo.

[Portrait of French composer and viola da gamba master Marin Marais, by Andre Bouys, 1704]

[Portrait of Karl Friedrich Abel, composer and viol master -- German-born but residing in England most of his life -- posed with his viola da gamba. By Thomas Gainsborough, c. 1765.]

The bass viola da gamba continued to be used into the 18th century as a solo instrument (and to complement the harpsichord in basso continuo). It was a favorite instrument of Louis XIV and acquired associations of both courtliness and "Frenchness" (in contrast to the Italianate violin). Composers such as Marin Marais, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antoine Forqueray, and Karl Friedrich Abel wrote virtuoso music for it. However, viols fell out of use as concert halls grew larger and the louder and more penetrating tone of the violin family became more popular. In the last one hundred years or so, the viola da gamba and its repertoire were revived by early music enthusiasts, an early proponent being Arnold Dolmetsch.

The 1991 feature film Tous les matins du monde (All the Mornings of the World) by Alain Corneau, based on the lives of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais, prominently featured these composers' music for the viola da gamba and brought viol music to new audiences. The film's bestselling soundtrack features performances by Jordi Savall, one of the best-known modern viola da gamba players.

A number of contemporary composers have written for viol, and a number of soloists and ensembles have commissioned new music for viol. Fretwork has been most active in this regard, commissioning George Benjamin, Michael Nyman, Elvis Costello, Sir John Tavener, Orlando Gough, John Woolrich, Tan Dun, Alexander Goehr, Fabrice Fitch, Andrew Keeling, Thea Musgrave, Sally Beamish, Peter Sculthorpe, Gavin Bryars, Barrington Pheloung, Simon Bainbridge, Duncan Druce, Poul Ruders, Ivan Moody, and Barry Guy; many of these compositions may be heard on their 1997 CD Sit Fast.

The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort has commissioned and recorded many works by David Loeb, and the New York Consort of Viols has commissioned B├╝lent Arel, David Loeb, Daniel Pinkham, Tison Street, Frank Russo, Seymour Barab, William Presser, and Will Ayton, many of these compositions appearing on their 1993 CD Illicita Cosa.

Other composers for viols include Moondog, Kevin Volans, Roy Whelden, Toyohiko Satoh, Roman Turovsky, Giorgio Pacchioni, Michael Starke, and Jan Goorissen.

The viola da gamba is occasionally confused with the viola, the alto member of the modern violin family and a standard member of both the symphony orchestra and string quartet. In the fifteenth century, the Italian word "viola" was a generic term used to refer to any bowed instrument, or fiddle. It is important to note that the word "viola" existed in Italy before the vihuela, or first viol, was brought from Spain. In Italy, "viola" was first applied to a braccio precursor to the modern violin, as described by Tinctoris (De inventione et usu musice, c. 1481-1483), and then was later used to describe the first Italian viols as well. The names viola (Italy) and vihuela (Spain) were essentially synonymous and interchangeable. According to viol historian Ian Woodfield, there is little evidence that the vihuela de arco was introduced to Italy before the 1490s. The use of the term "viola" was never used exclusively for viols in the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. In sixteenth century Italy, both "violas," -- the early viols and violins—developed somewhat simultaneously. While the violins such as those of Amati achieved their classic form before the first half of the century, the viol's form would be standardized later in the century by instrument makers in England.

Viola da gamba, viola cum arculo, and vihuela de arco are some (true) alternate names for viols. Both "vihuela" and "viola" were originally used in a fairly generic way, having included even early violins (viola da braccio) under their umbrella. It is common enough (and justifiable) today for modern players of the viola da gamba to call their instruments violas and likewise to call themselves violists. That the "alto violin" eventually became known simply as the "viola" is not without historical context, yet the ambiguity of the name tends to cause some confusion. The violin, or violino, was originally the soprano viola da braccio, or violino da braccio. Due to the popularity of the soprano violin, the entire consort eventually took on the name "violin family." Depending on the context, the unmodified "viola da braccio" most regularly denoted either an instrument from the violin family, or specifically the viola. When Monteverdi called simply for "viole da braccio" in "Orfeo," the composer was requesting violas.

"Viola da braccio" was finally shortened to "viola" once viols became less common. Some other names for viols include viole or violle (French). In Elizabethan English, the word "gambo" (for gamba) appears in many permutations; e.g., "viola de gambo," "gambo violl," "viol de gambo," or "viole de gambo," used by such notables as Tobias Hume, John Dowland, and William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night.


[A violone or "great bass viol"; painting by Sir Peter Lely, Dutch-born English Baroque era painter, c. 1640, showing a large bass instrument of da braccio corpus form, but with a very wide fingerboard, played with underhand bow grip, and without an endpin.]

The violone (literally "large viol" in Italian, "-one" being the augmentative suffix) is a musical instrument of the viol family. The largest/lowest member of that family, the violone is a fretted instrument with six strings (although some versions had five, or, more rarely, four strings), generally tuned a fifth or an octave below the bass viol. Thus, the violone can properly be called a contrabass instrument, being tuned lower than the bass instrument. The name is also used sometimes for the 8' bass violin (cf. violoncello).

The violone is most often used today as the contrabass bowed string instrument in early music groups performing Renaissance and early Baroque music. Only a few players specialize in the instrument, with most using contemporary reproductions rather than actual historical instruments.

After the decline of the other members of the viol family, the violone continued to have a place in orchestral music and, for example, Bach scored his cantatas for violone as the contra-bass instrument. It was eventually ousted by the modern double bass.

It is important to understand the etymology of the term "violone." "Violone" is a conjugation of the word "viola," not of the English word "viol," which is contemporarily used to refer to a member of the viola da gamba family. When use of the word "violone" began in the early sixteenth century, "viola" simply meant a bowed, stringed instrument, and did not specify viol or violin. Historically "violone" has referred to any number of larger fiddles, regardless of family. Sixteenth century instruments that at some time were (not incorrectly) called "violone" include the vihuela d'arco, or early viol, and later the bass violin (direct ancestor of the cello).

The term violone is sometimes used to refer to the modern double bass, which belongs arguably as much to the viol family as to that of the violin, having sloped shoulders, a flat back (often) and tuning in fourths. The double bass, unlike the original violone, is an unfretted instrument.

"Violone" is also the name given to a non-imitative string-tone pipe organ stop, constructed of either metal or wood, and found in the pedal division at 16' pitch (one octave below written pitch), or, more rarely, 32' (2 octaves below written pitch).


[Xylopone from West Africa (Sierra Leone)]

The xylophone (from the Greek words - xylon, "wood" + - phone, "voice," meaning "wooden sound") is a musical instrument in the percussion family which probably originated in Indonesia.

It consists of wooden bars of various lengths that are struck by plastic, wooden, or rubber mallets. Each bar is tuned to a specific pitch of the musical scale. Xylophone can refer to western style concert xylophones or to one of the many wooden mallet percussion instruments found around the world. Xylophones are tuned to different scale systems depending on their origin, including pentatonic, heptatonic, diatonic, or chromatic. The arrangement of the bars is generally from low (longer bars) to high (shorter bars).

The xylophone is an ancient instrument that perhaps originated independently in Africa and Asia.

Wooden bars were originally seated on a series of hollow gourds, and the gourds generated the resonating notes that are produced on modern instruments by metal tubes. For centuries, xylophone makers struggled with methods of tuning the wooden bars. Old methods consisted of arranging the bars on tied bundles of straw, and, as still practiced today, placing the bars adjacent to each other in a ladder-like layout. Ancient mallets were made of willow wood with spoon-like bowls on the beaten ends.

It is likely that the xylophone reached Europe during the Crusades and the earliest historical reference in Europe is in 16th Century Germany in organist Arnold Schlick's Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten. [

1300 – First written account

1500 – First brought to Europe, and then Latino countries by African slaves between 1500-1700A.D. It evolved in Central and South America into the marimba.

1511 – First European mention by German composer Arnolt Schlick; also listed by Praetorius in his catalogue of musical instruments (a.k.a., Strohfideln, or Hulzen G'lachter, or Gigelyra, or straw fiddle )

1866, April 7 – The word xylophone is coined, recorded in the Athenaeum: "A prodigy ... who does wonderful things with little drumsticks on a machine of wooden keys, called the 'xylophone.’"

Western-style xylophones are characterised by a bright, sharp tone and high register. Modern xylophones include resonating tubes below the bars. A xylophone with a range extending downwards into the marimba range is called a xylorimba.

Sometimes xylophones are constructed using whale bones as a base with a halibut backbone mallet.


The Renaissance rackett is a double reed wind instrument related to the bassoon.

There are several sizes of rackett, in a family ranging from soprano to great bass. Despite a relatively low tone, the rackett is actually quite small (the tenor rackett is only 4 1/2 inches in height, yet its lowest note is F, two octaves below middle C). This is achieved through its ingenious construction. The body consists of a wooden chamber into which nine parallel cylinders are drilled. These are connected, alternately, at the top and bottom, resulting in a long wind passage contained in a very small body.

However, its unusual construction presents some problems for the player. Because of the unusual arrangement of the pipes, the fingering pattern is somewhat strange.

The baroque rackett (developed by the Nuremberg maker J. C. Denner, 1655-1707) had an entirely rationalized simpler fingering due in part to the addition of a number of tetines.

Tetines are tubular metal extensions covered by the middle joint of the index fingers as well as the pinkies during playing. It cannot be tuned by altering its length. While some say that moisture buildup may become a problem, condensation usually remains in the coil of the removable brass crook, thus being fairly simple to expel during pauses. Despite idiosyncrasies, the baroque rackett is a highly versatile instrument with a wide range of notes and tones. With a good reed, the baroque rackett has a similar chromatic range to the baroque bassoon (BBb to g'), and thanks to its agility, it can tackle any bass-instrument repertoire from the time in which it was in vogue.

The inventor of the rackett is unknown. However the first historical mention can be found in German sources such as the Wurttemberg inventories of 1576 (listed as a Raggett) and the Graz inventory of 1590 (listed as a Rogetten).

Early paintings of the Munich Court band and a carved cabinent by Christof Angermair depict a single rackett being played in a mixed consort of other instruments. Prior to the late seventeenth century the rackett had a cylindrical bore and was blown through a pirouette. The more modern baroque rackett had an expanding conical bore and was blown through a coiled crook inserted into the side or top of the instrument. In some pictures a large bell is attached to the enhance the tone.

Praetorius noted that "In sound [Renaissance] racketts are quite soft, almost as if one were blowing through a comb. They have no particular grace when a whole set of them is used together; but when viols da gamba are used with them, or when a single rackett is used together with other wind or stringed instruments and a harpsichord or the like, and is played by a good musician, it is indeed a lovely instrument. It is particularly pleasing and fine to hear on bass parts."

The baroque rackett, conversely, sounds very much like a dulcian or baroque bassoon, and can easily blend with the same kind of ensemble instruments -- violas da gamba, cornetti, historical keyboards, baroque recorders and small baroque orchestras. Some people even say that this is where the saying "making a rackett" comes from.


Giovanni Maria Artusi (c. 1540 - August 18, 1613) was an Italian theorist, composer, and writer.

Artusi was one of the most famous reactionaries in musical history, fiercely condemning the new style developing around 1600, the innovations of which defined the early Baroque era. He was also a scholar and cleric at the Congregation San Salvatore at Bologna, and remained throughout his life devoted to his teacher Gioseffo Zarlino (the principal music theorist of the late sixteenth century). When Vincenzo Galilei first attacked Zarlino in the Dialogo of 1581, it provoked Artusi to defend his teacher and the style he represented.

The most famous episode of Artusi's career, and one of the most famous episodes in the history of music criticism, occurred in 1600 and 1603 when he attacked the "crudities" and "license" shown in the works of Claudio Monteverdi, whom Artusi refused to name.

Monteverdi replied in the introduction to his fifth book of madrigals (1605) with his discussion of the division of musical practice into two streams: what he called prima pratica, and seconda pratica: prima pratica being the previous polyphonic ideal of the 16th Century, with flowing counterpoint, prepared dissonance, and equality of voices; and seconda pratica being the new style of monody and accompanied recitative, which emphasized soprano and bass voices, and in addition showed the beginnings of conscious functional tonality.

Artusi's major contribution to the literature of music theory was his book on dissonance in counterpoint. He recognized that there could be more dissonance than consonance in a developed piece of counterpoint, and he attempted to enumerate the reasons and uses for the dissonances, for example as settings of words expressing sorrow, pain, longing, terror. Ironically, the usage of Monteverdi in the seconda pratica largely agreed with his book, at least conceptually; the differences between Monteverdi's music and Artusi's theory were in the importance of the different voices, and the exact intervals used in shaping the melodic line.

Artusi's compositions were few, and in a conservative style: one book of canzonette for four voices (published in Venice in 1598) and a Cantate Domino for eight voices (1599).

Related Reading:
Pietro Weiss and Richard Taruskin
Music in the Western World: A History in Documents
Giovanni Artusi
Of the Imperfections in Modern Music (Pages 171-172)

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