The Piano Family And The Peak And Decline Of The Viola Da Gamba

2143 Words Sep 17th, 2016 9 Pages
The Baroque era saw the rise of the violin family and the peak and decline of the viola da gamba. Both families reached such prominence that virtually all other bowed instruments were thrust into obscurity. Early music for the viol was transcribed from vocal music like madrigals, masses, and chansons. These vocal pieces were usually very short and chordal. Progressing into the 17th century fantasias and viol consort music became increasingly popular; the viol consort consisted of 6 viols; two treble, two tenor, and two bass. Eventually the three standard viols sizes were insufficient to keep up with the new trends and as many as six different sizes were created, including the sub bass whose length was about seven feet tall. Musical styles were moving towards expressiveness and tenderness by the mid-18th century and the poor viol, with its limited dynamic range, was slowly superseded by the more expressive violin family; first the trebles fell to the violin then the bass to the celli. “The silvery and slightly nasal tone of the viola da gamba family told against it in the contest against the violin… not only in tone quality, but also in sheer volume of tone, the instruments were at a disadvantage…and when the viol virtuoso, Carl Friedrich Abel died in 1787, the viola da gamba…was buried with him.” However unlike the treble viols the bass viol, due to its subtle tone and the relative ease in playing fast passages, remained popular alongside its counterpart the cello, and…

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