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date: 15 September 2019

Anvil (Fr. enclume; Ger. Amboss; It. incudine)locked

  • James Blades
  • , revised by James Holland


(Fr. enclume; Ger. Amboss; It. incudine)

In the orchestra, a percussion instrument of indefinite pitch; it is classified as a struck idiophone. It may consist of one or two metal bars mounted on a resonating frame, a small length of steel tube or scaffolding, or an actual blacksmith's anvil. The latter is used but rarely an account of its great weight, the substitutes providing a realistic sound. In each case, although definable notes are produced, they are not usually prescribed. Praetorius illustrated a blacksmith's anvil struck with a sledgehammer in his Theatrum instrumentorum (1620). An earlier reference to the instrument occurs in Agricola's Musica instrumentalis deudsch (1529). In the Anvil Chorus of Verdi's Il trovatore two anvils (incudini) are required. Wagner scored for one anvil in the forging song in Siegfried, and for 18 in Das Rheingold. Other notable instances of the use of the anvil in orchestral scores include Auber's ...

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J. Blades: Percussion Instruments and their History (London, 1970, 2/1974)