- Laurence Libin
Instrument that combines in one unit essential features of two or more different instruments. Produced since the Renaissance if not earlier, hybrids can offer unusual performance capabilities, although many have been created only for novelty purposes, for reasons of economy and convenience, or to demonstrate their makers’ ingenuity. Modern examples include the unique Bassoforte (incorporating parts of an electric bass guitar and a piano) and Experibass (assembled from parts of various bowed instruments) built by the composer Diego Stocco for his own use.
Combining unlike instruments can require structural compromises that impair sonority. For example, the 18th-century marriage of violin and post horn (Salzburg) did acoustical justice to neither; the violin’s body encloses narrow, tightly bent tubing blown through a mouthpiece protruding from the back of the violin’s scroll. But the lira organizzata, a hurdy-gurdy containing a tiny pipe organ, was a vehicle for charming compositions by Haydn and Pleyel. Earlier, guitars had been ‘organized’; in ...