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Alastair Dick

Term applied chiefly to central, west, and South Asian lutes signifying that the soundbox outline forms sharp points at the waist. When barbs below the waist point upward (as with some historical and extant South Asian types), the shape may be called ‘inverted barbed’. The term ‘barb’ was used by C. Sachs (...


Jane McIntosh Snyder

(late Gk. barbiton)

Greek instrument of the Lyre family (a Chordophone). In Greek literature and vase painting it is generally associated with the Eastern Greek poets (including Terpander, Sappho, Alcaeus and Anacreon) of the Archaic period (7th and 6th centuries bce), and with drinking parties. The name of the instrument, probably of non-Greek derivation, occurs only once in the fragments of these early poets (in Alcaeus, ed. E.-M. Voigt, Sappho et Alcaeus: Fragmenta, 1971, frag.70.4, in the dialect form barmos), but it is frequently mentioned by later Greek writers, who attribute the instrument's ‘invention’ variously to Terpander or Anacreon. The arrival of Anacreon in Athens as a court poet in the late 6th century coincides with the sudden appearance of the barbitos in Athenian vase paintings, many of which show him as a player. As the chief string instrument used to accompany Dionysiac revelry, it is only occasionally depicted in the hands of Muses or of women entertaining themselves at home....




[jeu barré] (Fr.: ‘barred’, ‘stopped’; Ger. Quergriff; It. capo tasto; Sp. cejuela)

In the playing of certain fretted plucked string instruments, particularly the lute, guitar and banjo, the term used to describe the technique of stopping all or several of the strings at the same point by holding a finger across them. Although the form of the word is adjectival the term is also used in writings in English as a noun; some English-speaking writers use ‘bar’ or ‘barring’, but the French forms barré or jeu barré are more frequently found. (In the music of the late 17th-century viol masters – particularly that of Marin Marais – the term doigt couché is used; see Fingering, §II, 1.) The earliest references to the barré seem to date from the second half of the 17th century; Francisco Guerau’s introduction to his Poema harmónico (1694), for example, advises the player to become accustomed to using the ‘cejuela … putting the index finger of the left hand over more or less all the strings, depending on your requirements, which is very necessary in order to play certain passages’....



Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume

[cylinder piano, self-acting piano, street piano, café piano; sometimes inaccurately called barrel organ or hurdy-gurdy]

A piano played automatically by a pinned barrel or cylinder. In the form made in London by William Rolfe (from 1829) and others, an ordinary piano was augmented by a pinned wooden cylinder placed inside the case under the keyboard. This barrel was provided with a mechanical keyframe and a series of linkages or stickers which extend behind the soundboard to the top of the piano and operate an additional set of hammers which strike the strings through a gap in the soundboard. The barrel is turned by a clockwork motor driven by a heavy weight which is wound up to the top of the case. (For an illustration see Mechanical instrument, fig.)

About 1804 John Longman introduced a drawing-room barrel piano with no keyboard which was also weight-driven and included effects such as drum, triangle and buff stop. Around 1860 the Black Forest makers Imhof & Mukle introduced spring-driven clockwork barrel pianos, also for drawing-room use and without manual keyboard. In other types of barrel piano, the mechanism is operated by turning a hand crank. The domestic automatic piano dispensed with the cumbersome barrel in favour, first, of Debain's ...



Hugh Davies

revised by Laura Maes

French sound sculptors and instrument inventors. Bernard (b Paris, France, 24 Aug 1917) and his brother François (b Paris, France, 30 March 1920) developed a variety of sound sculptures and new instruments under the generic name Structures sonores. Bernard Baschet trained and originally worked as an engineer, and then (1962–5) directed a research team at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales of French Radio (ORTF), whose work resulted in Pierre Schaeffer’s Traité des objets musicaux (1966). François Baschet studied sculpture and worked as a furniture designer.

François Baschet began to concentrate on sound in 1952, when transportation problems urged him to rethink the concept of a guitar and to create an inflatable guitar using a plastic balloon as a sound box. (The first patent concerning string instruments that utilize as a resonance chamber a balloon, a bladder, or the like, inflated with air or any inert gas, was filed in France on ...



Arvydas Karaška

Folk bass fiddle of Lithuania. It is shaped like a double bass and varies in size from that of a cello to a double bass. The body is assembled from pieces of fir and maple, or sometimes ash or birch wood. The tuning mechanism is a system of cogwheels and metal pegs as on a double bass, or occasionally wooden pegs as on a cello. The basedla has three (less often two or four) gut or metal strings, usually tuned in 4ths to match the pitch of the instruments it accompanies, such as the concertina, birbune (folk clarinet), and clarinet. The short home-made bow is called bosiklis. A large basedla is played standing, smaller ones are held like a cello.

The basedla made its way into folk music from palace or manor-house orchestras. Often played in village bands for weddings, dances, and occasionally funerals, the basedla was used throughout Lithuania and was especially popular in Samogitia (western Lithuania). The ...


Inna D. Nazina

[basolya, bas]

Bass fiddle of Belarus and Ukraine. Some are the size of a cello; others are as large as a conventional double bass. The three or four strings are tuned in 5ths and 4ths. The three-string type is commonly used in the southwest of Belarus, while four-string basses are endemic to parts of the west, central, and northern regions. Both are used in folk instrumental ensembles that perform mainly dance music and wedding marches. In southern ensembles the basetlya typically accompanies one or more violins and a double-headed drum; in central Belarus it traditionally joins a violin, a dulcimer, and a frame drum; in the north it plays with a violin, a clarinet, an accordion, and a double-headed drum. The basetlya first appeared in the 18th century, when professional orchestras (‘capellas’) were developed at the courts of Belarusian-Polish magnates. Both sizes of basetlya were made locally by general woodworkers, not by specialized luthiers; hence their construction, appearance, and tone vary widely....



Patricia Matusky


Musical bow of the Iban people of central Sarawak, Malaysia. The single string is attached to the ends of the wooden bow. The bow rests on a wooden disc, which in turn rests on a ceramic or metal bowl that serves as a resonator. The string is tapped or plucked with a plectrum....



Frederick R. Selch

A bowed string instrument. Although in modern usage the term refers to a six- or seven-string instrument of the Viol family often called Viola da gamba , in the 18th and 19th centuries in the USA and occasionally in Britain ‘bass viol’ meant a four-string instrument tuned in 5ths like a cello. It was probably a shortened version of the term ‘bass violin’. Such instruments were of two kinds: the first like a cello except for certain local constructional details, the second of larger body size but with the same string length and fingerboard as a cello, with a short neck (accommodating playing only up to the second position without recourse to thumb positions). Instruments of both kinds were occasionally made with five strings, but no contemporary instruction book refers to the practice or indicates the tuning. The large-sized instruments are called ‘church basses’. Certain archaisms in construction reflect earlier European building techniques, the commonest being an f-hole in which small connecting bridges of wood are left at the turns, a groove or channel routed in the wood of the back and belly into which the ribs were fitted and glued, and the use of a foot-like extension of the neck block (almost always integral with the neck itself) projecting into the body and fixed to the wood of the back by a butted glue joint and a screw. A peculiarly American feature is the use of plank-sawn wood in the belly and back, giving the instruments a curious florid appearance; but the best makers used quarter-sawn wood according to traditional European practice....


Lucy Robinson and Peter Holman

(Fr. basse de violon; It. basso viola da braccio, violone)

The bass of the violin family in the 16th and 17th centuries. It originally had three gut strings tuned F–c–g. By constructing large bass violins with a string length of about 74 cm, it became possible to obtain lower notes, and in the mid-16th century a fourth string was added at the bottom, producing the B ♭′–F–c–g tuning found in many 16th- and 17th-century treatises. Such instruments were often pictured supported by a stool or resting on the ground. However, bass violins were also made small enough to be played standing or walking, supported, in the words of Jambe de Fer (1556), ‘with a little hook in an iron ring, or other thing, which is attached to the back of the said instrument’. They were probably tuned F–c–g–d′ (PraetoriusSM) or G–d–a–e′ (Banchieri, 1609, 1611, 1628), though Zacconi (Prattica di musica, 1592) assigned F–c–g–d′...



John Dilworth

(Fr. barre; Ger. Bassbalken; It. catena)

In bowed string instruments, a strip of wood glued to the underside of the belly beneath the bass foot of the bridge. It is of vital importance to the acoustical function of the instrument, and is complemented by the soundpost which is placed close to the treble bridge-foot. In modern practice, the bass-bar runs for three-quarters of the length of the belly, and is made from spruce carefully matched to that of the belly. It is fitted slightly within the outer edge of the bridge foot, and set at a slight angle to the centre line of the instrument, determined by the proportions of the upper and lower bouts. It is deepest at the centre, generally about 12 mm in a violin, and tapers towards the ends, being on average 265 mm long and 6 mm wide. The glued surface is fitted to the curves of the belly, although some luthiers shape it to a slightly tighter radius than the belly itself, known as ‘springing’, providing a certain amount of stress within the structure when glued in place. An undersized or badly positioned bar cannot provide sufficient stiffness to the front of the instrument and results in a dull, unfocussed sound (particularly in the bass register) and, in extreme cases, deformation and eventual collapse of the arching. Conversely, an oversized bar can stifle the sound, making the instrument unresponsive....



Jan Stęszewski


Bass fiddle of Poland. It can be from 100 to 140 cm long; the body is sometimes carved from one piece of wood, apart from the top. It has two to four strings tuned usually in 5ths, or 4ths and 5ths. For example, in the Tatra mountains the tuning is ...


(b Naumburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, Jan 1, 1805; d Leipzig, Germany, May 26, 1871). German bow maker. He studied violin making with J.B. Fritsche in Dresden and set up his own shop there in the 1820s. About 1830 he moved to Dessau where he remained until 1839, when he moved to Leipzig. There he ran a successful shop, but in 1861 he moved to Wiesbaden, where he was instrument maker to the court. In 1863 he returned to Leipzig. Bausch’s early bows show an influence from François Tourte; his later work shows a more elegant rounded head. His frogs loosely follow French models but have one-piece heelplates, pearl eyes closely encircled by metal rings, and often metal strips along the edges of the pearl slides. The buttons are generally divided, and the metal bands are much wider in his later works. His brand, ‘L. BAUSCH, LEIPZIG’, is found on the lower facet of the stick beneath the frog. On his death, he was succeeded by his son Ludwig (...



Ferdinand J. de Hen

Mouth bow of the Aïmeri people of the Watsa Gombari region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The string is sometimes coupled (braced) to the bow stave by a cord that divides the string into two unequal segments, thus obtaining two different pitches when the segments are plucked by the fingers; the bracing cord itself can also be plucked....





Philip J. Kass

Family of French bow makers. François Bazin (b Mirecourt, France, 10 May 1824; d Mirecourt, 1 Aug 1865) worked primarily for the trade in a style much influenced by Peccatte and Maire. His son Charles Nicolas (b Mirecourt, 24 April 1847; d Mirecourt, 6 Dec 1915), the finest maker in the family, worked on a modified Voirin pattern. His large workshop of fine Mirecourt craftsmen produced many bows of excellent quality. Much of this work was for the trade, although elegant bows branded ‘C. BAZIN’ (in various sizes) appear over his career.

Louis Bazin (b Mirecourt, 21 Sept 1881; d Mirecourt, 11 Nov 1953) was the son and successor of Charles Nicolas Bazin. He apprenticed to his father at the age of 12 and took over the shop in 1907. He produced many bows, primarily for the trade; they reflect the sturdier and more masculine character of post-Sartory bow making. Like his father’s, his shop employed many fine craftsmen. He used the brand ‘L. BAZIN’....