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Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

German family of musicians. They originated from middle and north Germany and were noted chiefly as bass viol players, violinists and composers; some members of the family were painters and landscape gardeners. The spelling ‘Abell’ is often found, especially among the earlier members of the family, but there is no known relationship to the English composer John Abell (1650–1724). Nor has any relationship been established between them and a musical family of the same name originating in Löwenberg (Mark) and active in Grosswoltersdorf and Berlin, of whom the first musician was Georg Friedrich Abel (1755–1835); see Zachau: ‘Die Abel aus Löwenberg (Mark) und ihr musikalisches Erbgut’, Familie und Volk, v (1952), p.154.

The earliest known musician of the family was Heinrich Othmar Abel (bc1580; d after 1630), who is said to have served as town musician in Magdeburg and Brunswick about 1600; for religious reasons he went to Bremen, where he received the freedom of the city in 1615, and from about 1630 he was a musician at Schloss Hünnefeld near Osnabrück. His son Ernst Abel (b Bremen, c1610; d Bremen, 1680), a keyboard player, was a member of the chapel at Hanover from 1636 and a musician at the Celle court, 1650–56; from 1662 to his death he was a Bremen town musician....

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Cöthen, Dec 22, 1723; d London, June 20, 1787). German composer and bass viol player, son of Christian Ferdinand Abel. He was no doubt a pupil of his father’s, especially for the bass viol; but on his father’s death in 1737 Carl Friedrich may have turned to the former relationship with the Bach family and gone to Leipzig to study, as Burney, who knew Abel, stated. By 1743 Abel was a player in the court orchestra under Hasse in Dresden; the connection with the Bachs was maintained – W.F. Bach was an organist there until 1746, and J.S. Bach had held an appointment as court composer from 1736. Abel left Dresden in 1757–8 during the destruction of the city by Frederick the Great. He then travelled, visiting the house of Goethe’s family in Frankfurt and probably the musical centres of Mannheim and Paris. He had already begun to compose in Dresden; the Breitkopf catalogue of ...

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Hanover, c1683; d Cöthen, 1737). German bass viol player and violinist, youngest son of Clamor Heinrich Abel. As a young man he served with the troops of Charles XII of Sweden, then occupying north Germany and Bremen. He may have served at the Celle court before moving with his elder brother, the landscape gardener Johann Christoph, to join the establishment of Prince Leopold I of Anhalt-Cöthen about 1715. Christian Ferdinand was listed as chamber violinist and viol player when J.S. Bach was appointed Kapellmeister there in 1717; the two were soon good friends, and Bach stood as godfather to Abel’s first daughter (b 6 Jan 1720). Spitta supposed that Bach had written the six cello suites for Abel, but there is no indication that Abel played the cello, and the Cöthen chapel had a competent and highly paid cellist in Christian Bernhard Linike. Prince Leopold had a particular affection for the viol, and it is likely that Bach provided the three sonatas for bass viol and harpsichord for Abel to teach to the prince. Although Abel’s fortunes rose on Bach’s departure in ...

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Hünnefeld, 1634; d Bremen, July 25, 1696). German composer, organist and bass viol player, son of Ernst Abel. He served at Celle (1662–4) and then at Hanover, where he was court organist and viol player until 1685; possibly he then returned to Celle. His final appointment, in ...

Article

Walter Knape and Murray R. Charters

revised by Simon McVeigh

Member of Abel family

(b Cöthen, March 24, 1718; d Ludwigslust, Aug 25, 1794). German composer and violinist, eldest son of Christian Ferdinand Abel. He was a pupil of Franz Benda in Dresden (1735) and worked as a violinist in the court orchestras at Brunswick (1745) and Sonderhausen (1757–65). He was next appointed Konzertmeister in the orchestra at Brandenburg-Schwedt (1766), then with Benda in Berlin, and he was finally a first violinist in the chapel of the Prince of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in Ludwigslust from 1770. His compositions include a Symphony in D (1776; D-SWl , under ‘Leba’) and violin ‘arpeggien’ ( A-Wgm ). His two sons, August Christian Andreas (1751–1834) and Friedrich Ludwig Aemilius (b 1770), were both violinists at Ludwigslust; the latter’s grandson Ludwig (1835–95) was a violinist in Basle from 1865, and from ...

Article

Action  

Edwin M. Ripin

revised by Peter Walls

(Fr. méchanique; Ger. Mechanik, Mechanismus; It. meccanica).

(1) The linkage between the fingers (or feet) and the sound-producing parts of an instrument. Hence, the mechanism by means of which the strings or pipes of a keyboard instrument are sounded when a key is depressed, e.g. tracker action, pneumatic action, electric action, etc. in organs (see Organ §II...

Article

Adigidi  

Article

Laurence Libin

Article

Stephen Bonner

(Fr. harpe d’Eole, harpe éolienne; Ger. Äolsharfe, Windharfe; It. arpa eolia, arpa d’Eolo)

A string instrument (chordophone) sounded by natural wind, interesting as much for its symbolic significance as for its musical importance.

Normally four to 12 (but sometimes 24 or 48) strings ‘of catgut or brass wire, equal in length, unequal in thickness’ (Magasin pittoresque, 1845) are stretched over one or two hardwood bridges of triangular cross-section, mounted on a thin pine, maple or mahogany box of variable shape – measuring 75–200 cm (normally 85–110 cm) long, 11–35 cm (normally 12–26 cm) wide and 5–17 cm (normally 5–9 cm) deep. The ends of this soundbox may be of beech, for insertion of iron hitch-pins or wooden tuning-pegs. Most instruments have some device such as a slit draught for concentrating the wind on the strings.

Six variants of this structure exist: (1) A rectangular soundbox with a single horizontal row of strings, the most popular model in England, and, until 1803, in Germany; also the simplest type....

Article

Afiw  

José Maceda

Idioglot Jew’s harp of the northern Philippines. Most are made of bamboo, but some are of brass or bronze with a slender triangular tongue cut through a small sheet of metal, the tongue remaining fully enclosed but attached only at the base of the triangle. Among the Bontok people it is known as the ...

Article

K.A. Gourlay

revised by Amanda Villepastour

Lamellaphone of the Ọ̀yọ́ Yorùbá in Nigeria. It has diffused to the Nago peoples of Benin and Lucumí people in Cuba, where it is known as the marímbula. Five adjustable metal tongues are mounted on a large wooden box resonator, which can be 45 cm by 60 cm and 22 cm deep or larger. The instrument is played on the lap, suspended from the neck at waist level so that the tongues can be plucked with the fingers of either hand, or resting on the floor with the player seated. The agídígbo is usually used as part of secular instrumental ensembles such as sákárà, mambo, jùjú, and àpàlà. The Yorùbá instrument has given its name to the Gwari and Fon gidigbo and to the Gwari agijigbo, both five-tongued with box (or old kerosene tin) resonators, and to the agidigo used by some Hausa musicians, notably Audu Karen Gusau, who used instruments of this type either solo or with the hourglass drums (...

Article

Martha Novak Clinkscale

A device invented and patented by Sébastien Erard as part of his first repetition action of 1808, which replaced the nut (wrest-plank bridge) and nut-pin (bridge-pin) arrangement of earlier pianos. Érard’s early agraffe resembled a small brass staple with a concave top. One agraffe for each note was attached at a vertical angle to the front edge of the wrest plank, and the strings were passed underneath. Agraffes define one end of the strings’ speaking length and keep them in place by assuring downward bearing on the strings as the hammers strike. An Érard grand piano of 1812 with agraffes of the original type is now in the Musée de la musique, Paris. Later agraffes have separate holes through which each individual string is passed; each agraffe contains as many holes as there are strings for each unison. Pierre Érard’s improvement, the barre harmonique, which he patented in 1838, still serves as the model for agraffes on the modern grand piano. The agraffe should not be confused with the ...

Article

Ahpareo  

J. Richard Haefer

[aapaleo]

Diatonic harp with 28 strings of the Yoeme Yaqui Indians of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, and the Mayo and Guarijio Indians of Northern Mexico. The names derive from the Spanish arpa. Made from cedar or other local woods, the harp is about 160 cm tall, with a straight forepillar made from a local cactus pole, an inverted arch neck with wooden tuning pegs, and a resonator of three or usually five sides and a flat soundtable with three circular sound holes. Traditionally the lower strings are made of wound goat gut which the harpist receives as part of his payment for playing the fiesta. Nowadays the strings are made from monofilament nylon of various sizes with the lower ones wound to a larger diameter. The harp is retuned as the performance proceeds through the night with various segments using different scales. The harp is played together with the lave’leo violin to accompany the dancing of the ...

Article

Ajaeng  

Robert C. Provine

Bowed long zither of Korea. Two main versions are in current use: the ajaeng, which has been a member of court music ensembles for many centuries, and the smaller sanjo ajaeng, invented in the 1940s and used for folk music and accompaniments.

The older version is about 160 cm long and 24 cm wide, has seven strings of twisted silk and is bowed with a long (65 cm) resined stick of forsythia wood. The instrument itself is made of paulownia wood and is played propped up at the bowing end (performer’s right) on a small four-legged stand. The strings run from a gently curved bridge on the right across seven small movable wooden bridges (‘wild-goose feet’) to another curved bridge on the left; the sounding length, from the right bridge to the movable bridge, is different for each string and readily adjustable for tuning purposes. The ajaeng has the narrowest range of the Korean string instruments: in court music it normally operates within a 9th or 10th, a typical tuning being ...

Article

Idiochord single-string stick zither made by Ganda children in Uganda. It consists of a piece of papyrus stem about 55 cm long with a thin strip raised and supported on bits of papyrus that serve as bridges. It is plucked either with a finger of the right hand or with a small stick....

Article

Article

Akidi  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[akimbi]

Board zither of the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a single string that passes five times back and forth along a board from notches carved in both ends, with a small stick at each end serving as a nut, and small movable wooden blocks under each length of string to tune them. The name ...

Article

Albani  

Patrizio Barbieri

[Albana, Albano, Albanus]

Italian makers of stringed keyboard instruments. At least four builders of this name were active during the 16th and 17th centuries, three of whom are known to have been members of the same Roman family. Documents show that from at least 1623 onwards Andrea Albani (b Rome, c1552; d Rome, 19 August 1639) built harpsichords at a workshop near the church of S Stefano del Cacco. He was assisted by his son Silvestro and his nephew Giovanni Battista Monti (b c1611). Although no instrument by Andrea survives, it is known from an essay by G.B. Doni (c1632–5) that he was persuaded by theorists to build some enharmonic harpsichords with split keys, each note divided either ‘into five parts, according to the principles of Don Niccola [Vicentino], or into four, following the practice which they attribute to Aristosseno’.

Orazio (b Rome, ...

Article

Albert  

Philip J. Kass

Family of violin makers and dealers. John Albert (b Liel, Baden, Germany, 24 June 1809; d Philadelphia, PA, 2 Jan 1900) began as an engineer and inventor. He came to New York from Freiburg, Germany, in 1854 as a refugee of the 1848 revolution, settling in Philadelphia where in 1857 established a shop. His particular interest was in commercial violin manufacture, in which he held several patents; he established the American Star violin factory which, after his retirement in 1887, was run by his son Eugene John Albert (b Freiburg, 1851; d Philadelphia, 1922). The E.J. Albert firm, under other ownership, continued well into the 1950s.

John’s eldest son, Charles Francis Albert (b Freiburg, Germany, 25 Dec 1842; d Philadelphia, PA, 1 July 1901), established his own shop in Philadelphia in 1865. His interest was in fine instruments and repairs, and as such gained wide respect and admiration. His son and successor, Charles Francis Albert Jr. (...

Article

Geoffrey Norris and Nigel Yandell

[Yevgeny Karlovich]

Member of Albrecht family

(b St Petersburg, July 4/16, 1842; d St Petersburg, Jan 28/Feb 9, 1894). German, active in Russia, instrumentalist, teacher, and administrator, son of Karl Albrecht. From 1857 to 1860 he studied at the Leipziger Konservatorium, where his principal teachers were Ferdinand David (violin), Moritz Hauptmann (composition), and Karl Brendel (history of music). He also studied briefly with Ignaz Moscheles, who was professor of piano at the Conservatory. In 1860 he was appointed violinist in the orchestra of the Italian Opera at St Petersburg and from 1862 to 1887 he played second violin in the quartet of the St Petersburg branch of the Russian Musical Society. He was well known as a music teacher, and taught several members of the imperial family; his elementary guides to violin and cello playing were published in 1871 and 1872 respectively. He helped to institute the St Petersburg Society for Quartet Music (...