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Peter Holman

Viola da braccio ( It. ) A 16th- and 17th-century term for a member of the Violin family. ‘Da braccio’ (‘on the arm’), as opposed to ‘da gamba’ (‘on the leg’), was one of the ways the generic word viola was qualified in 16th-century Italian to distinguish the violin from the viol. At this stage it was usually applied to the complete family: in the printed score of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo ( 1609 ) five-part passages evidently intended for two violins, two violas and bass are collectively labelled ‘Viole da braccio’. Later in the century it became


Lucy Robinson and Peter Holman

Bass violin (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


Ian Woodfield

Viola da gamba An Italian term for the Viol (literally, ‘leg viol’). During the 16th century bowed string instruments were sometimes classified according to the way in which they were held during performance, the viol being designated ‘leg viol’ and the violin ‘arm viol’ ( Viola da braccio ). From the mid-17th century the bass instrument of the viol family was most regularly used, and ‘viola da gamba’ gradually assumed its modern specific meaning of bass viol. By the time of the final phase of the viol’s popularity in England, in the 1770s and 80s



David D. Boyden

revised by Ann M. Woodward

and 17th centuries are the viola da braccio (‘arm viola’; a member of the violin family), soprano di viola da braccio (violin), viola da gamba (‘leg viola’; a member of the viol family) and basso di viola da gamba (bass viol). Later instances are the Viola d'amore and Viola pomposa. When used before approximately 1550 , ‘viola’ may also have the specific meaning of a Renaissance Fiddle or a lira da braccio (but not generally a rebec). Frequent statements to the contrary notwithstanding, the unqualified term ‘viola’, used alone, rarely if ever


Howard Mayer Brown

revised by Sterling Scott Jones

character of lira accompaniments can be gained from studying the fragments of ‘recitative’ (only the vocal part survives) sung as an invocation to Pan by Andrea dalla Viola accompanying himself on a lira da braccio at the first performance of Agostino Beccari’s Il sacrificio in 1554 (the music is in Einstein, Solerti and Jones). The most tangible evidence, though, of the way the lira da braccio was actually played comes from a late 16th-century manuscript in Pesaro’s Biblioteca Oliveriana ( 1144 , olim 1193 ), first studied by Rubsamen ( JAMS , xxi, 1968


Hugh J. McLean

Erich, Daniel ( b c 1649; d Oct 30, 1712 ). German organist and composer. His family probably came from Lübeck, where his father, also Daniel, was a lutenist and maker of stringed instruments. In 1677 St Mary's Church bought a tenor viola da braccio from his father for Buxtehude's use in concerted works from the choir loft. In these, the son played continuo on the positive organ from 1675 to 1679 , strengthening Gerber's assertion that he was a pupil of the Lübeck master. Erich became organist of the parish church in Güstow, south of Rostock


Philip Brett

Lucca – Rassegna del Comune , 6 (1962), 3–8 ‘The Tenor Violin’, Festschrift Otto Erich Deutsch , ed. W. Gerstenberg , J. LaRue and W. Rehm (Kassel, 1963), 273–9 Review of a recording of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas by S. Monosoff, MQ , 49 (1963), 397–404 ‘The “Hill” Lira da Braccio’, The Strad , 75 (1964–5), 86–9 A History of Violin Playing from its Origins to 1761 (London, 1965) Catalogue of the Hill Collection of Musical Instruments in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (London, 1969) ‘Nicholas Bessaraboff’s Ancient Musical Instruments (1941)’, Notes


W.E. McKee

Costanzo Antegnati, according to whom he inherited from Merulo ‘la dolcezza del suonare’. He was also noted by Cozzando (in Valentini) and by Walther as an excellent performer on the viola da braccio and violin and is known to have played frequently in many cities of northern Italy. His 23 surviving compositions are all four-part instrumental canzonas. His Libro primo de canzoni da sonare a quattro voci (Brescia, ?2/ 1584 / R; ed. in IIM , ix, 1995 , and in McKee) containing 21 of these pieces appeared in at least six editions between about 1582 and 1621


Emanuel Winternitz and Laurence Libin

raccolti e interpretati (Florence, 1954) E. Magni-Dufflocq : ‘Da Vinci’s Music’, Leonardo da Vinci (London, 1957), 227 E. Winternitz : ‘Leonardo’s Invention of the Viola Organista’, Raccolta Vinciana , 20 (1964), 1–46 E. Winternitz : Leonardo da Vinci as a Musician (New Haven, CT, 1982) M. Tiella : ‘Leonardo da Vinci's “Viola Organista”’, Studia instrumentorum musicae popularis IX: Orta San Giulio 1986 See also Ghoneim, Mauna Geigenwerk Mechanical instrument, §1: Types of musical movement


Michael Talbot

revised by Enrico Careri

Petronio orchestra in 1706 as a viola player and held this appointment until 1742 , when he became second and finally (in 1753 ) first organist of the basilica. His oratorio L’Attalia was performed in Bologna in 1716. (6) Lodovico Filippo Laurenti ( d 1757 ). Composer and string player , son of (1) Bartolomeo Girolamo. He was appointed as a viola player to the S Petronio orchestra in February 1712 , replacing his elder brother (3) Pietro Paolo. His only known instrumental compositions are a printed set of Suonate da camera pel violoncello e basso



Ian Woodfield and Lucy Robinson

together. Tinctoris ( De inventione et usu musicae , c 1487 ) wrote of two types of ‘viola’, ‘sine arculo’ (‘without a bow’) and ‘cum arculo’ (‘with a bow’), as though they were members of the same family. 3. Continental Europe c 1500 to c 1600. Ian Woodfield The terminology of the viol family during the 16th century was varied and at times extremely confusing. The generic word ‘viola’ (viol) included two quite different instruments, the violada braccio’ (i.e. ‘arm’ viol) and the violada gamba’ (i.e. ‘leg’ viol). Few writers before the middle of the century, however


Giuseppe Gerbino and Alexander Silbiger

and for dances and instrumental variations. It belonged to the repertory of musical formulae, suitable for any text with a certain metrical form, on which Renaissance poet-singers improvised melodic embellishments to the accompaniment of an instrument (usually the lute or the viola da braccio ). In Italy, where it achieved great popularity, the Ruggiero scheme was used to sing stanzas primarily in ottava rima , the metre of epic poetry. As Einstein suggested, the name itself probably derives from the first line of a famous stanza from Ariosto's Orlando furioso (‘Ruggier


access to musical circles at the Gonzaga court. On 1 March 1559 he entered the service of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Duke of Florence, at a comparatively high salary; this may reflect his reputation as a virtuoso on a variety of instruments including the viol and lute, and the lira da braccio and its larger relation the lirone. During the 1560s Striggio established himself as the principal composer at the Medici court in Florence, effectively ousting Francesco Corteccia as the musician primarily responsible for impressive state occasions, an integral part of court



Mary Remnant

frequent use of curved bridges. In late 15th-century Italy, important developments took place which did not spread much to other countries at that time: the fiddle with a lateral drone string developed into the lira da braccio , while the droneless type with indented sides led to the Renaissance viola da braccio and to the violin. (The term viola da braccio , like ‘fiddle’, has been used for different instruments at different times and in 16th-century Italy may also have included instruments of the violin family.) In northern Europe, however, the medieval fiddle continued



Frank A. D’Accone

Agricola and Johannes Ghiselin. Lorenzo was an accomplished singer and instrumentalist, capable of accompanying himself on the ‘viola’ (lira da braccio) as he improvised verse, a talent that was inherited by his eldest son Piero, who, according to Poliziano, also performed written polyphony. Lorenzo’s collection of musical instruments, exceptional for the time, included a number of organs and keyboard instruments, as well as lutes, ‘violas’, a harp and several bagpipes. As a youth Lorenzo had sought to have one of his poems set by Du Fay, of whose music he was an ardent


Stephen Bonta, Suzanne Wijsman, Margaret Campbell, Barry Kernfeld, and Anthony Barnett

violon’ (Jambe de Fer, 1556 , p.61f); ‘basso di viola’ (Zacconi, 1592 , p.218); ‘bass viol de braccio’ (Praetorius, ii, 2/ 1619 , ‘Tabella universalis’, p.26); and ‘basse de violon’ (Mersenne, 1637 , ii, p.185). Other terms given in Italian prints from 1609 to 1700 include: bassetto , bassetto di viola , basso da brazzo , basso viola da brazzo , viola , viola da braccio , viola da brazzo , violetta , violoncino , violone , violone basso , violone da brazzo , violone piccolo , violonzino , violonzono , vivola da brazzo. The variety of names shown here were


Tim Carter and Geoffrey Chew

string instruments (the viol and viola da braccio ). He was ambitious, publishing his music in Venice with the presses of Angelo Gardane (the motets and five-voice madrigals) and Giacomo Vincenti and Ricciardo Amadino (the canzonettas): only the spiritual madrigals were issued locally, in Brescia. When old enough to seek employment, he looked first to Verona (his first book of five-voice madrigals was dedicated on 27 January 1587 to Count Marco Verità, a prominent patron there) and then to Milan, where he played the viola da braccio for Giacomo Ricardi, to whom he


Malcolm Boyd

revised by Graydon Beeks and D.F. Cook

his bow, S, bc The Union of the Three Sister Arts (musical entertainment, ?Walsh), S, T, B, SATB, 2 ob, 2 vn, va, bc, 1723, frag. GB-Ckc , songs (1723) An hapless shepherd, S, 2 vn, bc, GB-Bu; Crudel, ingrata, S, hpd, vc, D-B , GB-Lbl; Fonte adorato, A, bc, Lbl; Godean in braccio a Theti, S, bc, D-B; Hymen, source of human bliss, S, A, T, B, SATB, ob, 2 vn, va, bc, GB-Lam ?by Pepusch; No, no, vain world [The Meditation], 2 S, 2 rec, 2 ob, vn solo, 2 vn, va, bc, perf. in The Lady Jane Gray (play, N. Rowe), 1715, Lam , Lcm; Prego ed amo, S, bc, D-B


Stephen Bonta

to a part, but this balance was never achieved in Legrenzi’s time: in 1687 the choir consisted of six sopranos, seven altos, thirteen tenors and ten basses. On 21 May 1685 they had moved to reduce the number of instrumentalists to 34: eight violins, eleven violettas (violas), two viole da braccio (?cellos), three violones, four theorbos, two cornetts, one bassoon and three trombones. But the procurators were eminently pleased with his service, as they unanimously granted him the highest recorded salary as both vicemaestro and maestro : his salary as maestro



David D. Boyden, Peter Walls, Peter Holman, Karel Moens, Robin Stowell, Anthony Barnett, Matt Glaser, Alyn Shipton, Peter Cooke, Alastair Dick, and Chris Goertzen

References to ‘Una viola, zoè un basso’ and ‘Una viola, zoè un tenore’ in an inventory of that year can be identified as violins by a process of elimination: ‘Viole da gamba’, ‘lauti’ and ‘violoni alla napolitana’ (vihuelas) are also listed. On 20 December 1511 ‘maestro Sebastian da Verona’ was paid to look for timber for making ‘violette’ for the Ferrara court, and for repairing its ‘viole e violoni’. In 16th-century Italian, violins were usually distinguished from the larger-bodied viols by the addition of the descriptive phrases ‘da braccio’ and ‘da gamba’ to the generic