The sixteenth-century basse de violon: fact or fiction? Identification of the bass violin (1535-1635). Page: 14
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Even though the terminology for bass violins remains problematic, there are relatively
unequivocal terms for the violin in the sixteenth century, such as "violon, violan, violen, violette,
vyalyn, vyolan, vyolen" or "vyolon."42 The same principle is valid for the viol family and its
variants ("vial, violdegamba, violle, violl, voyall, vyall, vyole, vyal, vyol, vyall, vyal, wyall,
wyoll").43 The Italian term violino is usually used for the whole violin family,44 yet sometimes
for the soprano and alto members only.45 The term violon, which is one of the clearest
designations, originates from the French language, so it makes sense that two Frenchmen provide
us with the earliest unambiguous descriptions of violins of all sizes.46
Jambe de Fer is the first to mention the bas de violon or bass violin (1556),47 and the
earliest illustration of a bass violin is by his compatriot Marin Mersenne (1635). Most sixteenth-
century authors did not provide a straightforward answer to the ambiguity of terminology
concerning viols and violins. Consequently, it is no surprise that opinions of present-day
scholars greatly diverge about this topic as well.
At first sight, it would seem a simple task to identify the sixteenth-century bass violin
according to contemporary organological treatises. This process, however, proves to be
4Ibid., 8, 22-4.
Ian Woodfield, The Early History of the Viol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 265.
Aurelio Virgiliano, Il dolcimelo, Bologna, 1600, Reprint (Firenze: Studio Per Edizioni Scelte, 1974), 47.
Boyden, op. cit., 23.
Michael Praetorius describes and illustrate violins, but does not provide an image of the four-stringed
Giovanni Maria Lanfranco, Hans Gerle, Martin Agricola and Silvestro Ganassi mention bass violins as
well, but they use ambiguous terminology. Therefore, Jambe de Fer's account counts as the first definite description
of the clear term 'bas de violon' as a reference to the bass violin.
Here’s what’s next.
This thesis can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Thesis.
Erodi, Gyongy Iren. The sixteenth-century basse de violon: fact or fiction? Identification of the bass violin (1535-1635)., thesis, August 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc12121/m1/22/: accessed January 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .