Viols and Other Historic Bowed String Instruments



While plucked strings have been used for musical purposes since at least the third millennium BCE, the idea of sounding a string by bowing it is a much more recent development. Bowed string instruments seem to have originated in Asia toward the end of the first millennium CE, and were in widespread use in Western Europe by the end of the eleventh century. For the next three centuries many different types of bowed instrument, with a bewildering variety of names, were in common use throughout Europe.


Seventeenth Century Acoustical Property Fifteenth Century Body Mode Front Plate 
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The authors are profoundly grateful to Jim Woodhouse for his enthusiastic and expert collaboration on the bridge admittance measurements described in this chapter, and for many helpful discussions on the science of bowed strings. Richard Jones and Anthony Edge provided invaluable guidance on the structural properties of Renaissance and Baroque viols, and Alison Crum showed us how they should be played.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Arts, Culture and EnvironmentUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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