Ancient Music

The Viola de Gamba


    It is worth noting that in the early stages of the evolution of bowed string instruments most of them were played sitting down with the instrument held vertically, on the knee if it was small enough, between the knees for several larger styles, on the floor in front of a seated player, and ultimately on the floor in front of a standing player. The name of this instrument translated from the italian "Viol of the Legs". While there are several sizes so named, they all fit in the gap between the modern Viola and the modern Cello.

    Structurally they are strongly violin family with the strings held high off the body, the neck angled high to keep the fingerboard close to the strings and the body sharply waisted, all to facilitate bowing. They usually employed the same sound post and bass bar beneath the feet of the bridge. Most were fretted in the early style where the frets were actually pieces of gut string tied tightly around the neck.

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