About the

Viola da Gamba


Just as the string family of instruments is composed of violin, viola and violoncello, so is that of the Viola da Gamba composed of instruments of various sizes. The smallest of these is the Pardessus de Viole with the size of the modern violin followed by the Treble, the Alto, Tenor and Bass Violas da Gamba and ending with the Violone which, in the modern form, is known to us as the Contrabass in the modern orchestra.

A favorite way of passing time during the Elizabethan era was musical performance in consort. This could mean a Gamba ensemble, known as the “Whole Consort” or together with other instrumental families, known as a “Broken Consort”. Indeed, in beauty parlors of the time, one would find various sizes of Gamba hanging on the wall, waiting to be played as a way of wiling away the waiting hours. In the baroque, the Bass Gamba was popular and often used as a solo instrument in France and Germany. Unfortunately, the refined and tender sound of this instrument was later driven into oblivion by the stronger, louder and more brilliant sound of the instruments of the violin family.

The Pardessus was developed at the end of the 17th century. Its purpose was to be able to also perform music for the violin and for the traverse flute. This instrument was especially popular among ladies of high rank. Sometime around 1800 it was mentioned in literature for the last time.





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