CHAPTER 3: History to 1800 > Later Renaissance - 16th century

Detailed Treatises - 8 of 8: Jacques Cellier

fig. 57a, b: from BL MS. Add. 30342, fo.145v;
Note the decordated sound-hole; single courses; no bridges or saddles shown; staggered hitch- and wrest-pins.

Our final example consists of a drawing and its caption which exist in two manuscript versions, one in the British Library (fig. 58a) the other in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (70).

Each is from a lofty social stratum, the former containing notes on government, precedence at State ceremonies and the like, the latter made by a controller of one of the French royal households and including material on architecture, heraldry, fortifications and calligraphy; it was later presented to King Henry III.

What both mss have in common is a collection of pen-drawings of musical instruments, which in the BN copy are dated 1585 and signed by Jacques Cellier, a cathedral organist of Laon and Rheims; there are also drawings in the French ms which are not included in the English version.

Note the decorated sound-hole; single courses; no bridges or saddles shown; staggered hitch- and wrest-pins.

The illustrations are arranged differently on the pages of the two mss, but the captions are common to both (71): that which is of interest here reads:

"Psalterion Il y a plusrs. sortes de psalterions, les uns ou on joue/ avec 2 plumes des 2 mains & sont les plus imparfaicts parce que on ne peult faire au plus que 2 accordz, ceux de qui on joue avec les doibts en pinsant sont les plus parfaicts com 3 ou 4 accordz, non po estre mesler/ sy parfaictment que lespinette".

'There are several sorts of psalterion; some are played with two quills in the two hands and are more imperfect because one cannot make more than two chords (play more than two notes or courses); those which are played by pinching with the fingers are the more perfect as they may play three or four chords (notes), [although] not to be combined as perfectly as the spinet(?)' (68).

These two playing techniques - they can hardly be indications of different types of instrument - are still in use today, though the latter is rare, and a little complex: they are discussed in summary in Chapter 6, and shown in fig.57 c,d,e.

fig. 57 c,d,e: plucking with finger, fingers, and plectrum