CHAPTER 3: History to 1800
3.5 The Baroque, Rococo and Classical Periods 1600-1800
3.5.1 The west
1.1. Popular cultures in the 17th & 18th centuries:
Detailed evidence: 3 of 6: Illustrations 1
Each of the five 18th century illustrations is full of character; they portray players from Flanders, Germany and the Alps (engraved in Paris) and all show solo performers. Three of the five show girls playing, and three also have poems inscribed under them. However the point of greatest significance is that each player is shown holding his hammers in the old way, between the first two fingers.
'Though I play and though I sing
Nothing makes me happy without my lover
But near to him I am content
When he touches my instrument'.
The bridging on the Flemish engraving at fig. 68 is also something of a puzzle: taken as a true representation of its model, the latter would be of type 0.1., of which there were five convincing examples in the 15th century. However, the only two 16th century representations are very sketchy, and there are no others in the 17th or 18th centuries, so it seems safest to conclude that the artist did not feel bound to reproduce all the details. The wrest-pins are rather unusually shown on the left, but when we notice that the accompanying fiddler is left-handed we conclude that this plate was also reversed: a costume expert might be able to confirm this point.
Closer to real life is perhaps the Cymbal which Johann Christoph Weigel included in his Musicalisches Theatrum (fig. 59), produced in Nuremburg sometime between 1715 and 1725; the caption was discussed in the previous section. The treble bridge seems to have been drawn a bit skewed, dividing the strings at about 2:3 at the top but then almost parallel with the left edge rather than equally between the two edges; bass bridge in the normal place, close to the right-hand edge. Perhaps 20 or 21 courses, two tuning pins shown for each, but the model might have have more. Apparently box construction with wrest- and tuning-blocks inside, hitch-pins in the side rather than on the top, wrest-pins presumably intended to be the same on the other side, though playing with the perspective makes them visible anyway; no decoration shown. Hammers are held between the first two fingers, in the left hand steadied by the thumb, in the right hand not. The Hackbrett placed on a small but sturdy table, which doesn't have anything else on it, nor room for anything else, the player seated, playing alone, no-one else doing anything in the room except the visitor at the door. Apparently a rather large instrument. Or a rather small player, of course.
The instrument in fig. 70 has been painted as rectangular rather than trapezoid, with a single treble bridge in the middle: not impossible, but not usual either.