CHAPTER 3: History to 1800

3.5 The Baroque, Rococo and Classical Periods 1600-1800

3.5.1 The west

1.2. Higher cultures in the 17th & 18th centuries: Romance language-area

Instruments: Characteristics of 17th & 18thC. salterii and psaltérions

How much information is there?
Makers and places
Changes within the period
Shape and size
Box construction


Changes within the period

There is, again, very little difference between instruments of the two centuries. There are examples of all the main types in the 17th century, and the 18th century innovations are all changes of degree rather than changes of type: extending the body to produce longer bass strings (Mersenne mentioned large instruments in the 17th century), Franciosi's tuning gadgets (ditals were used in the 17th century), and complex bridging systems, such as that of Battaglia described above, were simply extensions of the principle of the little 'foot' bridge shown by Mersenne, and on the 1514 instrument at Leipzig.

Another difference of degree concerns the instrument's apparent popularity: 70% of the examples are from the later of the two centuries. The suggestion that the psaltérion vogue in France was due to Hebenstreit's court appearance of 1705 is not borne out by documentary evidence, nor by the features of surviving instruments or illustrations (see Chapter 7.13).