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



When we consider stringing, we discover that almost exactly half the examples have the same number of strings per course for treble and bass; the other half have one less string per course for the basses than for the trebles, e.g. quintuple treble courses and quadruple bass courses V + IV. Of the former group, two-thirds have quadruple courses, while ofthe second group, two-thirds have IIV+III. There were seven examples of triple courses, none of quintuple and only one sextuple; of the instruments having mixed courses, one had VI + VII, and there was even one with VII + VIII. The number of courses is rather more diverse: treble courses vary between 5 and 14 (18?) in number, although 10 occurs three times as often as any other. Similarly, with the bass courses, there are almost twice as many examples of 14 as there are of anything else, though they range from 4 to 14 (18?).

Note that no instruments with double courses were found in this study. The salterio in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, had one wound-wire (overspun) string on each bass course, but it was not possible to tell the age of that stringing; Mersenne and others talk about tuning strings in octaves, of course, and overspun strings on a Pantaleon (18th century) are mentioned below.