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He was one of the earliest composers for stringed instruments, and Kircher has given one specimen of this class of his works in the Musurgia.
Certain ancient stringed instruments were played with a plectrum or plucker made of the quill of a bird's feather, and the word has thus been used of a plectrum made of other material and differing in shape, and also of an analogous object for striking the strings in the harpsichord, spinet or virginal.
Its most striking characteristic lies in the superscription ("A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to Shigionoth"), the subscription ("For the chief musician, on my stringed instruments"), and the insertion of the musical term "Selah" in three places (v.
Gigue (in the sense of a stringed instrument); the modern French gigue (a dance) is the English " jig " re-imported (Hatzfeld and Darmesteter, Dictionnaire)_ This opens up another possibility, of the origin of the name of the instrument in the dance which it accompanied.
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Again, many devices of civilization bear unmistakable marks of derivation from a lower source; thus the ancient Egyptian and Assyrian harps, which differ from ours in having no front pillar, appear certainly to owe this remarkable defect to having grown up through intermediate forms from the simple strung bow, the still used type of the most primitive stringed instrument.
Their national instrument, the gusle (gusla), is a single-stringed fiddle, often roughly fashioned of wood and ox-hide, the bow being strung with horsehair.
But experiment shows that in this condition much of the violin part sounds incomplete; and the truth appears to be that Haydn is thinking, like any modern composer, of the opposition of two solid bodies of tone - the pianoforte and the stringed instruments.
Articles of furniture are frequently made of it, and it is in great esteem for carving and for the construction of stringed instruments.