Francesco Bianchini’s triplex lyra in eighteenth-century music historiography

TitoloFrancesco Bianchini’s triplex lyra in eighteenth-century music historiography
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBlažeković, Z
EditorBaldassarre, A
Book TitleMusik–Raum–Akkord–Bild: Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Dorothea Baumann = Music–Space–Chord–Image: Festschrift for Dorothea Baumann’s 65th Birthday
PublisherPeter Lang

In his De tribus generibus instrumentorum musicae veterum (1742) Francesco Bianchini included a lyre labeled “Triplex Lyra Pythagorae Zacynthi” (V:11). The instrument was his reconstruction of a lyre described by Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae, who in turn quoted from On the Dionysiac Guild by the historian and grammarian Artemon of Cassandreia. Artemon attributed the invention of the triplex lyra to Pythagoras of Zacynthos, a musician active in the early to mid-fifth century BC. The instrument was supposedly resembling the Delphic tripod, and was played as a triple kithara. Its legs were set on a base that could be turned. Strings were stretched over the three separate spaces between legs, and turning the instrument it was possible to play on it in the Dorian, the Phrygian, and the Lydian modes. Such a concept brings to mind the Lyra Barberina which Giovanni Battista Doni (1595–1647) constructed in order to be able to perform different ancient modes and their transpostions on the same instrument. The triplex lyra was obviously designed as an experimental instrument, meant possibly to help examine theoretical ideas rather than to be used in the performance of a specific music repertoire. Still, its picture and description was borrowed from Bianchini to Charles Henri Blainville’s Histoire générale, critique et philologique de la musique (1767), John Hawkin’s A general history of science and practice of music (1776), Charles Burney’s A general history of music, from the earliest ages to the present period (1776), Jean-Benjamin de La Borde’s Essai sur la musique ancienne et moderne (1780), and to several reference books, such as Encyclopædia Britannica (3rd to 6th edition) and Abraham Rees’s The cyclopædia or Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature (1819). [Zdravko Blažeković]



© 2007-2012 MOISA: Società internazionale per lo studio della musica greca e romana e della sua eredità culturale.

Sito disegnato da Geoff Piersol a aggiornato da Stefan Hagel