viola da gamba



[It., gamba - leg]


A family of bowed stringed instruments popular in the Renaissance. This family is the ancestor of the modern double-bass. The members of the viola da gamba family had six or more strings, "C" shaped soundholes, frets, and sloping shoulders. The tone of the instrument was softer than that of the modern violin family, sweeter, and more silvery. The viola da gamba family went out of favour in the late Renaissance and early Baroque, when the brighter, louder violin family took its place in popularity.


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