Viola da Gamba

August 18, 2019, 1:38 PM · I'm curious why we don't see this amazing sounding instrument in modern orchestras? Especially for Bach sonata's? I'd imagine the 7 string bass viol would encroach on the ranges of cellists and double bassists alike but I'm sure a narrower range could be arranged for this instrument. The lows that come out of this viol have astounding resonance.

Replies (5)

August 18, 2019, 2:09 PM · Probably not enough players. Also I think the modern instruments make more sound?
August 18, 2019, 2:13 PM · They sound very loud and tonal to me
Edited: August 18, 2019, 2:44 PM · They're very niche instruments which are expensive to produce and maintain (look at all the strings on that puppy). So definitely no young kids with strapped-for-money parents getting gamba lessons for their birthday!
They weren't made for modern repertoire either, as they're usually tuned to a chord and playing fast & intricate passages on a gamba is much harder than on a cello. Also, they're very quiet.

Admittedly I like the gamba as well, but it has no place outside of small chamber groups.

August 18, 2019, 3:27 PM · Maybe they just seem loud because most videos have them in an open hall, large room or church

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvpU3UYtVmI

August 18, 2019, 7:28 PM · Lots of old instruments do not appear in the modern orchestra. the theorbo, for instance. In the context of historical performance, one does often find a gamba used in ensembles for 17th c. music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JlgduihhnM

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