Picking up an old thread here.

I've finally had time to translate the entire cittern chapter from 
Aksdal's book about musical instruments in Norway, and Stuart suggested 
I post it on the list.

Frank Nordberg
http://www.mandolin-player.com Cittern

The cittern probably originated in the late medieval period as a plucked 
descendant of the old fidel. Tinctoris (c.1490) credits the Italians for 
the invention and describes the insturment as having a flat body, frets 
and four strings made from brass or steel and plucked with a plectrum 
(Marcuse 1964:103). Usually the insturment is mentioned under it's 
French name citole, especially popular among 14th C troubadours. During 
this time the citole goes through a transformation and appears during 
the 16th C in its classical form. The plectrum is then replaced with 
fingerpicking and the first compositions for the cittern appears during 
the middle of the century, notated in luite tablature. The string, who 
like on the lute are configured i courses, increases in number, and 
during the 17th C we find everything from 4 to 12 course citterns. Until 
the beginning of the 18th C there was a steady production of both solo 
and ensemble music for the cittern, somthing that reflects its 
acceptance withing art music. During the 17th C the cittern had also 
foudn its way into the barbershop, for the enjoyment of the customers 
who still didn't have nespapers or magazines to pass the waiting time. 
Trichet tells that the instrument in France also was played by the 
barbers themselves to entertain the waiting customers (Marceuse 1964:104).
    In Hamburg around 1700 it appeared a small cittern type that became 
very popular in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. This bell shaped 
cittern was usually called sitrenk and had 5 or 6 courses. Many of them 
had holes drilld in the neck for attaching a capo. This made the 
instrument popular despite the guitar's increased popularity.
    The Italian cittern was small, with a deeper body and 6 courses, 
consisting of 4 double and 2 single metal strings. Around 1750 it was 
introduced to England where it flourished. The instrument was especially 
popular among ladies of the elevated circles. In 1783 Chr. Clauss in 
London invented a key mechanism to spare the cittern playing ladies' 
fingers. Another attempt to facilitate the palying, was the introduction 
of a tuning mechanism that with a small tuning key tightened or 
slackened the strings. Around 1800 the insturment is however on return. 
Not even the introduction of open bass strings, inspired by the 
archlutes, managed to keep the cittern from being replaced by the 
guitar. Only in folk music did it survive, and it is still used in 
Germany and on the Iberian peninsular.

[Translator's comments: I suppose there's no need for me to say much on 
this list about the many inexactnesses of this general description of 
the cittern's history ;-) I'm sure Aksdal is on much safer ground when 
it comes to the NOrwegian references in the rest of the article]

  In Norway the cittern is first mentioned in 1620. During a pary at 
Bryggen in Bergen music was made "mit sitzteren vund Lutten" (Wiberg 
1932:89). In 1662 we hear of an instrument called "Zitter" or "Citter" 
used in church music (Bang 1662, VIII, 4). Apparently this is a cittern. 
This instrument has earlier been referred to as cither, cithar and 
cithre. To mend the name confusion Curt Sachs in 1922 proposed to 
christen the instrument cister (Rugstad 1978:112).
    Cithar is the name the cittern appear under the next time it's 
mentioned in the sources, listed in Holden by Ulefoss among the deceased 
priest Gerhard Meidel's instruments in 1707 (Rugestad 1979:12). When 
Christian VI visited Kongsberg June 27th 1733 a parade was arranged, 
according to the travelling journals. "In front of this parade the 
Musicians walked with their Hautbois and and Waldhorn dressed in the 
Berg fashion, and also the Berg-Sangerne with their Violiner, Citer and 
Træ-angler" (Kierulf 1745:32). In Germany the triangle was one of the 
miners' instruments. It's worth noticing thet the cittern often were 
called Bergzither in Germany, but the evience is not substantial enough 
to conclude there is any connection.

[Translator's comment: In both Norwegian and German the word "Berg" 
means "mountain" but has also been used in reference to miners (men who 
work inside the "berg"). Kongsberg is a Norwegian town that grew around 
the royal Norwegian silver mines.]

  During the loast half of the 18th C the cittern had its reneaissance 
in England and Germany and the impulses soon reached Scandinavia as 
well. In 1782, town musician Berg in Kristiansand writes:

[Translator's comment: Sorry, but the facsimile of a facsimile here is 
too hard to read - I'll see if I can find a copy of the book so that I 
can translate the last part]

Berg continues: "The Cittern ... is a perfect Instrument, suitable for 
the enjoyment of the fair sex, expecially when they can accompany 
themselves simlarly musically with singing" (Berg 1782: 32-38). The 
cittern became very popular in Norway, both as a solo isntrument and for 
song accompaniment. It was especially widespread in the towns as an 
amateur instrument, often played by women. Special "cittern songs" 
appeared from the use of this instrument (Rugstad 1978:119). In 1775 
Johan Nordahl Brun wrote Bergen's town song, starting with "I took my 
new tuned cittern in my hands..." The melody is apparently a French 
menuet Brun had learned because Holberg had used it in "Jean de France." 
Interesting is also the poet Edvard Storm's "Note book." The first part 
of the book is an elementary introduction in playing and tuning the 
sister, with 15 practice tunes notated in French tablature. The book was 
probably written during his stay in Copenhagem. For more information, se 
Rugstadss article in SNM 4, 1978.
[Translator's comments: The tune to Bergen's town song is by Jean 
Baptiste Lully.]
   Berg writes in 1782: "Citterns are of several Models and Sizes, but 
with the right Playing method becomes almost One on them all." (Berg 
1782:32). In Sweden the English cittern was introduced towards the end 
of the 1760s, and soon won great popularity (Nordlind 1941:143). It 
probably arrived just as early in Norway. I Norwegian museums there are 
about 10 English citterns from the second half of the 18th Century, the 
oldest one dated 1757. [Translator's comment: is this the English 
guittar?] Even so it's the northern German sitrenk [Translator's 
comment: the Hamburger Citrinchen - "bell cittern") that gaid most 
importance in Norway. It is first mentioned by Berlin in 1744: "With the 
Word Harpe, is included the so-called David-Harper, Spis-Harper, 
Citrincver, Citharer..." (Berlin 1744:94). Wilse also mentions it in his 
Spydeberg description: "Langeleik worked better because the players 
could sing along, as with the Citrinque..." (Wilse 1779:432). Berg 
writes in 1782 that it belongs "Among the Citar Family": "Zitrinchen and 
Humlen is played with a sharpened Pen Feather." (Berg 1782:32). I 
contrast to the English cittern, that was imported, we got in Norway 
several instrument makers who built sitrenks. The most significant of 
these was Amund Hansen. He was born in Vinger in 1734, but later moved 
to Halden were he was "Oboist at the Sydenfieldske regiment" (Parmer 
1962:16). It is uncertain when Amund Hansen began building sitrenks. It 
has been said that Bellmann purcahsed a Hansen-sitrenk during his stay 
on Halden in 1763, but this has not been confirmed and shouldn't been 
given much significance. The oldest Hansen-sitrenk is fully 16 years 
younger, that is dated 1779, and has th characteristic bell shape of the 
Hamburgen sitrenk. This is however the only preserved instrument with 
this shape. It seems Hansen during the 1780s started building pear 
shaped sitrenks. There are 5 such preserved. Most of Amund Hansen's 
instruments are made in socalled bell-pear-shape, a combination of the 
two shapes. This shape appears in 1787 and dominates completely until 
1806, the dating of his youngest known instrument. Amund Hansen who died 
in 1812 probably had an enormous production. Despite the great town fire 
in Halden 1826, I have been able to register no less than 30 
instruments. He also probably did some export (Parmer 162:32 f).
   Another Norwegian instrument maker was Andreas Lunde in Bragenes. 
 From his hand one cello and two sitrenks are preserved, dated 1804, 
1795 and 1802 respectively. The sitrenks are very similar to Amund 
Hansen's bell-pear-shaped instruments. There is also a third sitrenk 
that can possible be credited Andreas Lunde. The instrument, who is 
located in Musikmuseet, Stockholm, is signed, but unfortunately the 
signature is almost unreadable. Paremr thinks it says "Andreas Gundersen 
.. 1792" (Parmer 1962:26 f) I have studied the signature myself and 
believe it says: "Andreas Lunde ... 1792". The instrument also shows 
much similarity in shape to Lunde's 1802-sitrenk, and both these are 
equpped with English tuning mechanism. [t.c.: Preston tuners]
   In Bergen also Anders R. Kleive built bell-pear-shaped sitrenks with 
Egnlish tuning mechanism. 4th Nov 1790 "Anders Ragnelsen Kleive, 
Sundfjord, Violin Maker" aquired citizenship in the town (Bergen 
Borgerbog 1917 - 23:145). Three years later he advertises sale of violin 
strings in the newspaper, and clearly calls himself "violin maker" 
(Bjørndal 1952:84). According to Parmer there is a sitrenk by him in 
Berlin (Parmer 1962:26). In Norway two Kleive-sitrenks are preserved, 
both from 1798.
   The last know cittern maker in Norway is Berner Hansen from 
Haugesten. From his hand one instrument dated 1787 is preserved. Fett 
also counts no. 33 in his catalogue as being made by Hansen (Fett 
1904:38). The instruments are pear shaped and have English tuners. 
Parmer interprets the signature as "Berner Hansen, Hangensten" and 
counts the sitrenk as Swedish (Parmer 1927:27 f).
   All indications say we had a significant cittern tradition in Norway 
during the late 1700s. Amund Hansen was the most important instrument 
maker and built his first instruments based on the Hamburger bell 
cittern. Gradually he developed his own form, the pear-shaped sitrenk. 
During the 1780s he combined the two forms into the chracteristic 
bell-pear-shape. This form he kept for the rest of his time and built a 
huge number of instruments. Around 1790 other Norwegian instrument 
makers began copying the bel-pear shape, but never reached the quality 
og Hansen's sitrenks.

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