Wonderful! Thanks Frank!


-----Original Message-----
From: Frank Nordberg [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] 
Sent: 10 April 2005 10:13
To: Cittern NET
Subject: Re: Norwegian sister (was: Jakob Lindberg and the cister)

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
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

[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
   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
   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

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