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Noyses, Sounds, and Sweet Aires

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"Strike Up a Noise of Viols"

Introduced into England early in the sixteenth century, the viola da gamba, a fretted instrument of six strings played with a bow, became extremely popular among both professional and amateur musicians.  Valued in part because of its shimmering sound, the viol was also relatively easy to learn and soon became a staple of domestic music-making. 


While composers wrote fantasias and other kinds of instrumental music specifically for viol consorts (or ensembles), performers also played vocal music, often advertised as "apt both for viols and voyces," on these stringed instruments.




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John Strong. Treble viol. England, 16th century?

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