View Full Version : colascione

Feb-29-2004, 10:56am

I have understood that colascione enjoyed a brief period of being fashionable in France sometime in the 18th century. Is there classical music written for it? Does any of you know CDs where it can be heard, or sound clips in the internet?

I have done some googling and found some music with that name by Girolamo Kapsberger, but I think it was for chitarrone. Telemann has written some, too, but is this for some sort of bass lute like instrument, and not for the Italian buzuk-like one?

If somebody knows about colascione in Italian folk music, I would be interested, too.

Thanks a lot,

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 11:41am
I have copies of both Baines and Braggard and they picture the same instrument. Is this what you are referring to. It is an offshoot of the saz or bouzouki.


Mar-01-2004, 11:53am
Kapsberger wrote a wonderful parody of colascione music...for chittarone. I believe the semi-famous late baroque partitas of Brescianello were written for a version of colascione with more than three strings (they are often played on modern guitar). If you're curious, I'll look it up.

Jim Garber
Mar-01-2004, 11:53am
Here is the descriptive passage from the Baines book.


Mar-02-2004, 9:52am
I have done a little searching for a recording to feature colascione; no luck yet. #Anthony Glise (http://www.rockian.biz/dorian/80127s.htm) recorded Brescianello's partitas for colascione...on modern guitar (it's very nice, but a bit disappointing given Mr. Glise's modus operandi of recording historic music on historic instruments). #Here is an image of a reproduction of a later 6-string colascione by Barber & Harris (http://www.lutesandguitars.co.uk/htm/cat08.htm). #Of it they say:

This unique instrument, which is the only known surviving Colascione with 6 single strings, is very similar to the one belonging to Godfrey Finger, and described in the James Talbot manuscript (Finger's instrument also has 6 single strings, but its string length is longer at 930mm). It is in absolutely original condition, and has extensive wear-marks, suggesting an active and substantial playing life. This is definitely not the 3-stringed Colascione seen in many depictions of Commedia dell 'Arte characters (of which but a few examples survive from the 17th Century) but a proper continuo instrument in its own right, which, according to Finger, was commonly used in Bohemian musical circles.

Mar-02-2004, 9:55am
Hmmm...Barber & Harris also write:

The instrument shown above is a close copy of the original, built for Axel Weidenfeld of.Oldenburg, Germany. Axel has made a special study of the Gallichon and Colascione, and also owns the Niggel Gallichon copy shown above; professor of lute and guitar at Oldenburg University, he has recorded and performed with both instruments.
Looks like more searching is in order.

Mar-02-2004, 10:21am
Most of the pictorial evidence of the colascione I have seen comes from Venice— a city that had by far the most vibrant and immediate contact with the Eastern Mediterranean. Again, I am no historian and cannot speak of percentages in frequency of appearance vs. for example Mantua or Florence.

I do, however, know of a place where six-string, long-necked, staved-bowl lutes are being built in large numbers and (often) exquisite quality http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif For those in pursuit of an instrument, that is; I understand Arto's heading to be mostly about the repertoire.

Mar-02-2004, 12:06pm
Thanks friends.

I, too, noticed the Barber & Harris colascione on their web site. It seems to correspond to this "bass lute" type of colascione - I donīt know if Iīm right, but I have thought that the old Italian (Venetian? Thanks Victor) type would be more saz/buzuq/bouzouki like in its sound.

I made a search in local music library and found two CDīs with a colascione: "Santiago de Murcia - codex" and "Alfabeto", both by Rolf Lislevand and Ensemble Kapsberger. The colascione in those albums is definitely a bass instrument and sound like a plucked double bass. A quote from the liner notes of "Santiago": "Colascione: This 3-string bass lute must have been known to Santiago de Murcia through his engagement with Naples. (Bjorn left his double bass at home and learned this rare instrument especially for the recording. And that is how an instrument without a player met a musician without an instrument, to perform music that had never been performed in our time!)"

BTW: Especially Alfabeto is strange music. Itīs presented as an attempt to perform old music that has been left to us in a very rudimentary form, in Alfabeto chord symbols, not even in tabulature; with period instruments and deep knowledge of early Baroque playing styles. The result is good music to my ears, but sounds quite a lot like jazz or new acoustic to me. Early Baroque Jazz? ;-) "Santiago" sound more "conventional" old music, itīs Mexican classical music from around 1730. I have heard the name of Rolf Lislevand before - do you know more about the man and his approach to Baroque music?

OK, back to the topic: Yes, Victor, I was interested about the music. I think that for some period in 18th century colascione competed with mandolin about being in vogue in aristocratic circles of Paris. I would like to know how that music sounds like.

thanks, Arto

Mar-03-2004, 5:08pm
As if the mandolin name-space weren't confusing enough! :-) I will not be held responsible for my butchery of the following... nonetheless:

Colascione - Generally a three-coursed instrument, often used in the Commedia del Arte'. Consistent with the first instrument shown here... and not necessarily related to...

Gallichon(e) (aka mandora, and perhaps occasionally liuto/leuto) - six- (or seven-, or eight-, or nine-) courses tuned to the intervals of the modern guitar with varieties in D, E, and A (Harris/Barber image) with additional courses tuned to fit the music as needed. Oft played in the 18th century in Germanic/Bohemian countries, with music by Brescianello, Teleman, Albrechtsberger etc. For a strange experience, check out the CD with Albrechtsberger's Concertos for Jews Harp and Mandora.... see if *you* can keep a straight face. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000005975/qid=1078350862/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-1000526-2696928?v=glance&s=classical

Chittarone (aka theorbo) - Kapsberger and that crowd. Lute tuning with upper one or two courses tuned down an octave due to long string length. Very popular for continuo work and accompanying the voice. Similar to an archlute but for the upper courses and that theorbos are often single- rather than double-strung courses.

Guitarone - Modern gigantic gut-strung Mexican guitar on steroids... see your local mariachi band.


Mar-03-2004, 6:03pm
For those interested in base lutes, David Van Edwards has graciously scanned and posted Robert Spencer's original article on Chitarrone, Theorbo, and Archlute (http://www.vanedwards.co.uk/spencer/html/Page%20408.html)


Mar-04-2004, 9:58am
Rolf Lislevand is a major perfomer on lute, early guitars, etc. I have his recording of the Bach "lute suites" on baroque lute. Beautiful sound, and more elaborate ornamentation than most.

Mar-04-2004, 10:53am
I have always disliked the use of colascione in reference to Brescianello's instrument too, but I believe this is the instrument Brescianello himself named in spite of using more strings than the earlier long-necked, few-stringed eastern derivative portrayed by Jim above. #Just more evidence of the utter worthlessness of regional vernacular in reference to musical instruments. #There is a nice article in an old issue of Federico Marincola's (check out Federico's Morlaye, Capriola, and Holborne CDs!) Lutebot Quarterly on this very topic. #Check out section I.6 of:

Prosser, Pietro. 1999. Accord Mandorae est una quarta altius, quam Galizona. Lutebot quarterly, 5.

at http://www.marincola.com/lutebot5.txt.

Mar-04-2004, 1:32pm
Forgive the levity, friends. THIS is the only thing that comes to my mind:


Bob A
Mar-04-2004, 11:13pm
Unchained Melody, with the Two Mustaphas, Victor?

Mar-05-2004, 8:11am
Oh, just a particularly zany montage on a generally zany website by (yet another) nutty Greek.