Consort Music for Renaissance Viola da Gamba
Developed originally in Valencia, Spain and then in Northern Italy, this instrument is more related to the lute and guitar than it is to the violin or cello. The string bass is the only remaining instrument in this family which was eventually adopted into the symphonic orchestra after the instruments’ zenith in the Baroque period.
Composers such as William Lawes, John Jenkins, Giovanni Bassano and William Byrd are only a handful of the notable composers who wrote specifically for the viola da gamba.
In addition to repertoire written for viols specifically, Renaissance Dance Music and Vocal Music is also considered a main portion of the viol repertoire. The instruments are generally found in three sizes: treble, tenor and bass, but a lesser known ‘alto viol’ was a part of the Renaissance consort as well, and is thought to have been used for music in sharp keys. A Baroque version of the Bass Viol was innovated by the French, who added an extra bass string for solo playing.
Coached by Pat O’Scannell, who also possesses a set of five violas da gamba for use by the group.