Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A medieval musical instrument essentially similar to the monochord, but suggestive of the viol. It consisted of a wooden body about 6 feet long, flat in front, polygonal behind, and tapering from a somewhat large flat base, which could be rested on the floor, to a short thick neck, terminating in a head with a tuning-screw. It had but one large string, made of gut, stretched over a peculiar bridge, and tuned to a low pitch, usually about that of the second C below middle C. The bridge was made so as to rest firmly on only one foot, the other being free to vibrate upon the body. The instrument was played with a large bow. like that of a violoncello. The tones used were the natural harmonics of the string, produced by lightly touching the nodes. Its scale therefore coincided with that of the trumpet; and this fact, taken in connection with its general shape, probably suggested its name. It was used for both sacred and secular music, both alone and in sets of three or four. It was especially common in nunneries as an accompaniment for singing, since its tones corresponded in pitch with those of the female voice. The latest specimens date from early in the eighteenth century. The instrument is important in connection with the development of the viol. Also marine trumpet, tromba marina, nuns'-fiddle, etc.
- n. In botany, a large seaweed, Ecklonia buccinalis, of the southern ocean. It has a stem often more than 20 feet in height, crowned by a fan-shaped cluster of fronds, each 12 feet or more in length. The stem is hollow in the upper part, and when dried is frequently used as a trumpet by the native herdsmen of the Cape of Good Hope, whence the name. It is also used as a siphon. Also called
- n. A large marine gastropod of the genus Triton.
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