what does Gamba mean?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Eric Rene Roy, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Just thought I'd share this. My wife asked me last night what "gamba" meant, other than as a shape identifier. I had several anecdotal answers...but nothing concrete. So I started looking. Shrimp? No. To pair? No. Ahhh...found it!

    The string instrument family was identified one of two ways. Viola da gamba and viola da braccio.

    Da Gamba: for the legs
    Da Braccio: for the arms

    So there you have it! It was to categorize the instruments based on how you hold them. Now we just use it to identify bass shapes as it is the only "modern" orchestral stringed instrument that can still retain its most ancient shape.

    I'm sure some of you already knew this. I felt like I should have known this! But now that I do...I share with you!

    So...save me the research (I'm being lazy this morning). Where does Busetto come from?
  2. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
    Dear Eric,

    Both interesting and sensible. Thank you for sharing it.

    Was playing a viola da gamba, briefly, two weeks ago (pretty ineptly, I should add); of course, one does hold it cradled in the legs, as you say. While I do have some work-place-learned Italian, I failed to make the connection.

    Don't know about Busetto...didn't this come up recently, here, or was it over at Ken Smith's place? I can't recall if the answers were silly, meaningful, or both...

    Thanks again.
  3. Bass Barrister

    Bass Barrister Guest

    Nov 4, 2004
    If you gamba too much and don't pay your IOUs, Louie da Braccio goes for your arms.
  4. The town the style was developed in. It's not Italian for "love handles."
  5. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Busetto, Italy...a Tuscan thing then. Any specific maker from this region taking the crown as the first? I'm limited to my Blackberry right now (and I should be shaping some corners, not typing here!!!) So I can't "research" makers right now.
  6. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    You could have found it right here in your own backyard. Read from post #36.
  7. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Ahh...I guess in all the silliness I missed the gem. O'well...
  8. ynie92992

    ynie92992 Guest

    Jul 27, 2007
    North Carolina
    Sigged,about when you gamba too much! :p Thanks for sharing that nugget of information.
  9. I lol'ed very hard. :D

    I've never been fond of the Busetto shape; I have indeed thought of it as a Double Bass with a muffin top.
    Though it certainly does seem to command more respect from non-players (since it looks liek soo weird), from what I've heard.
  10. Brandon Tuomiko

    Brandon Tuomiko Inactive

    Oct 28, 2008
    Omaha Nebraska
    Busettos are so weird. they are real funny shapped. Look it up. Of course basses like that are $10,000 or very very old
  11. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    There was a thread a while ago that went over some of this stuff. The term Bussetto (Busetto, Busseto) derives, rightly or wrongly, from Giovanni Maria del Bussetto. The most famous bass supposedly made by him is Rainier Zepperitz's old bass. I personally think the shape is related to the viola d'amore. Look at the corners as well as the f-holes of the Zepperitz bass and compare them to these viola d'amores:


    If you have Paul Brun's book on the history of the bass, page 28 has a drawing from 1650 of a similar looking bass instrument called a "Lyra dodecachordae."
  12. Gearhead43

    Gearhead43 Guest

    Nov 25, 2007
    Wow, there are obvious elements of the female form in the design of these instruments.

    In this pic, from the back it's pretty clear. Haha.


    I know that in times past, (Renaissance period) women with more voluptuous figures were considered to be more beautiful. (which I have always agreed with ;))

    The art from these times certainly reflects this, and so must the instruments I suppose.
  13. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA
  14. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Thank for that Eric. That kind of post is Ken at his finest. No marketing or links to his basses for sale...just good clean info.

    My .02