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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 432 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SORBS, the tribal name of the Slavonic people, whom the magician, sorcerer or witch. The word meant originally divina-Germans call Wends in Lusatia (Lausitz) ; they call themselves tion by means of the casting or drawing of lots, and is derived Serbs or Luzicane. Their country includes the western ex- from the O. Fr. sorcerie, sorcier, a sorcerer, Med. Lat. sortiarius, tremity of the kingdom of Saxony and parts of the districts of one who practises divination by lots, sortes (see MAGIC, DIVINAHoyerswerda, Muskau, Kottbus, Kalau, Spremberg and Sorau TION and WITCHCRAFT). in Prussia; they are now surrounded on all sides by Germans, SORDELLO, a 13th-century Italian troubadour, born at but they formerly had them as neighbours only on the west Mantua, who is praised by Dante in the De vulgari eloquio, along the Fulda, while on the north towards Kopenick they and in the Purgatorio made the type of patriotic pride. He marched with the Lutici, on the east with the Poles and Silesians is also the hero of a well-known poem by Robert Browning. along the Queiss and Bobr, and on the south were separated The real Sordello, so far as we have authentic facts about his from the Bohemians by the mountains that now make the life, hardly seems to justify these idealizations, though he was Austrian frontier. The Sorbs are divided into High and Low the most famous of the Italian troubadours. About 1220 he along a line from Sagan to Muskau and Spremberg. They are appears at Florence in a tavern brawl; and in 1226, while at in all about 18o,000 in number; 8o,000 Low Sorbs and 40,000 the court of Richard of Bonifazio at Verona, he abducts his of the Ioo,000 High Sorbs are in Prussia, and 6o,000 High Sorbs master's wife, Cunizza, at the instigation Saxony. These have gained definite rights for their language lino da Romano. The Romano. The scandal resulted tidn in of his her flight brother, (IZZ to 9) to l in school and administration, so that Bautzen (Budysin), their Provence, where he seems to have been for some time. He capital, is the intellectual centre not only for Saxon subjects, but entered the service of Charles of Anjou, and probably accomfor all High Sorbs and to a great extent for Low Sorbs. The panied him (1265) on his Naples expedition; in 1266 he was a first monuments of both dialects belong to the Reformation period, prisoner in Naples. The last documentary mention of him is these being translations of Luther's Catechism by Warichius and in 1269, and he is supposed to have died in Provence. His Moller. Some Sorbs are Protestants, though the Saxon Sorbs didactic poem, L'Ensenhamen d'onor,. and his love songs and are mostly Roman Catholics,. Early in the 19th century the satirical pieces have little in common with Dante's presentation, High Sorbs had a revival under the leadership of F. A. Klin, but the invective against negligent princes which Dante puts a lawyer and politician; A. Seidler, a considerable poet, and into his mouth in the 7th canto of the Purgatorio is more ade S. E. Smoler, an ethnographer and publicist. More recent writers quately paralleled in his Serventese (1237) on the death of his are J. Cisinsk and J. Radyserb. A Macica or Literary and patron Blacatz, where he invites the princes of Christendom Linguistic Society was founded in 1847, and publishes a Casopis to feed on the heart of the hero. or Periodical. Meanwhile Low Sorb has remained almost unculti- For Sordello's life and works see the edition of Cesare de Lollis vated owing to the pressure of the Prussian administration. (Halle, 1896) ; for Browning's poem see Stopford Brooke's Browning The two dialects stand between Polish and Cech: they have (1902)• lost the nasal vowels, have the accent on the first syllable, and SORDINO, SORDONI, SoRDUNI, Italian terms somewhat make tj into c, dj into z, like Cech, but they retain x and y and, promiscuously applied by various writers (I) to contrivances like Polish, have grad for Cech grad. High Sorb has h, for damping or muting wind, string and percussion instruments Low the original g. They have kept the old aorist and dual. (Sordini) ; (2) to a family of obsolete wind instruments blown Sorb is usually printed in German blackletter variously adapted; by means of a double reed (Sordoni or Sordun) ; (3) to a stringed the Macica publishes some books spelt after the Cech system. instrument. To these must also be added the Surdellina or Sordellina, a kind of musette invented (see BAGPIPE) in Naples in the 17th century, and evidently named after class 2. I. Under the Italian term sordini are comprised the dampers used with stringed instruments, such as the violin, and the dampers of keyboard instruments, all well known, and described with the instruments themselves. As a certain amount of misconception exists concerning the sordini (Fr. sourdines, Ger. Dampfer), used from the 16th century with the trumpet and later with the horn, they may be briefly described. It would appear that the art has almost been lost of making mutes for trumpets and French horns, which should affect the timbre only, giving it a certain veiled mysterious quality similar to that of the sons botches or hand-stopped notes, but affecting the pitch not at all. We read that when it is necessary to produce this peculiar timbre on the valve-horn, as for instance in Wagner's Rheingold, the rise of a semi tone in pitch caused by the introduction of the mute or the hand into the bell of the horn must be compensated by means of the second piston which lowers the pitch a semi-tone.' If the sordino used early in the 17th century had had this effect of raising the pitch, the fact would have been stated by such writers as Mersenne and Praetorius; it would, moreover, have rendered the mute useless with instruments on which no sort of compensation was possible. H. Domnich 2 and J. Frohlich,' however, describe the sordino which leaves the pitch unaffected : it consisted of a hollow cone of wood or cardboard, truncated at the apex to allow the air to pass through and escape through a hole in the base. The bore of the instrument thus continued through the cone of the mute was the essential point, and the proportions to be maintained between the diameters of the two bores were also, no doubt, of importance. Domnich expressly states that it was when Hampel substituted a plug of cotton-wool (therefore solid and providing no central passage for the air) for the mute, that he found the pitch of the horn raised a semi-tone. Domnich's evidence is of value, for his 'other was a horn-player contemporary with Hampel, and he himself was the intimate friend and colleague of Punto, Hampel's most celebrated pupil. 2. The sordun or sordoni family are often confused with the dolcians (Fr. courtaud, Eng. single curtail, Ger. Kort or Kortholt), from which, however, they differed radically. This difference was not understood by Michael Praetorius, who acknowledges his mystification. The contra-bass sordun, he says, hardly half the length of the contra-fagotto, is yet practically of the same pitch, which is astonishing since the bore is only double once upon itself as in the fagotto. The kort likewise is of the same size as the bass sordun, and yet in pitch it is but a tenor. The following description of the construction and acoustic properties of the sordoni will clear up the mystery. The body consisted' of a cylinder of wood in which were cut two parallel channels of narrow cylindrical bore, communicating with each other at the bottom through a bend, but not with ambient air. At the top of the cylinder was fitted a double-reed mouthpiece giving access to the column of air at one end of the bore, while the other was vented through a small hole in the side, similar to the finger-holes; in the tenor, bass and contra members of the family, the reed was attached to a curved brass crook similar to that of the fagotto. So far the description would almost apply to the dolcian also, but in the latter there is the radical difference that the bore of the channels is conical, so that it has the acoustic properties of the open pipe. The sordun, however, having a cylindrical bore, has the acoustic properties of the stopped pipe, i.e. the sound waves are twice the length of the pipe, so that to produce a sound of any given pitch, for instance for C, the bore need only be half the length, i.e. 4 ft. long. Over-blowing, on the sordoni, moreover, produced as first harmonic (the only one required for reed-blown instruments in order to produce the diatonic scale for the second octave) not the octave, but the twelfth, or number 3 of the series. This accounts for the fact that instruments of the fagotto and dolcian type require but 6 or 7 holes to give the diatonic scale throughout the compass, whereas the sordoni require II or 12 holes. Praetorius states that those figured by him (Plate )(II.) have 12 open holes, and that some specimens have in addition two keys; a hole is also bored through the bottom of the instrument to allow the moisture condensed from the breath to be shaken out. The 12 holes are stopped by means of fingers and thumbs and by the ball of the hand or the fleshy under-part of the joints of the fingers. The compass of the 5 sizes of sordoni was as follows: -9-a— _— FF —to—1—= ' See Victor Mahillon, " Le Cor," Instruments a vent, pt. ii. (Brussels and London, 1907), pp. 34 and 53. ! Methode de premier et de second cor (Paris, c. 1807), pp. 3 and 4. s Vollstandige theor.-prakt. Musiklehre fur alle bei dem Orchester gebrauchliche Instrumente (Cologne and Bonn, c. 1811). Two sourdines belonging to the Museum of the Brussels Conservatoire, said to be facsimiles of some instruments belonging to the emperor Maximilian I.'s band, are reproduced in Captain C. R. Day's Descriptive Catalogue of Musical Instruments (London, 1891). They differ slightly in construction from the Italian instruments described by Praetorius. The straight crook is set in the side of the instrument, almost at right angles, the top of the cylinder is surmounted by a cap, and there are but 6 open holes, the rest being covered by brass keys in wooden boxes. The pitch of these instruments lies within a semi-tone of that of the contra-bass and bass of Praetorius. (K. S.)
End of Article: SORBS

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