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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/491

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Stilts are no longer in use as a practical means of locomotion. In France the Landes of Gascony have been drained and reclaimed, and are penetrated by roads and coursed by railways. The Landais tchangués are gradually disappearing, and soon, probably, their memory will exist only among the octogenarians of the province, or as preserved in the collections of popular traditions.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.




THE place this country holds among modern nations in the production and use of musical instruments is so significant that the fact alone ought to be sufficient to disprove the charge that Americans are too material to appreciate music or the arts. In this and the following article we purpose to treat of the development of musical instruments and their manufacture in America from the historical, technical, and industrial standpoints, with brief sketches of the various improvements and of the individuals identified with them. The piano-forte, the "household orchestra" of the people, is entitled to precedence. Though less complicated and expressive than that "king of musical instruments," the organ, it fills such an important place in social and popular life, and its production maintains such a prosperous art industry, employing within its lines so many gifted men, that this prominence is fully justified.

In treating of the evolution of the piano-forte a little attention must be claimed for the precursors of the instrument. The harp, one of the most ancient, may be traced back in Egyptian history to an indefinable period before Christ. Bruce, the celebrated Scottish traveler and antiquarian, found two paintings, in fresco, of harps on the wall of an ancient sepulchre at Thebes, supposed to be that of Rameses III, who reigned about 1250 B. c. In Thebes, an Egyptian harp was found, in 1823, by Sir John Wilkinson, in an ancient tomb, estimated to be three thousand years old, and when the gut strings were touched they emitted musical sounds. These instruments are illustrated in Fig. 1.

The lyre, a relative form of harp, was also much used in Assyria and Egypt. Ancient sculptures found in Konyunjik, Assyria, now in the British Museum, show two lyres with figures, which further demonstrate its remarkable antiquity. Both instruments