The Strings of the Violin

13 Oct 2013

From: The Violin, Its Famous Makers and Their Imitators,  George Hart 1909

“We find that strings, although called “catgut”, are not made from the intestines of that domestic animal.  Whether they were originally so made, and hence derive their name, it is impossible to learn.  Marston, the old dramatist, says:

                           “How the musicians
Hover with nimble sticks o’er squeaking Crowds,
Tickling the dried guts of a mewing cat.”

We may be sure, however, that had the raw material been drawn from that source up to the present time, there would have been no need to check the supply of the feline race by destroying nine kittens out of ten; on the contrary, the rearing of cats would indeed have been a lucrative occupation…..

Strings are made from the intestines of the sheep and goat, chiefly of the former.  The best qualities are made from the intestines of the lamb, the strength of which is very great if compared with those of a sheep more than a year old.”
The cat and fiddle


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