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Picture of a Lithotomy

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 04 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c4156
  1. Desmond O’Neill, consultant in geriatric and stroke medicine, Dublin
  1. doneill{at}

    The bass viol (also known as the viola da gamba) is a supremely expressive but delicate musical instrument. It has been described as the closest an instrument can come to the human voice but was eclipsed by the more robust cello for several centuries. However, a renaissance over the past four decades has allowed us to enjoy again this subtle and emotionally direct instrument. Marin Marais (1656-1728) was one of the greatest of composers and performers of the viola da gamba, and his music gained a wider audience with the 1991 film Tous les Matins du Monde. Although little is known of Marais’s personal life, through his work we glimpse a wonderfully flexible and humorous musical personality. For example, La …

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