Mark Caudle

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About Mark Caudle

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  • Birthday 06/06/1953

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    Professional baroque and renaissance cello, bass violin/viola da gamba and viol player in UK and Poland since 1973. Also makes baroque instruments - mainly celli. Around no. 15 + some restorations of baroque wrecks!

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  1. What is it about E strings?

    I don't play on modern strings at all but in view of the radical improvement to baroque instruments through using real equal tension strings has anyone thought of trying an experimental modern, equal tension set of strings? The use of higher tension top strings is so well established that maybe that possibility has been completely dismissed. Quite possibly it wouldn't work at all but I would be interested to know the result.
  2. Perry Sultana...

    I can't see the point of making one of these if you don't use the wire strings. Presumably the design was conceived to give the best sound using these and if you use modern strings you might as well make a normal shaped viola.
  3. Another british bow If you look down the page on this link you will see a flute by Bilton with a bit of information about his address and dates
  4. Baroque bass bars

    It's not a recent obsession. I have been playing viols without soundposts since about 1975 and many consorts from then till now are very happy with these kind of instruments. But I think the burden of proof is to confirm the use of soundposts before the end of the 1500's as there is no evidence for them. But neither is any evidence likely to emerge to provide confirmation either way, so it is still a matter of choice or preference. Personally I prefer without in the right context. I thought the F. Linarol small viol is reckoned to be about 1560/70 (well before Nuove musiche) and I would be happy to agree that the Linarol, Ciciliano viols ca. 1600 may have had soundposts. But transverse barring of the type found in this instrument and suggested as previously in the Ebert viol and therefore in other Venetian viols as shown in Titian seems to make soundposts superfluous and I think it very likely that many of the violin family instruments of the type that your diagram shows may have had a similar inside arrangement if for no other reason than the relation of bridges to f holes.. By the way I don't trust anyone's opinions although many who have much more knowledge than me have come to the same conclusion about soundposts.
  5. Baroque bass bars

    Concerning Ben's 16th century examples, is it not possible that not having a soundpost, the bridge was placed over a transverse bar which would need to be placed below the f holes? A similar idea to the Venetian, Linarol viol in Vienna etc. While string length is not vital on violins to achieve the lower pitches as thicker strings could be used, on bass instruments it becomes important as gut strings much more than about 4mm thickness become rather impractical. It's more effective to increase the string length.
  6. Baroque bass bars

    The other thing I meant to say concerns cello neck overstand. I am convinced that this was usually non-existent or minimal (on early cellos) because every original neck I have seen, whether altered or not has a small notch in the upper end which gives just sufficient clearance of the front plate, usually later filled when the neck was reset and a piece added at the bottom of the root. Neck overstand and a higher overall level of the fingerboard over the front became advantageous with the rise of the use of thumb position as otherwise the wrist has to be bent backwards in an uncomfortable way.
  7. Baroque bass bars

    Of course I am not saying that baroque players know everything! That would be impossible given the degree of historical diversity and controversy of interpretation that exists among the best informed experts. But many take a close interest in absorbing and putting into practice the best research. They also make great efforts to achieve consistent and suitable setup between the instruments of an ensemble based on this research. This is a moving target so we can't expect to be historically correct all the time but there is a continuing quest. With regard to Baschenis, there is something strange about the painting illustrated in David's link. The version I have in a monographic, paper book has an apple rather than a piece of garlic on the table! It is also rather more believable although I agree that the bridge is still rather high. However all the other Baschenis paintings I have are both clearer, and show lower bridges. I have made quite a number loosely based on the cello bridges and can confirm that they are very good and produce a better sound than other designs I have made or encountered including the Strad designs. I suspect that the slightly higher arch between the feet allows a bit more transverse flexibility than the Strad design which might be a bit stiff in that area. Interesting about the varied approach to bass bar angle. By not choosing the obvious procedure of following the angle of the joint in viols it looks as if those makers had found some advantage in the greater angle. I have a rather rough (early??) flat backed bass violin which also seems to have originally had a bass bar with a strong angle with the top end near the centre judging by some remaining trace marks.
  8. Baroque bass bars

    I just checked in Sacconi and according to his list of the various bridges patterns and designs associated with the Strad B form cellos, the height of the bridge at the centre varies between 71 and 75 mm. This is much lower than a modern bridge and much other picture evidence also points in this direction (Baschenis etc). However this is not to say that the downforce on the belly through the bridge was not similar to modern values due to the lower neck overstand placing the nut in plane a similar distance from the top of the bridge. This is in response to David above - in practice I agree with your conclusion as to the results of the setup on downforce, but I disagree in believing that lower neck projection and lower bridges were the norm at least before around the 1770's. Another "baroque" feature which is almost never observed in modern "baroque" set up, particularly of cellos, is that bridges were usually parallel sided and strings wider apart on the bridge. This means that adequate clearance of the bow with the c bouts is possible with a lower bridge and from experience a larger radius of the curve of the top of the bridge is practical which among other features allows a different approach to playing chords. As a player i would like to point out that I play around 6 different cellos, all set up very differently to be suitable for different repertoire from about 1600 to about 1790. That's before starting on viols!
  9. Baroque bass bars

    Thanks Ben for your very informative information. The positioning of bass bars on English viols with bent fronts seems to follow the line covering the belly joint under the bridge foot. French makers seem to have used a bigger angle and ignored this joint in the placing of the bar. In reply to baroquecello, while agreeing that many play on inappropriate instrument setups, I would dispute that players don't know rather a lot about baroque and early set ups and their variability. I suppose it depends who you work with!
  10. Finding Bass Gamba Fittings

    Anything standardised and off the shelf is bound to be wrong for a particular instrument. Everything needs to be carefully matched to the style of gamba, strings as well. For frets I use bits of old broken strings!
  11. Baroque solid ebony fingerboard?

    The practical benefit of ebony, whether veneer or solid, becomes important with the introduction of metal wound strings - so not much before 1700. Maple tends to develop grooves quite quickly under the windings. I have an idea that on earlier instruments (ca. 16th century) particularly on larger sizes of viols and violins it works well with a solid maple fingerboard, to make them as a kind of box. So, thin sides glued on to a central part just thick enough to accommodate the curve which is rather shallow anyway on early instruments with just the edges glued to the neck. This give a reasonably light and very stable construction which I find works well whatever the authenticity! I suspect some of the Linarol viols may have been made like this and I think I got this idea while visiting the Vienna museum. However it was so long ago that I don't remember quite what I saw.
  12. Joining Spanish Cedar (cedrela oderata) casein or Hyde glue?

    Spanish cedar is rather similar to mahogany and all 18th century mahogany furniture was glued with ordinary animal glue with no particular problems. The 1683 Michel Colichon viol in the Paris Musee was entirely made of Spanish cedar and I can't imagine the glue was other than this.
  13. Brescian Viola Thickness

    Or maybe no blocks at all!
  14. Brescian Viola Thickness

    I don't think it is impossible that Brescian violin makers used some kind of internal bar(s) even if not as subsequently standardised. 16th century lute and viol makers used all sorts of bars and thickenings - transverse, central, multiple, slab or quartered, glued or reserved. I'm not sure there will be much evidence within existing instruments so almost anything is possible. I suppose that Gasparo probably made violin family instruments using a through neck and thick ribs with no linings, possibly bending the c bout ribs round an outside form to be able to apply high temperature without burning the outside of the ribs.?? For thicknesses I would have thought that backs are generally less altered than fronts. Not directly relevant but to illustrate nonstandard bars I am showing what seems to be an original bass bar from a small southern Italian violin dated 1648. It is wide and shallow, slab cut of the same height along the length and covers the asymmetrical joint in the front. I am very interested in what solutions you decide on and how successful they turn out. Please keep us informed!