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Presumin Ed

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  1. Denis also wrote an article called The geometric principles of string instrument-making in Brescia. (You can also find this included in the book "Liutai in Brescia"). I used this approach successfully for my last instrument. Ed.
  2. You can get a preview of François Denis' article on the Geometry of Brescian instruments here. (Also worth conferring with the YouTube videos Kevin Kelly has produced.) Ed.
  3. Hi Jim, You might like to take a look at the book 'Liutai in Brescia'. There you can see pictures and information about many Brescian instruments, including the 'Dumas' viola (p.202). Also a Maggini viola with single purfling (p.186). There are a number of articles, including one on Brescian instrument construction by John Dilworth which I found fascinating to consult as I was working on a Brescian-inspired viola. On one question you refer to above he and the Hills seem to come to different conclusions: "The upper and lower eyes of the f are usually cut with the same sized circle-cutter, a tool familiar to any decorative woodworker of the period, I believe, and not exclusive to the violin-makers of Cremona." (p.61). Ed.
  4. Alternatively you can find a digital copy here: https://archive.org/details/giopaolomagginih92hugg Ed.
  5. I have no experience with the dental magnifiers you mention, so can't comment. However I can say I have found the Magnifocuser from Lie-Nielsen very helpful: https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/magni-focuser-magni-focuser- Cheers, Ed.
  6. I am currently making an instrument based on a Brescian pattern. One thing that I am contemplating doing is undercutting the f holes. Gregg Alf mentions this on his blog, and John Dilworth also alludes to this practice in his writings. This is not something I have tried before, so I am interested in any tips or advice that others may have on this. My assumption is that I am aiming at the kind of profile depicted here in the Courtnall & Johnson book: One question that occurs to me is whether this is applies all the way around the f holes. The reason for the question can be seen in the attached picture I took of a Maggini violin: To my eye the wood around the upper eye does not appear to have been undercut. For comparison consider the wood near the f nicks. Is this variation significant, or not? As I say, any help you can offer gratefully received. Cheers, Ed.
  7. Re-reading my post, I realise I haven't made myself altogether clear: my principal focus is on what measures I could usefully take on the instrument I am actually building now. @deans: That said, I am interested to read your thoughts on string choice. Thus far I have tended to go for pure gut, lightest gauge strings. That's been more acceptable than the others so far attempted. I think I'll try one or two of your recommendations and see how I get on. I don't have the instrument in front of me now, but the string length from nut to bridge on viola no.1 is not particularly outsize: around 375-380mm. @Marty: interested to read your observations on resonance frequency. A couple of followup questions: - how does this work where we're talking about two plates made of different materials? I am assuming that with two flat plates, you cannot assume they both have the same resonant frequency just because they are both of the same thickness? - Can you give an idea of what happens to resonant frequency as you introduce arching? Thanks for any clarification you can offer - by all means point me to a book / webpage. Ed
  8. The question arises because: 1. I have one viola (LOB: 435mm) with a pretty ‘forward’ kind of sound. The lower three strings sound great but…the A is really quite brash. 2. I have another (LOB: 444mm) whose sound is more mellow and balanced across the instrument, and the A is quite sweet. …which suggests to me that size alone does not necessarily dictate the character of the A string sound. 3. I am making a viola at the moment (LOB: 423mm). Sound….as yet undefined (currently working on the arching). Are there any measures that people can suggest to try to ensure the A string does not shout, and instead that its sound is in balance with the other strings? Thanks, Ed.
  9. This is the earliest original Amati contralto viola I'm aware of. Ed.
  10. Hi David, Any chance you could tell us where Vitruvius talks about tapping in connection with crossbow construction? Thanks, Ed
  11. I've read and re-read this statement a few times now. In all honesty and all humility, I have no idea what you're driving at. Could you clarify please? Ed.
  12. Andrew, I don't know whether Joseph Curtin had a bias here, one way or another, about which results he might prefer. While we can each speculate, none of us can actually know. I realise this is your point. But surely the material matter of concern is: was he in a position to sway the results one way or another? If not, isn't the point academic? I haven't read anything so far that indicates loaded dice to me. And I can't immediately see how Curtin would, even if he wanted to. If this is your feeling, can you suggest how this might be possible? Cheers, Ed.
  13. In his essay in "Liutai in Brescia" John Dilworth asserts: “There would seem to be in the region of twenty authentic Gaspar violas extant, all made to the tenor size, with a consistent 445 mm back length.” (p.63). He goes on to note one exception: the 'Kievman' viola, which is of contralto size, and not reduced. Bearing what Dilworth says in mind, my question relates to those da Salo violas which have been cut down; specifically to what has been done to the upper bouts. The photos of da Salo tenor (ie unreduced) violas I have seen (in “Liutai in Brescia”, the Shrine to Music website) all seem to follow a similar pattern, in that they have relatively broad upper bouts (around 85% of the maximum width of their lower bouts). By contrast, those images of non-tenor-sized da Salos I see appear to have maximum upper bout widths closer to that more normally seen (ie around 80% of the max lower bout width). Is such reduction (of the width of the upper bouts) known to have taken place? Presumably the purpose of such a procedure would be to make it easier for a player to get up to higher positions. If such upper bout width reduction took place, I assume this may also have extended to bringing in the corners? Thanks for any insights. Ed Barrett
  14. You might also want to consider getting hold of "Liutai in Brescia": http://www.filippofasser.com/news.php?n=42〈=en In addition to the great collection of photos of a large number of Brescian instruments, there are some interesting essays - including the one by François Denis which potentially offers the means to devising your own form. Cheers, Ed.
  15. By his own account, the British viola player Eric Coates possessed a rather unusual instrument. While a student of Tertis, he describes trading up to a new viola thus: 'Then, quite unexpectedly, I was given the opportunity of purchasing an instrument from a brother viola player. A telegram was immediately despatched to my father, making an urgent request for the necessary money, and a cheque arrived by the next post. And so my little Testore went to defray the cost of my new acquisition, a viola of such strange build that when I took it in to Arthur Beare of Wardour Street to have it put in shape he was quite incoherent for some moments. When Tertis saw it for the first time he almost laughed, and on the occasion of its appearance in the Zimmerman ensemble class, proceedings were held up for quite ten minutes while it was handed round for inspection. Beare simply would not take it seriously and gave his opinion that there could not be another like it in the world, for the reason that its maker would most certainly have died of heart failure when he realised the full horror of the finished article; Tertis, at first, could not take it seriously either, and although he altered his opinion slightly when he played on it, he always regarded it with a certain measure of doubt; Zimmerman looked upon it as a complete freak and could not understand why an instrument whose structure was so unorthodox could possess such a lovely quality of tone. I remember his taking it in hands, scrutinising it from its scroll to its tailpiece, turning it over and over again, plucking the strings, and then handing it back to me with the words: "Vell, my deer Meester Coates, it is most peculiar, but it is vonderful." And so it was. Extraordinary in build - tremendously deep from back to front, with little patches let in here and there to its back and belly as if, at one time or other, it had received unkind treatment from unappreciative hands, and F holes of such proportions that it went round the profession in later years that I made use of their abnormal size to push my sandwiches inside the body of the instrument when time did not permit of a proper meal. Everywhere I went they laughed – "But it is all wrong!" "It is so fat!" "It is just like a boat!" – and then someone spread the rumour that I was contemplating a Mediterranean cruise in my viola. Probably from a collector’s point of view it was valueless, but what did I care for those who put their instruments under glass cases merely for the satisfaction of gloating over them and telling their friends about the fabulous sums they had paid to acquire such-and-such a make from so-and-so! "And do you know, they tell me that it is believed Paganini once played on it!" How much better for some violinist to be playing on it now! Well, my much despised and nameless viola could hold its own with any of the famous makers and in some cases beat them. And so all the viola players who smiled, and jibed, and ridiculed, were silenced; but I always had the feeling at the back of my mind that, although my beloved instrument sounded so lovely, the fact that it looked so odd made them regard both it and me with suspicion.' I’m interested to know whether anyone on Maestronet has any idea what became of this instrument. And whether it is being played today, and if so by whom?! From his description, it sounds like once seen, never forgotten! Thanks, Ed.
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