thirteenthsteph

Gasparo 'da Salò' violas

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On 10/3/2017 at 12:06 PM, go_oa said:

For viola sound, Size Matters!

Consider the Hutchins  Alto violin:

   Using the same simple scaling to smaller sizes -

   4/4 Alto Violin  <>    21"     Viola     53 cm

  3/4  Alto Violin  <>    19.5"  Viola     49 cm

  1/2 Alto Violin   <>    18"     Viola     46  cm

  1/4 Alto Violin   <>     16.5" Viola     42  cm

  1/8 Alto Violin   <>      15"   Viola      38 cm

 

          Does it make sense to compare a 1/2 size instrument to a 1/4 size instrument ??

         But ofcourse very few 1/4 violins have been carefully graduated and set up well!

A am attaching a short sample of my 18" viola - #211 from Fritz Reuter and Sons -  Marneukirchen / Sachsen  ca. 1925.

This has been my preferred instrument for about 20 years.  It is the one in my picture.  Body length 17 3/4"  (45 cm)  scale length  43 cm. 

HonkerFiddleSample-02.mp3

Size does matter..

Hutchins was trying to hit an A0 frequency close to the open G string at 196Hz for the Alto which was a scale down of a typical violin's A0 at its open D string at 294 Hz. Their ratio of 294/196= 1.5 so if you use this to scale up the violin's 14 inch length to get lower resonance frequencies you get the often quoted ideal violin length of 21 inches.

Typical violas with a comfortable playing length around 16.5 inch (or 1/4 Alto in your example) have AO ranging from about 210Hz to 250Hz or A to B note range which is higher than the the "ideal" so size does appear to matter.    A low frequency A0 tends to give a sound similar to a cello (which I like) but players are not in agreement of what is best.

Some quartet players seem to prefer a relatively small viola that has its own unique "viola voice" which is different from a cello's same notes so that their music parts stand out from the cello's sound.  Other quartet players like a deeper sound from larger violas which does blend in better with the cello.  Some soloists also like a deeper sound.

Notice that I mentioned above that typical violas have a A0 range of about 40Hz even though they have the same size.  Several factors determine the A0 frequency: instrument internal volume, f hole area, and the compliance (flexibility) of the plates and ribs, and by careful selection of these you can achieve low A0 with a playable length.

The attached video (at 6:50) shows what happens when the A0 is made too low (165Hz).
 

 

www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20166/19565/

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On 10/3/2017 at 12:51 PM, martin swan said:

I mostly play in orchestras.  I feel that the big viola lets me assert the viola line appropriately whenever it is needed.  I also feel that I cannot play the large viola every day without damaging my body.  I can live with 2 rehearsals a week.  I love the sound of my viola.   

 

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That is rather different from saying that a viola must be big!

Personally I think a viola section benefits from a mix of tonal qualities ...

But I also think that the size doesn't relate directly to the tonal quality. Plenty of shrill skinny violas with big back lengths, plenty of dark and dreamy instruments under 16". People rarely judge the sound of a viola with their eyes closed!

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Violas just are all over on sound and size, still, the main issue is projection of the sound. 

Few years ago I happened to play in a Gerard Causse masterclass, I was well aware he played a Gasparo, and I have to say I was surprised that some modern violas sound where just louder, no better sounding, just louder than the Gasparo... his playing was first class and the sound of the instrument was complex and a dream to listen to (Larsen A, Oliv D and G, Spirocore C, same as Lawrence Power by the way)

Same happened listening to Steven Isserlis playing the Feuerman Stradivari, sounded better but quiet compared to some of the instruments the students played... 

Regarding viola sound, the difference between a Strad an a del Gesu is less than between a Strad and a Gasparo viola... I see it as a cool thing. 

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On 4/17/2017 at 4:36 PM, Julian Cossmann Cooke said:

Posting this primarily because (a) Dunham teaches at Rice in Houston; (b) I have had a chance to see the viola; and (c) the viola is featured in the Brescian makers book honchoed by Chris Reuning.

 

 

I came for the music, I left because of the conformist hipster beard. :lol:

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Many years ago I had the chance to spend an hour playing this viola, and under the ear it is truly magnificent, but a real handful, with what felt like a very long string length, and a big reach to get into higher positions, although I had been playing a deep-ribbed, high-arched 17 inch (430mm) instrument from the age of 13.  Its gorgeous, deep, rich sound however convinced me to go to a larger da Salo model viola, a Helmuth Keller of 440mm, (which was also a really great-sounding instrument).   

I contacted Mr. Dunham a while back about getting a copy of his viola made, and he said that there is already a maker he trusts to make copies: Filippo Fasser. Mr. Fasser has made about 5 of them, including one for the principal viola of the RAI Orchestra. In addition, he has developed a 424mm version of the "Dunham" da Salo, which looks much more integrated and elegant than most of the original cut-down instruments. (IMHO). I would really like to try that one someday.

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Regarding Amihai Grosz's viola, I had a chat with him when he was in town to play a recital and with his orchestra. And yes, his viola sounds pretty great in person! If anyone is looking for a new instrument modeled after his, they can be ordered from Alexandre Breton and Adam Korman, both of whom are quite familiar with the viola. I think M. Breton said a new order would take two years and cost 20K Euro. One of these is currently being played in the Berlin Phil.

Edited by Ethan Ford Heath
clarification

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On 10/2/2017 at 1:31 PM, christian bayon said:

Yes.

digitalizar0001.jpg

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That maple stripe under the fingerboard, I guess is some suplemento for a too thin neck? does it affect sound or stability in any way? I have a viola with the same issue and was considering neck graft but this is s simplier solution. Sorry bout the off topic.

By the way Causse is a high class artist and person, his tone reflects that.

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1 hour ago, JavierPortero said:

That maple stripe under the fingerboard, I guess is some suplemento for a too thin neck? does it affect sound or stability in any way? I have a viola with the same issue and was considering neck graft but this is s simplier solution. Sorry bout the off topic.

The maple wedge under the fingerboard could be there for a couple of reasons.

It could have been fitted to change the neck elevation. It could have been fitted to alter the neck tilt. It could be both.

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Based on the instruments they have on the Cozio archive this viola seems to have more in common with Zanetto's body of work than Da Salo.
The scrolls of both makers have a similar shape but the ff's are really completely different.  Da Salo's tend to be longer and more elegant, similar to Maggini.
Of course it's possible that these makers from the same town were experimenting with similar ff shapes. 
Any thoughts?

spacer.png1834788158_ScreenShot2020-10-19at9_38_01PM.thumb.png.8905a4d4e1b7a7e552cde0fcf0363516.png117944139_ScreenShot2020-10-19at9_36_49PM.thumb.png.1f743324babb9104059f1f4673857b82.png

Da Salo, Zanetto, Da Salo

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59 minutes ago, J.DiLisio said:

Based on the instruments they have on the Cozio archive this viola seems to have more in common with Zanetto's body of work than Da Salo.
The scrolls of both makers have a similar shape but the ff's are really completely different.  Da Salo's tend to be longer and more elegant, similar to Maggini.
Of course it's possible that these makers from the same town were experimenting with similar ff shapes. 
Any thoughts?

spacer.png1834788158_ScreenShot2020-10-19at9_38_01PM.thumb.png.8905a4d4e1b7a7e552cde0fcf0363516.png117944139_ScreenShot2020-10-19at9_36_49PM.thumb.png.1f743324babb9104059f1f4673857b82.png

Da Salo, Zanetto, Da Salo

I have seen enough example in detail.  But strongly suspect that these Zanetto like details were the original Brescian standard, until they later began imitating features from Cremona.

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