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Baroquifying a modern violin


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18 hours ago, David Burgess said:

How does anyone really know what baroque sound and articulation were like? Weren't all the recordings and videos from that era destroyed during the revolution? ;)

I hate revolutions! 

Fortunately a Dutch rescue team saved the scattered pieces of the recordings and videos and is now rebuilding the baroque sound. 

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On January 16, 2021 at 7:06 AM, gowan said:

I want to play in an early music group but I can't afford to buy or commission a violin to play historically informed performance style.  I thought I could just put some gut strings on a modern violin, have a baroque style bridge installed and use a baroque style bow but I have heard that using the baroque bridge and bow won't work because the neck angle will be wrong, the bridge won't work properly with the stronger bass bar.  Do any of the makers here know whether this makes sense ?  Thanks for your comments.

I think this is open for test and trial. I would see bare gut strings played with a light bow as the key element for 'baroquish sound' 

If you are playing in a group, I would first try to change strings and bow, leave the modern bridge and see (or rather hear) if you can blend in with the other players. That's certainly not a solution if other members of the group are 'baroque puritans' and wouldn't allow such an instrument. 

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On 1/16/2021 at 5:55 AM, Andres Sender said:

The more historical the equipment, the easier it is to explore subtleties of historical performance practice.  You can play idiomatically on the right violin in modern setup, but you will end up with a different kind of sound and a different range of articulation.  These videos may help give an idea, although you'll have to read past the different recording environments.  Pine is of course playing on a really good instrument in modern setup and modern strings, she's using a very heavy 'baroque' bow.  Sato is using a much more historical setup and beyond the fact that their conceptions of the piece are different you can hear that they are each working with a different palette of tone and articulation.


Thanks Andres 

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On 1/16/2021 at 4:38 PM, gowan said:

Rachel Barton Pine usually plays a del Gesu, the 1742 "Soldat".  In the small NPR studio we are very close to the violin and, to me, it has a wirey edgy sound which might serve well in a large hall.  The warmth and softness of Sato's instrument, a Giovanni Grancino (1695), would at least partly be due to the gut strings and Baroque technique.  It appears he was playing in a rather large room, maybe in a church(?), but from the reverb it would seem to be heard some distance away.  For comparison I listened to Rachel Podger's recording of the piece and her interpretation seemed close to what Sato does.

I don't know Rachel Podger's recording, but very much enjoy Sigiswald Kuijken's 1983 recording of this music.  The instrument sounds great on the recordings, much better than my experience of it in person.  That could well have been because of the space I heard it in.  If I remember correctly the violin was made by Grancino.

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For an inexpensive baroque violin, I would buy an inexpensive saxony violin and I would tell a luthier to change the fingerboard. I don't know where you live but in France, you can buy a saxony violin for less than 200$. Saxony violins have sometimes a very flat neck which can be fine with a thick baroque fingerboard. These violins are almost lights, I think it would perfectly go with a baroque fitting, since metal an high tension strings were generalized in the 50's and maybe a little later in some countries.

In fact, I think the most expensive cost would go to the bow. Chinese bows are not recommanded, you can find an used baroque bow for 800-1000$.

For those who only know Stradivari, this making is only representative of an italian making at this time. Exactly at the same time, we don't make same violins in Germany or France.

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On 1/17/2021 at 8:49 PM, David Burgess said:

Some modern "baroque" player obsessions remind me of the story, "The Princess And The Pea".  If one is fussy enough and critical enough, surely they must know more than anyone else. :)

This reasonning don't surprise me in a country where a 100 years old house is "old"...

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Just a last thing about bow: don't do the same mistake as me, buy direcly a clip in frog bow. Screwed frogs are not generalized before a time after Mozart. In Bach's time, bows are made with a clip in frog and are hold rather in a french holding position (with thumb on hair). The italian holding position is clearly in minority in violin methods, it will generalize a little later in the end of the 18th century.

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6 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Why bother changing the fingerboard? For appearance?

No, in order to have a correct bridge high and a correct position changing without shoulder rest. Saxony necks can be really flat, too flat for a standart bridge, that's why they are often modified with a tapered block under the fingerboard.

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