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A WRITTEN PROOF OF STRADIVARI AS A PLAYER?


MANFIO
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I believe that this matter is of more interest of players than makers, so I decided to put this topic in the FINGERBOARD, instead of the PEGBOX.

I strongly believe that a maker may be capable of playing the instruments he makes. Mechanics drive the cars they fix, cookers sample what they cook, and why not, violin makers should play their instruments, in a basic level at least.

Im more recente times we have examples of this: Poggi, Garimberti, Bisiachs, Chiocchi, Bissoloti, etc.

Talking about Pietro Guarneri of Mantua, the Hills say: "We thus discover that the master had devoted his early years to becoming skilled in music as well as in violin making; and we have here the only instance yet recorded of one of the great Italian violin makers engaged in this dual calling".

The Hills presume that Pietro violin master was Francesco Orcelli, an "accomplished musician and fine violinist", who was Andrea Guarneri`s brother in law, proving "an intimate relation between palyer and maker".

Talking about Del Gesù`s mystery as to the activities of the master between the year 1723 and 1731, the Hills venture to state that: "May he not, following in the footsteps of his ancestor Orcelli, and his uncle and godfather, Pietro, also have been both a player and a maker of violins, a player of more ordinary capacity than his relatives, possessed of no desire to be attached to one of the Ducal Courts? Singing and dancing to the accompaniment of music was much favoured by the mass of the people throughtout Italy, and Cremona, the seat of instrument making, must from this very fact have inspired some members of her craftsmen families to become players. We have no doubt that such was the case, and supposing it in the case of del Gesù, his double calling would in the circunstances seem to fit in with the tradition handed down to us by the last of the Bergonzis".

In anoter part of the Hill`s book on the Guarneris they state that: "we regard it as certain that many of the makers wo setled in the smaller musical centers could play well enough tho take the minor parts in orchestras, and indeed would need to do so to supplement their earnings as makers. These were the days of many disdness... ..."

And Stradivari, would he be a player? I suppose so, and it seems there is one written evidence of this. I was reading Sacconi`s "I Segreti di Stradivari" and, in the catalog of the relics of the master we find in nol. 222:

"Sul retro del foglieto sono tracciati alcuni righi musicali, autografi di Stradivari, con numeri al posto delle note.

I would translate this as (tradutore traditore!):

"In the other side of the paper, there are some lines of musical notes, written by Stradivari own hand, with numbers instead of musical notes".

Why would Stradivari write some lines of musical notes but for play them in an instrument?

The musical notation in numbers points to a players that was not able to read music, but was capable to play, and perhaps play well, since in the past (and today) some good musicians were not able to read music. Louis Armstrong was not able to read music. I remember Mozart`s irritation on the fact that many opera singers were not able to read music, so he had to teach them their parts.

In many papers of the catalog we find also Stradivari instructions for the strings thicness, what points to a player also.

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"Lines of music with numbers instead of musical notes" could be any number of things. Remember that Stradivari did not only make bowed-string instruments. This could have been a fingering chart, some form of lute tablature, any number of things.

As for specifying string thicknesses, no luthier worth his salt can afford not to know what strings his instruments work best with, but that knowledge can be gathered from other people's playing and doesn't require that the maker be a player.

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quote:

Originally posted by pro-am:

I would love to hear an all luthier string quartet.

You might be *interested* to hear one, but I doubt you'd *love* it.

Which reminds me of the time I was playing quartets after work with a fellow shop guy on cello, me on English Concertina II, the boss' assistant on viola, and the boss on violin I. The boss, a great sport who shall remain nameless in this story, hadn't played in over 25 years, and considering that, he kept the time perfectly, if not showing much respect for exactly the right notes, when he could find one. After we finished he excused his playing, saying "Next time I'll bring better equipment--this stuff is holding me back". (He'd been playing a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu, with a F. Tourte bow.)

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quote:

Originally posted by Michael Darnton:

You might be *interested* to hear one, but I doubt you'd *love* it.

Which reminds me of the time I was playing quartets after work with a fellow shop guy on cello, me on English Concertina II, the boss' assistant on viola, and the boss on violin I. The boss, a great sport who shall remain nameless in this story, hadn't played in over 25 years, and considering that, he kept the time perfectly, if not showing much respect for exactly the right notes, when he could find one. After we finished he excused his playing, saying "Next time I'll bring better equipment--this stuff is holding me back". (He'd been playing a 1742 Guarneri del Gesu, with a F. Tourte bow.)

What fun it is to work in a candy shop laugh.gif

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