viernes, 24 de julio de 2009

A ‘Soundposted‘ Renaissance viol

I was asked to make a ‘reproduction’ of early renaissance viol by a player who was not satisfied with the sound of other flat top instruments he owned. He wanted a more powerful instrument, so he asked for one of these instruments where the treble bridge leg acts a soundpost.
It is based on a on a wall painting in the Knights' Hall from the Goldegg Castle in Southern Austria. These paintings are atributed to Hans Bocksberger (or Bocksperger) the older (c.1536). He might have learned with his father and perhaps made some learning years in Italy.His style points both German and Italian elements[1].

Photo by Heinz Kaiser, Kulturverein SCHLOSS GOLDEG
Even though the instruments do not seem to be very accurate representations,we took the ‘tenor’ viol on the right as the reference to work from, as it has been depicted with more detail than the rest.
From this instrument we got the overall proportions between neck and soundbox length, choosing a 565mm stinglength for a tenor and 375mm for the treble.

One of the characteristical features of this instrument is the bridge.
The treble leg goes down on to the back trough a hole on the soundboard. This makes the sound closer to an instrument with a soundpost (closer to a baroque viol) )even though the treble string gives a weaker sound than the rest (At least in this case, where the soundboard is evenly thicknessed and there is no longitudinal bar).
This kind of bridge/soundpost is also depicted 'on the title pages of the superius, altus and bassus part books of the copies in theBasel Universitätsbibliothek of 'Reutterliedlin' printed by Christian Egenolph in Frankfurt am Main (1535)' according to E. Segerman in his article ‘The development of European bowed instruments[2] See below.

This is not such an uncommon feature as it seems at a first tought. It is found in many traditional instruments from eastern europe to south america. There are also bass instruments with this feature in Castello del Principe (Museo Civico) di Merano[3] and scattered in some places as Slovakia, the southern part of Poland, other parts of Tirol, eastern part of Germany, the Italian Alps or Slovenia.

Bridge is positioned quite low on the soundboard and it is clearly curved.
It looks quite high for the idea we have of rennaissannce viols.

This instrument shares some features with the vihuela de mano.
It has been built on a board using no mould.

Each rib being a separate piece bent with heat (as stated on the violeros ordinances)[4] instead of carving the soundbox from a block or sawing the ribs in one continuous piece from a board (carved ribs) a common way of building at that time(as can be seen in some extant lira da Braccio and some viol paintings).
It has no corner blocks and the joints are reinforced with linen strips. The soundboard is glued on ribs using no linings at all.

The ribs are inserted in the neck, which goes inside the body and works as a top block.

The neck in not angled backwards, it is in the same plane as the soundboard. To get the string height, the fingerboard is wedge shaped, giving a thick neck close to the body joint as we can see in the painting.

The soundboard is flat with two small transversal bars aligned with the corners.(Impossible to say what the original has but this is something we can see in the extant vihuelas and for example in the Grünewald isenheim altarpiece).

The bow is very light and with not many hairs. It has no nut.
Hairs are inserted in a mortise on where the nut would be(on a baroque bow) and it goes trough a hole in the stick at the tip.
Held as the musicians on the painting do it works quite nicely (once one gets used to play with a nutless bow).

The tuning choosen for the tenor has been g c' e' a' d'' taken from the Munich University Library 4º Cod, ms. 718 dated (1523/4) which comes to be the same as Gerle gave in his Musica Teusch (Nuremberg 1532).



[3] MOENS, Karel ‘ La nascitá del violino nei Paesi Bassi del sud: alla ricerca di un luogo dove collocare l`inizio della storia del violino’ en /Claudio Monteverdi, omperatore della musica/, Rovereto, Academia Roveretana di Musica Antica, 1993.

[4] Ordinances for the craft of Joiners and ‘violeros’ from Sevilla 1572
Livro dos Regimentos dos offiçiaes mecanicos da mui excelente e Sempre leal Cidade de lixbona Anno MDLxxij A Viola de Mão em Portugal (c. 1450-c.1789). Manuel Morais Nassarre. Revista Aragonesa de Musicología XXII

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2009

Treble Vihuela de Arco on Youtube

This is a video where you can see and hear the Treble Vihuela de Arco I made some time ago.
The band playing is Ensemble 1500 and they are playing Neuma and Alle Psalite from the Montpellier Codex, XIII century.

Hemen orain dela hilabete batzuk egin nuen arku biguela baten bideoa ikus daiteke, eta entzun ere.

Ensemble 1500 da eta Neuma eta Alle Psalite jotzen dute XIII.en mendeko Montpellier eko kodizetik.

En este video podemos ver ( y oir) una vihuela de arco soprano hecha hace algunos meses.Los y las músicas son el Grupo de Música Antiga 1500. Tocan dos piezas del Códice de Montpellier ( S.XIII) Neuma y Alle Psalite