What's new in my workshop?
Most wonderous things leave my workshop: Carved from heavy timber or glued from thin pieces of precious woods musical instruments are shaped in ways they were produced some hundreds of years ago! Inspired either by depictions or (parts of) rare originals I reconstruct instruments and sounds as were heard five or six hundred years ago. For more than thirty years I try to improve every detail in my work both stylistically and musically. The results are sound tools which bring back places and times in our imagination.
Detail: musical instruments from Giorgione's workshop in Castelfranco Veneto.
I have always loved the world of musical instruments of the middle ages. Thus I made bowed instruments from the 12th to the 15th century in many shapes and sounds over the years.
Five large vielles were the output of this project within the last years.
At the moment (and for some more time!) I am involved in the reconstruction of strings of the late 15th and entire 16th century. These years saw the development of the violin family from the beginnings in c. 1510 to the classical shapes of Cremona. Other styles than the Amati patterns were done at the same time in other places and they deserve our love and devotion in no less quality.
The imagination and skill of these ingenious men should be our standard in the workshop.
In the spring of 2016 I was contacted from the U.S. for an honorable commission: The Yale "collegium musicum" ordered two quartet-sets of bows for their students. Through the friendly contact of Leah Gale Nelson (she coaches the strings of the c.m.) I got in touch with Grant Herreid, the director of the programme. It was quite clear that they needed bows for the late renaissance and early baroque music: clip-in-frog bows. I chose "theme with variations": As the system of the mechanics of the bows had to be similar in all bows I wanted to have some extra fun in using different kinds of wood: partridge (- then new to me!), montouchi, ebony, massaranduba and - of course - snakewood. This choice has the advantage of producing different sounds - that means, that the students can select an individual bow fitting their instruments!
During the winter of 2016/17 I modelled the first parts of the G. Ferrari - violin. Neck, pegbox and scroll I chose to make somehow similar to the ones of the proto-violin - that was the easy part. Finding a solution for the vaultings of both back and front was less simple: Good old Gaudenzio designed the three tops that are well visible in his artwork differently and I had to make up my mind and - while having the knives in my hands - find the overall similarities of the curvatures. I ended up with a long, steady vaulting, quite high and with a decent curve near the edge.
I decided not to add either a bar or a soundpost in the instrument. The well prepared ground got a thin layer of a transparent oil varnish for protection. When the instrument is played with a light and short in-style bow it has a crisp and at the same time neatly balanced sound.
In the winter season of 2018/19 I worked on bows of the 16th century. Finally I made a copy of the c. 1450 bow preserved in Bologna. I chose plum, ash, ironwood and satiné for the sticks.
Special attention was applied on the fixing the hair to the tip;
I re-invented a historic wedge construction for that purpose.
... and a french model of c. 1760
Always a special moment: A tiny piece of mammoth ivory
c. 10.000 years old on the lathe...