MASTER HISTORICAL INSTRUMENTS MAKING
Viola da gamba is one of the most representative instruments of Renaissance and Baroque music
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Viola da gamba is one of the most representative instruments of Renaissance and Baroque music, periods in which it finds a place of honor in the main European courts. Its versatility leads it to develop different timbral and functional characteristics and its workmanship changes from the absolute austerity to the stylistic and ornamental refinement typical of Rococò.
Defining it organologically is not an easy matter, as it includes a number of variable aspects depending on the area and the time of origin. However, today several studies allow us to distinguish a great wealth of different models with very precise characteristics.
The change in musical taste starting from the second half of the eighteenth century leaves the viola da gamba in disuse for a long period of time. Furthermore, many of the few surviving examples have undergone irreversible interventions thus losing valuable information on how they were built and how they had to respond to musical needs when they were conceived. It is precisely in this lack of information where we find the charm that attracts us to continue the research. While the trend of
modern violin making leads us to the standardization of instruments, we believe it necessary to persevere in the research that helps to faithfully interpret one of the most important instruments of the Baroque period.
In recent years, in the context of historical performance practice, various researches have found inspiration that offer us new information for the musical interpretation and construction of this instrument. This need for specialization and continuous updating is increasingly contributing to the raising of the professional level in all areas of early music.
Today the viola da gamba is taught in the main conservatories and music schools in the world, thus generating an increasingly solid job offer. The historical instruments making course involves the construction of a bass viol following the construction methods and the main characteristics of the different styles of the European Renaissance and Baroque.
The course will teach skills such as:
• to design, draw and build a bass viol.
• to differentiate the main organological characteristics according to the region, era and style of the main European viol makers.
• to use one of the three main methods for the construction of the viol's soundboard (carved, bent staves with bending iron, or bent with steam) why they are used and what are the results.
• to work with gut strings as they will affect the entire setting of the instrument.
• to build all the accessories of the instrument (except the strings and the bow).
• to make a technical drawing of an instrument, with the aim of making a reproduction.
• to recognize different styles, construction methods and techniques.
• to create specific tools that can facilitate their work by developing creative and practical skills.
• to develop the craftsman's manual skills and thinking.
• to find the (personal) compromise between historically informed making and the needs of today's musicians.