|Early Stringed Instruments|
|Violins have not always been quite the same as those we have now. They have changed over time. Here are a couple early cousins of the violin.|
|Owen Morse-Brown is a young man who specializes in early bowed instruments. His grandfather was a violin maker, and Owen still uses his grandfather's tools!
Owen began to learn his craft in his father's workshop, then went on to study music at Bath Spa University College. He also studied lutes under Arthur Robb for two years.
|The instrument on the left is a "Dancing Master's Fiddle. It is also called a "Pochette," (derived from the french word poche which means pocket) because it is small enough to fit into the pocket of a large overcoat.|
|A dancing teacher would use this instrument in giving private dance instruction. He could eaily carry the insrturment from house to house and teach his student the steps and moves, then allow the student to practice while he played on his fiddle. The small size caused less resonance in the instrument, so it was somewhat softer than the violins we play today. But since it was usually played in a small room with only a few people there, it did not need to be loud.
The tuning of a pochette is different from that of a violin. Typically its highest string would be an A, three notes higher than the typical E on the violin. The other strings would each be tuned a fifth lower, as with the violin. So the strings would be A, D, G, C -- exactly one octave higher than the tuning for today's viola! Tuning was a little vague, though, because the pochette was usually played solo. As long as the strings were in tune relative to one another it did not really matter if a string was tuned to A or C! Naturally if the instrument was going to be played as part of a group it would need to be tuned more precisely. Owen tells me of a manuscript he has read which instructs the musician to tune the highest string as high as you can without breaking it, then tune the rest of the strings based on that highest string!
|This instrument is a Baryton.
It's a bowed instrument slightly smaller than today's cellos.
Notice that although there are 16 pegs in the pegbox, there are only six strings over the fingerboard. Where are the other strings?
They are sympathetic strings and are located behind the neck of the instrument! A sympathetic string vibrates when the same note is played on the bowed strings of the instrument. This gives the baryton a much fuller sound! These strings can also be plucked with the left hand!
|As with all craftsmen I feature here, I have no business relationship with Mr. Morse-Brown. I came into contact with him through some research I was doing and he was quite helpful. Look at Mr. Morse-Brown's site. If it would be beneficial to you, send him some of your business. I'm sure you'll notice that several internationally known early music musicians have already done just that!
|This particular instrument features a carved lion's head instead of a scroll. It is modeled after actual historical instruments. You can click the pictures to go to Mr. Morse-Brown's website and see other instruments he has worked on. Mr. Morse-Brown says he welcomes new challenges, so if you have the urge to play early music or a new "antique" instrument, he's a man you can go to!|