The violin was invented in the second part of the 16th century.
The development and improvements made by Antonio Stradivarius and the Amati family further brought the violin and various other stringed instruments to a high level of perfection.
One of the qualities of a good violin is it’s tone and the purity of the tone.
The tones of Stradivarius instruments have never been matched. One of the qualities that produces these tones is the varnish used in the coating process.
Antoni Stradivarius it is said would climb the hills of Cremona and enter the woods in search of ingredients for his secret recipe for the varnish one of the ingredients of violin varnish is resin.
Now one of the tricks of the trade that our ancestors would have know of or how to do was wood bending. Wood bending in violin making would be essential in the forming of ribs for violins, Viola Degamas, cello’s and of course double bases.
Wood bending is a process whereby wood is placed in a steambox and heated until the wood becomes mailable. This means that the wood can be placed in mould and left to harden in the required form until it is dry.
Usually the front plate or face and ribs of a violin is made of Northern European Maple and the back plate and neck of the instrument is made of spruce. The wood needs to be grown over a number of seasons for the best results for tone quality the colder the winters the better because the year rings grow compressed in the cold weather making the wood denser and improving the sound of the finished instrument. The less dense woods like oak (NEVER USE OAK OR A PINE OR AMY WOOD WITH KNOTS) do not produce tones of superior quality and are very soft.
Today the sounds of the stringed instruments can carry across and fill large concert halls the violin of 300 and 200 years ago did not have the volume that the cheap instruments that are used today have. With minor changes the valuable instruments of the old masters have been adapted to play in the concert halls. (NOT ALL OF THE OLD MASTERS INSTRUMENTS HAVE BEEN CHANGED) These instruments worth millions essentially are seldom played upon but when they are it is like the sound of heaven, while it is true that some of these instruments have been owned by some pretty famous violinists great care has been taken of these instruments. Remember that for most of there existence they have been under great tension.
People in the Napoleonic period would have been familiar with Handle, Hayden, Mozart, and Beethoven (who was top of the pops during the early 1800’s.)
All sea going vessels would have at least one person onboard who could fiddle a shanty, each village and town had it’s own fiddler.
End of part One.
THE AUTHOR RECOMMENDS ” THE STERLEY’S OF OAKLAND PARK ( A PARODY OF PRIDE & PREJUDICE)
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