PDA

View Full Version : Violins and other period instruments (Moved)



eric marten
08-07-2010, 05:52 PM
This is a continuation of the discussion on civilian units. The moderators felt it best to continue the excellent dialogue without taking away from the original poster's queries about citizens units. -RLL Just one caution: As with the military groups, check them out for authenticity. I went on the above mentioned website, and one of the first things I saw was a photo of a fiddler, in period-correct clothes, using a modern violin, with chin-rest, fine tuners, synthetic/metal strings, etc - as it would be set up by any modern music store. A modern set up like that is almost twice as loud, and metallic sounding, as would be a period instrument with gut strings, and would probably drown out any authentic period instruments in the area.

Eric Marten

col90
08-07-2010, 10:35 PM
Just one caution: As with the military groups, check them out for authenticity. I went on the above mentioned website, and one of the first things I saw was a photo of a fiddler, in period-correct clothes, using a modern violin, with chin-rest, fine tuners, synthetic/metal strings, etc - as it would be set up by any modern music store. A modern set up like that is almost twice as loud, and metallic sounding, as would be a period instrument with gut strings, and would probably drown out any authentic period instruments in the area.

Eric Marten

I'm assuming you mean our website, and are referring to this photo: http://www.agsas.org/howto/leisure/music/ This picture was taken several years ago, and the young lady in question has been working on changing things over so that her instrument is more correct as well. Her case was given to her by a friend and is correct to the period. We have high standards, but people have to have time to "finetune" some things.

Colleen Formby

eric marten
08-08-2010, 12:37 PM
Mrs. Lawson, and Colleen:

I did not mean to unduly criticize anyone who is developing an authentic period impression. After being music historian at a very fine living history museum for going on 29 years, its almost a reflex, after fighting off modern steel or synthetic strings, violas, bluegrass style banjos, modern accordians, etc . Of course I work to foster those who have something meaningful to contribute. I currently have 4 teen-age apprentices where I work, each of them now with their own period violins (gut strings, real tail-guts, no chin rests, etc) that I've helped them acquire and set up, and they would not show up for their performances with modern 20th century instruments. It is so different now than it was twenty or so years ago, when gut strings and real tail-gut were not so readily available, not only for reenactors, but for period orchestras, such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - so many manufacturers now of gut strings (unwound and unvarnished), that the overwhelming majority of fiddlers I meet in the field now are equipped and comfortable with them, - that's why those who represent nylon/steel strings as period stand out so much. The sound is so completely different in timbre, and so much louder than gut.

But, lets just stay positive, and encourage everyone to learn and develop at their own pace. I am constantly learning and adapting. (My second year at the museum, it took a Japanese tourist to point out the inappropriate nature of my synthetic "tail-gut", before I replaced it with gut and noticed a definite difference in sound - much more sympathetic with the gut strings).

Let's keep the dialogue up, and encourage an upward curve to authenticity.

Best regards,

Eric Marten

dculgan
08-09-2010, 08:59 AM
Just curious Eric, what's wrong with violas and varnished gut strings?

Dave Culgan

eric marten
08-09-2010, 10:10 AM
Dave:

Nothing "wrong" with violas in this context, if they are historically correct set-up, -just that it wasn't as commonplace as violin/fiddle. I usually prefer the commonplace to the exceptional. Varnished strings are a modern 20th century development to increase string life (though it might be a slight detriment to the liveliness of the sound). Historically, the gut strings were not varnished, though sometimes treated or stored with almond oil. Much more info available on the Aquila or Aquilacord website.

Eric Marten

Tarheel57
08-10-2010, 10:54 AM
[...Mrs. Formby also points out an excellent principal----talent and progression must be encouraged, especially in the young, even when the right material culture is not immediately available. We wish everything was perfect, BUT-- I would much rather hear an accomplished young lady play a period song on an incorrect instrument than to have no entertainment at all----and I would also prefer that situation to hearing men four fires away singing 1960's rock songs.


That's the truth! I've heard the campfire rockers way too many times. A period violin piece, whatever the state of the instrument, would be vastly preferable.

eric marten
08-10-2010, 11:54 AM
Yes, of course. However, it is just as easy to use only period instruments. Any violin can be "converted" to period style in about 15 minutes. The gut strings (Pirastro Chorda and other brands) are less expensive than many of the louder synthetic strings, and very simple to install. None of young (teen-age and 20's) apprentices who perform regularly at Old Bethpage Village Restoration would dream of bringing a bluegrass banjo with resonator and steel strings, or electric guitar, or violin with steel/synthetic strings and fine tuners, or electronic keyboard, etc, (all of which are too loud and would drown out the period instruments) to any living history event. The correct instruments and accessories are so readily available, and I'm always ready to help and advise anyone interested in performing correct period music in how to acquire them, or I'll lend them mine in the meantime. A "period" piece of music is not period if played on anachronistic modern loud instruments.

Eric Marten

col90
08-10-2010, 02:20 PM
Yes, of course. However, it is just as easy to use only period instruments. Any violin can be "converted" to period style in about 15 minutes. The gut strings (Pirastro Chorda and other brands) are less expensive than many of the louder synthetic strings, and very simple to install. None of young (teen-age and 20's) apprentices who perform regularly at Old Bethpage Village Restoration would dream of bringing a bluegrass banjo with resonator and steel strings, or electric guitar, or violin with steel/synthetic strings and fine tuners, or electronic keyboard, etc, (all of which are too loud and would drown out the period instruments) to any living history event. The correct instruments and accessories are so readily available, and I'm always ready to help and advise anyone interested in performing correct period music in how to acquire them, or I'll lend them mine in the meantime. A "period" piece of music is not period if played on anachronistic modern loud instruments.

Eric Marten

Well, considering two of my degrees are in music, I agree with you 100%...and this IS the goal!!

I'm a vocalist, not an instrumentalist, but I also understand that even if the brass instruments used are period, if the mouthpiece is modern, it can change the sound as well.

My, we're drifting, but what a great conversation!!

Colleen

toptimlrd
08-10-2010, 07:56 PM
Absolutely the mouthpiece WILL change the sound. As a brass player (wish I had a period saxhorn but don't have the $2k right now) I carry three mouthpieces in my case. One gives me better range at the cost of tonal quality, one gives me good all around performance, and one (my favorite) gives me a certain dark tone that gives me a resonance that is fantastic. Now back to period discussion; the thing about changing mouthpieces, one has to remember they must proctice on that mouthpiece to ensure their embrochure has adjusted to it. I do believe it is possible to develop multiple embrochures though so this should not be a problem.

Tarheel57
08-12-2010, 08:35 AM
....A "period" piece of music is not period if played on anachronistic modern loud instruments.
Eric Marten

You just reminded me of something: at one event I saw what looked to me like an authentic CW era string band, and they played "Rocky Top". Would the performance of a modern song on period instruments be considered period?
Just curious.

eric marten
08-12-2010, 09:16 AM
Edward:

Absolutely not. I'll bet they weren't period instruments either. If they were so inconsiderate, or deceptive, as to play a 20th century bluegrass song, I'm sure they didn't care about period instruments, gut strings, etc. Other songs heard sometimes at reenactments (that shouldn't be) include Orange Blossom Special, Wabash Cannonball, various Irish Republican songs, Golden Slippers, Ashokan Farewell, etc. I'm sure some others can name some other non-period songs unfortunately heard at events.

Eric Marten