minstrel: Re: minstrel-digest V1 #882

Fred Ross fred at horace.ls.net
Sat Apr 22 06:48:10 PDT 2000


As a violinist I feel unjustly qualified to hazard a guess...

It is very unlikely that multiple strings per course ever lasted more than
one or two instruments in a line.  I have no documentation, but my
reasoning is technical:

To play chords on the violin you have to balance the bow where you hit two
or three strings.  On instruments with a high action like mine this has to
be precise.  Having doubled strings would mean having to be so precise for
every note.  Also, when bowing two or three closely set strings there
could be buzzing in loud passages from the strings colliding.

Amati, who was in late Period, created the Cremonese school of violin
making we recognize today.  Cremona was still known for its luthiers even
before then.  Wandering around the museums and displays of old Cremonese
instruments you never see instruments with multiple strings per course.
Even sympathetic strings seemed to be limited mostly to the viola d'amore.

For my part I am going to go on playing my Stradavarius style instrument
until someone feels like providing me with a period instrument of similar
quality (which probably means an investment of $10,000...any takers?)

Fred Ross
s.k.a. Philippe de Minerve
a.k.a. Sgath
http://www.ls.net/~fred/

On Fri, 21 Apr 2000, Vanessa Layne wrote:

> It raises another tangential question, for the bowed string players
> out there: are bowed instruments ever multiply strung (i.e. more
> than one string per course)?  I'm not talking about sympathetic
> strings which are not touched by the bow or drone strings which are
> not fingered, but actually pairs (or more) of strings to be treated as
> one?
> 
> -- Tibicen (not a string player)


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