Sunday, July 24, 2011

What is this?


  1. The scroll on a stringed instrument is as far as I can get. It's a backwards scroll. Odd.

  2. Right you are! And super-observant as well! I would expect nothing less from you. Almost all scrolls are carved pointing forward in both modern and old instruments (as far back as the 1500s at least.) However, there was (at least) one luthier who was a nonconformist and made a lot of changes to the instruments he made. He was a Frenchman by the name of Fran├žois Chanot (1788-1825.)

    He claimed the backwards scroll (which he called, simply, a finial), facilitated installing strings by getting the scroll out of the way and giving better access to the pegbox. Well, that was just crap. Nobody has any trouble changing their strings today and you don't need to all that often anyway. But he also changed the F holes to just curved slots, got rid of the tailpiece and gut, and replaced the tailpiece with a guitar-like piece of ebony on the lower belly where the stings were terminated with pegs like a guitar's strings (which of course put too much stress on the front of the violin, but were talking aesthetics here, not functionality. He also got rid of the ribs and curved the sides smoothly like a guitar. I won't get into the six-string versions. It didn't catch on, but I suppose they are probably valuable today for collectors if not musicians.

    Your mother played the violin? I think that's wonderful! Did she have it in Africa? I am forming a different mental image of your childhood now. Mine played the washboard a bit and could bend spoons. :):)

  3. Yes, my mother played the violin but I just had no musical ability. I don't think she took it to Africa, no. Two small children were enough of a handful.

  4. Just because you didn't play the violin doesn't mean you have not musical ability. Perhaps next to none, but never say never. :) Bask in the knowledge that whatever little you may have it is far more than mine.


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