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Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!

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As an amateur woodworker, I love wooden instruments, both old & new, or modern reproductions made faithfully to historic models, such as harpsichords, Baroque flutes/oboes, and so many others.

So, this is a thread about musical instruments, esp. those of historic interest - posts can be broad, e.g. discussion of specific instruments or families (e.g. viols), performances standards (such as the type & nature of bows for stringed instruments), experiences with hearing (or playing) some of these older instruments, books/museums/exhibits concerning musical instruments (e.g. I love visiting the Met in NYC and spending time looking at all that is available in their historic instrument collection).

But, I'll make a first discussion post on the lute, an ancient instrument likely introduced into Europe by the Iberian invasion of the Moors, and modified for many centuries peaking in popularity in the 16th & early 17th centuries; I own a lot of stringed instrument music, including many recordings on the lute, but just received the one below in the mail:

Jakob Lindberg playing Weiss lute compositions on the 'Sixtus Rauwolf lute', an instrument dating from 1590 and beautifully restored - an abbreviated description (more details in the CD booklet) of the lute is quoted below from Lindberg's website -

--- Quote ---In 1991 I bought a very rare original lute at Sotheby's in London by Sixtus Rauwolf, a prolific luthier who lived and worked in Augsburg. Only three other lutes by him have survived; one is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, one in the Claudius Collection in Copenhagen and one in a private collection in England. My instrument is from c 1590 and was originally a 7 or 8 course lute. Inside there is a repair label by Leonard Mausiel, dated Nuremberg 1715 and the present neck, which allows for ten or eleven courses, is probably made by him. Dendochronology confirms that the soundboard is original and dates it 1423-1560. This instrument is thus to my knowledge the oldest lute in playing condition with its original soundboard.
--- End quote ---

I subscribe to a number of woodworking publications, including the American Woodworker - I was reading the newest issue today and there was a short feature on a harpshichord maker named Ernest Miller, who lives on the east coast of North Carolina (my home state) - was shocked that I'd never even heard of this guy (and another 'famous' maker of harpsichords was his neighbor!) - apparently, during the Napoleonic era when 'pianos' where replacing harpsichords the latter were being used as 'firewood', so plenty of the older instruments were lost.

Miller makes some excellent looking (and expensive!) instruments - take a look @ his Website HERE; the French & Franco-French 'dual manual' models list at $16,000!  One example shown below - apparently a lot of options regarding decoration (his wife does much of the art work) and keyboard options.   :D

Gurn Blanston:
That's a lovely harpsichord, Dave! I have seen many pictures of original Klavieren, and they virtually all had beautifully decorated cases. It seems a given that the makers of the 18th century were either woodworkers themselves, else they employed first-rate ones. Of course, since owning an instrument was pretty much a venture for the wealthy (the price you quote is likely a reasonable equivalent of what they were then), it stands to reason that they would want aesthetically pleasing cabinet work along with their de mode clavier... :)


Crystal Flutes - below is a post quoted from the 'old' forum from the end of 2005 - another fascinating older instrument - have not listened to that CD since then - but the playing is distinct & different; here's a link to Old French Flutes - just scroll down the page to some discussion & pics of the crystal ones -  :D

--- Quote ---Just returned from a short Washington, D.C. vacation - one site visited was the Library of Congress (Jefferson Bldg.) - just beautiful, esp. the domed main reading room - picked up the CD below in the gift shop; I had heard about crystal flutes (this one made by Claude Laurent in 1813 for President Madison), but had never heard one before.

Rob Turner - HERE - plays the glass flute usually accompanied by Frank Wallace on the guitar.  The sound is amazingly clear like a bell - any comments on this instrument from our flutists, esp. about the sound compared to wood or metal flutes?  Has anyone played one of these glass instruments?  Thanks. 

--- End quote ---


Keith Hill, a Michigan-based harpsichord maker, is apparently something of a legend in the realm - he even paints the elaborate artwork on all of his instruments. Examples of Keith Hill's work have graced several Naxos album covers (not to mention the recordings themselves); his harpsichords and other instruments have been used by several other recording artists, notably Robert Hill, Anthony Newman, and Andreas Staier; the Musica Antiqua Koln Brandenburg Concertos with Staier include a Hill harpsichord, for instance.

Click for full size of some of the artwork on his instruments:

I'm a big admirer of Mr. Hill's work, both musically and artistically. His workshop is in Manchester, Michigan, but his website is easier to reach. :)


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