Author Topic: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!  (Read 106715 times)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2009, 08:56:22 AM »
Allan - thanks for the links & the pics of your bass - excellent!  :D

I've noticed in the past (at concerts) and in the pics provided that the 'bridge' of the bass is quite high - does this faciliatate bowing and/or plucking of the instrument or is the reason possibly related to tuning?

Also, I assume that your bass could be strung w/ gut or metal strings (and that you use metal in concert), but have you given 'gut' strings a try?  If so, any impressions; of course, this could then lead into the different types of bows - well too many questions, sorry -  :-\   Dave


Offline jwinter

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2009, 12:03:10 PM »
I have and can recommend this CD.  It really is a fascinating instrument, I had the pleasure of seeing it performed live quite a few years ago at Colonial Williamsburg (or it might have been Monticello, I forget):



Hello Antoine - glad that you're enjoying the 'concept' of this new thread and looking forward to your posts here - thanks for the information on Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica - this instrument has come up in other threads & posts; I've listened to snippets but do not have any recordings myself featuring this Franklin invention!  Maybe some recommendations (depending on what's available?) will be posted - My wife & I love Ben F. - I've read a number of bios on him and own a great DVD documentary; he was indeed a fascinating and unique individual of his times!  Other important Franklin inventions - lightening rods, stove, & bifocals (and sure that I've left some out!) - Dave 
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

-- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2009, 01:53:07 PM »
I have and can recommend this CD.  It really is a fascinating instrument, I had the pleasure of seeing it performed live quite a few years ago at Colonial Williamsburg (or it might have been Monticello, I forget):




Jwinter - thanks for the recommendation - added to my GMG 'wish list' - just checked on Amazon HERE just to see 'what' was available; the Naxos disc has a great rating, so appears to be a great 'first' option - would appreciate comments from all regarding the other CDs shown on the link; a number have also received great comments -  :D

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2009, 02:06:27 PM »
Well, this topic obviously can incorporate other areas of learning about musical instruments - looking through my library, the only book that I own on this subject is shown below - this was bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art more than 20 yrs ago (publication date is mid-1980s) - excellent tome w/ a lot of pictures.

But for this thread, please add suggestions related to books, visual (e.g. DVD) options, places to visits (museums, houses, etc.), or any other type experiences that may gain some insight into these instruments!  Thanks all -  :D


Offline toledobass

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2009, 03:15:25 PM »
Hiya 'Nic,

Bridges of basses are higher just because the string vibration is that much greater. It just needs more room to move without hitting the fingerboard.  You'll notice on the pictures of my bass a few wheels near the feet of the bridge that are used for adjusting bridge height.  The pics of the original Panormo and the pic from the Grunert site show a solid bridge without adjusters.  These are helpful during weather changes from the bridge and instrument shrinking during winter then expanding in summer.  In places that have a constant humidity/temp like San Francisco eg. you probably wouldn't need them.

More on strings later,

Allan

Offline toledobass

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2009, 05:51:09 AM »
Hi there again,

I do have steel strings on my bass.  Basically here is the tradeoff:  steel you get power and brilliance and precise articulation but lack a wider color spectrum.  Gut you get that color spectrum and very vocal sound, but lack brilliance and power (they're also a beeeotch to get and keep in tune.) 

You won't find a true gut string outside of a period performance style group.  In a modern orchestra you may find players who use stings with a gut core but that are wound with steel.  I like these strings especially for the robust pizzicato sound they can give.  Most of the steel strings have a pretty dead pizzicato. They're expensive though and break easily.  They're also harder for me to hear under the ear in the heat of the battle so I've never really wanted to switch to them.

Many of modern instruments aren't really properly set up for gut strings either.  Inside the top of the instrument is something called a bass bar that runs down the length of the instrument.  This structurally supports the top as well as transfers vibration throughout it.  I believe that the bass bars in instruments set up for modern playing are much beefier in order to accomodate the higher pressure created by steel stings on the top of the instrument.  If you switched to gut it would sound fine but I don't think it'd be optimally set up for that string.  I'm not really 100% sure on that though.

I've never played on anything but a modern bow before so can't comment there.

Allan

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2009, 06:14:50 AM »
Allan - thanks for your great comments - a voice of experience!  :D

Currently listening to Anner Bylsma on the 'Baroque Cello' in the Vivaldi Cello Sonatas - those gut strings do have a different 'mellow' sound - but like wood skrinking & expanding seasonally, must indeed be a tuning nightmare at times!  And in the days when 'gut' strings were used routinely, temperature & humidity differences (i.e. w/o modern HVAC) would have been even more extreme!  Dave


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2009, 02:58:26 PM »
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. :)

Lute-Harpsichord or Lautenwerk - at the beginning of this thread, Brian added a great post (quoted above) about Elizabeth Farr & Keith Hill - I own the first 2 Farr recordings featured, but have that w/ the Lute-Harpsichord on my list; the only other CD that I own which features this 'revival' instrument is Robert Hill in the works of JS Bach (shown below).

Now Q et al have been discussing this instrument in 'other threads' - I know, but might not hurt to have some further discussion here and some recommendations - just in searching the web, I was reading about Steven Sørli, who seems to be a well respected & innovative instrument maker, specializing in the lute-harpsichord; from the website "he uses flourocarbon strings which produce a slightly brighter tone than real gut. The bass octave is fitted with copper-wound nylon to provide a deep resonant effect" - but I've been really enjoying these introductory experiences listening to this instrument, and hope others can provide comments -  :)


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2009, 03:05:52 PM »
Well, just posted in Gurn's 'Classical Thread' about some little known 'transitional' composers from the mid-18th century, including Johann Eckard (1735-1809), who was quite popular in Paris as a keyboard artist & composer - in the 1760s he wrote a number of Keyboard Sonatas, which the young Mozart apparently knew & played (the two met in Paris) - I have only a single recording of Eckard's works (apparently not much more exits) w/ Arthur Schoonderwoerd on the fortepiano - an instrument of course pertinent to this thread on older instruments.

But in looking for other recordings of Eckard, the one below (far right) was of interest, i.e. 2-CD set on a great label w/ Spanyi playing likely much of which is available from this composer on two other instruments worthy of discussion, i.e. clavichord & tangent piano - so, any comments on these various keyboard instruments?  Other recommendations for recordings and any comments on the disc shown?  Thanks all -  :D

   

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2009, 08:43:55 AM »
Well, stimulated by a post from Bill (Bogey) yesterday in one of the frequented threads, I listened to the two discs of Medieval Dances below performed by the group Istanpitta from NYC - these are instrumental works from the 13th & 14th centuries - posted this morn in the listening thread, but decided to 'scan in' the B&W images (unfortunately) of the many 'old' instruments used by the performers in this group:

Wake Forest University here used to have a Medieval-Renaissance music series for a number of years, which we enjoyed tremendously - may have even seen this group, along w/ many others - back in the 80s & 90s - bought a lot of this type of music @ the time -  :D

 



 







Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2009, 03:20:46 PM »
Baryton - another older string instrument, popular in the 17th & 18th centuries, and one that has fascinated me for years; of course, the master composer for this instrument was Joseph Haydn, mainly because his employer, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, was apparently an excellent performer on this instrument and insisted on a LOT of 'new' music for his passion; Haydn was a reluctant servant at first because of his lack of understanding of the baryton; well, he taught himself to play the instrument and then was much more enthusiastic in composing many works, including 126 extant trios, duets, octets, and other pieces! 

Well, yesterday I received from 'across the pond' the Brilliant Box shown below of Haydn's Baryton Works - the instrument is seen in both photos; Brilliant has established a website HERE just for this set; the track listenings are included, plus some audio snippets; quoted in part from the booklet: 

Quote
baryton...a member of the gamba family, typically consists of one manual w/ 6-7 bowed gut strings and another w/ up to 20, though normally 9-10 'sympathetically resonating strings of metal, lying under the fingerboard...; the open back of the neck also makes it possible to pluck the resonance strings....


The baryton used in these recordings (performed by the Esterhazy Ensemble w/ Michael Brussing on the instrument) is a copy after an instrument by J.J. Stadlmann which was played by Prince Nick, himself (the original is in the National Museum in Budapest) - just getting started today in listening to this set; will take a while!  :D

 

Offline Szykneij

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2009, 09:36:28 AM »

I find old instruments fascinating! The school system in which I teach owns hundreds of string instruments, and over the years I've become pretty good at repairing and restoring them. Instrument repairs can be very expensive, so the more violins I keep in shape on my own translates to more kids getting the opportunity to play. While I'm by no means a professional repairman, I'm at the point where any repair I can't handle would cost more to send out than the instrument we own is worth.
 
I also enjoy finding, repairing, and restoring instruments I pick up at flea markets, thrift shops, and on e-bay. The first picture below shows some of the violins I've accumulated and put into playing shape. One of these instruments has me a bit puzzled and maybe someone here can shed some light on it.
 
The violin in the second picture was in horrible shape when I got it. I won it on e-bay, and the listed story was that it belonged to the seller's grandmother who brought it with her to the U.S. from Germany in the late 1800's. Someone added mechanical tuners at some point, which I removed and replaced with new rosewood pegs after repairing the scroll. The rosewood chinrest and boxwood tailpiece are also new.
 
The instrument is the length of a full-size violin but has a body that is much squarer. The f-holes are also much narrower to the point where a standard soundpost will not fit through. The most noticeable difference, though, is in the structure of the neck. On modern violins, the neck block slips into a shallow opening in the body. This opening is closed on three sides with the open side hidden by the fingerboard. On the pictured instrument, the neck block fits deeply into the instrument body in a socket that is closed on all sides. Attachment of the neck is aided by a screw that enters through the back. The most difficult part of putting this instrument into playing condition was setting the neck into place and cutting a bridge to fit the very high arch. When I was done, the fingerboard ended up very close to the instrument body.

Any comments, ideas, or feedback on this instrument would be welcome.


Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2009, 02:24:13 PM »
Tony - thanks for the story above and the pics - can't help much w/ the origin of that violin - sounds like from your description that the neck is inserted as a full mortise-tenon type joint?  Any information from the purchaser about the country of origin?  I'm assuming that violin making did vary a bit between European countries back in that century.

I've not done much w/ repairing or refinishing musical instruments, although I have a pretty good amateur wood working shop - did help my brother on some repairs of a 'solid-body' guitar that he had purchased used.

Also, I've built a few instruments from 'kits', including a 'cheap' hammered dulcimer - if my wife learns to play the thing, I'd be willing to buy a really nice one (great shops around here in NC, including one in Black Mtn near Asheville, just 2 hrs from our home); I did make her a nice cherry music stand (seen in the pic below w/ her Celtic harps & acoustic guitar); she also has a piano in the other corner of that room, an electronic keyboard (that she loves), a bowed psaltery, recorders, and a 'new' steel stringed guitar that we purchased last fall in Memphis at the Gibson factory (need to take a new pic w/ that instrument in place - but first have to build a nice wood stand for it!  Oh, too much to do -  :)) - Dave


Offline Szykneij

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #33 on: April 04, 2009, 02:46:52 PM »
Tony - thanks for the story above and the pics - can't help much w/ the origin of that violin - sounds like from your description that the neck is inserted as a full mortise-tenon type joint?  Any information from the purchaser about the country of origin?  I'm assuming that violin making did vary a bit between European countries back in that century.

Yes! Mortise-tenon would be the right description. I didn't know the term for it until you mentioned it, but that's how it appears.



Presumably, the instrument originated in Germany but it is unlike any other German violins from that era that I've been familiar with. There's no label inside to give any real clues.

Also, I've built a few instruments from 'kits', including a 'cheap' hammered dulcimer - if my wife learns to play the thing, I'd be willing to buy a really nice one (great shops around here in NC, including one in Black Mtn near Asheville, just 2 hrs from our home);

When I was in Philadelphia this summer, I spoke to an excellent hammered dulcimer player who demonstrated the instrument for me. The layout of the thing is not very intuitive to those of us used to traditional keyboard or string instruments. On request, he played me a Jazz tune with lots of incidentals that required all kinds of jumps back and forth around the strings.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #34 on: April 04, 2009, 03:05:51 PM »
Love the hammered dulcimer (own a bunch of CDs w/ the instrument featured) - below is a picture of the shop in Black Mountain, North Carolina - place is called Song of the Wood showing hammered & mountain dulcimers, and a few bowed psalteries (on the far left wall) - just some beautiful local wood working; just looked at the pricing of the 'hammered dulcimers' (boy, have gone UP since my last check!) -  :-\



Offline jochanaan

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2009, 12:22:09 PM »
I love old instruments of all kinds! :D As a piano tuner I've come across a lot of historical pianos, including a few from the 19th century, mostly US-made.  They often have wonderful woodwork and thus are also wonderful furniture.  As long as the soundboard hasn't cracked, they can sound very nice.  The trouble comes with the felt hammers that strike the strings, and to a lesser extent with the strings themselves.  The hammers compress with age and use, so they have to be replaced for the instrument to sound as it did when new.  But it's really sad how pianos are being neglected now for keyboards. :'(
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Offline Szykneij

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #36 on: April 10, 2009, 05:16:00 PM »
I love old instruments of all kinds! :D As a piano tuner I've come across a lot of historical pianos, including a few from the 19th century, mostly US-made.  They often have wonderful woodwork and thus are also wonderful furniture.  As long as the soundboard hasn't cracked, they can sound very nice.  The trouble comes with the felt hammers that strike the strings, and to a lesser extent with the strings themselves.  The hammers compress with age and use, so they have to be replaced for the instrument to sound as it did when new.  But it's really sad how pianos are being neglected now for keyboards. :'(

There's a wonderful 100+ year old Baldwin baby grand in the orchestra room in which I teach. I almost feel guilty using it as my piano skills aren't deserving of such a fine instrument. I have five string players in my ensemble who are also pianists, and they take turns playing when we perform pieces that have piano parts. They quickly came to appreciate the difference between an electronic keyboard (and even a decent upright) and a fine piano.
  A former student of mine would babysit at a certain family's home mainly because they had a nice baby grand she could practice on while the couple went out for the evening. No one in that family actually played the piano, but the wife wanted it because it looked nice in her dining room. It's ironic how many great pianos languish as unplayed pieces of furniture while countless young pianists who would revel in the chance to play one can't afford to own one.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2009, 07:48:26 AM »
Glass (H)Armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century and apparently quite popular in the latter part of that century into the next!  Just obtained the disc below which was recommended earlier in this thread - fascinating instrument (as I mentioned in the 'listening thread' - worth hearing, but not sure if I'd invest in a 'box set' -  ;) ;D)

On this recording, Thomas Bloch plays the instrument, which was built by G. Finkenbeiner - in interested, checkout the website HERE - plenty of information w/ a history written by Bloch & a discography - want to make a purchase, the pricing from this company starts at $7,555!   :)



Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #38 on: April 12, 2009, 08:52:43 AM »
Well, since my earlier post today on the Glass (H)Armonica, I was curious whether other recordings might be available - certainly the link provided previously showed a handful of offerings - my searching found another WEBSITE HERE, and a performer named William Zeitler - check out the 'Video' section of the home menu for a bunch of YouTube performances!

Plus, he has recorded a number of CDs (some of original music for the instrument!) - just two are shown below - anyone know these offerings?  Both received 5* ratings on Amazon:

 

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Old Musical Instruments & Modern Reproductions!
« Reply #39 on: April 14, 2009, 01:22:22 PM »
I was hoping for some repsonses on the previous post on the Glass Harmonica offerings, but for those coming into this thread who have had some listening experience w/ these discs, please respond!  :D

A few days ago, I obtained the CD below which was recommended on the first page for several reasons.  First, the composer of these solo guitar works was Julian Arcas (1832-1882), who was considered the 'Segovia' of his day.  Second, Arcas played a guitar called La Leona (below, right), which was built by Antonio de Torres in 1856; Torres was so attached to his creation that he maintained ownership during his life, but 'lent out' the guitar to his friend, Julian Arcas. 

Stefano Grondona performs the works of Arcas on this disc using the same guitar, La Leona, which has had some restoration work done, as expected.  This indeed is a special recording - a vintage guitar played beautifully - a special package w/ great liner notes and pictures.   :)