Viola da Gamba Alla Bastarda 62cm Corpus
While there is some contention on whether the Viola Bastarda is merely a style of virtuoso solo bass viol playing common from about 1580 to 1630, or an actual instrument, the fact remains that there is a large body of repertoire which seemingly leans towards a corpus size smaller than that of a typical bass viola da gamba, and tenor. This petite corpus instrument at 62cm is a personal dream towards this aesthetic; all aspects of its construction will lean towards a sprightly, clear speaking yet brooding voice. Currently available in Spain.
Division Viol after a treatise by Christopher Simpson.
The division viol remains a fantasy instrument. This is surprising considering that the instrument represents a conceptual aesthetic of sound dating back to the mid 17th Century when pedagogue and scholar Christopher Simpson wrote a treatise outlining in great detail not only the playing technique of this instrument, but also many details of its construction.
Simpson in his treatise gives two possible forms for this larger corpus bass instrument. One is in a classical English form whose general gestalt is familiar to us.
The other form resembles violin family instruments, and is perhaps particularly remarkable as Simpson refers to this form as being “more sprightly and responsive ” ( Prima Resonantior). Simpson also alludes to the top plate being carved, similar to violin family instruments, “the Bellyes being digged out of the Plank” as opposed to the common method of gamba construction with a bent top.
Tenor Viola da Gamba after Grancino
Viols with violin shaped outlines in the Italianate tradition offer a unique opportunity for expression of feeling and sound. This tenor with a corpus size of 56cm will have an all cedar top, with wonderfully figured Mahogany for the ribs and back. Like the original in the Orpheon consort collection, both plates will be arched, adding to the possibility of total control of sound. The rather heavy Blackwood scroll will provide a counterbalance in weight ratios, as well as optically matching the palates of maroon hues in the corpus. This instrument will be available for trial and sale in Spain in 2021.
Lyra da Braccio after Giovanni Maria Brescia
A project to build a Lyra da Braccio after the famous instrument of Giovanni Maria is forthcoming, however delayed due to current commissions. While the original instrument has a body length of 38.7cm, I would be excited about the possibility and resonance of an instrument with a much larger corpus as in the iconography below. This would be an unfretted instrument, with special care allotted to the arc to the bridge thus allowing triple and quadruple stops to be played chordally. Please contact me for a dialogue should you have interest.