Baroque violin

Baroque violin

A baroque violin is, in common usage, any violin whose neck, fingerboard, bridge, and tailpiece are of the type used during the baroque period. Such an instrument may be an original built during the baroque and never changed to modern form; or a modern replica built as a baroque violin; or an older instrument which has been converted (or re-converted) to baroque form.

Following period practices, most baroque violinists use gut strings. This lends a certain purity and even at times earthiness to the sound. Baroque violinists commonly play their instruments without a chin rest or shoulder rest, as they had not yet been invented in the baroque period. The relaxed and natural baroque violin posture is quite different as compared with the more poised modern violin position. The baroque violin is usually positioned more in front of the player than the modern violin, with the strings often running perpendicular to the player's collarbone. This causes the player's bow arm to be positioned differently as well, facilitating articulations which would be difficult and less natural in a modern violin posture. Some players do not touch their chin to the instrument at all. However, when used, the player's chin is usually placed on the treble side of the tailpiece.

Other typical differences from the modern violin include: a smaller bass bar, a differently shaped bridge which is thinner at the base and thicker at the top, a shorter fingerboard, a fuller neck, and the absence of fine tuners. The biggest difference between the modern and baroque violins is the tension of the strings and the pressure on the bridge. Most old Masterviolins have had new necks fitted - transplanting the original headstocks - that were slanted backwards so the strings would make a more acute angle on the bridge. Baroque violins have their necks in line with the underside of the plate the necessary upward angle is achieved by a wedge-shaped raiser under the fingerboard. There is a small difference in scaling: the modern standard is somewhat longer. Baroque bows are also quite different in construction and how they are handled. The modern violin bow curves downward in the middle while the baroque bow will look straight or bent outwards under tension. The baroque bow is thinner near the tip which comes to an exaggerated point. The common myth that the so-called Bach-bow had a huge exaggerated arch shape so as to play all four strings at once remains unsubstantiated. [] Although the convex bows found in paintings may appear to be for the purpose of playing all four strings at once, the testing of period and replica convex bows quickly shows that this is an impossibility.

Baroque violins have surged in popularity since the 1980s as part of the growing interest in authentic performance. Their renewed use reflects an attempt to rediscover the original style of violin playing in the baroque period. Many luthiers today are able to offer copies of baroque instruments as well as modern instruments. As is always the case with period instruments, merely having authentic equipment does not necessarily guarantee a persuasive performance. Typically, period instrument players receive extensive university training in the style and often use original treatises and facsimile editions as a necessary resource. With an increased openness to period performance practice, many modern violinists prefer to concertize baroque music on the modern violin in a period style. This practice is referred to as HIP, or Historically Informed Performance.

Baroque Violin players

*Antoinette Lohmann
Emilie Autumn
*Fabio Biondi
*Giuliano Carmignola
*Enrico Gatti
*Marco Bianchi
*Sigiswald Kuijken
*Elizabeth Wallfisch
*Chiara Banchini
*Pavlo Beznosiuk
*Elizabeth Blumenstock
*Lucy van Dael
*Marc Destrubé
*Florian Deuter
*François Fernandez
*Rudolf Gähler
*Reinhard Goebel
*Gottfried von der Goltz
*Richard Gwilt
*Alice Harnoncourt
*John Holloway
*Monica Huggett
*Manfredo Kraemer
*Hiro Kurosaki
*Jeanne Lamon
*Marie Leonhardt
*Gunar Letzbor
*Catherine Mackintosh
*Florence Malgoire
*Andrew Manze
*Eduard Melkus
*Petra Müllejans
*Enrico Onofri
*Rachel Podger
*Johannes Pramsohler
*Walter Reiter
*Jacqueline Ross
*Stanley Ritchie
*Hélène Schmitt
*Joseph Tar Schmidt
*Jaap Schröder
*Ingrid Seifert
*Midori Seiler
*Simon Standage
*Anton Steck
*Daniel Stepner
*Ryo Terakado
*Mary Utiger


* [ "On Bach and the curved bow"] by James Pritchett, Princeton, December 6, 1994 - January 21, 1995, retrieved September 8, 2006

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