Post by Howard Posner
When you say "the same time that the instruments were being modified to
give more projection" you seem to mean that there was one discreet time
that instruments were modified to make them louder. In fact, this
process has been going on continually for a couple of centuries.
The modifications I'm referring to are the gross modifications,
replacing the necks with longer ones set at a higher angle, replacing
the bass bar rib with a stronger one, and probably adopting a bridge
with more solid wood than 18th century bridges (although I'm not 100%
sure that was a simultaneous adoption). I do not mean the gradual
experiments in body design like Strad adopting a slightly different
pattern than the one he learned in the Amati atelier. And yes,
although I don't have beginning and ending points to hand, I believe
that those modifications were all done during the 19th century, well
before the 20th century increase in brass instrument volume.
There was also, of course, a finite transition period during which
the baroque bow gave way to the Tourte model bow, which I would
assign to the early 19th century just on general principles.
I'm sure David Boyden has more detail, but unfortunately my copy is
buried in a packing box somewhere.
Post by Howard Posner
The point is that when players go to string material with greater
density, it's typically because they want increased loudness or sustain.
Having been monitoring the ViolaList for some time now, I would
venture to say that while these factors may have face validity to
someone not involved as a player, they are not a major concern for
players. Most of the strings discussions involve not loudness or
sustain (sustain? not sure how that applies! Do you mean
resonance?), but tone quality, balancing the high and low strings in
sound and feel, and so forth. Some players like to use matched sets,
some find their instruments require sets combining different brands
and even different core materials. And while I'm not at all sure
about the physics of it, neither am I sure that thinner strings with
a heavier core are in fact denser than thicker strings with a lighter
core. I do understand that all string tuning is a balancing act
among length, mass, and tension.
John & Susie Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music
Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A 24061-0240
Vox (540) 231-8411 Fax (540) 231-5034