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Super Violas - Edgar's Strange Cousins!
5-strings and MORE!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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ELCBK
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August 2, 2022 - 6:42 pm
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My 5-string Viola, Edgar, has some fabulous cousins! 

The 1st time I saw anyone playing a Viola Pomposa I thought it was an ingenious new design.  

It might have AndrewH who stirred me to search for a Don Juan tutorial, maybe a year or so ago(?)  I think that's when I found Rudolf Haken playing the Viola Pomposa... think I already posted this tutorial somewhere. 

I LOVE sharing a Classical Violist playing a 5-string VIOLA! 

 

More recently, I ran across a cool little video where Debbie Greenblatt talks about different bowed string instruments - one of them is her Viola Pomposa, so I started the video at 18:40.  Watch the whole video if you have time, it's pretty interesting!

 

The ergonomic, offset design by David Ravinus is called "Pellegrino".

 

https://cdn.globalauctionplatform.com/0d1a5354-c28b-4877-b541-a87a0126400d/8beaaafa-3005-4eb3-9cb7-a87a01438dd7/original.jpg

 

Early Viola Pomposa were shaped like this!  

- Emily

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ELCBK
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August 2, 2022 - 7:18 pm
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I first saw Mikael Marin ( my favorite 5-string Violist!) talk about & play his Violoncello Da Spalla - in the Anyone Interested in a Scandinavian Fiddle Genre? Thread

He is the only person I've seen play this like a Viola, under the chin!

ELCBK said

Mikael Marin (of the band "Väsen" - Sweden) can usually be seen playing his 5 String Viola.  Here, he plays some old (1700's - 1800's) tunes along with some of his original compositions, but on his new favorite instrument, a 5-string "Violoncello Da Spalla"! 

Part 01:

 

 

I'm partial to Marin's originals "Old Man Waltz" and "Josefin", 2nd & last of his 4 tunes, here -

Part 02:

 

 

Info on Violoncello Da Spalla:

 

Just Being Contented Smiley- Emily

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ELCBK
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August 2, 2022 - 8:06 pm
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Viola da gamba, or Viol is a bowed, fretted instrument with 5-7 strings - comes in many sizes, but played upright like a cello! 

It is used mostly for Baroque & Chamber music.

"Which Viol for you?" video from Jacqui Robertson-Wade

 

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ELCBK
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August 2, 2022 - 8:23 pm
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Viola D'amore has 6-7 strings, but also sympathethic strings - like a big Hardanger Fiddle

You KNOW the Viola D'amore is FABULOUS when Rachel Barton Pine plays one! 

Here she also gives a little history & comparison. 

 

 

The Viola D'Amore doesn't have the fretts of the Viol da gamba family. 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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August 6, 2022 - 8:53 pm
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Has anyone seen the film, "Phantom Thread" (2017)?  An intriguing psychological film - it has some very beautiful music in it. 

Phantom Thread - Soundtracks Playlist

Daniel Pioro (Violin) is featured throughout the soundtrack, along with Violist Charlotte Bonneton - which is why I thought it unusual Benjamin Hebbert's article, "Etherial Sounds in Phantom Thread", he mentions a conversation with Daniel Pioro and the borrowing of a Viola D'Amore for the film - but NO mention of Charlotte Bonneton!  It would make sense that she would be the one to play it, or did Daniel Pioro venture there - with his love of experimental sound?  Anyway, the article just says "...listening out for it in the film."  https://violinsandviolinists.c.....om-thread/

Phanton thread.jpg

...Phantom Thread, an outstanding film with a yet more outstanding soundtrack, but at times it needed a different timbre from what the violin can naturally give.

The result was loan of a viola d’amore for the recording sessions whose sympathetically resonating strings proved unexpectedly perfect: A superb example by Uldrichus Eberle, made in Prague in 1744.

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ELCBK
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https://i2.wp.com/taborviolas.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Stradivari-Medici-tenor-viola-.jpg?ssl=1

Anyone hear of a "Tenor Viola" ?  I'ts not a Viol, NO fretts and only 4 strings 😦. 

 

From the Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection: Baroque Viola 

As was the case with most types of European Renaissance instruments, the viola was one of a family (called a consort) of variously sized instruments of the same design, the other two members being called the violin and the violoncello. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries violas were made in a wider range of sizes than has been customary in more recent centuries. In those earlier times, the viola was used to cover both the alto and tenor ranges of the violin family, leaving the violin to work within the treble range and the violoncello the bass register. Although tuned alike, smaller ‘alto’ violas were constructed to cover the upper-middle register parts of ensemble music, and a larger ‘tenor’ viola to perform in the lower-middle range.

 

SUPER article from Nate Tabor "The Baroque Tenor Viola - Gespenst of History and Tone" talks about how when this beautiful instrument fell from favor, many were cut down in size and sold as smaller instruments - because smaller sold better. 

These hacked-down specimens regularly come up for auction as crippled versions of their old larger selves. The most obvious sign that they were once larger instruments is wide sound hole spacing close to the purfling or outline. Less often noticed or remarked upon is the practice of rib reduction. Often,  this butchery is done so well and convincingly, that modern eyes fail to see the changes. The alteration of musical instruments did not begin only in the mid to late 19th Century as a means to turn a profit, however. The workshop of the Mantegazza family of violin makers was entrusted with the regraduation and thinning of many of Guarneri del Gesu’s violins. 

 

Rare Tenor Viola - played by Marco Massera. 

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ELCBK
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March 3, 2023 - 6:37 pm
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Violins LOVE to grow into Violas & beyond! 

...not really new, but think 6 & 7 strings are becoming more popular!

6-String Violin! 

Tracy Silverman is known for promoting the 'Strum bowing' method - AND, he's had this instrument for at least 8 years!

 

7-String Violin! 

From THIRTEEN years ago - Chris Garrick playing Bach on 7 strings! 

 

8-String Violin!   

Daniel Hoffman is known for his Klezmer music.

 

TEN STRING VIOLIN! 

Ranges lower than a dbl bass (?) & higher than a violin!  CRAZY!  This was being shown 12 years ago... wonder if anyone plays one now?

 

If you think these instruments in this thread sound appealing, check out this related thread! 

Viol in Baroque Music Thread

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AndrewH
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March 5, 2023 - 5:59 am
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I actually know someone who owns a Pellegrina viola, not in an orchestra I play in regularly, but in an orchestra I've subbed in occasionally when their viola section is shorthanded.

I haven't been able to find any video from the concerts I played with them, but here's a video of that orchestra, with the Pellegrina viola clearly visible in a few shots. (Second chair, woman with dark brown hair.)

 

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ELCBK
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March 5, 2023 - 1:55 pm
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@AndrewH -

That's a great video - really makes the Pellegrina stand out & it looks larger than I imagined!  I've seen 5-strings, like in my OP - is she playing a 4 or 5-string, in your video? 

 

I have enjoyed listening to Sergey Malov (SpallenMann) play Classical music on his Violoncello da Spalla.  He solos with different orchestras, also plays Violin & Viola - great sense of humor, too! 

 

The Spalla Blues! 

https://petercrossart.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/PCII04-p1-300x300.jpg

Tuned C2-G2-D3-A3-E4 (cello range) - all of the Violoncello da Spallas I've seen played (with one exception) have 5 strings.

...this still might be too large for me, but I read that someone was making a slightly smaller version!  

- Emily

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AndrewH
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It's a 4-string viola, and the largest of the three sizes (15-5/8").

And, yes, the size of the thing is eye-opening next to the rest of the viola section. The principal violist in that orchestra plays a big viola (over 17") and even that looks small next to the Pellegrina!

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ELCBK
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I rented a French film on Prime this evening, "Tous les Matins du Monde" - starring Jean-Pierre Marielle, Anne Brochet, Gérard Depardieu and his son Guillaume, because I had heard some of the beautiful music from it. 

It's centered around the Viola da Gamba (see post #3), and 2 celebrated Baroque masters: Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais

I think the message is if you hope to become a master of this instrument you must learn how to channel your deepest sorrow, regret and longing (feelings that go beyond words) through it. 

Needless to say it is a somber film, but it's our present day's Jordi Savall who plays & arranged/directed the music by Sainte-Colombe, Marais, Francois Couperin & also Jean-Baptiste Lully - that was integrated so well throughout the storyline! 

Tous les Matins du Monde - 16 Video playlist of the Original Soundtrack

 

Some of my favorites: 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c5/bf/2d/c5bf2d27452c7805da7a3554e2cf2878.jpg

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ELCBK
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The Viola d'amore is closer to a Viola in size - so both a 6-string Viola d'amore & Treble Viol have the same range, only the d'amore also has sympathetic strings. 

 

The Pardessus de viole is the smallest of the Viol family, closer in size to a violin - originally made for women, but wasn't long before everyone wanted to play it, especially in France.  It was a melody instrument and 5-string versions were tuned g, d', a', d'', g'', while 6-string versions were tuned g, c', e', a', d'', g''. 

 

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