Every workshop and every craftsman has its tricks and trade secrets and I am no exception, hoping to make my own modest contribution to the development of an art which I adore and which serves to produce the greatest art of all, music.
The making of musical instruments – string instruments in particular – is an established and well-known part of human artistic creativity, contributing to our cultural heritage patiently built through the centuries. It combines the mathematical precision of the Renaissance with the technical procedures of wood inlaying and carving. A luthier is not a mysterious and mythical artist but one of the many true creators who practice their arts and crafts. Nothing is left to chance: the choice of tone wood, its cut and thickness, types of bracing and binding, the build of the neck and the heel, their length and angle, the length and spacing of the strings, the positisning of the sound post, the bridge, and the saddle, the saddle height, nor the tightness of the tuning pegs. Considering even the slightest detail is an important feature of artistic craftsmanship.
My bowed string instruments are modelled on those made by Antonio Stradivari, in whose work we have the rare pleasure to see real genius, combining the knowledge of natural laws and mathematics, a profound depth of thought and a passion for discovery, artistic sensitivity and exceptional technical skill, experience and tradition. Suffice it to admire the spiral of his scrolls which is so well proportioned, powerful, yet delicate, full of grace and gentle suppleness. Its construction is based on two mathematical rules, the centre following the Archimedean spiral and unravelling into the neck in compliance with Vignola.
- – Violin: original G mould from Stradivari’s golden period, made in 1715 for the city of Cremona.
- – Viola: tenor mould made in 1690 for the Medici.
- – Cello: B mould from 1709, used until 1725, made in 1710 (Gore-Booth), 1711 (Duport), 1714 (Batta). 1720 (Piatti), and 1725 (Vaslin).
- – Double bass: Gand & Bernardel mould with 5 strings where the fifth one goes down to B-flat.
Moulds for plucked strings
- – Classical guitar: my own mould from 2002, for 6, 7 or 10 strings.
- – Romantic guitar: Panormo mould from 1820
Moulds for Baroque instruments
- – Bass viol: Pelegrino di Zanetto 1550, Battista Ciciliano 1590, Joachim Tielke 1700.
- – Tenor viol: Henry Jaye 1667
- – Pardessus de viol Louis Guersan 1759
- – Viola d'amore: Bohemia (Johann Ulrich Eberle) 1750
- – Viola d'amore (Englisch violet), Paulus Allestsee 1724
The aesthetics of guitar-making rest in the spirit of truth and love. The Greek word for spirit, pneuma, literally means “breath of flame” and it used to signify to the ancient Greeks what our science now understands by the word energy. When we talk about a “spirit of truth”, we mean the energy of truth; the truth is seen as an active force and love is its natural consequence, allowing neither lie nor error. The spirit of truth can be found in such art whose maker is driven by love for his work, for the object of his efforts.
Lines bring stability and peace, while a triangle is more aggressive, its sides penetrating each other. Circle, a symbol of the eternally moving and elusive, adds a cosmic dimension of mysteries outside the human reach: through it, we can hear the secret harmony of the world.
A musical instrument is an object of art in which all perceptions are combined, appealing to the eye, ear and touch. It carries meaning and creates dialogue with all existing things in an invisible, intangible and immutable web of order and harmony. True beauty is born from usefulness: good work produces a good instrument as a good touch produces a beautiful sound.
"Give me the material, and I will build a world out of it! That is, give me the material, and I will show you how a world has come into being" – Immanuel Kant.