Monday, November 12, 2018

Viola strung up


With newly arrived pegs and strings, I was able to set-up my 15-1/2" viola today.  I am usually not so happy with the sound of my instrument on the first day, but this one works.  


I don't normally weigh a finished instrument, but my on-line friend and a good viola-maker, Luis Manfio in Brazil, weighs his.  So I did the same.  Set-up, without the chinrest, as in the photos, comes in at 529 grams.  For those of you who don't understand metric measurements, that's a little over half a kilogram.

And if it helps, the body length can also be expressed as 39.5 cm.

Anyway, the thing will stretch some places, contract others.  I'll be playing it in the meantime, then adjust it as time passes.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hardanger at the Boise Contra Dance


As usual, we played the 2nd Saturday Contra Dance in Boise, and had a fairly decent turn-out.  Always fun to play for dancers. 

I took along the new Hardanger fiddle for its public debut.  Although it sounds tremendously different than my normal fiddle under my ear, I don't think many dancers noticed the difference.  When one is dancing, one is more concerned with where one is going than on most other things in the Universe at that time.  The fact that folks didn't pause and say, "What the heck is that?", is probably a good sign, I suppose.

Didn't get any photos myself.  My wife, our piano player, grabbed a snapshot as we were setting up the sound system prior to the dance.


The Hardanger is in the fiddle stand, pegs showing, and my arm indicates I must have been sawing away on the regular fiddle at the time.  I didn't know photography was happening at the time.

Played most of the dance on the regular fiddle, but used the Hardanger for both waltz sets and a couple others. 

The first waltz, midway through the dance, we played Ashgrove in G in medley with Hökpers vals in Dm.  For the final waltz, we played Josefins Dopvals in F.

We also did an introductory session on Schottische, with Chris and Jody leading the dancers.  We played Sjutti Johan Schottische in D, with myself on Hardanger.

And we played one contra set with the Hardanger, a medley of Byrkveen Reinlender in Am, followed by a tune we got from David Kaynor called simply Dm Schottische.

No injuries resulted!

Off to rehearse with the Scandiband this afternoon, and then on to our Scottish Country Dance club's St. Andrews Ball & Dinner.  Busy weekend.




Friday, November 2, 2018

First Hardanger strung up






I strung up the Hardanger two days ago.  A very preliminary set-up, my first goal was to answer: will it play?  I'm happy to say that it does.  All the strings ring.  I can play tunes on it.

I was not exceptionally happy with the tone, but that's not unusual on the first day, in my experience.  Takes a while for things to stretch and compress under the string tension.  And some of these strings are nylon (or some artificial material), so will stretch for a few days before settling in. 

I recorded a few bits on the first day.  My impression was, weirdly, that it sounded somewhat better on the recording than it did in 'real life'. 

Took it to band rehearsal last night.  My bandmates were all encouraging, thought it sounded great, and I was surprised to find that it could be heard in the mix with piano, guitar, and another regular fidddle. 

When the other fiddler asked to play it, and I could hear it from a distance of a couple feet, I was surprised.  It actually sounded louder, clearer, from a short distance away rather than right under the ear.  For now, we are thinking perhaps the sound-holes, being quite different from normal violin f-holes, give the player a different experience.





I'm going to continue playing it for a few more days, then maybe take it down.  I want to thin the bridge a bit -- left it at the blank thickness -- and I'd like to lower the sympathetic-string hooks on the tailpiece to give a bit more break angle across the bridge.  I may want to cut another soundpost as well.  This one is right on the edge of the bridge foot (east-to-west).  With the very high arching on the back, the bevel is nearly 45-degrees, and I can't slide it very far in or out.  So, a slightly longer one.  But later.





For now, I'm going to let it, and myself, break in.  I'm finding it does not like much bow pressure at all, coming much more alive with a lighter touch.  A bit Baroque, perhaps?