Nicolas Houël (1584)
Sources For Rediscovering Lost Viola da Gambas
Iconography offers invaluable yet murky evidence for reconstructing early French viol consorts. Iconography, for example, offers no evidence of the internal construction of instruments.
Treatises and other primary sources provide evidence for historical tunings, which can be extrapolated as organological evidence to inform our reconstructions. Treatises further offer clues as to the social use of viols in the lives of sixteenth-century French women and men.
While ample evidence exists of the tunings and outward appearance of early French viol consorts, the question of what repertoire these instruments performed remains an unexplored issue. The Parisian chanson was in the sixteenth century a mass-produced popular form of polyphony that was flexible enough and could be performed on consort instruments.
The Latest from Our Blog
- Extending the Longevity of French Renaissance ViolsIn his Harmonie universelle, contenant la théorie et la pratique de la musique (Paris, 1636), Marin Mersenne reproduced the woodcut of a five-string viol from Jambe de Fer’s L’Épitome musical des tons, sons et accordz, es voix humaines, fleustes d’Alleman, flesustes à neuf trous, violes, & violons (Lyons, 1556) and noted that this was a kind… Continue reading Extending the Longevity of French Renaissance Viols
- Our Second Prototype Viol and a Prototype BowSecond Prototype by John Pringle John Pringle has been hard at work making a second prototype based on our new research. He is using this prototype—a treble—to experiment with body design and table construction. Since we are not using a soundpost-bassbar system, John Pringle has decided on a central spine on the table, a solution… Continue reading Our Second Prototype Viol and a Prototype Bow
- Insights from Brescian Renaissance ViolsOne of the most daunting challenges in reconstructing a consort of Renaissance French viols is the lack of extant instruments that can be analyzed. While iconography and treatises are both crucial sources for understanding these instruments, taken together they still leave many questions unresolved. Besides questions surrounding the internal construction of the viols, one pertinent… Continue reading Insights from Brescian Renaissance Viols