Our Second Prototype Viol and a Prototype Bow

Second 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 found in a wide variety of Renaissance viols. Our goal was to use what we learned by studying the Brescian Micheli viols and to combine this knowledge with French iconographical evidence. After extensive discussion, we decided the most realistic representation of viols in French iconography was made by Jacques Cellier (c. 1585):

Detail of a cherub playing a five-string French viol from a series of drawings of musical instruments made by Jacques Cellier (c. 1585) in BnF, ms. fr. 9152, fol. 163, “Recherches de plusieurs singularités, par Françoys MERLIN, controlleur général de la maison de feu madame Marie-Élizabeth, fille unique de feu roy Charles dernier,… portraictes et escrites par Jacques Cellier, demourant à Reims.”

John Pringle first made a drawing of this instrument:

He next used the drawing to build the prototype. The body of this prototype is now finished and awaiting setup:

We are excited to hear how it sounds and begin conducting experiments with the instrument soon! For comparison, here are some of the Micheli viols from Brescia, which were discussed in a previous blog post:

The Micheli instruments have more “violinsitic” features, which is logical because both father and son, like most Brescian luthiers at the time, made both viol– and violin–family instruments. We are still learning and experimenting with this prototype and no decisions have been made definitively at this time.

Prototype Bow by Coen Engelhard

We are working with Coen Engelhard to develop a set of consort bows for the French Consort Project. He has sent us a sample, which so far has worked wonderfully with our first prototype instrument. This size bow is appropriate for the middle voices (dessus and haute contre) of our consort. We will be commissioning a complete set of four bows from him for our finished consort.

26 June 2020 Addendum:

John Pringle finished varnishing and setting up our second prototype: