LIFEM: Digital | 5-11 November 2020

Richard Jones

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I make early renaissance viols to play early renaissance music. Players of the viol have come to accept thare are uncomfortable compromises to the music if they play Bach, Purcell, Gibbons and Byrd on the same type of viol, and so they have acquired appropriate models. With a properly set-up Renaissance Viol it is possible to extend this approach to the earlier repertoire of Senfl, Verdelot, Ortiz, Willaert and their contemporaries.

My viols, based on the Francesco Linarol, (made in Venice around 1540, and now in the Kunthshistoriche Museum in Vienna,) breathe new life into this exquisite music. They have a plangent and incisive sound, which allows each line of a consort piece to emerge clearly, whilst the overall sonority is warm and resonant. They are built without soundpost and bass-bar, are are strung in gut throughout, at a relatively low tension

Contemporary treatises suggest a number of tunings and sizes. The velvet quality of these viols is especially marked when used as a large set with tenor in a, two basses in D and a great bass in A - they have a sparkling quality with treble in d or c, two tenors in g, and bass in D. They also make clear solo instruments and sound well in mixed consorts.

I am pleased to offer this simple solution to players of the viol.

Treble Viols

There are no surviving treble viols from the first the first half of the 16th century. Ganassi’s extensive descriptions of viol sizes detail a d-treble an octave above the bass. (This is my model A.)

I am happy to have worked with David Hatcher, director of the Linarol Consort, to design a c-treble which will also manage d’’ at a440.

There are no surviving treble viols from the first half of the 16th century. Ganassi’s extensive descriptions of viol sizes detail a d-treble an octave above the bass. (This is my model A.)

I am happy to have worked with David Hatcher, director of the Linarol Consort, to design a c-treble which will also manage d’’ at a440.

Three sizes of Treble viol. L-R :

Model C c-treble string length 390mm Birdseye Maple.
Model B d-treble string length 410mm Yew.
Model A d-treble string length 340mm Sycamore.
 
All three necks are sycamore.

£2850 (each size of treble viol)


Tenor Viols

A-Tenor Viol

Also sometimes referred to as an ‘alto viol’ the tuning is a’ e’ b g d A (this one was finished in clear varnish by special request)
String length:500mm
£3040

G-Tenor Viol

This model is a close reconstruction of the original Francesco Linarol ‘tenor’ viol, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (catalogue No. SAM66). The instrument works well as a g-tenor at a440, and at a415 with heavier stringing. (Some players have tuned it as an ‘a-tenor’ (a440) but this does reduce the longevity of the top string)

String length: around 560mm. £3040

 

It has been important to me to adhere to the details of construction of SAM66. This method of holding the tailpiece is also present on the viols of Ciciliano. On the Linarol the tailhook survives, the eye is missing but it is clear, from surviving instruments by Ciciliano, what Francesco intended, so I hot-forge my own.

The quality of scroll and flute carving on the original very fine, and quite subtle, a typical variant of the Venetian style.

We can only guess at the purpose of this countersunk hole in the tailpiece. Maybe to attach a line connecting to the bridge as an anchor, or possibly to allow the viol to be set-up as a 5-string avoiding using an outer string holes....

These details are scaled and incorporated in each size of viol I make. Click the images to see close-ups.


D-Bass Viols

Scaled up from the Francesco original, I make these in three sizes.

Model A
string length around 720 mm. Standard d bass tuning at a 440.

Model B
String length around 670mm. Tuning and stringing as above.

Over the years I have produced successful variations of these two designs to suit the specific requirements of players, (A shallower body; a longer neck; a different pitch standard.) whilst maintaining the working parameters of the original design.

Model C
This is a hybrid of the above designs, the smaller, and now shallower, body of Model B, but with a longer neck, allowing for Ganassi’s 8 frets.

D-Bass Viols

Model A and Model B

Both made in sycamore from the Scottish Borders.

£3630 ( each size of D-bass)

D-Bass Viols

Model A

(left side of photograph) in sycamore from the Scottish Borders.

Model C

back, ribs, fingerboard and tailpiece in birdseye maple; neck in sycamore.


A-Bass Viols

A-Bass Viol

Following the information provided on viol tunings in Hans Gerle’s 1532 treatise, I designed this bass for the ADDA set he describes.
Model A string length: 925mm
Model B string length: 835mm

Tuning: a e B G D A’


Tuning a tone lower, - g-tuning - is also possible with the model A.

£5640

A-Bass Model A with clear varnish

Bows

These bows were originally designed for use on the different sizes of my Linarol viols. However over the years, players have purchased them for a wide variety of 16th and 17th century instruments, from medieval fiddles to 7 string viols. The design is based on 16th Century iconography. I make them from a variety of woods, black or white best quality bow-hair and varying lengths and weights.

The clip-in frog is designed to be slid in to position for a playing session and un-clipped when not in use to relax the tension on the hair and stick.

Sliding (friction) frogs sit astride the stick, and are slid towards the heel to tension to the hair. They have a dusting of powdered rosin to hold them in place whilst allowing them to be slid back or forward to increase or relax the hair tension.

A selection of bows available from stock is illustrated below. I have others in the workshop. Please contact me for more details. Bows can be sent out on approval. Carriage to a UK address £15; overseas £20-£30.

No.13.5 (tenor viol) Stick: Beech; Frog: clip-in, cherry; Stick length: 715mm; weight 43g

Price £170

No. A7 (tenor viol) Stick: Beech; Frog: sliding (friction) London Plane; Stick length: 700mm; weight 40g

Price £225

No. A12 (bass viol) Stick: Greenheart; Frog: sliding (friction) London Plane; Stick length: 780mm; weight 65g

Price £225

No. P38 (tenor/bass viol) Stick: Oak; Frog: clip-in Pear; Stick length: 780mm; weight 50g

Price £170

No. P38 (tenor/bass viol) Stick: Oak; Frog: clip-in Pear; Stick length: 780mm; weight 50g

Price £170

No. Q2 (tenor/bass viol) Stick: Beech; Frog: sliding (friction) London Plane; Stick length: 770mm; weight 70g

Price £225

No. Q12 (bass/large bass viol) Stick: Beech; Frog: sliding (friction) London Plane; Stick length: 795mm; weight 68g

Price £225

No. Q18 (large bass viol) Stick: Beech; Frog: sliding (friction) Sycamore; Stick length: 765mm; weight 88g

Price £225

Altro non e'l mio amour - The Rose Consort of Viols

Las Rauschen - The Linarol Consort of Viols

The Viol Maker's Workshop