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31 October 2011

iPhone model for a baroque violoncello da spalla

A few weeks ago I have been to a concert in Belgium.

Big orchestra, many soloists... In addition to the bass violin there was also a viola da spalla player.

After the concert I congratulated the spallist with her impressive playing and asked what was the source of her instrument.

It was newly built. It was big in the shoulders but extremely small in the bottom part. 

The whole body was strangely elongated and the f-holes were barely bigger than violin f-holes...  

I was intrigued! 

I was sure it was based on some example which I have never seen before. Not, at least, among those 40+ examples which I know of.

I was burning from the desire to know.

However, her answer was something I did not expect to hear! She said, her instrument was based on... a Badiarov model! "Ah!"

The story suddenly took a peculiar turn. I realized she did not know whom she was talking to and I did not tell. 

Well, well... she did not know I was the maker of the original. She still does not know. Both were very happy and enjoyed the conversation. After all, she is very happy with her "copy" and I did not want to disappoint her. 

I wondered, "... based on a Badiarov... how interesting! Is it then a copy of a Badiarov model?"
"Yes", she said, "more or less..."
"Ah, really? This is very, very nice!" 

After all the reverences with the spallist and all other musicians I returned to the hotel wondering how could that instrument be ever called a "copy of a Badiarov!" 

I regret I did not take a picture of it with my iPhone! 

However the moment I thought about the iPhone I realized that I might have indeed shared an iPhone picture of a viola da spalla either on blogger or on FB and the picture served as the sort of, well, "iconographic evidence" for the maker... (iConography... yeah, there you go...) 

A picture taken with any lens gives distortions. Even the human eye lies! We are used to these lies and do not notice. 

There are different types of lenses, so you can google a bit to find how the same object changes depending on type of lens. You will not believe your eyes!

So what can one expect from a picture taken with a very wide lens - such as an iPhone camera for example!

One stunning example of an iPhone picture can be seen here above. Huge neck, tiny body... 

The maker was obviously not very experienced and was learning the craft by making mistakes.
Brilliant! Courage!

Ok, but why to use a picture? Because this is the most common method of making violins today.

Full-scale posters of violins can be bought from many shops but when a poster is not available then downloaded somewhere a picture can be digitally enlarged and used for making patterns. 

Apparently the "copy" I have seen in Belgium was not a copy of an actual instrument but a "copy" of an iPhone picture posted somewhere on the web - I do not have any other camera with a wide lens so it must have been my iPhone (love it!). The "copy" looked suspiciously similar to the picture above. 

It is an anecdotal story, a viola (da spalla) joke... but the bottom line is: I encourage learning how to create patterns!

It takes a bit of effort to learn, - perhaps a life-time, perhaps even a life-time somewhere in the middle of Europe or some related culture - but it is an incomparable joy to actually create those beautiful patterns, shape the sound and its character.

Viva iPhone and enjoy learning during the winter time! -- definitely the most productive season in the year.

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