Wood and technologies for violins to pack

Craftsmanship and innovation, the perfect combination of research.


In the field of construction of musical instruments, it is now possible to find various alternatives. If one thinks of string instruments, for example, it ranges from classical violin making and to fully manual tools for industrial mass production where the craftsman’s dexterity practically does not enter into play.

But there are also very specific cases of which I am about to tell. This is research that is still in progress and that soon could have very interesting implications. The principle is to use a sound box made from natural elements (both according to the artisan tradition that experimenting with new forms and materials) and then create an amplification system via electronic media.

The two souls of this project are right here: on the one hand to work in contact with nature in environments detached from the busy towns; on the other hand think about the needs of the musician  who research different sounds, perhaps electronic, sound experiments and distortions with the “classical instruments” can not be obtained.

The desire to produce, to create something with their own hands through technical research and not just the ability to put together the manual use of production machinery and theoretical knowledge on the propagation of sound. Here is how the duo talk about what they do: “the part of the music, the sound of the violin: therefore the natural vibrations of wood, metal or leather. To which is added the infinite variability, and endless possibilities, gadgetry and electronic media made ad hoc.”

But let’s find out a little more.

I met Giovanni at fairground  Maker Faire a held in Rome a few months ago (October 2015) and it was a real pleasure ton hear the story of its history. In his case, the desire to build custom tools stems from a real need for more than an idea long incubated. During a trip to Africa, in Tanzania, in support of a friend who works for the construction of small hydro off-grid John has had a chance to demonstrate their creativity. Knowing that he must spend three months without his violin, he decided to build one more easily transportable in a local carpenters equipped with the most diverse construction machinery and provide the beautiful woods of the area. Within a week the first “Travelling violin” was ready.

Upon returning to Italy he then showed the instrument to a luthier of his knowledge in his country of origin, Salo (near Brescia) getting a very positive response. Hence the desire to experiment, putting together people with skills that are very different and complementary (the meeting of experts to create a complete product). He was able to start his own workshop “Viudì” thanks to funding received from the Lombardy Region the and local community  Garda Sabbia Valley.

The starting challenge is to wander into the land of the giants. Salo, is in fact the country of origin of Gasparo Bertolotti, known as the inventor of the violin. But without wishing in any way to challenge an existing masterpiece, the lab you are looking for a violin that can be played by everyone, with optimal weight and size, good strength, the right design and above all the right range of sounds. As its creator says, “a violin to pack”.

The perfect tool, in this context, should give voice to new sounds, a genre that the musicians have in their head and try to express. Starting from the study on the harmonics crates of various tools, in the laboratory trying to refine a prototype, even with the large and small problems that, for example, occur in the design research (in the case of the back, difficult to model in wood, are made using various test models from clay to plaster, from metal to computerized 3D models).

As already mentioned, the necessary skills are manual, theoretical and technical, as each material corresponds to a different sound response and a different way of proceeding. The study aims to  discover the range that you have available, so that you may know from time to time what material is necessary for the intended result, almost as if it were a specific sound’s effect to achieve without further distortion tools because it is the same as a violin to give this possibility. For this reason, the right material must be supported by the right microphone which is then considered as a tool in the tool.

Another option to explore is the realization of a carbon fiber case, adapting a sheet of this material to a mold: this can be obtained thanks to the use of a mechanical cutter which, through numerical control, reproduces a wooden template the shape of which has been conceived and created by the artisan that, in this case, prepares his model 3D computer.

But where was all this is born? What is the ideal environment that allows you to circulate the idea of finding the material, serenity and experience to put it all together? Definitely not in the din of the city;it is difficult to find sensitivity and availability of ideal spaces. Rather, in his spare time on the weekend surrounded by trees, in the country house.

And for the future? Maybe some small change is being evaluated, but always with a view to develop as much as possible and optimize the FabLab and sharing economy


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