I have studied how to play the violin since age 7. At that time, I asked my parents to buy me a violin for my birthday gift, and they did. And music has filled my life ever since then.
During the past few months I have helped my friend who builds violins to evaluate his instruments. He is an outstanding craftsman, and I admire the results that he achieves as an 86 year – old man.
My friend does not play violin, so playing his instruments is my contribution toward the end result. Frequently small adjustments have to be made, such as reducing the thickness of the violin top, or re-positioning the internal sound post, in order to produce the desired acoustic results.
The primary woods used in violin making are spruce and maple.
Spruce is chosen for the violin top; It is light in weight, yet strong and flexible. To the eye, the most prominent feature of a spruce top is the darker vertical wood grains. These grains are the annual growth rings of the tree.
Maple is traditionally used in the construction of the Violin Back, Neck/Scroll, Ribs and the Bridge.
Violin makers prefer wood cut from old growth trees, grown at high altitudes on northern slopes. The wood must be cut during the cold dormant months and seasoned in controlled conditions for several years.
As such, violins represent a transformation: Using a material that had been alive (the tree) to create an instrument that gives us enjoyment through its acoustic properties.
At the left side you can see the original block of wood, and the way my friend created the violin scroll, and his progress toward completing the neck, which will be attached to the other instrument parts.
Finally, here is one of my favorite violinists, who shows us what it all sounds like, once the instrument is completed. Just listen to the passion that this violinist can create!!
Janine Jansen performs Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto:
Tags: Violin making, Spruce, maple, Tchaikovsky, Janine Jansen