Atelier des 7 cordes


Where does the viol come from?   

    What follows is just a sbjective summary, as there are many images available and almost as many assumptions...
   The instrument that we play today is the result of a long evolution.
    Images on bas-reliefs showing musicians playing sting instruments can be found circa 2500 B.C
    Several types of string instruments can be seen on Egyptian bas reliefs, among which the lute, the forerunner of the viol.
    Circa 700 A.D. the Arabs brought a short-necked lute to -omong other places - Spain
    Over there, the lute turned into two separate instruments : the vihuela de mano, and the vihuela de arco.
    The vihuela turned into the viol.
    The instrument was played either resting on player's lap, or between his legs, hence the name, viola da gamba.
    The viola da bracio rested on the player's forearm.
    The instruments' shapes evolved through the use of the bow.
    The vihuela de arco spread throughout Europe towards the 12th century, as indicated by many paintings and frescoes.
    Subsequently, the viol evolved differently according to its countries of adoption.
    The English made the neck narrower, angled it, which increased the height of the bridge, thereby  allowing more freedom for the bow.  
    The French are credited with addding a 7th string (the low A) and threaded strings (Monsieur de Sainte Colombe ?).
    The Italians are said to have left the viol pretty quickly in favor of the violin, which gave the soloist a brighter sound...  

    With the French Revolution in 1789, the viol - the nobility's favorite instrument - was rapidly abandoned in favor of the violin,
    a more popular and louder instrument.


The woods used for viol-making are mainly maple and spruce (for the belly). Like the viol makers of the time,
I occasionally use other species : cherry, whitebeam or walnut, I like using wood that has character,
each viol that I make being a unique piece that seeks to unite beauty and acoustic quality.
Pursuing an ancestral know-how, studying the viol's repertoire,
imagining and experimenting are the many means through which I try to make the ideal instrument.
In the baroque era, our forefathers tried everything : different shapes, dimensions, degrees of thickness, materials... A few wonderfull viols emain, remnants of a time when those men discovered everything.